Samina Masood was hired as director of Vinewood Center for Children and Families this month and is already looking at how services it offers, such as working one on one with troubled kids, can be expanded. She said gang violence has become an increasing problem in middle schools and Vinewood is working with the city to help middle school students and their families.
“All any child who is in trouble needs is individual intense interaction,” Masood said.
Masood has lived in Tracy for five years and most recently worked for the Children’s Home of Stockton. She started as a social worker in Pakistan, where she grew up.
Former Southwest Park Elementary School teachers Regina Nordman and Dora Contreras founded Vinewood in 2001. The organization gets money from the city and state to work with troubled elementary school students one on one and in small group settings.
Vinewood has two $300,000 grants from the state and plans to apply for another one in March.
The new director wants to continue to offer social workers and licensed mental health clinicians an outlet to help kids. She also wants to help the public understand ethnic cultural differences, which she hopes will lessen crime and violence. Vinewood helps about 300 kids each school year, and more outside of the classroom.
Masood also wants to educate parents about what they can do when they see kids misbehave or wear gang colors. Vinewood offers a 10-week course, called the Parent Project, to teach parents how to help kids with behavioral and social issues such as gang affiliation or drug and alcohol use.
“It’s never too late to go in and do damage control,” Masood said.
Contact Tracy Press reporter Jaclyn Hirsch at 830-4269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.