More than 600 troubled children, aged 8 to 16, are helped each year at Woodbourne Center Inc. This non-profit, private agency is the fifth oldest child-care institution in the United States.
"Most children have the same problems adults have but they have more difficulty handling them," says Kevin Skinner, a 20-year-old volunteer. Skinner has tutored students at Woodbourne for three years, last year receiving the organization's service award.
Some children may live at Woodbourne while others receive services on an outpatient basis. Skinner says he visits Woodbourne at least four days each week, tutoring and nurturing resident students.
"The children know they can confide in me and trust me," says Skinner. The junior at Morgan State University says he wants to be a psychologist. He is undecided on whether he wants to work with children or the elderly.
Skinner also works for the city Social Services Department. "I'm assigned a public school where I tutor the foster children who need help with school work," says Skinner. He lives in Reisterstown with his parents, two sisters and a brother.
"I find the children at Woodbourne are very troubled. Most are there because they are wards of the court, were abused at home or have other emotional or disciplinary problems. Their neighborhood environments included full-scale trouble such as drugs, illiteracy, abuse -- you name it. Often the only models they've had to look up to are the drug dealers and their fast money," says Skinner.
Woodbourne traces its origins to the 1700s, when several Baltimore women joined to provide food, shelter and clothing to families left destitute after the Revolutionary War.
Woodbourne has four locations. The main center is located on 12 acres at 1301 Woodbourne Ave. It houses the administrative offices, the residential treatment center, the crisis unit, the therapeutic treatment center and the special education for adolescents department.
The Diagnostic/Treatment Center, at 2031 E. Fayette St., is a residential center providing therapeutic services for children up to 14 years old. The Community Service Center, at 5209 York Road, offers programs for children and adults, including specialized foster care, youth and family counseling and positive parenting. It is seeking couples to provide a home for foster children. Call Pat Smith at 435-9300 if interested in volunteering.
The Woodbourne Day School, at 5003 Sinclair Lane, provides special education and therapeutic support services to boys, 11 to 16 years old who are living at home or in foster care.
Woodbourne needs volunteers with a variety of skills, including tutoring. Adults are also needed to read children stories, teach crafts, arrange parties, play musical instruments, teach singing, bake cakes and much more.
Others are needed to answer the phones, help with mailings, filing, gardening, special events and fund-raising. Andy Jones is the volunteer coordinator. Call him at 433-1000 to volunteer or for more information.