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Change in Leadership for the Valley Office on Youth - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Change in Leadership for the Valley Office on Youth

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Over the past two decades, her work has touched the lives of countless children and families.  But the longtime director of the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth is ready to pass the torch.

They're only half-joking at the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth to say there's not much they don't offer families.  Under the direction of director Carol Blair, they've worked to lower teen pregnancy rates, give expelled students a second chance, and help moms and dads improve their parenting skills.

For the director of the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth, this is hardly the agency she took over 20 years ago. 

Blair said, "When I started in January '92, it was myself and a secretary, and had a budget of maybe $50,000.  Now our budget's $1.2 million." 

The office now has 16 full-time staff members, and another 20 part-timers as needed for specific programs.  Those run the spectrum from anti-gang initiatives like the SAW Coalition, to teen pregnancy prevention efforts, to bath salts awareness campaigns, and even Project GROWS to combat child obesity.

"The way that I've always tried to run the office is to be in a response mode - responding to community needs, and not just deciding we need this program, or we need this program, but looking at data, listening to people," Blair said.

That job now falls to Melissa Orndorff, who takes over as director at the end of this week.  Job one is putting all of those programs and services under the microscope.

"I want to see them in action, and from that, kind of begin to evaluate where we might be able to improve things, where we can maybe move programs forward, any services that perhaps we could be providing that we're not already," Orndorff said.

But don't expect major changes in the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth, which retains its core mission.  Blair said, "We're there if they've got an issue, or if they need just a little extra support... we try to help kids get through their adolescence."

Orndorff will get a boost early in her tenure.  The Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth has just earned a $600,000 federal grant for its teen pregnancy prevention program.

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