Youth intervention agency expands local services

In response to the needs of the community, the David & Margaret Home, which Offer programs of intervention and therapeutic assistance to abused, neglected and behaviorally challenged youth and their families, recently initiated additional services including school-based counseling at the Claremont Unified School District, family preservation services in Pomona schools and community services through the Los Angeles Probation Department.

“We are in the early recruiting stages of the new mentoring program for students in the Claremont Unified School District,” said David & Margaret spokeswoman Marcella Barba-Olmos. “We have the greatest needs for mentors in that program.”

Youth intervention agency expands local services

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Posted October 5, 2005
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David & Margaret Home Volunteer Services Coordinator Anita Lantz (center) has been working at the home for 15 years as a counselor, supervising senior counselor and case manager. San Dimas based decorator Terri Wilcox (right) is the owner of Amazing Space, an interior design firm. Wilcox, specializing in one-day room makeovers, will coordinate the effort to redecorate the rooms at the home for the expected increase in tenants.
The David & Margaret Home now provides more therapeutic services for residents than ever before. It has several newly hired staff giving more time for one-on-one therapy and much needed attention for each adolescent girl.

The past two years have proved financially draining, but with the addition of a mental health service contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, the agency is now able to expand its services.

Federal funding provides the agency with mentoring services for children in the fourth through eighth grades in the Claremont Unified School District, as well as services for seventh and eighth grade girls attending the Joan Macy School, a private school in La Verne.

Mentors, who undergo rigorous ongoing training, include college students and high school juniors and seniors. They are matched carefully with the youth, and they are required to commit to the program for one year.

Beverly Featherston, the director of community-based services, meets ongoing and emerging needs of families and youth in surrounding communities and maintains David & Margaret’s reputation as the agency branches out to new areas of service.

“I get internal fulfillment (from giving) positive guidance,” Featherston said. “I have the opportunity to help affect change not only in the child and families but also in creating solutions for the communities societal problems.”           

In the past, girls were referred to the program because of serious emotional and behavioral problems, but some were not accepted because the agency could not support their therapeutic needs.

Under the new contract with the Department of Mental Health, several additional therapists have been hired along with administrators Paula Randle, Nicolas Betty and Michael Miller.

The nearly 100-year-old David & Margaret Home was founded as an orphanage in 1910, when La Verne resident and businessman Henry Kuns donated 17 acres of land and a large building originally designed as a hotel for women of the Methodist church.

Kuns asked only that his gift be used to help children in need and that it be named David & Margaret in honor of his parents and his youngest son who predeceased him.

Currently, the residential treatment program serves nearly 84 young women ages 12 to 18.

Most of them have a history of abuse or neglect and are referred by the Department of Children and Family Services, by probation departments or the Department of Mental Health.

There are six on-campus bungalows, each of which houses up to 10, and four off-campus group homes in La Verne and San Dimas each of which houses up to six young women.

Features include individual and group family therapy, a 30-day assessment cottage, a recovery services cottage, transitional living apartments and a health and fitness program.

The program has mental health services, substance abuse recovery services, a recreational program, a mentor program and a spiritual life program.

Today the residential treatment program serves adolescent girls primarily from Southern California.           

Terri Wilcox, a volunteer who decorates the apartments at David & Margaret, said she enjoys making the young women’s living environments pleasant.

“I want to leave behind a beautiful, homey, comfortable space that teenage girls love to hang out in,” Wilcox said.

Vitoria Drost can be reached at vitoriadrost@hotmail.com.