Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday night at the office

I have been feeling the need to work on the "stuff" in the loft over my desk and the only conceivable time to work on it is on the weekend when no one else is around. So I am in here, and end up with Luke coming in to use a computer, to work on a resume for a job hunt (yeah!!) and then two neighborhood boys come in also to get on computers. I dig through old boxes and discard lots of stuff, and find little gems of resources for the positive youth development work, and the neighborhood empowering of youth material. I scratch my head trying to envision a game plan to better utilize this "door number 4" space and how to move towards a better arrangement.
Tomorrow morning brings a shelter staff meeting, the summer youth work program kick off (orientation for these youth), and things gearing up for the end of the fiscal year.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

48 kids already have come to the summer program!

We are off to a wildly successful start with our summer programming- 48 different kids have already attended at some point in these first two weeks! It is obviously attracting kids, and meeting a need for families! The age mix is dizzying, with children of all ages; we are seeing plenty of middle and high school students participating, which was the focus of our Explorations grant. The mix of activities is great: remedial school work, a reading focus, arts and crafts, games, physical recreation, and the beginnings of some community service projects, and a planning of a career exploration day. Door number 3 is a bustling hive of activity from mid-morning till after 4 pm!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Parkersburg site of CHS enjoys board member site visit

Yesterday we hosted Dave Lambert of the board for a site visit. Dave showed a lot of interest in the program and staff of the site. He spent a very thorough afternoon observing, meeting, asking good questions, and showing lots of interest and enthusiasm for the agency and our mission and work. A lot of staff happened to be present and available for Shelley to introduce Dave to, and thus get a full picture of the dedicated staff here at Parkersburg, and our commitment to the mission of the agency.

Painting our building

Barry and Jerry continue to give the office at 1739 St. Mary's a nice face lift; they are painting the whole building- they have 3 sides done, and are now tackling the front. It gives the place a nice sharp fresh look. Other sprucing up of the property will go on this summer, with projects by youth and staff in the summer program. We will get pictures!!!!

Lisa's report on our family outreach activity the other evening

June 25, 2009

The RHYBCP held its second family outreach activity at the Midtown Family Resource Center, located at the Parkersburg CHS offices, Suite 3. The activity targeted participants from a broad category of interests, ranging from parents, foster parents, older youth, youth care workers, Glasser enthusiasts, and anyone desiring to explore options in self improvement and improvement in their methods of communicating with others. The activity represented a collaboration of the two RHY programs. The RHY Workers felt this was an effective way to support and advance both the CHS and RHY mission of strengthening families, while also encouraging positive individual growth. The RHY is committed to reaching youth and their families in a variety of modes, using, but also stepping outside of traditional one on one counseling sessions. This type targeting proves useful as the diversity of the group benefits our RHY and RHY families by exposing them to differing perspectives rather than staying within the one “box” of communication means which, for many, most likely contributed to their situation. Snacks and drinks were offered and the session was conducted in a comfortable roundtable style delivery. The presenter, CHS Regional Director and Program Supervisor Steve Tuck, MSW, ACSW, did a thorough job providing introductory information about Psychiatrist William Glasser, his concepts, and did a good job tailoring the information in a useful way relating it to the individuals in attendance, and directing conversation from the participants on the topics. After the event a number of participants lingered and interacted one on one with staff, discussing ideas or seeking direction on issues related to their circumstance. Attendance, though less than hoped, increased from the previous Family Outreach Activity, therefore, it is encouraging that future activities would be worthwhile. The RHY intends to continue offering Family Outreach activities as one means of meeting the needs of our RHY clients and clients’ families and as a means of proactive prevention for families at risk of crisis.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer program well underway

Our neighborhood center summer program is well underway. We are still settling in to routines, and numbers of youth attending. Lots of creative activities are going on every day- the staff are really coming up with some creative ideas. The trips to the library on Wednesday mornings, are settling into routine. Next Monday we begin 3 or 4 youth from the summer work program (through Workforce Investment). We will be giving them orientation, and exposure to our agency's work, and their assignments for the next weeks of the summer. We are having a career day on July 10th, and more activities are being added and planned every day.

Open Session last night here at Mid Town - Glasser concepts

We had an initial session, discussing William Glasser's theory and approach last night here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. We had a small-ish crowd, but some intriguing diversity. We had two foster parents from our program (and their child, who sat quietly!) a parent who has a child at the shelter, two teen's involved in lots of our neighborhood center activities, a shelter staff and resident, 4 of our staff. Two community members came just after we finished up, who had seen the notice in the paper (I am not sure why they were so late!!!) We just used this as the most basic of introduction to some of Glasser's concepts. We will be exploring continuation of this kind of meeting; so stay tuned. Thanks to Lisa for doing all the organizational work, and setting out refreshments and such!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Look for a "parking lot/ yard" sale and vinyl record sale at the end of July/ first of August

We are in the early stages of planning a parking lot sale, (and I'll stick in an air conditioned vinyl record sale) for Friday July 31st, and Saturday August 1st tentatively. This will be a fund raiser for the Mid Town Family Resource Center.

Partners in Prevention Team meeting

We had an excellent team meeting yesterday of our local Partners in Prevention team, which helps provide community input, feedback, and planning for our Partners in Prevention grants from Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia. This group is very dedicated and involved, and Lisa was able to give a good summary of the past year's accomplishments, and we did some short (summer) and long term (next school year and beyond!) planning. Many of the great innovative ideas that we implement are generated at these meetings, so look for more news coming up from this one,too!!!
Check the various calendars associated with the site also, as several upcoming events will be announced and finalized soon.

Summer Mid Town Family Resource Center day programming has begun!

This week has started the summer day program at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. Children of all ages are coming in, (generally!!) from noon to 4 pm. There is a meal provided by the Wood County schools at 12:15, and a snack later in the afternoon. Youth who are coming in are being introduced to what might be going on this summer, surveyed for interests and parent input, and getting to know each other and the summer program staff. Lisa and Ashley are busily planning activities and tying in the goals and objectives of the Explorations grant. A very interesting mix of youth have been coming in; there has been some spontaneous "recruitment" going on in the neighborhood, and the many vast and diverse "connected" kids are coming around. Stay tuned for more updates!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Shelter supervisor announced at Parkersburg

Tuesday, June 16th, Denise Hughes will assume the leadership position at the Arthur N. Gustke Shelter in Parkersburg for CHS. Denise has been a social worker at the shelter since 1996, some of that time in a relief capacity, as she took her primary role as the mother of quadruplets in those "early years." She has been a valuable resource to the agency at large, also, with her skills in assessment instruments and tools (and the Comprehensive Assessment Process), and her training and quality review support to the agency's Quality Unit. Denise is a very devoted employee to the mission of the agency. She has supported the shelter administration through several transitions and changes, such as the move to the new Gustke Shelter in 2004. With Shelley Plauche assuming the site director position, with her previous experience at the shelter, this will make a strong team for the shelter into the future. Other key staff are well experienced and in strong position to continue their quality work with our shelter population.

First Picture from Founders Day (there will probably be more!)

This picture deserves its own caption; let it suffice to say it has to do with the (now) legacy-building "tug of war" contest that is held at Founders Day. This is Keith Spears, board chairman, and Dennis Sutton, agency Chief Executive Officer. I will leave it to your "imagination" to tell what the caption could be.......

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Big contingency from Parkersburg at agency's Founders Day in Huntington

We were proud to have a big contingency from our site at the agency's Founders Day event today. Rodger and Brenda and a good "extended" family of foster kids, 8 Gustke Shelter residents and 3 staff, me, Denise and Mary from the shelter. This was a good event of the agency's, bringing a lot of great folks together in unity around the agency's outreach to the communities, and to our mission. The weather was fine, the location was an interesting and intriguing place, the mix of people was nice.

Friday, June 12, 2009

a good bye

Monday we say good bye to Andy Nicholas, Gustke Shelter supervisor, who is leaving the position at the shelter. Andy will be working closer to his home/ roots in the Glenville area. Andy has had two stints (or more!) with the agency, and always shows appreciation for the quality work and organization of the agency. We wish him well, and will stay in touch as he continues in the social work field. Andy has always been a good trainer and presenter, so look for him to lead some social work CEU events sometime/ somewhere.

Founders Day tomorrow!

Children's Home Society's founders day is tomorrow, Saturday, June 13th at Heritage Farm in Huntington. There is quite a build up about a tug of war contest, with "captains" Dennis Sutton and board president, Keith Spears. Apparently this started last year at the Founders Day in Charleston (I could not attend). This should make for a good story afterward- so stay tuned!!! We hope for good weather, and a fun time for all, while we build a little comraderie and sense of connection to all the good people and good work of the agency.

message from Steve about Parkersburg site leadership change

Effective July 1, 2009, Shelley Plauche will be assuming the position of Parkersburg site director. Shelley will oversee the programs and operations of the Parkersburg site, including the Gustke Shelter, foster care and adoption, the Runaway and Homeless Youth programs, the Mid Town Family Resource Center, the school based social service programs (Truancy Diversion and the Homeless Student Liaison program), the early childhood programs, and the VISTA projects. She will also be the lead person for site marketing and development efforts in accordance with the agency’s strategic plan.
I will continue to be based at the Parkersburg site, and will be working on tasks and projects that further the agency’s strategic vision, such as my involvement in the various provider networks, new program development, assisting statewide efforts. I will be helping support Shelley and assist with further developing the leadership/ structure at the Parkersburg site. My only roles at the site will consist of transitioning project/ program supervision where applicable, and as it relates to the agency-wide strategic mission work.
I would be glad to discuss these transitions with anyone who has questions. Congratulations to Shelley for this assignment, and the acknowledgment of her skills and attributes by the agency, for her leadership of one of the agency’s most vibrant and positive sites, daily fulfilling the agency’s mission and impacting countless children and families.

This didn't come through as a flyer; but at least the information is there!!!

June 24, 2009, 6 pm at our Mid Town Family Resource Center at 1739 St. Mary's Ave., Parkersburg. Call: 485-0650 for information.

Join us for a comprehensive discussion of the ideas and theories of renowned psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser. The Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs of Children’s Home Society is proud to sponsor this colloquium presented by CHS Regional Director Steve Tuck, MSW, ACSW. This event is free and open to anyone interested in exploring Glasser’s methods as a means to “significantly improve the way we get along with others.” Snacks and beverages will be provided.

Picture from Foster Family Appreciation Picnic this past Tuesday

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Foster Family Appreciation Picnic- roaring success!!!

We had a great picnic for our big "family" tonight of foster parents, foster children, staff, families in general at Jackson Park in Vienna. I am sure tomorrow there will be some pictures!!! This was a great event; with much hard work put in by a LOT of people to make it a fantastic success. The weather held up great, no rain! There were a number of prayers and positive thoughts put out there, and they came through! The food was plentiful and diverse; perfect picnic fare! There were all ages, and the playground was a hit, the "cornhole" game, some basketball, and lots of good stuff. People mingled around and made new acquaintances, and felt the feeling of togetherness and support that our collective work with children brings.
Carna did a great job spearheading the effort, and the VISTA gals, and Sandy, all did great jobs soliciting community support; the staff came out in great numbers and worked hard at the event with the grilling, preparing, and clean up!!! The foster parents all got certificates and gifts, and the pinata was a tough one to break, but once it did, it set the kids scrambling for goodies. All in all, a great event to further our foster care work here from the Parkersburg site!!!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ken Storey's MSW field placement start up

Ken Storey, with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Transitional Living Program, has started his field placement (foundation, general) for his MSW program (the Charleston program of WVU). Ken will be learning and assisting in the various other programs operated at the site, as part of this phase of his coursework. He has already begun learning more depth about the foster care program, including attending a PRIDE training session, and accompanying Carna on a family visit.

Mark your calendar-- November 6th!!!!

Deb Murphy has spearheaded an exciting planning process for a major site event in November. On Friday November 6th, in cooperation with the Parkersburg Art Center, we will be having a Christmas stocking auction, as a fund raiser, and use the opportunity to "kick off" the Little Red Stocking campaign, a little "early" to gain more community awareness and support. Stay tuned for more information, as committees are being established to handle all the varied planning for this fun and ambitious major site event.

Foster Care news

Tuesday is our foster family appreciation picnic at Jackson Park in Vienna; at 5:30 pm. Many folks have been pitching in to help get this ready; thanks especially to Sandy and Kindra for the efforts to get donations in the community. This is a first for us, so we'll see how it goes!!!! We daily cannot convey enough, how much we appreciate the foster parents in our agency, and their courageous work with the children.
This week we will be welcoming two new staff in the foster care program. On Tuesday, a foster care case worker, and a family case aide will both be starting their orientation. Stay tuned for an update on their progress!!!

our after school program

We finished up another exciting and successful year of providing after school care at McKinley school Friday. Everybody felt relief, nostalgia, anticipation of summer activities, and all the other related emotions. We are very well connected now with efforts around the state for quality after school care, and advocacy efforts, primarily through the WV Statewide Afterschool Network. Jane Hange is a wealth of resources and information. She has connected after school programs with their county's and the state's Title I program contacts, to explore new uses of Title I funding, and stimulus money for new programming that fits the eligible student population for Title I. We, again, appreciate our already established good relationship with Wood County schools, and particularly Title I programming, with our Truancy Diversion program, and work with McKinley school. Additionally we maintain our contract for providing homeless student liaison work, through the McKinney-Vento act with the schools.

Business on Board with Childcare!

Deb will be attending the kick off meeting with KIDS COUNT for this year's campaign to further support and gain public awareness about the need for quality childcare in the state. We are once again, the local contact and grantee for our area for this campaign. A first activity will be contacting the local Chamber of Commerce, to get a commitment to send out a letter to the Chamber mailing list seeking support for the campaign. This is an opportune time for us, since we have many exciting things to talk to the Chamber of Commerce about locally, with all the services and impact we have with area children and families. There is a new director, after George Kellenberger retired last year after a long and distinguished stint as director of our local Chamber. Look for more news soon!

Monday, June 1, 2009

.... On any given day........

One of the exciting developments in recent years here at our bustling busy site is the connections we have made with the community. One example of this, is that on any given we might have between 3-7 people contributing valuable work for the agency, who are paid for through other sources, in various work programs. We have three great contributors through the Senior Community Service Program, Kay, Sandy, and Charles. Kay and Sandy help out immeasurably with clerical work in the various programs. Charles has been doing "handy man and janitorial type work." We have two (currently) and a steady amount over the past few years, of young people in the Youth Advantage (workforce investment act programming in the area) who have a paid work experience with us, as part of their involvement in Youth Advantage. Travis Smith (a former employee in our truancy diversion program) has been our primary contact in this program, and seeks young people with an interest in child care, or related fields, who can help out in our after school program. These young people have a contract for (usually) a 90 paid work experience, through Youth Advantage, and then can use this experience to build their resume, and gain valuable references and contacts. And finally, I have mentioned before, we have two VISTA's (Volunteers in Service to America) who contribute to our work, as a year long assignment through WV Promise. Patty and Kindra are both coming toward the end of their year of service; Patty will be staying on for another year, while Kindra goes on to enroll at WVU-P in the fall.
So, as you can see, Children's Home Society, through our connections in the community benefit from these wonderful work experience programs, and thus further our mission and serve that many more children and families through the efforts of these fine folks.

Bob Dylan Tribute raises funds for the Gustke Shelter

Saturday night's Bob Dylan Tribute, part of our year long Americana Music Tribute Series was a great fun time, and raised some money for the work of the Gustke Shelter. With some recent vinyl record sales, which I attributed to the shelter, the total raised was $687. The music was sensational with many musicians contributing their time to this cause. They had obviously worked up sets of music with a special effort to put on an entertaining night of music. The door prize winners all seemed to be excited and the few interactive contests we held were great fun. I am still working on an idea for a summer time show, but if nothing else, we are scheduled for our annual John Prine Birthday tribute on October 10th at 6 Pence Pub.

Friday Night's Movie night

Jim and Lisa report 16 youth attending the movie night the other night, including 7 new and different ones! Look for updates on future events, particularly with us swinging into summer vacation from school! This is part of their effort to provide positive youth activities in the neighborhood, and to "at risk" youth for the issues leading to runaway and homelessness. It comes under their work with the Basic Center Program of our Runaway and Homeless youth grant.