We, in Brevard County, are blessed to have a very effective nonprofit organization, committed to helping teens, who are in crisis. Crosswinds Youth Services is located on Dixon Boulevard in Cocoa, but serves all of Brevard County. Dr. Robert Lehton, along with other community leaders, started Crosswinds in the early 1970s after multiple teen runaways had been found murdered in Brevard County. Since that time, Crosswinds has grown to be a nationally recognized leader in helping teens in crisis.
Under the strong guidance of Jan Lokay, Crosswinds offers a sanctuary to children, who have run away to escape sexual, physical or emotional abuse. The cornerstone of Crosswinds' beautiful campus is its children's shelter, which provides boys and girls a safe and secure place to live until a more permanent and loving home can be found.
Crosswinds assists parents and children with educational and counseling services in an effort to strengthen their families and prevent conflict.
Crosswinds also provides older teens with the training and tools they need to become self-sufficient as they transition into adulthood. Crosswinds is on a mission to create opportunities for young people to succeed.
Everyone on the Crosswinds team reflects the belief that they can and will make a difference in the lives of children and teens in crisis.
As Sheriff, I, along with all of my fellow police chiefs, have come to depend on Crosswinds for a myriad of services for our young people. Crosswinds also operates the county's Juvenile Assessment Center, or JAC. Brevard's officers take children, who are starting to get into trouble, to the JAC to ensure they get the right services and consequences.
Crosswinds also played a major role in initiating the highly successful "Civil Citation Program" for youthful offenders in Brevard County. This innovative program gives law enforcement officers the discretion to issue a civil citation in lieu of arrest for non-violent, first offenses.
If a child who receives a civil citation works with Crosswinds to accept responsibility for his or her actions and successfully fulfills the expectations of the citation, the child will avoid any criminal record. Since the implementation of civil citations, juvenile arrests have been falling dramatically in Brevard County. State leaders are so impressed with Crosswinds' program; they are trying to enact similar programs in every county in the state.
We are so proud of the work Crosswinds does for our community that we host an annual golf tournament for them known as the "Sheriff's Fall Classic." This tournament provides critical funds, so that they can keep the children's shelter open and provide needed services to teens.
This year's tournament will be played at the beautiful Duran Golf Course on Friday, Oct. 26.
We are pleased to announce that all of this year's tournament expenses have been paid by our generous tournament sponsor, Communications International Inc., through a $10,000 sponsorship. As a result, every dollar we raise in additional sponsorships will go to help children in our community.
If you are interested in learning more or perhaps sponsoring this tournament, visit www.BrevardSheriff.com and click on the "Sheriff's Fall Classic" link, or you can call the Sheriff's Office at (321) 264-5201.
If you would like to learn more about Crosswinds and the services it offers, visit www.CrosswindsYouthServices.org or call (321) 452-0800.
Jack Parker is sheriff of Brevard County.