We have been blessed to be able to serve at-risk youth for over 26 years through our innovative community-based Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program.

This cutting edge diversionary program provides a substantive alternative for probation officers, sick social service agencies, court officials, defense attorneys and prosecutors and has made a discernible difference for the youth population that we are committed to serve.

It has been refreshing and heartwarming to watch the metamorphosis that we call “change” take place as participants progress through our program. Our systematic approach and familial atmosphere coupled with tough love, a disciplined environment and a caring and compassionate staff has allowed us to reach youth, once thought to be unreachable and incorrigible as we reduce the rates of recidivism in our youth population.

We have served thousands of youth–and in the process strengthened the family unit and made our communities a safer place to live and raise families.  We are proud that Take Charge Program participants have become exemplary in behavior, attitude and appearance as they matriculate to a life of responsibility and accountability to their families and the public. We refuse to lower the bar for maintaining an effective attitude and image.

At the Take Charge Program, we believe that standards for youth inside the Beltway should be just as high for those outside of the Beltway.  All of us have a divine and moral responsibility to shape the lives of youth in our community. We should not cripple them with low expectations and negative stereotypes while sowing seeds of self-entitlement rather than independence and creative thoughts.

We must prepare our youth to succeed in a highly competitive, technologically advanced society that rewards intellect and tenacity, not slothfulness and irresponsibility. Our charge is to prepare our youth to see a future that is bigger and brighter than each of them. They must know that from the cradle to the grave, they are on a collision course with greatness, not failure. They must as President John F. Kennedy said, “Dream dreams and ask why, rather than Dream dreams and ask why not.”

They must understand as Booker T. Washington did that a man is “judged not by the heights he has risen instead of depths he has risen.” Our youth must learn to subscribe to ideals and concepts beyond their environment. Let us unchain their spirits. Let us release them from the bondage that now holds them captive in the form of music videos, degrading speech, a lack of respect for authority and shameful street conduct that has caused violent behavior to escalate and prison doors to swing open. The attraction to the “Thug Life” must be replaced with a love for a “Successful Life.”

We can no longer allow the negative images they see and hear feed into their spirits. We cannot allow negative habits or urban culture which encourages baggy pants, unkempt hair, immoral behavior and a “live for today, damn tomorrow” attitude to continue to be pervasive and persuasive. We are teaching youth to embrace positive role models and images of success that will demand respect from individuals from all walks of life as they climb their personal ladders of success.

Our youth must learn to communicate effectively with a wider society. Ebonics and slang are not acceptable forms of language in our society. It is okay to be spoken at home, but not in public or in school when a grade to advance is at stake. It is painful for so many of us to hear our youth use words like “joints” for objects. We must demand acceptable and effective communication skills, behavior, and of course, academic performance. We must continue to give youth love, guidance, support, social skills and cultural awareness that will facilitate greatness.

Let us stay the course that we have set as we maintain important family values societal norms that have made this community a leader in the Washington Metropolitan Area when it comes to fostering new ideas and futuristic concepts. The pressure is always on us to produce tomorrow, more than we have today, but the challenges will be met. Our goals will always be set higher. We know we have a special mission with a special purpose. It is up to each of us to continue along the path that we have set with this unique sense and spirit of excellence that has allowed this program to succeed when so many have failed.

Once again, we thank everyone for their efforts to assist us–this is not just the Take Charge Program–it is a community program. Together, we can make a positive difference in the world. Please continue to sow great seeds of change through your contributions and your service. Even kind words mean much to us.
Respectfully yours,

Jerrod Mustaf
Executive Director
Take Charge Juvenile Diversion Program, Inc.

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