Friday, August 28, 2009

Passing of one of our Senior Community Service Employment Program workers

We are saddened by the sudden passing of one of our Senior Community Service Employment Program workers, Sandra (Sandy) Greathouse recently. She had four children, and 11 grand children. She endeared herself to many around our work site with her cheer and comraderie, while participating in our bustling work setting, doing many varied clerical tasks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mentoring/ Volunteers Recruitment event

Saturday, September 12th, some of the staff will participate in a fair at St. Margaret Mary's parish hall (the old YWCA) to recruit volunteers. The fair runs from 10 am to 4 pm. We undoubtedly will have an enthusiastic contingent of staff willing to participate as we gear up our WE CAN program, our VISTA mentoring program, and the general recruitment of volunteers, and community supporters that all our site's services and programs appreciate.

Next Thursday: site wide quarterly planning and communication meeting

Next Thursday, September 3rd (can it be September already???) at 10 am we will have a site meeting, where we go over some internal communication information(for such a big, ambitious and bustling site!!!!) and review the site's strategic plan, in light of the agency's strategic plan, and the efforts earlier in the year to set some goals.

Welcome to new staff in the after school program, as school gears up!!

We welcome Katrina Nelson, Lora Phillips, and Jessica Martin, as new relief Youth Care Workers in the Mid Town Family Resource Center, after school program at McKinley with today's start of school. Lisa and Shauna will guide them into the mission and programming of the program over these first few days. All three bring their own unique strengths and interests to the program; we look forward to another exciting and effective year of serving the children, the families and the school with our quality after school program.

Welcoming our new WE CAN coordinator to the job!

Today (more or less) begins Ashley Way's new job with the agency, of Parkersburg's WE CAN coordinator. Ashley is attending the training and orientation for new WE CAN coordinator's from around the agency in Charleston. When she returns, she will be ready to begin the work of recruiting mentors, and spreading the word about the program in the Parkersburg area. Accompanying Ashley to the training are Shelley Plauche, site manager, and Missy Storey, VISTA volunteer with our mentors for transitioning youth program. Ashley has been working with the after school program for several months, as well as doing some foster care aide work, with transportation and visitation, so she's had a great orientation to the agency, and a whirlwind tour of some of the exciting programming here at Parkersburg. She assisted with the Americana Music Festival this summer (and has great promotion, PR and marketing ideas!!) and has been working on a Parkersburg Area Community Foundation grant application for the foster care program.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The day before Wood County schools start back up!

This was a busy day around the Mid Town Family Resource Center. We were conducting interviews for additional youth care worker (relief) staff, and people were dropping in to say hello and for various reasons all day long.
Chuck, a former volunteer in the after school program, and former extern from Mountain State College (he had gone back to school after being displaced at a factory job) stopped by to say hello; and we encouraged him to come back and volunteer now that he is retired.
Heather, a mother of three from the neighborhood stopped by seeking some school clothes for the boys. We encouraged her to submit an entry in our neighborhood writing contest.
Charles, one of our Senior Employment workers, bustled through taking care of janitorial work and handyman jobs. Deb brought another woman through, a prospect from the same Senior Employment program. Lora, a college student who volunteered in the after school program all last year, and who is now one of the relief youth care workers we are hiring for this school year, came in to fill in some hiring paperwork.
Ashley, our new WE CAN coordinator was working on a local foundation's grant application.
Christina, a stalwart mother of three who has participated in our program, served on an advisory committee, served on our safety committee, stopped by on her way to get some school supplies, and told of her boys (the twins) getting ready for middle school tomorrow.
Andrew, finishing up a third week volunteering, helped take things over to the school such as recreation equipment and supplies, and organized the remnants of the Tinkers program in our new out building.
Lisa, our Runaway and Homeless Youth TLP worker, brought a girl interested in doing some volunteer work in the after school program by to fill out an application and meet with Lisa W.
Several people prepared food boxes from our newly organized food pantry, and several more looked through clothes from our closet for school starting up tomorrow.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Today's Transitioning to Adulthood life skills fair

The VISTA's and transitional living (Runaway and Homeless Youth) staff organized a life skills "fair" today for young people transitioning to adulthood. They had done a good job of planning and arranging this 4 hour event. Unfortunately the turnout was disappointing!!! So, our hard working team had to re-group and shift gears- but they remain undaunted in their efforts to advocate for young people in this transition to adulthood. Missy is gearing up for her recruiting of mentors for youth in the target population, and will attend the agency's orientation for new WE CAN coordinators next week. We say good by next week to Kindra after her year of service to VISTA- she will be missed, and remembered fondly for her spunk and spirit; and we hope she stays involved here, as she starts college out at WVU-P. Patty is playing host this weekend, to another VISTA, Memory Cooper, who is with Mission WV in Putnam County, working on a similar VISTA project as our Missy Storey. So we hope to see a lot of good partnering between the two projects this coming year.

Glasser Group last evening

We had a good little (William) Glasser group last evening here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. 4 families from our foster care/ adoption/ host home "family" came to participate, as well as 2 teens. (Four staff also participated). Last night's session was on Glasser's concept of "Quality Worlds." We discussed how everyone has a "quality world"- the way they would like their world to be; the way it was in their most idealized picture of the past, or a future they aspire to. We discussed, how with children who have been displaced, traumatized, etc. and who are resistant/ skeptical, etc. trying to become someone in their quality world is an effective intervention. We had a big storm right when we were wrapping up, and good comraderie was shared by this building/ growing family of ours!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

shifting gears to school year routines

This week may best be characterized as shifting gears to a school year routine. The summer program is completed; the Mid Town Family Resource Center is taking a "break"- and gearing up for the after school program to begin next week when Wood County Schools starts on Wednesday. The Neighborhood Day (Sept 19th) won't be too far behind. A few new staff will be added. Many staff in the other various programs are also gearing up for slightly different routines in the school year; when visits can occur, in the foster care program, and such. Nikki Staats is back on the job of the homeless student liaison work with Wood County schools and any identified homeless students. Melissa Jameson will be gearing up for the school year at VanDevender with the advantage of starting a brand new school year (she began mid-year last year, and so a school year where she can hit the ground running is exciting!!) Mr. Apgar will be back to work with shelter students who are not in school settings. And we hope to have an after school tutor (certified teacher) for the shelter and neighborhood middle and high school students, under a new Economic Recovery Education grant, also aligned with the McKinney Vento homeless student act.
We are getting a tile floor in "suite 4" today; and then the big re-arranging will begin for the food pantry and clothing closet, and Shelley and Steve's office space. Then the foster care visiting area, and their office space can be rejuvenated!
So, there is plenty going on!! A special thanks to Andrew Bissell, an Ohio University student, who is volunteering here at the end of the summer, and pitching in wherever he can!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer Program finished up

Unfortunately, I wasn't here for the very last day of the summer program, but we have to feel it was a very successful effort. Over 100 young people benefited from participating in some way in summer program activities here at our Mid Town Family Resource Center. Staff of the program are taking a well deserved rest this week, before gearing up for the regular school year after school program, which will be starting up August 26th. We hope to have further progress on our re-arranged food and clothing pantries by then, as well as the computer lab area, and "Mr. Apgar's" class room, and some other organizing efforts. We are interviewing for a few new staff positions for the after school program. The VISTA workers are probably heaving a sigh of relief too, for getting a little more sanity back to their work spaces, too!!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thursday night's Parent/ Family Night recap

We had a good summertime turnout for Family Night/ Parent Night last Thursday. We had a good mix of age groups among our youth contingent. There was a good mix of on-going parents and parents from the summer program. Ashley did a session on internet safety for both youth and parents, and shared a useful handout. Several good questions and observations were shared. The food was tasty as always, with a good team work approach to preparing the meal. This continues to be a great bonding/ linking / connecting activity for our work with neighborhood families.

Community Yard Sale review

We had a sweltering hot August day for our parking lot community yard sale Friday. There were many hands making (hopefully) lighter work in the set up. Lots of variety of items for sale!!! We made over $300. I had a few rabid vinyl record fans stop by and they made good connections for the agency, and for future sales. The proceeds support the on-going work of the Mid Town Family Resource Center and our work with neighborhood families.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The VISTA vol's all made the road trip to New Martinsville yesterday

All three VISTA workers attended the Regional Summit with me yesterday in New Martinsville, and then we toured the Tuel Center (independent living group home) of Youth Services System, Inc. before returning to Parkersburg. It was "full circle" for Patty, who when she started her VISTA project last year attending the summit as one of her first activities. Kindra is finishing up her year, and Missy is getting around to some of the key stakeholder meetings for her project year. The Tuel Center presents a good model/ example of an agency trying to respond to the needs of these older youth aging out of the foster care system.

Community Yard Sale tomorrow

Despite the incredibly hectic pace of our summer activity around here, tomorrow is upon us, and a scheduled community yard sale, whether we were ready or not!!! There is some stuff a-gathering, and the weather is supposed to cooperate, so those are good things. We will all muster our collective energy tomorrow morning, and see what transpires. I think there will be some tired folks by 4-5 pm tomorrow. We hope we end up with LESS stuff to cram back into every avaiable nook and cranny by then. Its (at least!) teamwork building we hope!!! If you are local, come on by, and see what we have, and help out if you want. I've got a great set of golfclubs up for grabs.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meeting over Lunch Thursday

Several of us will be meeting over lunch Thursday to look ahead to some of the local grant writing possibilities in the coming year, to help us with support for our many vibrant programs and services operated out of the site. Over the past 10 years, the community, and particularly its foundations, have been incredibly supportive of our work. They have taken risks (we didn't think they were too much risk!!!) on some start up funds for new innovations or projects, and some critical local match, or operating funds for programs that just didn't have the full financial capability based on limited government supports. We are daily reminded of the generosity of these community supports when we "fill the gaps" for many families and children in the community.

Thursday evening- family night

We are having the one parent/ family night of the summer this week; Thursday at 6 pm. This will be a chance for parents of kids who have been coming to our summer program to get together, and see what we are about. It will also be a chance for "school year parents/ families" to re-connect before school starts back up in a few weeks, to look ahead to what this year has in store. The parent topic will be internet safety for their families. I hear that pasta will be the main dish for the meal!!!

Community Yard Sale this Friday- here at St. Mary's Ave.

We hope we have had enough advance publicity for our community yard sale this Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. We hope the weather cooperates!!! I will be trying to regenerate the vinyl record sales, even though I haven't done much good publicity. I got a little caught up in the Music Festival last week!! If it does nothing else, it will FORCE me to do a little organizing of this "side project" that teeters on being out of hand all the time!!! The community yard sale is both an effort to raise a little money, connect some in the community to our work, and to help "clear out" some of the intriguingly miscellaneous stuff that comes through our door. With the major re-organizing of storefronts we are doing it comes at a good time.

Runaway and Homeless Youth case manager off to Richmond VA for a training

Lisa Doyle Parsons is off today to a training in Richmond VA. The national technical assistance center for Runaway and Homeless Youth programs provides these trainings around the country. Lisa is going to one on positive youth development, and engaging youth. She is an intrepid adventurer, heading off on her own to this training. We will be eager to hear about the content; Lisa is a very enthusiastic, dedicated worker, who undoubtedly will be inspired by the training. We hope she enjoys the little change of pace that a training provides, too, and doesn't have any misadventures on the road or motel stay!!!! (But those always make good stories later!)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday morning miscellaneous

Its Saturday morning; a little vignette of mundane CHS goings-on. Jay and Jeanine are washing the big windows in the front office. The shelter is having no phone service; some kids need to be making phone calls about home visits. The movie night last night is neatly "cleaned up after." Dr. Heather is going to be doing a whole slew of physicals for shelter staff, despite a jammed pack weekend (off work????) for her! This site of the agency does not stop hustling and bustling.