Pradžia > About Organization > History
On July 1st 1994 in Toronto, Canada, at Resurrection Parish Church, 3 people formed an initiative group made up of Lithuanians: Fr. E. Putrimas, B. A in Psychology R. Liškauskas and PhD student of psychology M. Balaišytė. They gathered and consulted on the establishment of a Youth Centre in Klaipeda. Upon arrival in Lithuania, Fr. E. Putrimas saw firsthand the success of support for youth centers in Vilnius and Kaunas and saw the poor condition of support for young people in the city of Klaipeda. He therefore decided to establish a youth centre in Klaipeda. This initiative was supported by the Canadian Lithuanian Catholic Centre and the Canadian Foreign Affairs International Fund. The purpose of this new centre was to provide individual psychological counseling and support group for people at risk of social exclusion. The suggested name of the new center - the Social Assistance Centre for Young People, was not suitable because at the time social services in Lithuania was associated with social care and psychological support with psychiatry, these were negative associations. In order to meet the organizations philosophical approach to man, as man is not only a social but a spiritual being a decision was made to name the centre the “Spiritual Guidance Centre for Youth”. The centre was originally located in St. Josephs parish church in the newly built premises and it was recorded as a public organization in December of 1994 at the municipality of Klaipeda. The centre was recorded as a public organization (under the Diocese of Telsiai) “Spiritual Guidance Center for Youth” (JDPC).The DPJC centre was officially opened on March 19th 1995. The organization structure was as follows: Project Director, Canadian Advisory Board, Lithuanian Board of Directors, Director of the Centre, the Centre Manager.
The first social programs were “Preparation for Marriage” and the “Works of Mercy” projects. Within one year of its existence, DPJC had established a number of contacts with various people and organizations to learn more about the social situation within the city of Klaipeda. The staff had learned that there were many low-income families with children. Summer camps were organized for children in order to integrate them into the community. Klaipeda University master social pedagogue I. Jonutyte, helped to organize the summer camps for children with 60 volunteers from the parish and university students. A co-operation of safeguarding and protecting children was organized between the police and the city of Klaipeda Child Protection Services (VTAT). After the conclusion of the camps it was observed that the parish youth and university students, who worked with the children have improved their communication skills and deepened their understanding about children in – need. It was also observed that these skills and knowledge are especially important and needed for the volunteers to work with children.
Further working with volunteers other problems exposed. It was noted that some of the volunteers needed for help themselves. The activities were based on the principle that one cannot help another, if he has a problem himself. On this basis, the centre began to prepare volunteers through the preparation for the volunteering courses. Managing to help themselves, the volunteers were able to help other people. At that time, the centre started to operate various programs: Youth Leaders, TeenClub, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Youth Line, Operation Snowball, Natural Helper, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, International Awards.The centres activities are based on the principle of volunteering. All programs depend on volunteers. Lithuania changed the requirements for public organizations and the centre re-registered the organization under the new ordinance. The Board of Directors, after examining and discussing the new regulations, decided that the proper implementation of the objectives of the Centre was to be registered as a non-governmental organization and Charitable Support Foundation.
On May 26th in 1996, the Spiritual Guidance Center for Youth became a charitable organization.