‘Bridging The Gap’: Salvation Army program helps at-risk teens get their lives back on track

‘Bridging The Gap’: Salvation Army program helps at-risk teens get their lives back on track

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — Giving Tuesday is a global movement to help those in need and Boston25 News is teaming with the Salvation Army, a group that is known for helping those who need it most.

Some of the money collected in their red kettles that we all see during the holiday season goes towards a program that is helping get young lives back on track.

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Roky Escobar has come a long way from when he first showed up at the Salvation Army more than a decade ago. While growing up in Attleboro, Escobar sometimes found himself on the wrong side of the law.

“There’s a lot of times in my life where everybody told me I wasn’t going to amount to anything. I don’t think you should ever tell a youth that, but that’s how I was told as a kid. They said you’re better off in jail,” he said.

At 16 years old, Escobar found help and hope through the Salvation Army’s Bridging The Gap program for troubled teens.

The program was developed to get court-appointed first–time teen offenders off probation, out of trouble, and on a path to successful and productive lifestyles. The diversion program is offered in 12 communities throughout Massachusetts for at-risk or high-risk boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17.

They work on things like building self-esteem, how to deal with peer pressure, gang violence, and the effects of drugs and alcohol.

“Our program runs 52 weeks a year. Every week we have new kids coming in and every week we have kids completing. It’s a 12-week curriculum. However, they need to stay out of trouble for 6 months,” said Anthony Falvo, Salvation Army Massachusetts Bridging The Gap Statewide Director.

If participants can do that, then their records will be expunged. To date, 87% of graduates do not re-offend within a year.

Escobar was so inspired and helped by the program he never left. Eleven years later, he’s now the director of the program in Framingham.

“To always have their doors open to me, when I say it was a sanctuary, it was a sanctuary to me. When things were going wrong in my life that’s where I went,” Escobar said.

On this Giving Tuesday, Boston 25 and Beasley Media Group are partnering together with the Salvation Army of Massachusetts to make sure our most vulnerable communities are getting the help they need.

To donate, or learn more about the range of services the Salvation Army provides, click here.