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Health department, coffee shop helping youth
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Following months of reaching out to the community, the Cider House has found two new allies in its effort to help Liberty County at-risk youth.
The Liberty County Health Department recently donated funds to the arts outreach organization to assist in funding at least four of the group’s Spit One workshops.
The workshops, offered every second Saturday of the month, blend film screenings, creative writing, gourmet delights and open mic sessions to initiate awareness and dialogue about social issues affecting the area’s youth between the ages of 11 and 19.
Because one of the group’s major goals is to keep Spit One workshops, as well as its other programs, free of charge or at low-cost, CHI Executive Director Clarenda Stanley said the donation “is extremely important.”
“It’s an integral part of what we’re trying to do,” she said. “We can’t operate without the funding.”
The funds are part of the LCHD’s Adolescent Health and Youth Development Program, which is supported through contributions from the state and in turn gives financial help to groups working to provide positive outlets for youth in Liberty County.
According to program consultant Leah Poole, CHI was chosen for sponsorship because it gives many local young people the rare chance to express themselves through the arts.  
“It’s really a unique opportunity for the children of Liberty County. We don’t have a lot of spoken word or art opportunities here,” she said. “And I love the slogan of making good things out of bad apples. We’re very glad to be able to sponsor Cider House.”
Although CHI has been offering the Spit One workshops since February 2005, the organization went without a consistent meeting space until this past February when Over Coffee Espresso Shop opened its doors to the group.
“We like to try and help the community as much as we can,” the shop’s co-owner Jenny Cole said about working with the group. “And when she (Stanley) asked to use the shop, I felt it would be a good cause.”
While the deal to use the Over Coffee space is not yet permanent, Stanley said continued strong turnouts for the workshops should keep the “symbiotic relationship” in place.  
“They offer us the space and we make purchases for the kids,” she said. “It’s really working out for both of us.”

Upcoming workshop
 The next free Spit One workshop will be held May 12 from 1-3 p.m. at Over Coffee Espresso Shop and will feature speaker/poet Clinton Powell, cofounder and director of Savannah’s Spitfire Poetry Group. Seating is limited, so pre-registration is encouraged. The first 10 youth will receive a free smoothie of their choice.
For more information on how to pre-register or sponsor a workshop, call Stanley at 980-9274 or e-mail her at
Information about upcoming events are posted online at
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