Jeopardy Counseling Provides
TLC and Mentoring
Counseling is offered each
4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Jeopardy facility.
When troubled kids step into the Jeopardy counseling
program, they find a comforting environment, a way to relieve stress
and one-on-one mentoring from a professional psychologist.
Sharon Gross, Jeopardy’s volunteer counselor, found out
about the program by attending a meeting of her homeowners’ association where
a presentation about it was being made by a police officer. Impressed by the
possibilities, she took down the phone number and decided to volunteer as a tutor.
When the officers found out that she had a Ph.D. in psychology, however, they
recruited her to be a counselor.
After just a short time serving in this role, Gross is
hooked. “When Officer Zepeda asked me how long I would continue to come, I told
him I think it will be until I die,” she says. Thus far, Gross has counseled
children who have been sent to the Jeopardy program for four primary
reasons: troublemaking, fighting, tagging and a single mother who needs
help with her daughters.
“My philosophy is that children get into trouble for
three main reasons: lack of self-esteem, lack of hope and a need for attention,
because negative attention is better than no attention,” says Gross. “Also, children
need to be informed that they are unique, that their job is to be a student
and to learn who they are, and that we can learn more from our mistakes
than we can from our successes.”
To accomplish these goals, children who come to see Gross
begin their session by cozying up in a big overstuffed recliner. Then, Gross
says she believes her task as counselor is to help each child discover his
or her best attributes and talents, to help build their self-esteem and
to help put them on a path to achieve success. “In order to do this,
I gather information about the incident that led each of them to the
Jeopardy program, their family circumstances and what they enjoy.” She
adds, I firmly believe that they all are doing the best they can, and
it is my job to help them see how they can make changes in their behavior
that will lead to positive outcomes.”
Does this tactic work? Absolutely. Gross shares the following
success story: “One 13-year-old told me that she wants to be a clothing designer.
I asked her if she had ever made any clothes for herself, and she said
‘no.’ I asked her if she ever drew designs, and she said ‘yes.’ So we
discussed her ability to use her grandmother’s sewing machine, and to
buy fabric and patterns, and to modify the patterns to her design.”
Gross says she suggested that the teen create a scrapbook of her creations
to show to potential employers in the future. “She has begun this task
with the knowledge that there will be frustrations along the way,” explains
Gross. “But she commented recently that unlike before, she now feels
like ‘anything is possible.’ Her future is opening up in a positive way.”