Thursday, December 30, 2010

Little Red Stocking Campaign winding up

Staff are out collecting the Little Red Stocking donations from around town. It is hard to tell at this point how the campaign went; we will have to wait for the Go-Mart and One Stop totals to come in from our main office. We are gratified by the support shown in this campaign. We have also received several very generous individual gifts this holiday season from on-going major donors. The "in-kind" donations have also been very much appreciated and indicative of strong community support for our mission.

Last Event of the year?

Friday, December 31st at 4 pm, Lisa is having a holiday meal for the Transitional Living Program youth. Its a pretty safe bet to say this is the last event in an action packed year of good events for the TLP program.

End of the Year

As 2010 winds down, we take a deep breath and acknowledge all the busy activity at the CHS-Parkersburg site throughout the year. The staff work very hard to fulfill the mission of CHS in their work with area children and families. Our services run a full spectrum of pre-natal to young people transitioning to adulthood. Throughout the year we serve hundreds of children and their families and provide countless hours of quality care to some of our community's neediest children, youth and families. 2011 promises to be an equally hard working year for CHS-Parkersburg, with much effort put into maintaining the quality programs and looking for new opportunities to serve. Thanks to all the staff and all the community supporters of our work for a fine year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Johnny Cash Tribute - February 26, 2011

A Johnny Cash Tribute on February 26 at 6 Pence Pub in Parkersburg will kick off the 2011 Americana Music Tribute Series for the CHS-Parkersburg site. Look for more details in the coming weeks. This is an annual event now, and brings out a lot of local music fans, as well as being a fund raiser for the Mid Town Family Resource Center and its work with neighborhood children and families.

Ritchie County strategic planning

Shelley and I met with Jennifer Davenport in our Ritchie County office Monday to do some strategic planning for 2011. This was a lively and energizing meeting, which will hopefully set some goals and direction for this "sub-site" of the CHS-Parkersburg site. Jennifer has done some great community engagement, and has realistic but ambitious goals for providing more services to children and families in Ritchie County for the agency. Look for information about these developments in early 2011.

Foster Care Focus Group Discussion

Kathy Johnson, a consultant who works with the agency on our strategic planning, and Mark Drennan from the administrative office, came to CHS-Parkersburg yesterday to begin discussions about how the agency can increase our foster care placement numbers in conjunction with the agency's strategic goals. Carna was a helpful resource for Kathy and Mark, as we discussed our experiences here in Parkersburg getting foster care off the ground over the last few years. Further discussions at other foster care sites of the agency will occur, and then a united focus group sometime after the first of the year, will hopefully yield some strong results on this strategic goal.

United Bank

Yesterday we were visited by Richard Adams, CEO of United Bankshares, Inc. and two of the young leaders within the local offices of the bank. Richard has met with us twice before to learn about CHS-Parkersburg, and the work we do. He shows keen insight into the role of CHS-Parkersburg in local services to children and families, and has been very deliberate in exploring the ways United Bank can support our work. Besides a contribution to our work, he brought the two young leaders, to see about ways the Bank employees could contribute to our mission and work in the community. This good start will continue into 2011, with some exciting potential.

Cracker Barrel in Mineral Wells

A new partnership emerged this holiday season for our CHS-Parkersburg site. Cracker Barrel, the national chain of restaurants, from its Mineral Wells (Wood County) site, contacted us about helping at the holiday season. The new manager invited us out to talk about our work, and how they could help. They gathered toys and presents for children over a week or so, and promoted the Little Red Stocking campaign, in an innovative way, but displaying the stockings on a live tree decorated in the store. We look forward to future connections with the Cracker Barrel, as our site has so many opportunities for a business to be involved in our mission.

Parkersburg News and Sentinel articles from Pam Brust

We thank Pam Brust from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel for three stories recently on the CHS-Parkersburg site. An article a few months ago about the shelter, has garnered much community support and interest. Just this week, an article about our Little Red Stocking campaign captures the holiday season very well. Pam also has done an article about adoption services, which should be published soon. Pam is a long time supporter through her reporting, and a very well informed journalist about the community and human and social services. She contributes much to community awareness and outreach.

Trip to New York City to visit the Carrera model Teen Pregnancy Prevention program

Shelley Plauche and I recently went to New York City, along with Deb Barthlow from our Martinsburg site, to be introduced to the Carrera model that we will be replicating as we begin our Intensive after school programming in 2011 for neighborhood middle school students, in a pregnancy prevention, and holistic positive youth development model program. We met with staff from Children's Aid Society of New York, who have been providing services in this model for 25 years, and now are helping 9 programs around the country replicate the program in their communities. Look for information in early 2011 as we begin to develop the program here in Parkersburg, and at the agency's Martinsburg site.

CHS Parkersburg site receives much support in the holiday season

We have been the recipient of much community support in this time leading up to the holidays. Many individuals, churches, and groups have thoughtfully included us in their Christmas generosity. Look for the summary of Christmas time support that Shelley, Denise and others will compile in early January. We are truly humbled and appreciative of this outpouring of community support for the children and families we serve.

McKinley After School program last day before the holiday break

The students and staff of the McKinley After School program had a change of routine yesterday, celebrating the last day of school before the Christmas Break. They came over to our Mid Town Family Resource Center and had some holiday treats and baking fun. They also did holiday crafts, and enjoyed the change of routine. Lisa and the staff had worked hard these last days before the holiday to help families in many different ways to assist with their holidays.

TLP program participants make desserts for community Christmas dinner

Lisa organized a baking party for youth involved in the transitional living program, to make some desserts for First Presbyterian Church's annual Christmas community dinner (on Christmas Day). This opportunity for fellowship (the baking party!) and also contributed to this larger community service effort is a good example of the outreach Lisa does with the youth. The CHS site staff were a little more than tempted to sample the yummy delights prepared for the dinner!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Parkersburg Area Community Foundation

We were happy to be the recipient of a grant from the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation this week, to support the work of the after school programming. The PACF has moved to a new location near City Park (their own building now) and had an open house in conjunction with the awarding of the grants. This has been a long relationship of support from the PACF for the agency, and we are truly appreciative of all they have done to support our work with area children and families.

2011 initial strategic planning sessions

Many of the programs of the CHS-Parkersburg site have already begun meeting to commit to our strategic planning for 2011. Foster Care, the Mid Town Family Resource Center, the Early Childhood programs, and the Runaway and Homeless Youth programs have already held initial planning meetings. These efforts will be combined and coalesced for a site wide strategic plan in early 2011. Its exciting times and an important process for our site.

welcoming a new CHS board member to our site

Dennis Sutton, agency CEO conducted a board orientation here Thursday for Keith Burdette, a new CHS board member. Keith also got a tour of our facilities. He was very quickly engaged in the work and mission and values of the agency, and we look forward to his involvement and support both locally and at the statewide agency level.

2011 Americana Music Tribute series planning

A small but enthusiastic group of planners got together this week to brainstorm and organize ideas for the 2011 Americana Music Tribute Series. Over chili, the group outlined the 2010 series and what we have to build on, and any changes. Stay tuned for more information forthcoming, as several people left the meeting with "to do" lists to follow up on planning. The full 2011 Series will be announced at least in January, with lots of opportunities for good music, and fund raising supports for the work of CHS-Parkersburg coming up!!!

4-H Club members participating in Robotics competition

3 members of our neighborhood 4-H club are in Morgantown today as part of a Wood County delegation of 4-H'ers taking part in a statewide Robotics competition. Vickie Taylor is very excited at the incorporation of this level of involvement by youth from our club, from its humble origins a few years ago. This is really providing a great opportunity for some youth from our Mid Town neighborhood. We eagerly await the story of their experience and plans for future robotics!!!

Little Red Stocking campaign fully underway

Please support our Little Red Stocking campaign going on now, with many local businesses helping by offering the stockings at their stores and businesses. 6 Pence Pub is covered with stockings; over 400 sold so far. This morning at breakfast with two members of the Greens at the Corner Cafe, we were pleased to see stockings as we entered the business. Carna is busily checking on Go-marts and taking pictures of their displays. Jennifer, in Ritchie County is doing the same with a number of new and enthusiastic business partners out there.

Foster Care Christmas party

CHS-Parkersburg foster care program held a very successful Christmas party this past Thursday evening at Christ United Methodist Church, just down the street from our offices. A good turnout of our dedicated foster families and many happy children were there. The staff and helpers were well organized in putting on such a festive event, and had garnered much solid community support for the party; food, presents, Santa and Mrs. Clause, poinsetta's and decorations. Probably around 50 people all took part, building that much more comraderie and bonding among all those who work hard for our mission and services to WV foster children.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kevin Montgomery

Kevin Montgomery is a singer songwriter who has taken on an exciting and intriguing project. He is performing 50 shows in 50 states in 50 days across America; and his purpose is to raise awareness of the plight of young people aging out of foster care. He is doing it in conjunction with a project called The Orange Duffle Bag Foundation. Its based on a book of the same name by Sam Bracken, a "veteran" of the foster care system. Kevin was in Parkersburg last night for his WV stop, doing a house concert at a musician friend of mine. He interviewed me as he is doing in every state; someone connected with foster care; some youth, some adults. If you go to his website, within a few days, my interview may be posted as a you tube video.

You can check out the two websites: the Orange Duffel Bag Foundation, or the 50 states in 50 days tour.........
Kevin is a very inspiring fellow; very personable and a talented musician and songwriter, too!!!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Successful kickoff to our local Little Red Stocking campaign

Friday night we had a very fun and successful kick off event to our CHS-Parkersburg site's Little Red Stocking campaign. Our second Little GREEN stocking benefit concert by the Greens here in Parkersburg raised over $1270 to get the pumped primed for our campaign. We thank 6 Pence Pub for hosting the event, and getting the Stockings flowing over the Thanksgiving weekend holiday; to the tune of over $300 in stockings so far. The crowd for the music was one of the biggest draws for music at the Pub this year. Lots of loyal Greens fans were back in town for the holidays, and many of their local loyal fans use this as a holiday celebration, after family dinners and such. The Greens let me get up and sing a few songs in the set break, where Andy and I get to harmonize on some old favorites. We hope this momentum early in the Little Red Stocking season will carry forward with the many other businesses we have distributed stockings to in the lead up.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pictures from TLP event yesterday

Transitional Living Program Holiday Meal and Gathering

We had a fantastic event yesterday for the Transitional Living Program for the CHS-Parkersburg site. Lisa Doyle Parsons and her helpers, and several other program staff, joined forces to create a very welcoming meal and event. We had our new agency Board Member (who is also an Advisory Council member here) Barbara Fish join us, and Delegate Tom Azinger. We also had Shannon Morgan of the Wood County FRN, and some representatives of Youth Advantage. We had guests / helpers from WVU-P, and family and friends, too. The youth in the program made brief presentations of their situations and how they have been involved in the the program; and Lisa had put together a most excellent power point of some of the activities and young people involved in the program. An excellent tradition meal was prepared lovingly and served to great fellowship and appreciation by all. There were probably 30 people present, and it furthered the connection of many people to our work here at CHS-Parkersburg.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Picture from Reality Walk 2010 - Parkersburg

Flurry of events recently

The Parkersburg site of CHS has participated in a flurry of events recently. For National Hunger and Homelessness week; our staff were involved in a number of awareness raising and support events in the community. These included the second annual "Reality Walk" where 150 community members went on a symbolic walk in downtown Parkersburg and heard stories of real life experiences with homelessness and the circumstances they face, and the agencies that are tasked with providing support and assistance. Friday, we hosted a community resource fair in our parking lot; where organizations had tables of information set up. Saturday, our own adoption/ foster care social worker, Carna Metheney-White was honored with an award for her work with adoption at the National Adoption Awareness event at the Clay Center in Charleston. 66 people attended our Mid Town Family Resource Center family night (monthly) Holiday meal this past Thursday. This really strained the welcoming family resource center, but thanks to Homeland Community Church for providing the food and lots of support to our MTFRC.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

HeART for the Holidays report

We had our fund raiser event at the Parkersburg Art Center Saturday night, and everyone is pleased with the overall outcome. We have now calculated the total revenue for the event to be over $6000! We have estimated over 100 people in attendance; many new folks to a Children's Home Society event. Ideas for next year and improvements in the planning are already churning around in people's heads. The Advisory Council and staff will begin soon to process the event and do the initial planning for another event next year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LDP off to Orlando Florida!

Lisa, with our Transitional Living Program, is off to the national, annual Runaway and Homeless Youth conference, organized by the technical assistance contractor, the University of Oklahoma, in Orlando Florida. She will attend workshops relevant to runaway and homeless youth staff, and hear speakers and perspectives on our challenging work with youth. She is looking forward to the conference, as she has attended several conferences and always benefits greatly from the experience. I am sorry not to be able to also attend, but our own agency's annual meeting and conference supersedes this event.

Gustke Shelter prepares for licensing review

Next Monday begins the every two year licensing review for the Gustke Shelter here in Parkersburg. Denise and the staff have been working to prepare the facility and the records and documents needed for this review.

Little Red Stocking campaign is getting revved up

Brooke and Carna are spearheading our Little Red Stocking from our site this year. Lots of businesses are being contacted and stockings distributed. This statewide campaign for the agency, is a major effort. Locally raised funds stay in the local community to support our work here. I took some stockings to a local live music establishment (that hosts our Americana Music events) and the owner was excited to challenge her wait staff to raise over $500. This place, the 6 Pence Pub, on 7th Street in Parkersburg is hosting our "kick off" event for the Little Red Stocking campaign, a concert featuring The Greens, a popular WV band, in what we are referring to as "The Little Green Stocking" benefit. The proceeds of that event will come to the Little Red Stocking campaign for the Parkersburg site. Its Friday, November 26th starting at 9 pm; for a $5 cover. Come out after a family celebration, or a shopping frenzy on Black Friday, and see an exuberant band play their hearts out for an adoring audience. Many young people who live elsewhere, but grew up in Parkersburg came back for this homecoming get-together.

Parkersburg's Reality Walk

A coalition that raises awareness about issues of homelessness in our community is having a second Reality Walk on Saturday November 20th in downtown Parkersburg. A number of our staff are active participants in this coalition, and many community members commented last year about the powerful impact of this "hands on" event. We feel good about our contribution, and the engagement in the community this represents, as well as generating referrals for our services, and support of our work.

We are within one day of our HeART for the Holidays event!

Tomorrow night is the 2nd fund raiser event we have held this time of year in conjunction with the Parkersburg Art Center. Ashley Way and a number of members of our local advisory council have been spearheading this effort this year. The name is an indication of the connection to the art center, and the handmade Christmas stockings that will abound at the auction. Both silent and live auction items have been gathered from a wide range of supporters in the community. Attendees will bid on items, and support our work, as well as the Parkersburg Art Center. It starts at 5:30 pm tomorrow night. Please come and help make this a successful fund raiser to support our work with area children and families.

Resource Fair in our parking lot during National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week

Friday, NOvember 19th, from 10 am to 2 pm, there will be a resource fair in our parking lot to let the homeless and the community members have a face to the agencies. There will be a food drive to local agency food pantries. Agencies that serve the homeless will have displays with information and resources. Missy Storey will be our representative hosting this event, as many of the local CHS staff will be at the agency annual meeting and conference that day in Charleston.

November 30th- Adoption Month Celebration here at Parkersburg CHS

Tuesday, November 30th we will be having an event acknowledging National Adoption Month at 6:30, in our foster care/ adoption suite here at 1739 St. Mary's Ave. Adoptions finalized this year will be recognized, and appreciation for all our families will be part of the event. Contact Carna, Ken, or Sara for information.

Mid Town Family Resource Center Thanksgiving dinner

Homeland Community Church is once again supporting our Mid Town Family Resource Center's family night dinner this year. Thursday, November 18. We have really appreciated this (relatively) new partner for our work with neighborhood families.

Autumn Dinner

Lisa Doyle Parsons and her crew of volunteers, youth, and all, have organized a celebration dinner and public awareness session about our Runaway and Homeless Youth programs, and the youth they serve. It will be November 23, Tuesday, at 2 pm. A dinner supported by a student group at WVU-P will be served. We have invited legislators and other community members to hear about the programs, and hear first hand some of the challenges and successes. It will be at our offfices, and specifically the Mid Town Family Resource Center at 1739 St. Mary's Ave (3rd suite) For information someone could contact Lisa Doyle Parsons at 304-485-0650.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

HeART for the Holidays; one week countdown!

We are within one week of the Stocking Auction at the Parkersburg Art Center; next Friday evening will be the big night. The HeART for the Holidays fund raiser in cooperation with the Art Center will raise funds for our site's programs. Handmade stockings, and stockings filled with gifts and prizes for auction are being gathered. Invitations and donations are busily flowing. Thanks to all who have been helping, and those who are supporting our work with their contributions.

Big Success! Halloween Pictures at Roberts Family Photography!

Andi Roberts had a great event which benefited CHS-Parkersburg; something like 55 Halloween costume sittings were held, raising over $500 !! There was a lot of enthusiasm and celebrating the holiday; and lots of very impressed families at the great pictures taken. Plans are already underway for another event next year! Thanks to Andi for all the support of our agency's work throughout the year.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

new CHS Board Member (from Parkersburg) nominated

Barbara Fish has been nominated for the Board of Directors of CHS, and will be voted on at the annual meeting in November as part of the agency's annual conference. Barbara has been a staunch supporter of CHS and the Gustke Shelter for over 20 years. She has been a board member on the state School Board. She is currently on the local advisory council. We are excited to have our local site now represented on the full board of directors.

Parents as Teachers - a new program for us

We are excited to be starting up our Parents as Teachers program soon here at the Parkersburg site. This is a home visiting program, an "in Home Family Education" model program. Throughout the spring, Ann Griffith conducted a planning process and needs assessment and community resource inventory to seek the advisability of beginning such a program. With some possible federal money on the horizon for this, we requested a start up grant from the Sisters of Saint Joseph Charitable Fund, which we have now received! We will be announcing the start up plans soon.

Pressley Ridge White Oak invites shelter to halloween bonfire and haunted trail

Our good friends and partners, Pressley Ridge schools invited the shelter residents and staff to a Halloween event tonight out at Mountwood Park.

Tonight is the Halloween Photo event at Roberts Family Photography

Andi Roberts is hosting a fund raiser for us tonight; a halloween bash at her photography studio, where families can bring their kids for pictures and contests; they will be accepting donations and we are the recipient of that generous event! I'll try to give a report on the event tomorrow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mayor Newell comes to Lights On Afterschool

Mayor Bob Newell came to our Lights on After School event Thursday evening at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. He read a proclamation about how valuable quality after school care is to a community. We acknowledged some of the strong supporters and partners of the after school program, and showed an updated slide show of some of the activities of the after school and neighborhood programs. Fred Shreve, principal of McKinley also came to show his support. Lots of announcements of upcoming events were shared, and a great meal was shared by families, staff, and visitors alike.

Weedhawks show - a benefit for our VISTA project

We had old friends, Nick Barry, and the Weedhawks perform a benefit show Friday night at the Sly Fox in downtown Parkersburg. Thanks to the enthusiastic audience that came out to see these great musical acts. The proceeds support our VISTA project here at the Parkersburg site of CHS.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day of Caring

Yesterday we were greatly honored to have employees of Allegheny Power come to participate in a Day of Caring at our site, from the United Way Alliance (Mid Ohio Valley). They were great, enthusiastic volunteers, working on many electric "minor" but critical issues around the Mid Town Family Resource Center. They replaced lights high up on the ceilings, some ballasts, replaced bulbs in our outdoor light; hung a new foster care recruitment banner, checked smoke and CO2 detectors, and a few other assorted helpful tasks. This was a very productive event, and we very much appreciate the volunteers from Allegheny Power, and their organizers, as well as the United Way for having these sorts of days for the member agencies to receive such valuable help.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

John Prine Tribute

The final (regularly scheduled!) benefit in the Americana Music Tribute Series was held last night; to benefit the Transitional Living Program; the 8th annual John Prine Tribute. Lisa, Karen and Marina worked hard to promote the event, sell 50-50 tickets and hawk the other fundraising aspects of the event. A concert in Columbus was the big raffle; going to Matt Starcher, a staunch supporter of the Americana Music series, and a performer himself this evening of some Prine tunes. Thanks to the musicians who put on a great show, despite a disappointing turnout of music fans.

Parking lot fund raiser for early childhood programs

The big intra-city football rivalry; South vs. PHS was held this past Friday night. Vickie organized to have a parking lot for the sold out crowd in our lot. We had a number of people support us in this way, and the EC programs raised about $50. A creative idea and a beautiful evening weather-wise!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

helping a family out with food

DHHR called at five minutes till 5 pm. A father of three young children was in the office in desparation - no food in the house, laid off a job; his wife just arrested and detained over in Ohio on drug charges. He was ready to turn his kids over to DHHR out of his desparation. They called us, to direct him over here to get some food from our food pantry. He came right over, very appreciative and relieved to receive a box of food appropriate for the kids.

Single Parenting Sessions

Eileen Filozof is leading a series of workshops on Single Parenting at our offices on consecutive Fridays at noon, for 6 sessions. Eileen is a member of our advisory council, and has been very supportive of our site, including the Mid Town Family Resource Center and WE CAN program. Please spread the word of this offer, and if you have any questions, you could direct them to Steve, Lisa Weaver, or directly to Eileen.

Day of Caring

We have been in discussion with the United Way and at least one area business about participating in a community Day Of Caring, October 20th -where employees of an area business help out with a specific project at a local non profit organization. Stay tuned for the details as they get developed.

Little Green Stocking music concert kicks off Little Red Stocking season

The Greens will be the featured performers in our second musical "kick off" to the site's Little Red Stocking campaign, the day after Thanksgiving, November 26th at 6 Pence Pub. We thank the Pub for hosting this event, and we hope they will be a big seller of stockings during the holiday season.

Runaway and Homeless Youth Awareness activities

November will bring a number of activities around homelessness awareness. Stay tuned for updates about specifics; but we will be working with others in the community for a week of activities, including a resource fair and 2nd Reality Walk. We are also have a dinner (the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week) for folks connected to our TLP program, and inviting legislators and other stakeholders.

Lights On Afterschool Day

October 21st is a national day of recognizing after school programs. Here at CHS-Parkersburg we will be participating in this day with a famly night at the Mid Town Family Resource Center, and an invitation to many local supporters and stakeholders to join us in acknowledging the importance of after school program to families. The evening will include a meal for the families and a few remarks and presentations. See Lisa Weaver for details.

John Prine Tribute - this Saturday

The Transitional Living Program at the Parkersburg CHS site will be the beneficiary of the 8th annual John Prine tribute this Saturday at 9 pm at 6 Pence Pub in Parkersburg. This event is local musicians playing sets of songs celebrating the music of John Prine. This is the final event in the 2010 Americana Music Tribute Series, after a successful run of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Neil Young tributes. Lisa has been running a 50-50 drawing in the time leading up to the tribute show Saturday, and already has over $150 raised. During the event (and still in the time leading up to the event) we are selling raffle tickets to see John Prine himself in concert in Columbus Ohio on October 23rd. These tickets are $5. The Tribute show at 6 Pence promises to be a fun evening of music and a few door prizes and contests. I have accumulated a fun collection of prizes. Come out and support the TLP program.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

WE CAN golf tournament

Ashley organized a fund raising golf tournament with a friend involved with the Parkersburg Catholic baseball team, to split the proceeds of a benefit golf scramble. This was held yesterday at Worthington Golf Course; it went off fantastic for a first time event, and we will have the total raised in a day or two after figuring out the costs, etc. There were 20 teams and 17 sponsors, and everything went off without a hitch. Thanks to Ashley for spearheading this new event in our fund raising arsenal- and promoting the WE CAN program to some new supporters in the community. The weather was perfect, the golfers were happy, and the relationship with Worthington Golf Club seemed strong for future events. Thanks to a number of friends and staff who helped volunteer out on the course throughout the event. Look for a follow up post about the proceeds total.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Parkersburg hosted the Emergency Shelter Provider Network annual conference this past week

We hosted around 60-70 people this week in Parkersburg as the annual conference of our Emergency Shelter Provider Network met for three days of workshops and sessions at the Blennerhassett Hotel. Our local staff of the shelter and site participated and we had highlighted some of our strong partnerships with key stakeholders throughout some of the sessions.

Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart concert supports the Truancy Diversion program

Two very enjoyable traveling folk singers put on a benefit concert Thursday night for our Truancy Diversion program. It was held at the Alexander Parker room of the Blennerhassett Hotel, a classy setting for a wonderful night of music. Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart have been here twice before to put on "house concerts" (small, intimate setting musical performances) and they seem to enjoy our hospitality. Jessica Cruit, our truancy diversion worker at Vandevender Middle School, will utilize the proceeds for incentives and motivations for students, as well as general support of the program. Stacey and Mark weave some fascinating stories, with humor and humbleness, and their harmony and lyrics and guitar playing are mesmerizing.

Neighborhood Day

Yesterday we held our 5th annual Neighborhood Day here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center, the Parkersburg site of CHS. The weather was beautiful (a bit hot, but a cool start to the day, anyway!) We had great volunteer help from many good supporters. The families seemed to have a great time. We provided a good opportunity for families to feel supported and given access to resources. We began these events to tie into a national recognition of the importance of neighborhoods, that we found out was annually held on the 3rd weekend of September. We have pretty much kept to a similar format, but have received new support each year from different church and community sponsors. Homeland Community Church and St. Andrews United Methodist were the particularly strong supporters this year. Many community businesses give donations. The NJROTC students from PHS under the Leadership of Glen Rickart, were once again, the primary volunteers, and do a great job. We'll see if some pictures emerge from various folks involved yesterday.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Notice of fund raising effort by Early Childhood programs!


The BIG GAME of South vs Big Reds is Oct 8. It is both cross country and football contests that night. Park your car in the parking lot of Children's Home Society for a low price of $3 and it is only a couple of blocks to the staduim, you can even stop along the way to cheer on the cross counetry runners as they approach the staduim. All proceeds benefit the early Childhood programs at the Children's Home Society in Parkersburg.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day weekend

Things slow down a bit here at CHS-Parkersburg over a holiday weekend, as many staff take well deserved rests/ breaks from their dedicated work with area children and families. We look ahead to Neighborhood Day, the Emergency Shelter Provider Network conference we are in effect, hosting next week. A folk music coffee house next week also, featuring Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart. Then on into the full tilt fall schedule of things. The charity golf tournament for the WE CAN program is coming up October 2nd. We are waiting to hear about a couple of major grants we have submitted, which would kick us into high gear, gearing up some additional programming to augment our mission and local strategic vision. The shelter has a licensing review this fall. We try to stabilize our financial situation for the early childhood programming. We will be replacing our foster care aide position, as Greg moves over to the Shelter. We are continuing planning of the major fund raising event in November in conjunction with the Art Center. The Americana Music Tribute Series continues with the 8th Annual John Prine Tribute in October, and a raffle for two tickets to see John in Columbus Ohio is going on up to the Tribute benefit.
As always, a bustling hive of activity here at CHS-Parkersburg!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Planning is going strong for our November fund raiser

Ashley has been organizing teams and committees of Advisory Council members and staff members for the November stocking display and auction event at the Art Center. Anyone can join in this exciting and important fund raiser and community engagement work for the site. Gathering auction items, soliciting groups or individuals to create stockings, and many other details to make the event a success, are all help that is needed.

TLP program holds CiCi's Pizza benefit night

Lisa and her loyal band of youth worked at CiCi's Pizza Wednesday night to receive the 10% contribution they make to community groups. Lisa hopes to have this be a monthly event to gather funds to support the transitional living program work with homeless youth. This program serves some very intense cases addressing a serious gap in our community to help these young people make a transition to adulthood. There are some poignant stories every day.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

(unfortunately) a not uncommon occurrence.....

Late yesterday afternoon (6:30 pm) I am looking out my window at work, down the alley that runs off our parking lot. I see a grade school age boy, with a few even YOUNGER children looking on; nervously shaking a spray paint can, and peering around the edge of a brick building down the alley. Then he begins adding to an existing bit of graffiti on the wall. Austi, our new worker in the After School program (who is younger and has fresher running legs) offers to run down the alley and interrupt and confront the youngster. She shoos him off, gets the offending spray paint can, and comes back to the office. She has endeared herself to me, with her quick action and firm confronting of the child. All up the alley is graffiti, and signs of the "broken window" phenomenon of sociology. In broad daylight! Its what we want to impact in our work in the neighborhood.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Spoke at First United Methodist Church in Parkersburg

The Fifth Sunday is a Sunday where First United Methodist Church calls a Mission Sunday, and they take up a collection for a service organization to support. They invite someone from that group to speak during the service, and then have a salad lunch afterward to welcome the guest and offer time for parishoners to talk to that organization's representative. Yesterday, Children's Home Society of WV-Parkersburg was the invited organization, and I spoke to the congregation and shared the lunch meal with them afterward. It was an opportunity to take about our mission and our services in the community, and ways the church community could be involved with us, through giving, mentoring, foster parenting and supporting the individual programs through collections of needed items. I was warmly welcomed, and saw several familiar faces from town, and acknowledged the church's past support of our agency, particulary the Gustke Shelter. Mr. Edwin Dils is a long time member of the church, and a long time supporter of the Shelter. Mr. Dils is in poor health, and prayers were asked for him during the service.

Lewisburg's Make It Right For Kids night benefit

I traveled to Lewisburg to attend the annual major fund raising event for the Lewisburg site of our agency. This auction is in its 5th year. There is a lot of great community support for the agency in that community, which is apparent when attending this event. Great food and donations of items for the auction; some obviously committed donors and sponsors and supporters were out in full force. Lots of good community engagement going on at the Lewisburg site!

TLP program works at the Honey Festival

Lisa and some of her volunteers, manned the ticket booths at the Honey Festival in Parkersburg this weekend, to receive $100 to benefit the Transitional Living Program here at the Parkersburg site. Lisa works hard to promote the program and the site's work and mission every opportunity she can. This Wednesday, they are working at CiCi's Pizza in Vienna to receive 10% of the evening's proceeds.

Off the Wall Art Benefit

Ashley organized a first time event to benefit the WE CAN program here at the site that was held this past Saturday at Full Circle Yoga in Vienna. This was an event where 12 local artists display their art work at the Yoga Studio, and supporters and art patrons came to enjoy the art, some refreshments, and some classy surroundings and company! The patrons could buy art work, and the artists tended to contribute some part of their proceeds back to the benefit. There was a cover charge/ ticket for attending. There were door prizes given through the evening. The artists seemed especially pleased with the opportunity to display their art, and "network" with other artists. Many of the artists will now donate a piece of their work to our site's November HeART for the Holidays benefit at the Art Center. Ashley did a great job of organizing the event, and Lori Tafaute, of the Full Circle Yoga studio, who "dreamed up" the idea, are to be congratulated for this very nice "first time" event. Ashley can provide the names of the artists who participated, and any additional follow up information anyone is interested in.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Make It Right For Kids night

Tomorrow I am going down to the Lewisburg site of our agency to attend their annual fund raising auction, the Make It Right For Kids night. We hope to pick up some ideas of how they run their very successful community fund raising event. I'll give a report next week!
Meanwhile, Ashley has organized an art auction of our own this Saturday (which I'll come back for!) called the "off the wall" benefit. Local artists work will be on display and auctioned in this first time event at the Full Circle Yoga studio in Vienna.

This week saw two grant applications submitted

We submitted grants to the Sisters of Saint Joseph Charitable Fund and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation this week. The Sisters grant would allow us to start up a Parents As Teachers program here from our site. This early childhood home visit program is an evidence based model that already has been functioning in a number of WV counties. It would work in conjunction with Right From the Start to serve families beyond the infant's first birthday.
The PACF grant would help support the work of the Mid Town Family Resource Center and the after school program.

Start of the School Year

The Mid Town Family Resource Center and its after school program for students from McKinley Elementary School are off to a busy start; the enrollment is already up to the numbers of previous years. The staff are getting to know the students and parents, and organizing their activities and structure. We will operate many of the same great opportunities for neighborhood kids: 4-H, Girl Scouts, Neighborhood Day, Family Nights, and the like.

Site Wide Staff meeting yesterday

23 site staff attended a quarterly staff meeting yesterday, covering a wide range of topics, and allowing lots of opportunity to share updates and inter-program communication. New staff were introduced, and oriented to the vast array of programs and complex communication challenges at the site. Lots of upcoming events were promoted, and issues such as the facility, training, strategic planning, were discussed. Christina took minutes and is working them up for staff who were unable to attend. Three lucky winners won restaurant gift certificates at the end of the meeting; and staff were provided the opportunity to pick books from Steve's work related library!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Site Wide Staff Meeting this Wednesday

School starts back up tomorrow for Wood County students. Wednesday, we will have a site wide staff meeting at 10 am for all local site staff. We have lots going on; lots to communicate; lots of ideas to bandy about. Stay tuned for a report!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oh, some busy days; lots to post but not disciplined with my blogging!

There is lots to post on the blog about the CHS-Parkersburg site; but I have gotten sloppy about my blogging discipline. I'll try to do better, maybe even this weekend!
School is starting back up Monday here in Wood County; and the after school crew is geared up. We had a fantastic family night here last night for the Mid Town Family Resource Center. We had a good life skills/ Glasser Group Tuesday night. The shelter had a back to school fun night last night. Busy, busy, busy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 24; Appreciation Lunch for DHHR workers

Tuesday, August 24th, the foster care staff are having an informational session and appreciation lunch for DHHR workers from the area, to show them about our foster care program, and acknowledge their work with children in foster care.

This coming Wednesday we welcome the new site manager from Morgantown to visit our site

Kurt Schmidt will visit our CHS-Parkersburg site Wednesday, to spend some time with key program staff in foster care, adoption and Right From the Start. He will also get a look at how another site is organized and operates in general. We welcome Kurt, and both Shelley and I feel he is off to a great start in Morgantown!

a Respite from the busy goings-on at the Mid Town Family Resource Center

This week brought an almost eerie quiet to the Mid Town Family Resource Center, as the summer program had ended, and its still over a week till school starts. Lisa took a well deserved break, and Shauna is still on her honeymoon!

Advisory Council meeting yesterday

We had a very good Advisory Council meeting yesterday here at CHS-Parkersburg. There was lots of valuable input and opportunity to share ideas and connect with people. The main task at hand is the November auction at the Art center, but the council shows lots of commitment and interest in all the things going on at the site.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tomorrow Night is the next event in the Americana Music Tribute Series- Neil Young tribute

Saturday, August 14th has arrived; and tomorrow night we will hold the next event in our year-long Americana Music Tribute Series. This month we are celebrating the music of Neil Young. 9 Pm at 6 Pence Pub for a $5 donation, you can help support the WE CAN program at the Parkersburg site of CHS. There will be local musicians who contribute their time and talent, and we will have some contests and prizes throughout the evening. Come out and support CHS and enjoy a good evening of music honoring Neil Young's contribution to the American music world.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Career Day at the Summer Program of the Mid Town Family Resource Center

The second Career Day was held on Friday, July 30th, as part of the Mid Town Family Resource Center’s Summer Youth Program. The program was attended by 18 youth, four from the Gustke Shelter and 14 from the Summer Youth Program. Guest speakers included Jodi Smith, WVU Extension Agent; Sgt. Anthony Spence, U.S. Army; Stacy O’Dell, DHHR Child Protective Service Worker; Eileen Filozof, PhD, Health and Wellness Instructor; Laurie Andell, Teacher; and David Danner, a former Tow Boat worker. Two firemen from the local station also came to speak and show the students the fire truck. Within the first five minutes of their presentation, they were required to answer a call and had to leave. The kids were disappointed to miss the tour of the truck but were thrilled to see the firemen leave with, lights flashing and sirens wailing! Refreshments were served to those attending and the afternoon was enjoyed by all.

Back to School Family Night and Shelter Back to School Night

August 19th will bring TWO back to school events to our site; the monthly Family Night at the Mid Town Family Resource Center and a special back to school event for the Gustke Shelter residents.

Site Wide Staff Meeting August 25th

We will be having a site wide staff meeting August 25th. These quarterly gatherings are important because of all the programs and work we do, and keeping communication strong. We review our strategic plan and things that are important for all staff to know about each other's programs and overall site details.

saying good bye to Patty Ralston, VISTA

Patty Ralston left her VISTA assignment with us at the beginning of August after two years. VISTA's may only serve 3 years, and Patty had a previous assignment at WVU-P, so her term was up. Patty really promoted the WV Promise message, and worked with many of the other VISTA projects around the state over her two years. We wish Patty well with future endeavors, and appreciate her spirit and spunk with helping our agency and our mission.

we welcome a new site manager at Morgantown

Shelley is actively involved in helping orient the agency's new site manager in Morgantown, Kurt Schmidt, as part of her regional duties. Kurt will come here to get some additional orientation in foster care and Right From the Start at some point, as well as to see how we do the community engagement and development and marketing work at our site for the agency. Welcome to Kurt!

Advisory Council meeting upcoming

August 13th is our next Advisory Council meeting here at the Parkersburg site of CHS. Its at 10 am and in our 5th suite. All staff and supporters are welcome to attend; we maintain a pretty ambitious and lively agenda and planning process! We have continued to work with Jodie Boylen, as a new member, and prospective full board member of the agency, representing our area. Jodie will be unable to attend this meeting, but she stopped by for a site visit last week, and is very insightful and versed on our services and child welfare in general.

Life Skills Session last night

Participants will be talking for weeks about Lisa D-P's performance last night as a job interviewee and how NOT to dress, and act during a job interview! The young people were being helped to understand the job interview and application process by Travis Smith from Youth Advantage (a long time friend of the agency's, and long time Truancy Diversion worker), and our own Missy Storey and Lisa. Lisa did all the wrong things to show what NOT to do in an interview. Travis then conducted himself very well in how TO handle yourself in an interview. The youth got a lot out of this session. Missy and Lisa do these sessions on a regular basis.

Woody Guthrie Tribute

We had a big crowd for the Woody Guthrie tribute last week; this was the first coffee house setting event of the year, and all sorts of people came out. Our three musicians didn't quite know what to expect in terms of an audience, and they adapted well to the wide mix of ages and musical attention spans!!! Our next scheduled coffee house is September 16th when Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart return for a third visit.

Congratulations to Shauna!

Shauna Davis and John Kelley got married this past Saturday here in Parkersburg. Shauna has been in our Mid Town Family Resource Center for several years working with the children in the after school program, and the families in the neighborhood. Shauna has been instrumental in development of our 4-H club here and providing the opportunity for many neighborhood children to attend camps, and other leadership and new experiences through 4-H. Shauna has been working hard on her teaching degree, and has utilized her skills to be the academic coordinator of our after school program for several years. She mentors and role models for many of our volunteers, interns, and young workers in the program, and she has deep roots and commitment to the children and families of the neighborhood, and the agency. John and Shauna are on a honeymoon to Hawaii!!! Shauna begins her student teaching with the school year starting up later in the month. She will continue to work in the after school program, when she gets off for the day from student teaching!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Blennerhassett Island Trip(s)

Two different groups of our youth have taken field trips to Blennerhassett Island this summer; the students at the Gustke Shelter with Laurie, and the children and families of the summer day program here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center went to the Island this week. Though this is a significant tourist attraction for the Parkersburg area, many children and families do not have the opportunity to see it.

We have a winner in the Trip to Nashville raffle

Last night we had the drawing for the trip to Nashville in September for the Americana Music Association Festival; and the lucky winner is Genny Ferri (with Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia, a fine partner of ours in our work with children and families). Genny has come up for our Johnny Cash Tribute, so we know she is an Americana Music Fan, and supporter of CHS-Parkersburg! She will have a ball at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville!
The drawing was part of the Woody Guthrie Tribute held last evening here at our "coffee house" setting in the Mid Town Family Resource Center. We had about 35 people attend, and enjoy the spirited music of our three talented entertainers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whirlwind days

I have been having some whirlwind days lately, and so have fallen behind in my posts. I hope to catch back up over the weekend; some busy things going on around the CHS-Parkersburg site. Be patient for the updates!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This Thursday; coffee house at the Mid Town!

We are reviving the coffee house concept at our Mid Town Family Resource Center this Thursday, for an event of our Americana Music Tribute Series. Three area musicians will perform sets of songs celebrating Woody Guthrie starting at 7 pm. Nick Barry, Todd Burge and Steve Peck will be entertaining us. Donations will be accepted at the door. We will also be conducting the drawing for our raffle, of a trip for two to Nashville for the Americana Music Association festival in September. Come on out and enjoy a fine evening of music, and hear about upcoming other events in the Series. T-Shirts for the Series are also available for sale, to support our work here in the community with children and families.

Wood County's Homeless Count

Some staff of the site participated in the Homeless Count conducted in Wood County Friday night. This is covered by the local media in light of the economic conditions of the country, and recent local coverage of homelessness. Our staff are very involved in interagency work locally about the homeless, due to our federal grant programs, under the Runaway and Homeless Youth act. They also work with many others to provide items for the homeless in backpacks, bags; items gathered from various churches, businesses, civic groups.

In this morning's Parkersburg News and Sentinel there was a front page story, interviewing Chris Rutherford, about the school system's response to local homelessness among students. We have a contract to provide services to homeless students, throughout the school year, with Niki Staats, our worker in that program.

Parking Lot Sale

In the sweltering heat (haven't I been having to use that word a lot lately?) on Friday, staff at the site conducted a parking lot sale to benefit the programs here. The Mid Town Family Resource Center staff set up tables, sorted items, and conducted the sale in the heat; raising $190, which will be used to take the kids in the summer program to Blennerhassett Island this Tuesday! (Leftover money supports the general work of the Mid Town FRC!) Lisa also piggybacked on to the sale for a hot dog sale over the lunch hour, and made $32 to support the Transitional Living program. Thanks to all the staff who worked hard on these events!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

changed date for "Off the Wall Art Benefit- Aug 28

Ashley reports a change of date for the art auction benefit for WE CAN; moved to August 28 from the 7th. More details forthcoming!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer in full swing

Summer is really in full swing at our CHS-Parkersburg site. The summer program is going fantastic; with Lisa Weaver and her hard working crew, helping a busy band of neighborhood young people have an enjoyable summer and engage in some remedial learning and enrichment activities. Some very creative activities are going on! The four youth in the summer work program are really contributing to the success of the summer program. Laurie, working with a Department of Education grant to provide enrichment and remedial academic work for the students at the Gustke Shelter is also providing a very busy and intriguing array of activities. All the other programs are providing steady quality service to many area children and families.
We are getting ready for a parking lot sale this Friday; a yard sale type event, with some food for sale, too.
Next Thursday is a music night; an event of our Americana Music Tribute Series here as a coffee house setting; a Woody Guthrie tribute featuring three local musicians. This will also be the drawing night for the raffle that has been going on for a three night trip to Nashville for two, to attend the Americana Music Association awards and festival. This is a prize package worth over $1000 for a $20 chance. There is still time to enter the contest!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Passed the 500 Post Mark!

The last post I made was the 500th posting for this blog. Realizing that many of them are simple announcements about events, or simple reports on things that have occurred, it still represents a vantage point of "hanging in there" with using the blog to keep people informed of all the exciting and challenging work we do here at CHS-Parkersburg. I would still like to see more "signs of life" from readers, or responses/ reactions to some of what I post. It would help me make the blog more responsive and useful I believe.

A Story from Jessica; our Truancy Diversion Worker at VanDevender Middle School

Story of Matt a 6th Grader

I began working with Matt almost immediately when I started my position as the truancy diversion worker in April 2010. The reason I started working with him so quickly was due to my conversation with the previous truancy worker who had left me a list and detailed notes on certain students that she had been working with throughout the year and he was on this list. She had noted that Matt tended to miss a lot of school and that when he did come he came in late therefore she had been picking him up on her way to work and bringing him to the school with her. When I first started in this position I was unable to immediately start where the previous worker had left off due to having many aspects of the position to learn prior to working directly with the students. Once I did start working with the students one on one I took a look at Matt’ attendance for the time that he was not receiving a ride by the truancy diversion worker and he did manage to come to school and not be tardy for several days. This showed me that he was capable. When he would come in late I would be working in the office providing notes for tardy students and I was able to talk with him about why he was late and remind him that he needed to be here on time and that he had done it on his own previously so I knew he was able to do so.
As my work continued I began to notice that Matt was starting to miss days here and there again so I made a phone call to his mom. I scheduled a home visit and when I went there for this visit I learned that she was having a hard time waking Matt up in the morning and that sometimes he would miss the bus. She explained that she had no way of getting him to school other than the use of the city bus which she couldn’t always afford. Therefore when Matt missed the school bus and couldn’t afford the city bus he would stay home. I offered to mom that on these days she could call me on my cell phone and I would be able to pick Matt up for school. She agreed to do this. She also said that within the next month she was going to purchase a bus pass for her and Matt to share so that when he did miss the school bus he could still take the city bus and make it to school on time. I found out through them that there is a city bus stop right in front of the school. She said that this will also help when he has doctor’s appointments. These appointments were another reason for Matt missing school. They would be able to go to the appointment and home but then not be able to get him to school afterwards. I agreed that a bus pass would be much more affordable for the family and that it sounded like they could each use one of their own that way they would have more of an opportunity to be out in the community and can do shopping and run errands whenever they needed to. His mother agreed to this.
After this home visit and after several conversations with Matt at the school I ended up never needing to pick Matt up for school. He liked getting to school on his own and once he saw that he could and once he got his bus pass he proved to himself that he could do this because he came to school on time for the remainder of the year. He did miss a few classes due to doctor’s appointments but not entire instructional days. At the end of the year awards assembly Matt was awarded the Most Improved Student award for his class. I recently met with Matt and his mom this summer and we talked about this award and I asked them if they felt that the truancy program helping him had any effect on his getting this award. They both agreed that from the assistance of this program Matt was able to come to school on time whether it was riding with the TD worker or taking the city bus, he was encouraged to be here and be here on time as well as encouraged to do all of his school work and to turn it in on time. His mom agreed that once he started missing less school he started doing more of his school work.
I encouraged Matt to keep up the good work going into the next school year and I reminded mom that if she ever needed extra assistance with getting him to come to school to feel free to call me and I would be there to help.

Summer Program Bustling Along

Our summer neighborhood program is bustling along. There are some great young people working for us (through the Workforce Investment Board summer program) and the youth coming to the program are enthusiastic about the great variety of activities going on. We are serving a lot of youth and supporting lots of families with positive summer activities.

Riverfront Roar

Lisa D-P, and Memory Cooper (a VISTA partner from down in Putnam County) and I helped operate a food vendor trailer at the Riverfront Roar in Marietta this past weekend (Randi and Shelby helped two nights too!) with Nathan Hess, a food entrepreneur and friend. This power speed boat races event, with music, and vendor booths and such is an annual event in Marietta. We made some money for our efforts to help support the Transitional Living Program. It was a hot and sweltering weekend, but we had some great comraderie in the little food trailer.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Parking Lot Sale July 23rd

The Mid Town Family Resource Center is holding a parking lot sale on Friday July 23 from 10 am to 3 pm. Staff and "anyone connected" to the MTFRC is welcome to participate. We are gathering items between now and then, and there will be participation by the youth in the summer program, including possibly some craft and refreshments for sale. We are trying to raise money for an "end of the summer program" field trip, and general support of the Mid Town Family Resource Center.

"Off the Wall Benefit"

Ashley Way, WE CAN program coordinator at the site, is organizing a benefit with Lori Tofaute of Full Circle Yoga Studio, for August 7th from 6-9 pm. It is an evening celebrating local artists and talent, with an auction, refreshments, and entertainment. See Ashley for details, or check here for other information forthcoming.

Shauna's Wedding

Shauna Davis, of our Mid Town Family Resource Center, and the McKinley after school program, is getting married on July 31st at 5:30 at the Smoot Theater in Parkersburg. John Kelley, who has helped with MANY of our Mid Town FRC events, is the lucky fella. We wish them luck and congratulations from all the staff. We know it will be a joyous occasion.

Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart return to Parkersburg!

We have hosted Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart twice now, at our coffee house setting at the Mid Town Family Resource Center here in Parkersburg, for "house concerts." They are fantastic musicians and songwriters, and incredibly engaging performers. They travel extensively, including a recent trip to Europe, spreading their powerful musical messages and winning over audiences. They are coming back to Parkersburg for a show with us, September 16th (a Thursday). We are so pleased to have them again! I am exploring options for a venue, so will update people on that, we know we can host them at the storefront, but I am considering a slightly larger venue, so more people can get to see and hear them!!

Neil Young Tribute- August 14th

We get back on track with one of our regular Tribute shows, Saturday, August 14th at 6 Pence Pub on 7th Street in Parkersburg, with a Neil Young tribute. Donation of $5 at the door, will get you an evening of local musicians performing sets of songs celebrating the deep musical career of Neil Young. Visit the facebook site of the Mid Ohio Valley Americana Music Tribute Series for updates about who is performing, and some Neil Young news and reminders of his powerful legacy in the music world.

Music Events upcoming

We've added a music event to our 2010 Americana Music Tribute Series for Thursday, July 29th at 7 pm, here at our Mid Town Family Resource Center (the "coffee house" mode!) It will be a Woody Guthrie Tribute, featuring several local musicians playing songs of Woody Guthrie, or songs inspired by Woody Guthrie. Todd Burge, who is a prominent musician in the local community, and across West Virginia will be participating. Nick Barry, who does a number of our tribute shows, and also does some painting and repairs around our facilities, will also perform. Nick has a very entertaining song writing style, and a deep appreciation for the legacy and history of music and influences (as does Todd!) Steve Peck, who has become a mainstay performer for the Americana Music Series has also agreed to do a set. We may have a few more, but this makes for a great line up of entertainment! AND, we will be drawing for the raffle for the Trip to Nashville (Sept. 9-11) to attend the Americana Music Association Festival - tickets for 2; including lodging, and gas/food money. We have had a few other Woody Guthrie music events over the years, and they are always memorable; its not necessarily the annual ones, like the Johnny Cash, John Prine tributes, but we've had some fun with them!

Marietta's Riverfront Roar

Well, after a long spell of sweltering hot, dry weather, we woke up today to some rain here in Parkersburg. Lisa D-P has offered to be the first one to volunteer this evening at the food vendor camper at the Marietta Riverfront Roar; I hope we get a cooling soak during the day, but things let up by this evening. Randi and Shelby will help out too this evening. I will meet up with Nathan Hess tomorrow morning, and then throughout the day we have volunteers lined up to help with this fund raiser. We'll give a report after the weekend!

Board Member visit

Though it was a federal holiday, and not the full bustling hive of activity it usually is, Monday saw Dale Geiger, a CHS board member make a site visit. He talked with the staff and really showed interest in their work and perspective on the agency. He showed lots of insight into the mission and strategic vision of the agency, and asked some good questions. We hope he came away with a good picture of the Parkersburg site.

taping a radio spot with the local Chamber of Commerce

Bonnie Grady, with the local Chamber of Commerce hosted me for a radio spot about the agency and its work in the community. This will be aired next Tuesday on the Results Radio- AM 1230- WVNT at 9:30 am. This is a nice feature of the Chamber's membership, and Bonnie is a welcoming and relaxed host. There will be a chance to catch the broadcast through the Chamber's website after the broadcast:

Summer Programming for the Shelter

Laurie Andel has been working as a tutor with the shelter students this past week or so, under a grant from the state Department of Education to do some summer remedial and enrichment activities with the students. Laurie has brought many fresh ideas, and has engaged the students from the start. This adds a boost of "structure" to the summer programming at the shelter. They have already done a community service project, and some "hands on" science experiments, as well as some creative expression work. This has been excited to observe!

Nursing Students

We have been hosting some nursing students this summer, who are getting an experience "outside of a medical setting" by observing and participating in a social service agency. They have been spending some time at the Shelter, and with the early childhood programs primarily.

Welcome to Summer Youth workers

Through the summer work program of the Workforce Investment Board, we have four young people working with us for 5 weeks. They will be helping with our summer programming which runs from noon to 4 pm daily. They come early and help set things up for the day, and stay to clean up and prepare for the next day. They work under Lisa's supervision to help individually with the children that come, and in groups, and with the smooth operating of the Mid Town Family Resource Center. We welcome, Robbie, Chrystal, Rose and Susan. We hope they have a good work experience, and get a little flavor of what working with children is like; and we hope they get a sense of CHS's mission and values in the community.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

United Bank's CEO stops by for a visit

Richard Adams, the CEO of United Bank visited our Mid Town Family Resource Center on Friday. Richard has been actively involved in KIDS COUNT throughout its existence, and is widely known for his interest and commitment to agencies working with children. Richard asked some very insightful questions about our agency's work with area children and families, all up and down the continuum of services to children and families. He showed a lot of specific interest in our work with neighborhood children. He will continue to dialogue with us about ways he, and United Bank can support services to children. We were very pleased and humbled by his visit, and further committed to continuing our community engagement on behalf of the families we serve.

Bridal Shower for Shauna!

The staff held a bridal shower for Shauna, who is getting married at the end of the month. There was a brunch theme to the event, so there were some tasty dishes. These events are fun to observe, as the hard working staff can get together to enjoy each others company, and celebrate a special upcoming event for a staff member.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

An acknowledgement of our (last summer's!) summer program at the Neighborhood Center!

Hi Lisa and Steve,

A very belated but BIG THANK YOU to you, Shauna Davis, Mary Farnsworth, other CHS WV staff and volunteers, students, and everyone connected with the 2009 Summer Youth Enrichment Program for all your advance preparations and time in discussion during the Explorations grant site visit on July 30, 2009! I really enjoyed talking with everyone and appreciated the diverse perspectives on your project.

It's clear that you have an in-depth understanding of the needs of children and youth in your area and are building on many years of work and numerous connections to help Wood County kids today. I'm hopeful that the valuable services of the Children's Home Society of WV will be continued for years to come. Thank you for submitting the final narrative and financial reports (received October 27, 2009) and for providing numerous examples of recruiting, scheduling, and event information during and following the project. Progress of the Summer Youth Enrichment Program will be reported in WVSAN's report to the Benedum Foundation, providers of funding that made possible the Explorations grant program. If you would like to have photos included from your project, please send them (as e-mail attachments, if possible).

Thank you for all you do for children and youth in the out-of-school hours.

Jane Hange, Director
WV Statewide Afterschool Network

Monday, June 28, 2010

TLP program supporters helping with a Riverfront Roar food service as a fund raiser

Lisa D-P and myself, and several of our youth participants, will be helping a food service vendor sell food at Marietta's Riverfront Roar the weekend of the 10th of July as a fund raiser. It will be hot and sweltering no doubt, but the music, and fun of a summer riverfront festival will be exciting.

Chamber of Commerce Radio Spot

Next Wednesday, July 7th at 2 pm we have a radio spot with the Chamber of Commerce, where we can promote "anything we want" about our agency and programs. This is with Results Radio here in Parkersburg.

CHS Board member visit next Monday

Even though to many folks next Monday is a holiday (the delayed 4th of July holiday) we will be hosting a CHS Board member for a site visit. Dale Geiger, from the southern part of the state, will be stopping by. Dale is a staunch supporter of the agency, and the sites, and heads up the Social Service committee. He has been eager to visit our site. We always appreciate the opportunity to talk about all our work here to agency Board Members.

Glasser Group tomorrow night

Tomorrow, Lisa D-P and I will lead a monthly Glasser Group, our opportunity to get people from all ages, all programs together to have a support group on how to improve their lives and relationships and make healthy choices in their lives. 6 Pm is the time; the middle room, the Mid Town Family Resource Center is the place!

Our Summer Program starts today

Our Neighborhood Summer Program starts today. We will be serving a lunch provided by Wood County schools (and a snack) to any students that come. Figuring numbers is always a challenge! There will be enrichment academic opportunities (often in the guise of something fun!) and positive social skill building, craft and creative outlets, community service and youth leadership opportunities! Eileen Filozof, a member of our advisory council, and enthusiastic supporter of our After School program and neighborhood work, is helping majorly with the summer program, and is helping line up some volunteers and helpers. Today, Joyce Mather from the MOV United Way Alliance is coming to take some pictures of our agency and some volunteers and employees for their promotional material.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Foster Care Appreciation Picnic last evening

The CHS-Parkersburg site had a very successful Foster Care Appreciation Picnic last night, thanks to the hard work of not only the foster care staff, but many other staff at the site. The foster parents seemed to really appreciate the gifts and recognition of their work, and the foster kids and families enjoyed a very pleasant evening at Jackson Park in Vienna. The food was perfect for a picnic, and the staff hustled and bustled to not only set it up, hold the picnic, and clean up with a solid team effort. We really enjoyed the staff turnout, seeing the young kids and relaxing in a summer evening together.

Roane County Community Baby Shower

Barb and Mary are off to Roane County today to participate in a community baby shower. They will promote our programs, the CHIP enrollment process, and link with other service providers for early childhood care. They have many intriguing educational resources to share when they attend these community engagement events.

Parenting Session with Right From the Start families

Roberta held a parenting session last night at our offices for 6 parents in the Right from the Start program; including child care. The topic was discipline, and it was a well received effort, as parents were asking "when is the next one!!!" Congrats to Roberta for this innovative offering, in the spirit of helping families get together and learn together!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mid Town Family Resource Center's summer program

We will begin a 6 week summer program next Monday here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. Noon to 4 pm, children and youth from the neighborhood will be able to come to the Center for a lunch, a snack, and some fun activities. There is a remedial school work aspect, exposure to some new positive activities, and many other things planned. Eileen Filozof has been a major contributor to helping organize the summer programming, and we greatly appreciate her support. She is a member of our Advisory Council, and has been actively involved in many Mid Town Family Resource Center events, and is a WE CAN volunteer mentor. We are patiently waiting to hear about the Summer Work Program through the local Workforce Investment Board, where perhaps 3 young people will be assigned to our site for their summer work experience, being paid through WIB funds. We will be reporting on how the summer program is going over the next few weeks.

Adoption Meeting

Carna and Shelley attending a statewide meeting yesterday in Flatwoods, where private providers were oriented to some of the aspects of handling adoption cases that previously the Department of Health and Human Resources adoption workers did. This has been a transition long in coming, where we can provide more cohesive continuity for adoptions for both the children and the adoptive families.

Tonight's Foster Care Appreciation Picnic

Its a sweltering stretch of days here as summer has begun; and we will have a picnic tonight in Vienna to honor our foster families. Greg has been organizing lots of food donations and some prizes for foster parents. We hope we don't get one of our traditional late afternoon thunderstorms, but we will have a fun picnic no matter what the weather!

Ann Griffith's projects

Ann Griffith, who has been with us since January, is winding down the projects she has been working on for us. The research and community engagement work she has done on the "In Home Family Education" community planning grant has been very effective, and will bear fruit for us for a long while, in our developing community engagement for our early childhood component of our mission. She has also worked on the "InRoads"/ CHIP enrollment project with Healthy Kids and Families Coalition. Ann ends her "official" time with us June 30th, but I am sure she will stay involved in some of our projects in a community capacity.

Life Skills Group

Missy and Lisa held a life skills session the other night, teaching about food purchases, preparing a simple, economical meal. The youth who participated have created a lot of informal support and comraderie through these sessions.

We received a second 5 Promises grant

Yesterday we received word we received a second 5 Promises grant, this time for $2500 to support the after school (and summer) program of the Mid Town Family Resource Center. Earlier (their first round) we had received a grant of $1200 to support the WE CAN program here at the site.

Federal Monitoring Review of our Runaway and Homeless Youth program

We had a federal monitoring review the past two days for our Basic Center Program of our Runaway and Homeless Youth grant. The monitors were encouraging and supportive of our work, and complimented the staff on our record keeping/ organization, and interviewed a number of people connected to the program, all of whom helped them see the commitment we have to the program and the youth served.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Advisory Council

The CHS-Parkersburg Advisory Council met today to further the planning of our November Stocking Auction event. There was a good group of people to share good ideas about how to make the event work. We will be putting out a summary of the discussion and "next steps" very soon. We welcomed back a member who hadn't been able to attend the last few meetings, and introduced a new member. A good representation of the staff were present also.

Summer Routines

Things shift around the CHS-Parkersburg site during the summer; we miss Mr. Apgar coming around with the students; the bustle of the after school program; some staff taking slightly different schedules in the summer. 4-H camps have already begun, and foster families are shifting to summer routines, too. Stay tuned for updates about some of our summer activities!

Shelley's father

We are saddened by the death of Shelley's father recently. Mick Plauche was very proud of his daughter and her accomplishments with the agency over these past 10 years or so; the development of the new Gustke Shelter, and her leadership role at the site. Shelley has been taking care of details of his memorial service, since this was a sudden unexpected death.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Well, we made it through the exhausting, exhilerating Shindig! This outdoor music festival was a benefit fund raiser for our CHS-Parkersburg site. We had rain throughout most of the event, so that obviously created some problems and distractions, but we kept going! The staff of the agency, and some loyal supporters worked incredibly hard to set up this event, and all their work paid off with a well run, enjoyable day of music, and raising awareness about CHS-Parkersburg, and gathering some donations and contributions. The music was excellent throughout the day, and we got lots of accolades for the music and sound. The food wagon from the North End Tavern and Brewery was a nice touch for the event. We thank Dennis Sutton and Mary White for coming up to support our event, and we think they enjoyed it. Mark Spangler, from our Alliance Partner, Davis Stuart, and his "family band" did a great set of music, and stayed around to enjoy the fellowship. By the evening, the rain had subsided, so those who came out later, or persevered, got to enjoy a pleasant (if still somewhat muggy!) evening of music. This was declared a "success" and adds to our Americana Music Tribute Series greatly- it was fun to see so many children there, and up there leading the dancing to the music!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shindig Three Days AWAY!

Its Wednesday night; a 12 hour trip to Morgantown is safely finished. Stopping in the office to catch up on messages. Can't help but put in yet another plug for our fund raiser music festival this Saturday. We decided on the name "Shindig" to show that it was a "festive party" - probably came from a "kick in the shins"- which means people up and dancing. A big exuberant party, often involving dancing. A bash, a blast, a blowout. That should pretty much sum it up. Now remember, this is our first attempt at such a shindig. We are getting to be old hats at the Americana Tribute Shows; this will be our eighth year for a John Prine Tribute, and Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan have all had several tributes. But an outdoor festival, with great West Virginia musicians singing their own original songs, and entertaining a wide audience of music lovers and agency supporters is a new and unknown thing. Please spread the word, get people intrigued and excited to come out and see what the Shindig is all about. 3 Pm this Saturday, the music begins! Thanks to all the staff and supporters in the community who are making this a reality!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Agency Founder's Day yesterday in Charleston

It was a sweltering steamer yesterday in Charleston (it only sprinkled though, as opposed to Parkersburg that had waves of thunderstorms, but still stayed very muggy and humid!) The agency Founders Day was a nice event at the Davis Shelter site (and Adoption Resource Center). There were many "alumni" of the Davis Shelter, or the agency's adoption services. And many long time supporters, board members, and current staff and shelter residents. I assume there were also adoptive parents and foster parents among those present. There was picnic food, and carnival type games, and lots of give aways! The presenters did a great job of putting into context the agency and its great legacy and historic depth. The tug of war was won by Dennis' team this year, with Keith Spears unable to participate, so now Dennis will have the bragging rights.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

1st Annual MId Ohio Valley Shindig- one week away!

Many staff are working hard on the details of the fund raising musical outdoor festival we are calling "The Shindig." Its next Saturday, June 12 starting at 3 pm and running through 6 acts of music until around 11 pm. Donation of $10 gets you a full day of fine West Virginia music. My son Andy will be kicking the music off with a short set, since he will be back later to perform the closing act, with his band, The Greens. Andy has some great song writing skills and is a very personable performer. He has lots of long time fans in the Parkersburg area, that don't get to see him as much lately, as he is centered in Morgantown. Kathleen Coffee comes on next. Kathleen is someone I met a few years back as she came to a show we were sponsoring here in Parkersburg of a mutually admired singer songwriter, Anais Mitchell. She has done two coffee houses for us at our store front, to great audience acclaim. She also participated in a song writer contest in Marietta a few years back, and came away as the winner! She performed at the Mid Ohio Valley Players Theater, as part of that event. She will charm and wow the audience at our Shindig. She has a my space site, and a facebook site that you can check out her songs and bio. Coming up next will be Mark Spangler, and one of his "offshoot" projects, some accompanists called The Minor Prophets. Mark is the director of Davis-Stuart group homes, an Alliance for Children Partner to CHS. Mark is a great performer, stage presence, and talented songwriter and musician. We are honored to have him venture up from the southern part of the state to participate in this first event. Liecus, a local band will perform next. Eric Seevers, who has worked at the Shelter is a mainstay of Liecus, a popular band in the area, with a loyal and enthusiastic following. Nick Barry will perform next. Nick, who has been doing much work for CHS-Parkersburg in the painting, repairs, "handyman" line for a number of years, is a veteran of the local music scene, with a lot of popularity over the years for his songs and performances. And finally, closing the show will be the Greens, a band with Mid OHio Valley roots, who enjoy a strong following across the state of West Virginia, and have performed many holiday shows, and steady gigs across the state, keeping music lovers happy with good dance-able songs, wildly diverse and free-ranging styles, and inspired creative bursts. We hope you'll spread the word, and help us make this debut event a success.

Hosting a meeting on our Promise Neighborhood grant application

We hosted a productive meeting yesterday of some key community folks as we prepare an ambitious grant application for a "promise neighborhood" project. This would be a "cradle to college" comprehensive neighborhood approach to helping children and families at all stages of children's key times to prepare them for school, and during school, and to successfully transition to adulthood. This grant will be going in over the next few weeks.

Senator Jay Rockefeller's visit to our site

Wednesday, we were honored to have Senator Jay Rockefeller visit our site. He had initiated the idea of having a round table discussion among VISTA workers in our area, as part of a celebration and acknowledgement of the 45th anniversary of VISTA. Jay had come to WV in the mid-1960's to work under VISTA in Boone County. This was a formative experience for him, and led to his career long commitment to the people of West Virginia. He really spent the time to listen to the current VISTA's in Wood County talk about what motivates them to volunteer and serve, and what their hopes and dreams were. He listened closely to some of the successes and challenges of the projects the VISTA's work on. We came away very impressed with his commitment and dedication to service and people in need. There was coverage by the local TV and newspaper that you can track down through WTAP and Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Senator Jay Rockefeller visits our office tomorrow!

We are very proud to host Senator Jay Rockefeller tomorrow at our office. He asked us to host a round table discussion he is having in Wood County with area VISTA volunteers. Our two VISTA's will be among the participants. We'll tell you more how it goes after tomorrow! We are excited to have such an honored guest at our humble little site of CHS.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Brooke had her baby!

Brooke had her baby this morning and everyone is ecstatic and doing well. It was a big baby (9 lbs. 7 oz) and Brooke sounds like she did a great job with her labor! She tried to be patient through these last weeks, and that paid off!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Founders Day Tradition for the agency

Dennis ignores a handshake. The Tug of War will go on again this year at Founders Day, June 5th in Charleston.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Alliance for Children conference last week

Shelley Plauche and I attended the Alliance for Children conference last week in Charleston. This was the 11th conference put on by the Alliance, which CHS is a strong charter member. I have attended all the conferences over the years (a dwindling number of people can claim that!). The Alliance staff always bring together some timely and intriguing workshop sessions, which really stimulate the participants, and create some good networking and expansion of ideas for the member agencies.

MSW Field Placements bustling around

Two of our staff, Ken Storey and Denise Hughes have begun their field placement phase of their MSW programs (the Charleston branch of WVU). They will both be working in other program areas for their field placement, helping out across programs for their own education purposes, but also providing additional quality graduate work. We were orienting an additional MSW student, who is an employee of the local DHHR office, too, in hopes her situation will allow her to complete her field placement with us. She is going through a process to finalize whether this can be done.

Bob Dylan Tribute re cap

The Bob Dylan Tribute, another in the 2010 Americana Music Tribute Series benefit live music show put on by the CHS-Parkersburg site, was a success Friday night, May 21st. This benefit was to support the site's WE CAN program. We raised over $800. A full line up of musicians playing tribute to Bob Dylan's music impressed the audience with their renditions. We thanks Kim, the owner of the 6 Pence Pub for hosting our events all season long. The musicians show a lot of enthusiasm and devote some great time and energy to developing their set lists. The audience joins in the spirit of the event, and shows some excitement to go from one Tribute show to the next.

Council of Accreditation visits

The Parkersburg site of CHS had two Council of Accreditation visits in the last few days, as part of the agency-wide review and re-accreditation process. Saturday we had a peer reviewer visit for the shelter and transitional living program. Tuesday we had a reviewer for many of the other programs. They both seemed impressed and pleased with our staff, programs and facility. Today we heard that the reviewers in their exit interview with the agency as a whole were impressed overall, and gave very positive feedback. Thanks and congratulations to all the staff for presenting our agency and work in a good light, and for performing the work to high standards.

Friday, May 14, 2010

McKinley All Star Band concert picture

Fine Story on the Rickard's and their Foster Parenting in Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Yesterday's local newspaper had a fine article by Pam Brust about the Rickard's, and foster care month. Check out the Parkersburg News and Sentinel on line newspaper for a copy of the story.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


We had a great appreciation lunch for Charles today. I tried to download Barb's picture but it wouldn't "take"- I'll try to have someone help me get it another way!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

June 12 Outdoor Music Festival- a Shindig!

Saturday, June 12th, from 3-11 pm., we are holding a first attempt at an outdoor music festival, in conjunction with our year long Americana Music Series. This will have a bunch of great West Virginia music acts, performing all day, with some wide variety of creative genius, and crowd-pleasing performances. Tickets are $10. There will be food and refreshments provided by North End Tavern and Brewery. The acts include: The Greens, The Weedhawks, Nick Barry, Liecus, Kathleen Coffee, and Mark Spangler. Stay tuned for details over the next few weeks.

Lots of "holding us accountable" coming up!

Later this month, our agency undergoes our Council on Accreditation review process (an every 4 year monitoring of the standards we comply with to show we are a quality agency). Our site is expected to have two different days of visits, Saturday May 22 and Tuesday May 25th. We are awaiting the exact details. Case records are being requested to gather to bring to Charleston (the main administrative office). And staff have been "prepped" as to what to expect from the monitoring visits.
In June, we have a federal monitoring visit for the Basic Center Program. Two folks will visit and interview staff and people connected to the program, review records, and review our program in the community.
These sorts of quality assurance visits are consuming of staff's time and energy, but are valuable in terms of gauging how we are doing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our picnic table got stolen!!!!!!

The naysayers in the group will say it was only a matter of time, but someone stole our picnic table over the weekend! We had purchased a picnic table for the corner of our parking lot, for folks to enjoy a lunch, a break, or have an outdoor meeting, or private conversation, with a donation from Mountain State College last year. People said we needed to chain it down, but we acted on faith. We dedicated the picnic table to Sandy Greathouse last fall, a SCSP worker who died last year. We were proud of this memorial, and it meant a lot to Sandy's family, too. We were really feeling it was a part of things around here. Someone came in between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning and decided to help themselves to it. We're pretty disappointed. We will work on getting a replacement, and figuring out what to do about the security of one!

Pam Brust, from the News and Sentinel interviews some of our foster parents for National Foster Care Month

The Rickard's had an in-home interview today with Pam Brust, a fantastic journalist with the local News and Sentinel. Pam has covered many stories for us over the years. She always shows keen insight and sharp attention to details and context. We will look for that story over the next few days, and try to remember to provide the link!

Bob Dylan Tribute benefit fast approaching

Our 4th event of the 2010 Americana Music Tribute Series is quickly approaching; the Bob Dylan Tribute/ benefit. This one will benefit the WE CAN program at our site. These proceeds go a long way in supporting mentors working with area children, because the core work of the program is done by volunteer mentors. Friday May 21st is the date; 9 pm is the time; 6 Pence Pub on 7th Street in Parkersburg is the place. $5 is the donation. We've got at least 6 musical acts lined up to play their hearts out, and their fingers raw; playing a wide mixture of Bob Dylan songs across all stages of his vast musical career. Come out and support our cause, and get a good night of enjoyable music in the bargain!

Charles' going away lunch

This week we regretfully say good bye to Charles our stellar handy man. His time with the Senior Community Service Program work program is ending. Charles has been a great boost and steady presence for months here; doing all the little things to keep this place shipshape. We will miss him, and are seeing him off with a lunch this week.

Blustery Foster Care "Witness" event on Saturday

A few of us stalwarts gathered at Parkersburg's City Park for our National Foster Care Month" awareness event, and (hopefully) recruitment and information session. The wind was fierce at the Pond at City Park. Greg, Ken, Missy, had set things up, Jim, Chris and Ashley joined us. The Rickard's brought their big crew. Some of the Shelter youth. Greg's daughter and her pup. Ken and Missy's daughter. Missy Rickard is recovering from her leg surgery, and her mom was here from Florida helping out the family. Did I mention the wind? We took a symbolic walk around the pond- led by the kids! We stood in witness to the value and role of foster parents to the children of our community, and across the country. We had a little snack and drinks. We felt in solidarity with others across the country raising awareness of the needs of foster children, and the efforts to provide them safety, permanence, and well being. And the wind kept howling!

Friday, May 7, 2010

US Postal Service Food Drive

Jim, Shauna, Chris and I will pick up some food for our food pantry tomorrow at the Post Office. This is a national day of a food drive for the Postal Service. We will bring the food back, and incorporate it into our pantry to help the families in our programs and the neighborhood.

article in the local newspaper about foster care

We had a good article in the local Parkersburg News and Sentinel about the foster care program, and it being National Foster Care Month. Shelley and Ken and Greg did a good job of the story with Pam Brust, the reporter, who covers many of our stories. Tomorrow is our foster care awareness month event at City Park, with an information session, and some socializing around appreciation of foster parents.

Our Truancy Diversion worker is off to a good start!

Jessica stopped in today to check in with Shelley about how things are going with Truancy Diversion at Vandevender Middle School. She seems off to a good start with the school and students. She has started at a challenging time of the school year, but is getting acclimated to the school needs and dynamics.

Another successful Community Forum

We hosted another successful Community Forum yesterday on Transitional Living Services for older youth. These forums are opportunities for any community member to come together to openly discuss the theme topic and how our community is doing providing services to a target population, or around a certain family support need. We always have good, open community dialogues, and hopefully, can continue to help create a better community array of services from these beginnings.

Presentation before 2 staff meetings of DHHR

I made a presentation before staff meetings of DHHR employees yesterday. One group was the social service staff (CPS, YOuth Services, Adoption, adult services) which included many staff who we have regularly worked with over the years. The second meeting was WV Works and income maintenance/ economic services. I presented about all the services we do, our mission and community engagement efforts, and how some of our services and mission can benefit families they come in contact with. Tanny O'Connell, the new Regional Director of DHHR was also present to introduce herself to the District staff. I used the opportunity to put a further plug in for us receiving the go-ahead for 2 more beds at Gustke Shelter, as she is new, and may take a renewed interest in pursuing this. The Youth Service staff at DHHR have for a long time supported our attempts to increase the bed capacity from 8 to 10, but it has fallen on "bureaucratic" complications at the Bureau of Children and Families level.

Presentation before United Way funding committee

I presented our case before the United Way funding committee this week. We are trying to get a raise in their support of our after school program, and maintain the funding we receive for the shelter. We should hear in a few weeks.

Partners in Community Outreach

Ann and I attended the statewide meeting of Partners in Community Outreach this week. This is a group of community folks who provide the in home family education services in their community, under the three programs with proven impact, Parents as Teachers, MIHOW, and Healthy Families America. We were very pleased to attend and found it very informative. We also attended a press conference at Woman's and Children's Hospital on Safe and Sound Babies; a public awareness campaign about safe sleeping for babies, and shaken baby syndrome ("keep your cool.") This was a very positive and impressive press conference.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


April was an incredible month for CHS-Parkersburg in terms of activities to promote positive support to children and families in our community. It was exhausting in so many ways, and had its disappointments (in terms of some grants we DIDN'T get, to further our work), but all in all it re-affirmed many things about our mission and impact. Thanks to all the staff for their hard work; and thanks to our community partners and supporters for the so many ways you help us with our work and mission.

May is likely to prove similarly busy! Of note in May will be the agency's Council of Accreditation site visit the last week of the month. We expect Parkersburg to be a site visited. This every four year process gives the agency the opportunity to show that it meets national standards for quality of programs and agency organization and structure. There has been some very hard work going on to prepare for it, and we approach it with confidence, due to the dedication and commitment to quality that the agency holds. We note National Foster Care Month this month, and besides the day to day work of Ken, Greg (and in her absence due to her maternity leave, Carna!!) and Shelley's supervision of the program, we will have an event on Saturday May 8th at City Park in Parkersburg to commemorate the month. Statewide, there is a larger walk on Saturday May 15 in Charleston. Its called "Walk Me Home" and it is also a fund raiser for foster care in West Virginia. May also sees the meeting in Capon Springs of all the Partners in Prevention projects around the state. Lisa and Shauna will be attending this on our behalf, and really enjoy spending the time with the other projects' people, and the very strong state leadership for Prevent Child Abuse. May is also when the Alliance for Children hold their annual conference, and Shelley and I will be attending this conference in Charleston. The Alliance always puts together excellent workshops and sessions, bringing some of the most relevant topics to the leaders of the Alliance. Missy will be attending a grant writing workshop in Flatwoods this month, in hopes of gaining some skills and ideas for further our work here at CHS-Parkersburg. We will be holding two of our community forums this month; one on the 6th about Transitioning Living Services, and one on the 25th about the new Child Protective Service system (called "SAMS"). We will be having the "usual" Family Nights, life skills sessions, Glasser groups, youth activity nights and hosting various meetings, too! I will be attending the United Way funding request session to advocate and support for our allocation from the United Way. We are having a meeting this month to organize our local mailing list of community supporters, in preparation for beginning a quarterly site newsletter. Look for an update about the November auction event at the Art Center soon, too. Ann and I will be attending a statewide meeting of the Partners in Community Outreach, as well as the kick off event of "Our Babies: Safe and Sound" in Charleston on Tuesday.
And in the meantime, our staff daily/ weekly / monthly continue to serve hundreds of area children and families with the many ways that hopefully strengthen families, provide nurturance and promote the well being of children. Take a deep breath and get ready for a wild ride!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

First Book

We had a presentation and planning session yesterday about the First Book program at our offices. This program is national in scope but works closely at the local level to simply "get books in the hands of children who otherwise might not have books." We are going to go ahead with plans to have a local program. Two of our staunch advisory council members, who have vast experience in education, were enthusiastic in support of us taking on this project. Ann Griffith is spearheading the effort for us. More information soon- see Ann or I for information about this project.

McKinley All Star Band concert last night

Fred Shreve and the McKinley All Star's Band performed a benefit concert for CHS-Parkersburg last night at Jefferson Auditorium. This was a big hit for a first time event. There were somewhere between 120- 150 people in attendance. Mostly folks new to CHS-Parkersburg and our Americana Music Series. They were mostly educators from the schools here, out to see their friends and cohorts perform. They put on a great show; including original songs written by Greg Syner and Fred Shreve, and some classic rock tunes that got everybody clapping and whooping it up. They were great showmen, engaging the audience, and solid in their musicianship and vocal harmonies. Fred had two funny songs portraying the life of a principal - one about boogers and one about pinworms, that were big hits with the audience. Both Greg and Fred can pull the heart strings with some sentimental songs about families, relationships, growing old. The "cover tunes" were well done, getting reactions from the audience, and done with lots of pep and enthusiasm. Their song selections and pacing the show, and use of multiple encore numbers showed a good sense of connecting to an audience. We raised over $800 to support our neighborhood work, which is closely tied with McKinley school, so everyone was happy with the event. We made some good future contacts with educators in the community, due to this generous offering of a benefit show by Fred and his bandmates.