A historic event took place Tuesday at Joe Gibbs’ Youth for Tomorrow New Life Center south of Manassas on Linton Hall Road.
The residential-educational-couseling facility for at-risk teenage boys since 1986, broke ground for two new residential quarters for girls.
Two eight-bed girls’ homes will be constructed at a cost of $1 million. The homes, expected to be ready for occupancy in September, will sit on a recently purchased 65-acre parcel of land adjacent to the present site of the boys home.
Funding for the additional land and construction of the two buildings comes from benefactor Bob Wiser, who has also donated funding for construction of expanded facilities for the boys.
To get a break from the harsh wind, the groundbreaking ceremony was held under a tent near the site of the proposed construction of the homes.
F. Gary Garczynski, president of the board of trustees, told the gathering it was “a privilege and pleasure to welcome you to this historic event.”
Sean Connaughton, R, at-Large, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said “the Youth of Tomorrow has been an outstanding facility for boys and it will become just as great for the girls.”
Gary L. Jones, chief executive officer, gave a history of the facility, saying it was founded by Joe Gibbs — a prominent civic leader and National Football League Hall of Fame former head coach of the Washington Redskins — who had a dream that it would offer new hope and new opportunities to at-risk young men.
“We have served more than 500 at-risk teenagers with many of our graduates going on to attend college and apply their learning to chosen careers, including law enforcement, juvenile justice, information technology, heavy-equipment operators and even becoming staff members here. We expect the same of the girls,” Jones said.
The need for accommodations for girls at the center “is greater than ever before,” Jones said.
According to statistics from the Virginia Department of Social Services:
More than 40 percent of abused, alienated or abandoned teenagers in Virginia are girls.
Physical and sexual abuse, and often-subsequent fear and emotional distress, are the predominant issues for the girls. Other factors are substance abuse, homelessness and abandonment.
A girls’ home is needed to provide a safe, loving and wholesome environment for these vulnerable teenagers.
For every 17 beds for at-risk teenage boys in Northern Virginia, there is only one bed available for at-risk teenage girls.
The girls will be referred to the school, as are the boys, by public and private sector social service agencies, juvenile courts, probation officers and concerned family members.
“We have a success rate of 86.4 percent that provides youth with the opportunity and motivation to focus their lives and develop the confidence, skills, education, spiritual insight, and moral integrity to become responsible and productive citizens,” said Jones.
In addition to the two new homes, a 40,000-square-foot building is under construction at the site. The $5 million facility will house a gymnasium, library, auditorium, dining facility and 22 classrooms and will be used by both boys and girls.
Staff writer Bennie Scarton Jr. can be reached at (703) 368-3101, Ext. 125.