Donations being sought to repair residential facility

Nov. 1—WILLIMANTIC — Donations are being sought through GoFundMe to repair Crossroads, a residential facility for Connecticut adolescents.

The facility, which is run by Access Community Action Agency, is located in Norwich.

"We are asking our community to help raise money to make needed improvements, making this house a better home for our youth in need," Crossroads Director Jolene Berard said in a press release.

Access has offices at 1315 Main St. in Willimantic and 231 Broad St. in Danielson.

According to the Access website, Crossroads is a Supportive Work Education and Transition Program (S.W.E.T.P.). The goal for the fundraiser, which ends at the end of December, is $6,000.

Berard said Crossroads has been going on for 15 years and there is a lot of " wear and tear" on the house. Work that needs to be done includes repainting the ceilings and walls, as well as fixing the floor in one of the bathrooms, which is outdated.

"Paint can do wonders," Berard said.

The Access website describes Crossroads as a "community-based, transitional living" program that "strives to empower young adults to reach their full potential."

It serves males and females between the ages of 16 and 20.

Residents live in two, four-bedroom apartments in the building, one for males and one for females. They are supervised 24- hours per-day by staff members.

"We'll get our eighth resident tomorrow so, technically, we are full," Berard said.

For privacy reasons, Berard did not disclose the house's address.

She said residents are referred by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, which funds the program, and come from all over the state.

Berard said some of the people in the program have been in multiple DCF placements throughout their lives.

" We are here to help them," she said.

During the program, residents focus on developing independent living skills as well as educational and vocational achievement.

Residents learn about the following: interpersonal and community awareness and engagement; knowledge of medical conditions; management of medical conditions; and maximization of education, vocation and community integration. Residents participate in scheduled recreational activities, educational trips and cultural events. Staff are " trauma- informed," meaning they evaluate each resident's situation individually, doing so in a respectful and caring manner.

" They've been through alot in their young lives," Berard said.

She said staff try to meet the residents "where they're at" and figure out what will work.

Access is designated by the federal and state governments as the anti-poverty agency in Northeast Connecticut. The agency provides a wide range of services, including food, affordable housing, job readiness services and other pathways to economic self-reliance for vulnerable limited- income families and individuals throughout the region. For more information about Crossroads, visit www. accessagency. org/crossroads/.

People can also call Berard at (860) 887-7800 or (860) 887-6300 or email her at jolene.berard@accessagency. org.

Follow Michelle Warren on Twitter — @mwarrentc.