New Birth Baptist Church members have been volunteering at the Dallas County Juvenile Department’s Detention Center for more than 10 years. Karen Bradford, leader, and five other church members have formed a consistent and reliable group that has never canceled in 10 years of services!
New Birth members come to the Center once a month to work with 200 residents. They conduct a Bible study with the youth in a large group setting then they break down into smaller, more personable groups to talk about how the Bible verse or lesson could apply to their lives.
The Detention Center is the Juvenile Department’s short-term, secured facility for children who are charged with delinquency offenses and are pending court action. The average stay for the youth at the Detention Center is 17 to 20 days. Basically, it is a holding place for youth until they go to court. During their stay at the Detention Center, the youth and their family are evaluated. After the evaluation, the Juvenile Department is able to make a plan to recommend to the judge. These planned service recommendations serve to assist in making changes in the child’s life. The mission of the Juvenile Department is to provide services for the youth so they will not reenter the juvenile system or advance into the adult penal system. New Birth Baptist Church has been instrumental in assisting the Juvenile Department with this goal by providing a constant spiritual foundation for the youth.
New Birth Baptist Church is located within the community where many of the Detention Center residents reside. The children in the Center know of the church and their faithful membership, which makes the children feel comfortable with the volunteers who come to the institution. Many of the children are very attentive and interested in the spiritual program when they are in the Center because they are scared, lonely and away from a familiar setting. It is when the young person returns home to their old environment that it becomes difficult to maintain the level of spirituality they had achieved at the Center.
New Birth is excellent in opening not only their hearts, but also their church doors to youth for support after they return home. The members back up their words with actions. This provides the youth with a certain level of consistency, which often is lacking in their lives. The members also provide a safe haven from all the chaos in the youth’s life, which is another attempt to keep the youth from returning to the old negative patterns of behavior.
New Birth consistently goes “above and beyond” to make a difference in the lives of the children in the Center. That extra gesture of being there for the children when back in the neighborhood is a quality that has impacted the lives of the youth. If the church cannot help, they always find alternative ways to help youth in need.