An acclaimed program that benefits children who have been the victims of crimes such as domestic violence and sexual assault is in jeopardy, organizers say, and they're asking for urgent financial support from the Casper community.

The Self Help Center is looking to raise $17,000 in order to purchase an SUV before Monday, June 10. It sounds like a tall order, but the organizers are trying to navigate an unfortunate surprise.

Their 2003 Chevrolet Suburban, used to haul the kids and tow a trailer of supplies, broke down Monday. The vehicle is only worth about $3,000, the organizers say, and that's roughly what it would cost to make the necessary repairs.

So instead of fixing it, which they believe would not be financially responsible, the Self Help Center would like to replace it with another SUV that will meet the needs of the program.

With a goal of eradicating violence in the community, the Self Help Center offers advocacy, mental health services, a 30-day safe house, substance abuse treatment and adult education classes, as well as youth prevention and education services. Part of their work includes educating young people on building healthy relationships with their friends, family and community.

The Center's CORE (Conservation, Outdoor Recreation and Education) Program takes youth on six camping trips throughout each summer, providing outdoor and service-learning projects during the trips. Some 15-20 children go on each trip.

The program has been around for over 25 years.

"Participants learn survival skills and respect for the outdoors while fostering critical relationships with positive adult role models," Executive Director Jennifer Dyer said in an email Tuesday. "Service projects include cleaning up campsites, removing graffiti, rebuilding fences and more."

The projects are assigned by federal land management agencies including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The program aims to address self-esteem issues through positive outdoor experiences and interactions with other students, Dyer said. "The projects promote a sense of worth for the students as well as develop work ethic, teamwork and acceptance of others."

The program also plays a crucial role by providing an alternative for children who may be in volatile, high-risk homes during time off from school.

"Together we can continue to work towards our mission and provide this much-needed program to our community's youth," Dyer said.

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