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MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) - A Middletown organization has been providing support for vulnerable community members on their worst days.

The pandemic has made their mission more challenging, but they continue persevering.

The Middletown Youth Services Bureau focuses on youth justice reform.

One of the organization’s primary roles is diversion.

"We run a diversion program that meets with young people when they have been arrested for the first time. Instead of going to court, they come to us and we run a community based restorative process. It’s a highly relational process. We believe relationships are one of the best protective factors in supporting young people," Justin Carbonella, the director of youth services for the organization, tells us.

When COVID struck, the team had to transition to meeting over Zoom rather than in person.

"The transition to mostly online programming was very jarring for a lot of folks. Working for a while here in the community, there’s a lot of people that do not have access to technology," Emily McEvoy of Middletown Youth Services says.

And following COVID, more youths are in need of behavioral health support.

"I think the pandemic has really amplified a lot of the issues that we’ve been facing and not only amplified existing problems, but also created new traumas and new issues for folks," Sonya Hadley of Middletown Youth Services said.

Adding a new layer of challenges to an already difficult mission, so Channel 3 and the Liberty Bank Surprise Squad stepped up and thanked Middletown Youth Services for what they've been doing during the pandemic with $500.

"Too often, folks take for granted what goes into this work and we’re so excited to build this physical space alongside the new frameworks we’re trying to build for the city of Middletown, so really, really useful and helpful, and we appreciate it," McEvoy stated.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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