The holiday season is a time of enjoying our friends and family and giving to others. While we face challenges and disappointments as we navigate the crazy waters of this journey called life, it is invigorating to focus a season of our life on helping others and experiencing the joy and hope that it brings. On such a note, I am devoting this month’s article to share an uplifting story about how an organization quite literally helps at risk youth navigate these crazy waters of life.
The organization is called Sailfuture. It was founded by Michael Long, a college student and gubernatorial-appointee to the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice's (DJJ) Board of Directors. Long spent time visiting juvenile detention centers in Florida and saw a problem—simply “warehousing,” youth and teens in prisons was not working and over 65% percent of these children quickly returned as repeat offenders. Like many who advocate for change even when it may seem unpopular, Long could not sit around and let these trends continue. He explains in a quite moving way: “we knew too much to do nothing.”
Friday Feature (Christmas Edition): Tana Gildea, Author of "The Graduate's Guide to Money," Speaker, and Financial Planner with Compass Financial Consulting
Author of "The Graduate's Guide to Money"
Speaker and Blogger
Financial Planner with Compass Financial Consulting
Merry Christmas!! I hope you are enjoying this time with family. Today I want to introduce you to Tana Gildea. She is truly a "superwoman"--mother of 4 children in their late teens and early 20's, award winning author, and partner at her financial planning firm. She also manages to find time to speak and blog about financial topics and has a passion for educating teens and young adults. She works with teens to understand their "money story" and how their view of money impacts their decision making. I LOVE her candid advice for teens in the last question segment: "Make your money work for your deepest desires and your biggest goals rather than having it slip through your fingers doing what everyone else is doing." Since it's Christmas day, Tana is offering a gift to my readers--$10 off her book if you decide to invest in it for your children or students (instructions below).
Q: How do you serve the youth of our community?
I am a financial planner but did not get into that arena until I was in my 40’s so I spent my 20’s and 30’s making a lot of mistakes with money. Since I have 4 children who are in their late teens and early 20’s, I know that the financial education that they get is no better than what I got. I really wanted to pour everything out of my head and into theirs and the only way I knew to do that was to write a book. So, in 2014, I published The Graduate’s Guide to Money. Now, using the book, I have a blog to give my readers financial tips and tricks and I speak to young adult groups about starting their financial lives on the right foot. (The book has won 2 Gold awards and is a 5-time finalist so someone besides my mom thought the book was good!)
In so many ways, people just leap into action when they graduate without stopping to think of the kind of life they really want to lead. Through my speaking engagements and workshops, I try to get them to stop and consider what is truly important to them so they can structure their life to include those things rather than just spending their money doing what all of their friends are doing.
Indiscretions of youth that lead to juvenile delinquency charges can prove problematic as one moves into adulthood. Georgia law generally requires that all records of a juvenile case be automatically sealed when a case is dismissed or when a youth completes all terms of a case handled through informal adjustment (pretrial diversion type program). However, juvenile court and arrest records are not automatically sealed in cases where a youth has been adjudicated as delinquent by the court.
And such records can impinge upon a youth’s efforts to get into college or to land that coveted first job in his or her chosen field. While juvenile court records may not be easily accessible, arrest records, unless restricted, are of public record and can often be easily reviewed by anyone who surfs the internet and looks through the right database. For example, you can go to the Fulton County Jail’s record database–justice.fultoncountyga.gov–and type in a name and locate arrest records.
Friday Feature: David Windecher, Founder of RED, Inc., Author of "The American Dream HisStory in the Making, and Owner of the Windecher Firm
David Lee Windecher
Founder of Non Profit: Red, Inc.
Owner of the Windecher Firm
Author of "The American Dream HisStory in the Making"
This Friday's feature will leave you feeling inspired, I know that I certainly am! David and I share the same mentor (shout out to Manny Arora) and have been colleagues in the Atlanta legal community for years. David is doing some amazing things with youth and their families--through founding RED a non profit organization that helps juveniles facing non-violent criminal charges get their GED, providing inspiration through a transparent depiction of his life story in his book: "The American Dream HisStory in the Making", and serving as mentor for kids going through Dekalb County's diversion programs. He is a passionate advocate for the youth in our community and his personal experiences in the court system allow him to truly resonate with kids that may be going through difficult situations. David has been featured in the AJC, The Daily Report, NPR, and the Miami Herald to name a few. While he has accomplished so much, he is down to earth and kind—he truly lives out his message each and every day.
Q: Could you begin by telling me about your non-profit, RED, Inc.? Who is eligible?
RED Inc.'s mission is to increase literacy, reduce poverty and stop recidivism amongst America's youth. RED Inc. is the D.B.A. for Rehabilitation Enables Dreams. The non-profit was founded on the basis that people can change and their dreams can become a reality if they so dare to pursue their aspirations despite the challenges associated with having a criminal history.
RED Inc. focuses on two areas of the criminal justice system - Diversion programs and Re-Entry programs. So, the persons who are eligible are first-time offenders who are required to enroll with a court's diversion program and inmates who are serving an extensive prison sentence and preparing to re-enter society.
For first-time offenders, the focus is on mentoring them away from the behaviors which lead to their arrest. The goal is to prevent them from being arrested for a second time. For long-term inmates, the autobiography is used as required reading material for a creative writing program that is part of their transition out of the detention center and back into the community. The goal is to prevent recidivism by inspiring them to believe that they too can lead an admirable life despite their history.
"Tribunals," or disciplinary hearings in the public school system are held when a child has violated a school rule. When the school is considering suspending or expelling a student, the student has a right to be heard at a hearing, often called a “tribunal” hearing. At these hearings, evidence is presented by witnesses at the school such as other teachers or administration, or students. The child is also asked to speak and give their side of the story. Once all of the information has been presented, the hearing officer will decide if the child has broken the rule. I refer to this part of the hearing as “phase one.” My goal when representing a student in this phase of the hearing is to ensure that I prevent them and their families from making any kind of statement that could negatively impact a pending or potential juvenile court case. While the child may ultimately decide to take responsibility, this decision should be made only after they have seen all of the evidence and had the opportunity to fully weigh their choices and any future impact.
Kathryn Boortz has a passion for working with youth and their families. She is the founder of Boortz Law, a law firm that focuses on juvenile defense.