Friday, July 31, 2009

Americana Music Festival wrap up

Financially, the 3 day Americana Music Festival gathered $1095 for the VISTA projects supports; which had been my goal. In terms of community engagement it was also a success; the Tuesday workshop by Stacey and Mark was a great event for community engagement; not only for the youth who were here, for the community members who saw the kids respond, and the great mix of people it brought to the evening coffee house. Last night's Weedhawks and Nick Barry show brought a lot of accolades from the attendees for the good work CHS does, and its fund raising needs. So all in all a successful building on our year round live music events for fund raisers and further our community engagement efforts.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Haven't been able to post for a few days: computer networking troubles and tribuations

I am missing some great opportunities to update folks on the great goings-on here at the Parkersburg site of CHS. I am rushing this one in, while I can get on the website to post!!! Something weird is going on with my internet access- very sporadic service!!!! We had a monitoring visit from Jane Hange today, who oversees our Exploration grant, and we were, hopefully, able to show her the exciting programming going on this summer with our neighborhood families. Some folks came in to talk to her, and she got a good long first hand view of what goes on. She seemed pleased with our program and agency's site.
Music week breezes along; I can't even remember if I was able to post about the great songwriter workshop Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart did on Tuesday. If I didn't I will follow up and post a few pictures from that great event. There was a good turnout at the coffee house that evening, too, with some heartwarming stories to share.
We have also had dance dance revolution and guitar hero things going on this week; some junk art objects with old vinyl records, and much more.
We got a storage building placed in our lot this week, which will come in very handy for all our busy world here on St. Mary's Ave. We got a fantastic donation of office furniture from a local business; and desks were moving everywhere yesterday in the rain. The drop ceiling is done in "suite number 4" so painting the walls is next, and then a new floor, and then the long awaiting re-organizing of the food pantry and clothing closet can occur. (Not to mention a REAL office for Shelley after several months of patient humility, operating in very humble surroundings.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Teen movie night changed from tonight

The movie night I mentioned previously has been changed to give more time for getting the word out about it. Stay tuned for more information later in the week. Today the kids in the summer program had some fun with vinyl records, melting them into shapes for bowls, and a few made some clocks out of records. I made a collage on one, with faces of musicians/ songwriters, sort of a trivia contest.....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quickly Scheduled! Movie Night!!!! Tomorrow (Monday!)

Lisa Doyle Parsons has organized a movie night for the teens of the neighborhood for Monday, July 27th- she is showing "Muleskinner Blues" in keeping with the theme of music for the week. There is quite a bit of "buzz" about what the communication tip of the night will be!!! There could be more skits!!!!!!

Thursday, August 6th Family Night at Mid Town FRC

Thursday, August 6th we are having a summer version of a family night (parent night) here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. This is dinner and a program, especially geared toward the families that have been involved in our wildly successful summer programming! But also for the on-going families that attend throughout the year. There will be a program on "internet safety." These events are an important component of our strengthening families work with families in the neighborhood. Lisa has very eloquently identified the value to the families in her "end of year" reports for our Partners in Prevention grants.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The exterior painting of our building on St. Mary's Ave. is complete!

Our children and family service center has received a new fresh face lift, with a painting. Added to that, our summer program youth have begun painting the back retaining wall in our parking lot, as a community service project; to also give it a fresh look. One of our summer workers, has procured a donation of a picnic table for an outdoor sitting area. Next week we expect to get a storage building, as part of some general organizing and storage improvements we are undertaking. Stay tuned for some more exciting updates next week, on our efforts to better organize and present ourselves in our work with the community's children and families.

Parkersburg Homeless Count

Some of our staff have been taking part in the two times a year homeless count in Parkersburg, as part of our work with the area coalition on homelessness. This is part of a national "count" of the homeless, and is done late at night, once in February and once in the summer. Last night was one of these counts. This is a very direct experience, as the "counters" go to places historically known to have some homeless camps and locations. As we more and more connect ourselves with others addressing social problems in the community, we find more of our own "connections" between our agency's mission and helping nurture and protect children, strengthen families, and create lifelong connections and families for children.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Next Week: Music Week at the Summer Program at Mid Town!

Next week there will be a music focus to the summer program (operating with support from an Explorations grant, through the WV Statewide Afterschool Network, and the Benedum Foundation). Monday the kids and staff will be doing some creative artwork expression with old vinyl records! I will also be helping show the kids this "ancient" form of music- the record player! Tuesday we will have a workshop with two Nashville musicians, Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart. They have previously performed a coffee house in our center in February. They are great folks, and travel the country performing probably over 200 shows a year. They have a Suburban with over 400,000 miles on it! They sing great duets, have an intriguing guitar style, write powerful and compelling songs. They are connected with many of the finest musicians in the Americana genre. That is at 2 pm. At 8pm that evening, they will again perform in a coffee house setting for the community. Donations received will support the Americorps VISTA projects at our site. I love their music so much, and am such a supporter of bringing great music to the Mid Ohio Valley, that I am personally sponsoring their performance through my "Tuck's Music Journal." On Wednesday, there will be a "guitar hero" or "rock band" video game contest and demonstration at the Center. That evening, I am showing 1 or 2 documentaries (depending on time, and how the audience is doing!!) on legends in the Americana music genre- Townes Van Zandt and Gram Parsons. This will be projected up on the wall to make a nice movie theater, starting at 7:30 pm. Lisa and Jim show movies steadily in this venue/ set up for their teen nights at the Basic Center Program "drop in center." We have also had family movie nights over time for the Partners in Prevention projects of the Mid Town Family Resource Center.
Thursday, we have a site visit from Jane Hange, who is the grant manager for the Explorations grants, and she will get to see what a great project is supported by this grant, with a creative bustling hive of activities for the neighborhood youth, and some great extended summer learning opportunities.
So, we will all be worn out by the end of this great week of activities!!!

"Glasser Group" session - good turnout!

We had about 19 people for the Glasser introductory session last night. We did an exercise where people identified how they were getting their 5 basic needs met. We never know what kind of turnout we are going to get for all the myriad events we put on, or what they are going to be looking for out of them, so we felt it was a good activity and good for the participants. Stay tuned for more announcements of similar events! We have wanted to offer such events, exposing community members to the ideas of William Glasser for a very long time, and so its exciting to actually be underway with the offerings. Glasser's theories and techniques are a strong component of many of our approaches to working with area children and families in the community. If you'd like more information about how we incorporate them, or have suggestions (!!!) please contact, Shelley, Lisa Doyle Parsons or myself (Steve).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lisa Weaver shares a story of impact about the work we do at the Parkersburg site of Children's Home Society of WV- Hope's Story

The story I’d like to share this year began with our first year of the Innovation Grant. When planning this grant application, it was our desire not only to serve young students and their families, but also to give opportunities to older teens and young adults interested in mentoring younger youth. As a result, we began a partnership with Work Force WV’s Youth Advantage Program. This program reimburses our agency the costs of providing youth with a “paid work experience” for a period of 3 months at a time. Over the last two years, we have employed and mentored one young man and six young women between the ages of 15 and 22. Three of them were single mothers and one was pregnant when she began her first term of employment with us.
“Hope” was 17 when she was brought to CHSWV by her caseworker to apply for a position in the after school program. She expressed a desire to teach art to children one day and seemed appropriate for our setting. Hope proved herself to be a competent worker, self-motivated and well-liked by the children. As many of them were from lower income families, with stressful home situations, Hope related well to them as she had survived a challenging childhood herself. Hope was in her 5th month of pregnancy, was referred to the agency’s Right From the Start services. She also was given much support, education and encouragement from various other staff members. Hope completed her contracted employment with us close to the end of the school year and gave birth during the summer.
In November of our second Innovation grant year, we were asked if we were willing to have Hope come back for a second paid work experience in our after school program. She was welcomed back and allowed flexibility in her work schedule to take care of herself and her baby girl as needed. In February, her contract was extended for another three months and during this time, “Hope” brought to our attention that many young men she knew had babies, or were about to become fathers. Now having an infant of her own, she was concerned that they, and others like them, were not adequately prepared for taking care of infants and toddlers safely. Hope’s concerns led us to contact Tony Foreman of Families Forward (and Roane County PIP Team member) who helped us conduct a six week educational group for young men during CAP month. The last session involved the “Shaken Baby Prevention” presentation, bringing the message about abuse/neglect prevention to a powerful conclusion.
Hope’s 3rd contract ended in May, but her involvement with us did not. She had often expressed gratitude for the opportunities given her; proud to be associated with the agency and when Hope gained employment through Work Force WV’s Summer Youth Employment Program, she chose CHSWV as her summer worksite. Hope, her daughter and the baby’s father recently moved into the neighborhood our program serves, and she is able to see first hand the situations that many children and families face everyday. Hope has expressed that she now realizes how much need there is to protect and nurture children in this neighborhood; how important it is to keep working with the families. Due to involvement in this Innovation grant program, Hope is effectively taking care of her own child, positively impacting the lives of children she works with and is bringing an awareness to other adults around her. It’s her turn to make a difference.

planning continues for the Stocking Event in November

Deb Murphy is leading the way in the planning for the big Stocking Auction and kick off event for our Little Red Stocking drive in November. She is working diligently with the Parkersburg Art Center on details of the November 6th event. Many staff and advisory committee members are helping contact the businesses and community members to support this fund raiser; giving great opportunities for community engagement for our agency and work.

Ken starts in the foster care program

Ken Storey has transferred to the foster care program of our site. He provides Carna with a welcome relief and addition to the busy case work of that service at our site. He became exposed to the foster care work in his field placement work for his MSW program, and offered to move there from his position in the Transitional Living Program. Ken is a great "people person" who will be a good fit with the great foster families we have, to help the children served. His good cheer, willingness to pitch in on anything that needs done, and his sense of humor, and keen insights, will be a great contribution to our growing foster care program.

Summer Program continues to thrive!

Lisa reports to me we have reached 71 kids attending our summer program (these are total number of kids involved, not a daily census!!!) But this really reflects on the need in the neighborhood for this sort of service, and reflects on the hard work of the Mid Town Family Resource Center staff, to provide a safe, supportive, welcoming, active, learning environment. The creativity shown to combine fun activities with learning, and service projects is very inspiring. We are having a busy week next week with some music themes, and our site visit from the grantor. And the program will bustle right along merrily until it winds up August 14th. There will be a sigh of relief, and then gearing up for another school year for the after school component of our Center!!!!

welcome to our new VISTA worker

Missy Storey has joined us as a new VISTA worker, working on the project to develop a mentoring program for youth aging out of foster care, and those transitioning to adulthood from difficult circumstances. Missy completed her "pre-service orientation" (PSO in the VISTA lingo!) in a very sweltering Atlanta Georgia last week. She is rarin' to go with the project. Kindra will still be on board for another month in the project, so they can work together for continuity of the project. This project will continue into this new year still affiliated with WV Promise projects around the state, under the leadership of Pam Dugan. We now have a "partner" VISTA project in Putnam County, through Mission WV, working on a similar project to provide supports to youth in the foster care and adoption systems as they transition to adulthood.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Transitional Living Program (Runaway and Homeless Youth Act) technical assistance workshop

Shelley Plauche and Steve Tuck attended a technical assistance session in Cincinnati Monday and Tuesday presented by Mark Kroner of Lighthouse Youth Services, sponsored by "RHYTTAC" (the national resource center for Runaway and Homeless Youth grantees) where we learned quite a bit about operating a Transitional Living PRogram. We got to tour several of Lighthouse's facilities, as they have a nationally recognized array of independent living and transitional living programs. It was a very valuable training as we get our RHY's programs off the ground for the agency here in the Parkersburg area.

"our own" Kindra Boyd on the TV news!!!

Kindra, one of our VISTA workers, was on the TV news last night on channel 13 out of Charleston, as she was a featured speaker at the statewide Dropout Prevention Summit last evening. Congrats to Kindra for being such a great example of positive "youth Voice" at these powerful events! (I was trying to add a link here, but am having some trouble, so will just figure a reader could google it themselves!!!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Career Day was a big success

We had a great group of community members come in for career day to talk to the kids about their careers. There was an intriguing age-mix of youth, which had to make some challenges for the presenters, because they would gear their remarks to different age groups differently, I imagine. They all did a great job; the kids asked some good questions, and it contributes greatly to our community engagement to not only have these folks volunteer their time to come in, but to see what we do, and the situations of kids in our neighborhood. Lisa and all the staff in the Neighborhood summer program did a great job hosting the event, with refreshments, gifts, programs, and thank you notes from the kids!!! Look for more events like these through the busy summer here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center.

Friday, July 10, 2009

VISTA worker gets ready to present at statewide Dropout Prevention Summit

One of our VISTA workers, Kindra Boyd, is preparing her speech, for the statewide Dropout Prevention Summit next Tuesday, as part of the Faces of Leadership conference. Kindra has a compelling story to tell, and though she is nervous about "public speaking" she will do a great job!!! Patty Ralston, our other VISTA has been working all along as part of the team organizing the statewide summit, and will be introducing Kindra- this is also a great honor for Patty!

Little Red Stocking Event planning

There was another meeting of folks helping with the planning of the November 6th Stocking Auction (kick off event to the Little Red Stocking drive locally) yesterday; it was inspiring to see all the people taking part in this effort.

Career Day at the Mid Town Family Resource Center

Today we are having a Career Day at the summer program here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. The summer day program has been bustling with activity; we have had over 50 children participating already this summer! The main support (funding!) for the summer program is an Explorations Grant from the WV Statewide Afterschool Network, which provides staffing support for our dedicated, hard working staff. The focus has been to offer middle and high school students summer learning opportunities. This Career Day is part of a national "Summer Learning Day"- focusing on making people aware of the importance of providing high quality summer learning opportunities for youth. The National Center for Summer Learning is leading efforts to urge Congress to provide up to $300 million in funding for summer programs as part of its FY 2010 budget.
Today we will be having 8 people from the community come in to talk about their professions to the youth in the program. Talk about community engagement! This is both a great opportunity for the youth to hear about these professions, but a great way to bring civic minded people into our agency to see what we do!!! Stay tuned for a follow up report!!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Not in one's goals, but in one's transitions, is one great." Ralph Waldo Emerson

(of course, he said "man" and "he" throughout this quote, I made the more inclusive modification......- sorry Ralph..... it just doesn't sound right to me anymore to always use the masculine pronoun......)

I like to think this can be a good motto for our work with youth transitioning to adulthood.

Friday, July 3, 2009

quote of the week

"You don't get harmony when everyone sings the same note." Doug Floyd

Career Day at the neighborhood center

Next Friday we are having a career day for the young people who come to our neighborhood center this summer. Lisa and her crew are busily arranging some professions to be represented. Everyone is pitching in, getting the word out, and such. This is a fine example of combining a number of valuable purposes: getting the community involved in what we do here, giving some young people access to career exploration, using our neighborhood center for positive engagement. Friday July 10th; watch for more details or updates!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vet's group has a cookout, a movie, and then breaks for the summer

Bill Dearien, who has been gratefully using our community meeting room, to try and get a veteran's support group going here in Parkersburg, had a cookout (hotdogs!) last night, and they showed a movie about the impact of going to Iraq on some West Virginians. We scrambled to "share" the "movie theater" aspect to our neighborhood center, prior to the teen movie night, due to technical difficulties down in room # 5. This group will take a break till September. Though this is not a specific offering by CHS, providing a welcoming space for this group to meet, feels like being a part of this important community service.

Another successful teen movie night at the center

Lisa arranged another movie night as a positive teen activity here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. About 20 people enjoyed the refreshments, some games and hanging out time, and a movie. We also did a brief "communication tips" session, and incorporated a skit using William Glasser's techniques. It was a very good mix of youth and Lisa is building a strong youth center.

Welcome to 4 Summer Work Program youth

Monday we welcomed: Katrina Nelson, Larissa Clegg, Megan Hurley, and Bryanna Browning, as our summer work program youth from the Mid Ohio Valley Workforce Investment Board program. They will be working for 6 weeks (4 days a week, a total each week of 28 hours) and be paid for through some economic stimulus/ recovery act funds at $7.25/ hour. They will be assisting the summer program here, and gaining work experience and skills (with an interest in working with children), and other training opportunities we can provide them. They are off to a great start, and many staff are pitching in to provide a good work experience for them. They are getting acquainted with the children that come to the summer program, and the agency as a whole, and the facility here. They will really contribute a lot to the success of our neighborhood family work.