New look for youth agency
Pictured after unveiling a new branded sign at the entrance to CJR’s Litchfield Campus on Route 63 are from left: Frederick “Rick” F. Judd III, Chair, CJR Board of Directors and Executive Vice President, Union Savings Bank; Daniel Rezende, CJR President and CEO; and Matthew Karpas, Prior CJR Board Chair, current CJR Board member, and Founder, Karpas Strategies LLC. Photo submitted

New look for youth agency

LITCHFIELD — Established in 1904 as a residential program for troubled boys on a sprawling campus off Route 63, the Connecticut Junior Republic recently unveiled a new brand, mission statement and website to better reflect its evolution and growth in meeting current and future needs of at-risk youth and families, including those residing in the state’s rural Northwest Corner.

The private charitable organization, with deep roots in Litchfield County, has undergone an official name change: it is now known as the CJR, and its new logo is a dragonfly, which has long been a symbol of happiness, new beginnings, and change.

CJR has also been awarded two significant grants, including one submitted by U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-5) to the House Committee on Appropriates for $750,000 to support repairs, maintenance and renovation to the aging farm facilities on its Litchfield campus. The funds will also allow CJR to make its programs and facilities more relevent and available to students from other regional agriculture centers.

The beneficiaries of these funds will include young people and families who are among the most vulnerable and at-risk in Connecticut who would benefit from the educational and therapeutic opportunities afforded by agricultural education, according to CJR.

The organization was also one of six to receive a grant this month from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA) in the amount of $140,000 to address health disparities across Connecticut.

The CHEFA grant is anticipated to benefit 1,500 children, youth and family members over two years, according to CJR officials. The funds will help increase access to psychiatric services provided at five Wellness Center clinics located in four of Connecticut’s eight counties and through school-based services currently provided in 21 schools in Litchfield, Hartford and New Haven Counties.

According to Hedy Barton, CJR’s director of development, The Wellness Center is CJR’s fastest- growing program, with clinics in Torrington, Litchfield, Danbury, New Britain and Waterbury.

CJR, which also operates a residential group home in Winsted, provides behavioral health services in a growing number of elementary, middle and high schools by special arrangement.

In its most recently completed fiscal year, said Barton, the Wellness Center served 860 young people and families, an increase of 33% over the prior year, including clients from Salisbury, North Canaan, Cornwall, Norfolk and Goshen.

“Seventy percent of those children and families were from Litchfield County,” she said. “Every single year since we opened the program in 2015, the need has gone up, heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.The prediction was that the need for mental health services was going to be the next pandemic.”

CJR officials noted that the rebranding represents a commitment by the organization to continue to build on treatment, education, and support programs for children, young people and families while remaining true to the values that have guided the organization since 1904.

“CJR’s continuum of care has never been more comprehensive, accessible, or needed than it is today,” said Dan Rezende, the organization’s president and CEO, in making the announcement.

“We are incredibly excited to roll out a new brand designed to better connect us with those we serve and support in deeper and more meaningful ways during Mental Health Awareness Month.”

“The beneficiaries of these funds will include young people and families who are among the most vulnerable and at-risk in Connecticut and who would benefit from the educational and therapeutic opportunities afforded by agricultural education,” according to the request.

The agency’s 16 campus and office locations throughout Connecticut serve more than 1,700 individuals and families annually with residential, education, community, and wellness services.

Rick Judd, chairman of CJR’s board of directors, said his agency’s brand refresh process involved many of CJR’s key constituencies, “enabling us to capture and convey CJR’s voice today with greater impact.”

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