SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – A powerful social services agency celebrated its inaugural awards luncheon on Thursday.

The Front Porch is a community-based agency that helps young people avoid juvenile court by providing them with the services they need.

WSAV News 3’s Tina Tyus-Shaw was proud to serve as emcee.

Some passionate supporters received awards named for the founder and judges who fully support resources that families and children need to thrive beyond challenges.

“To have an opportunity to be a part of being more upstream to try to figure out how we can try to prevent so many young people and their families from coming in the court system by providing them with the SOS services, opportunities and support that all children and families need,” said Judge Lisa Colbert. “And unfortunately, some don’t get it without some effort beyond what many of us have to go through to get what we need.”

“The product of that is those kids don’t end up in our court,” said Judge Thomas Cole. “They don’t end up in the juvenile justice system. They aren’t going through that same court process because all they needed were the opportunities and the services that they were missing.”

Judge Emeritus Leroy Burke III said a lot of young people came into the system, not because of their behavior but because they had trauma issues.

“And so one of the things we tried to do was create a place where that trauma could be dealt with,” he said, “and trauma is dealt with through counseling and through assistance rather than punishment.”

Since 2018, 1,100 cases haven’t gone to court all thanks to services from the Front Porch.