Office on Youth welcomes new director, familiar face


newmanGinny Newman takes over as the executive director of the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth today.

Her first priority in the new job: to help the office stabilize.

“We’ve undergone quite a few changes the past two years,” said Newman, a 12-year veteran of the Office on Youth, a regional government agency serving Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County founded in 1977 that provides resources and services to area youth and their families.

The areas of focus include teen pregnancy prevention, substance abuse prevention, juvenile offenders programs, parenting programs and youth employment.

Newman was most recently the division supervisor for the Waynesboro office, and in that role had a special emphasis on the teen pregnancy prevention and parenting and family services programs.

“The teen pregnancy rates here are the lowest they’ve been in 25 years. That’s a huge accomplishment,” Newman said. “We’ve added programs for parenting. If you can’t have a stable family, you’re not going to have a stable home, you’re not going to have stable kids. It will keep snowballing.

“What happens at home affects kids at school, makes it hard to them to get a future job, to become a productive member of society,” Newman said. “Dealing with families as a whole, with parents, who are having issues, it puts down a foundation for families to be able to deal with the issues that they’re facing.

“Everybody can use some support, no matter what age their kids are,” Newman said.

The three local governments are in the throes of their spring budget season already, so from a budgeting standpoint, Newman is laying the foundation for what the Office on Youth will prioritize in 2016, looking at existing programs for impact, for community support, for things that can be done better internally.

“Those are the kinds of things that I’ll be looking at. Making sure our foundation is really solid,” Newman said. “It seems to be. We have the strong support of all three localities. We have great working relationships with all three school districts.

“I’ve been in the area in the human-service field for over 20 years. I’m hoping to build on the contacts that I’ve already developed to see what we can do to serve the youths and families in this communities here,” Newman said.

The focus is on the kids. They really are the future.

“Any kid can be at risk. Any family can be at risk. As a community, we need to pull together for all the kids and say, everybody needs the same chance. Everybody deserves an opportunity to make it in life,” Newman said.

– Story by Chris Graham