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Youth Service Bureau Prepared to Maintain Second Mile Services in Centre Co.

on March 21, 2012 6:50 PM

The troubled Second Mile charity, still facing an uncertain future, has yet to announce the fate of its statewide youth-service programs.

But in Centre County at least, the county Youth Service Bureau appears ready to take on and maintain The Second Mile's primary offerings for local residents in need.

"We have looked closely at what services The Second Mile (has) provided here in Centre County," said Andrea Boyles, the bureau CEO. She said those services fall largely into three categories: a Friend Fitness mentoring program, a separate activity program called Friend, and a summer camp.

Friend Fitness, through which young people develop exercise habits with the help of mentors, counts 27 youth participants in Centre County.

"We would welcome those kids and their volunteers into Big Brothers Big Sisters (of Centre County)" if they so desire, Boyles said. She said the Youth Service Bureau's existing staff could handle the added workload. (Big Brothers Big Sisters, she noted, always needs more volunteer mentors.)

The Friend program, for its part, enables youth participants to meet for monthly activities with Penn State students. It's not immediately clear how many Centre County residents take part, but the Youth Service Bureau thinks it can absorb the program locally without overburdening its infrastructure, Boyles said.

Separately, the Second Mile summer-camp program enrolled nearly 50 county residents last year. Maintaining it would be a greater challenge for the Youth Service Bureau, Boyles said.

But she said her organization, with support from private donors, hopes to take it on and continue the summer camp this season. Under a tentative plan, it could enroll as many as 80 youth, some of them from surrounding counties, Boyles said.

A formal announcement on that front may be forthcoming soon, she added.

That said, the county Youth Service Bureau still doesn't know The Second Mile's plans, Boyles said. A regional nonprofit group, the Youth Service Bureau is funded with a variety of government, United Way and private contributions.

The Second Mile, meanwhile, is statewide nonprofit group founded by Jerry Sandusky in 1978. Also supported with government and private funds, it is weighing multiple options for its programs, Second Mile leaders have said.

One reported option is to spin some programs off into other, already-existing organizations.

The Second Mile has lost much financial support and laid off employees in the weeks since early November, when charges against Sandusky came to light. Sandusky, 58, of College Township, is charged with 52 criminal counts in a child sexual abuse case.

State prosecutors have said Sandusky met his alleged abuse victims through Second Mile activities. Sandusky, also a former Penn State football coach, has sought to have a Second Mile insurance provider cover his legal expenses. The insurance provider is fighting that request in court.

A phone message left for David Woodle, the interim chief executive at The Second Mile, was not answered this week. Sandusky has maintained that he is innocent.

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