Early this year, Haley Bulgarelli, a Santa Maria 14-year-old, was charged with possession of marijuana and as a minor in possession of alcohol. Haley was referred to Teen Court — an early intervention program for first-time offenders that diverts teen clients out of the traditional juvenile system. Haley attended court with her mother and a jury of her peers determined her sentencing.
As part of her consequences, Haley was required to volunteer her time.
Crystal Moreno, Teen Court’s program manager, knew Haley had been a cheerleader and suggested she volunteer her services at the neighborhood Boys and Girls Club. “It’s important to find a community service opportunity for these teens that allows them to engage their unique skills,” Moreno said. “We find that they can have a truly beneficial and life-changing experience when we are able to match them up with community service that fits their interests.”
Haley organized a cheerleading camp for 14 of the Boys and Girls Club students and decided to continue to teach the children even after her community service requirements were complete. In fact, Haley purchased T-shirts for the children and used her own money to create fliers to publicize last week’s performance.
Haley’s goal is to continue to teach cheerleading to the community’s youths, but she needs local support in order to supply her camp with T-shirts and other materials. Her goal is to become a cheerleading coach and continue to demonstrate leadership by being a positive role model.
Haley has gained job skills, given back to the community and has become involved in something that she can continue to participate in and be proud. Because of Teen Court’s efforts in encouraging her to stay on track, Haley has gained a newfound sense of pride and accomplishment.
“There is no doubt that Haley is going to succeed and go far with her future,” Moreno said.
Under the Teen Court program, defendants avoid a criminal record while still being held accountable for their actions. All functions of Teen Court are carried out by teens, and sentences include jury duty, community service, counseling and educational classes.
For more information or volunteer services, contact Crystal Moreno at 805.925.8860 or email@example.com.
Jasmine Rara is the media and special events coordinator for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.