Act now before they’re gone | AspenTimes.com

Act now before they’re gone

Often we do not realize the value of a service until that service is no longer available.

Case in point: We are seeing firsthand the ramification of the state budget cuts which have eliminated funding for the juvenile diversion program in our community. The juvenile diversion program was a program that allowed first-time juvenile offenders the option of contracting with YouthZone (a nonprofit agency in the valley) to fulfill requirements approved through the court in lieu of processing formal court charges in District Court.

The program allowed juveniles the opportunity to demonstrate that they were capable of being contributing members of our community. It enabled juveniles the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and enabled them to move beyond the choices that they had made that initially got them involved in the juvenile justice system.

Now, if found guilty, the juvenile will have a permanent record, will go through many appearances in court, and will pay a significant amount of money for attorney fees. The value of the juvenile diversion program is now being understood more fully by the community, the courts and the once-potential participants in that program.

If you apply the same kind of thinking to the issue at hand where Ballot Issue 1A is concerned, you will see the magnitude of what our community is facing.

Many health and human service agencies provide a variety of services in the valley. Unfortunately, like the juvenile diversion program, we will not understand the value of these programs until they are gone.

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If Ballot Issue 1A does not pass, many, if not most, of these agencies will be forced to stop providing services to the community. The community will most likely respond and will realize, in hindsight, that the services were of value, but like the juvenile diversion program, it will be too late.

YouthZone urges you to please vote yes on Ballot Issue 1A that will allow health and human service agencies the opportunity to provide invaluable services to the community.

Please don’t wait until the services are no longer available to recognize the value of those services. Take a stance now to preserve these services and allow members of the community to benefit from them.

Debra L. Wilde, Executive Director

Rebecca Willis Kayser, Pitkin Division Manager

YouthZone

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