From the beginning …
In 2002, the Stafford County Sheriff’s Department completed an assessment of a particular high-crime neighborhood in Stafford County. This assessment of the Olde Forge community cited numerous challenges including poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse, unsupervised children and an influx of non-English speaking Hispanic and refugee families. The Sheriff’s Department issued a call for action which resulted in the formation of Stafford Junction, a faith-based nonprofit organization tasked with improving the lives of children and their families in low-income neighborhoods in Stafford County through programs focusing on education, nutrition and healthy living. With the intervention of Stafford Junction, the crime rate in the Olde Forge neighborhood dropped by more than 50% within two years.
The journey …
The positive impact of our initial intervention ignited a passion among us to do more. With a proven track record of redirecting energy and effort in positive directions in the Olde Forge neighborhood, Stafford Junction has expanded its mission and broadened its scope to include other low-income neighborhoods throughout Stafford County.
Stafford Junction’s core program is Brain Builders – an after school tutoring and mentoring program for elementary, middle and high school students with a character building component. Before settling in on their studies, the students are provided a meal and an opportunity to engage in physical activity.
Riding on the success of Brain Builders, Stafford Junction started HUGS, an early intervention program focused on preschoolers. Recognizing the importance of the caregiver role, the program was expanded to include workshops and services for caregivers to enhance parenting skills and promote advocacy.
To continue support services during the summer months, Stafford Junction offers a day camp called Summer Junction to Brain Builder participants. We supplement Summer Junction with specialty camp offerings, including performing arts, musical instrument, baseball and soccer.
In 2010 we added a Healthy Living Pays program that encourages participants to exercise regularly and to maintain a nutritious diet. This program is offered free of charge to all family members in the low-income neighborhoods served by Stafford Junction and includes a gym membership along with weekly transportation to the gym. Neighborhood walking clubs, health fairs, clinic enrollment assistance, trips to local farmers markets and nutrition workshops round out this program.
Down the road …
We endeavor to expand our services and offerings to low-income neighborhoods throughout Stafford County so that all children have access to educational and enrichment opportunities.
We subscribe to the motto “leave no child behind” and fully intend to make that a reality for the communities we serve.
The journey has just begun.