Thursday, April 29, 2010

WE CAN (mentoring program) training tonight!

Ashley has a WE CAN training scheduled for tonight, with I think, possibly 6 mentors to be trained. We hope to have a report on that tomorrow or soon. WE CAN mentors are deliberately trained and prepared for their important role of mentoring.

Preparation for Council of Accreditation site visit

A good part of today was spent with George, Vanessa, and Christy from the administrative office(quality assurance unit) with various staff preparing us for the upcoming Council of Accreditation site visit in the month of May. Lots of staff were involved in the general overall of what COA looks for in an agency, and what to expect from the site visit.

Welcome to a New Employee at the Site

We welcome Christina Griffin to employment here at CHS-Parkersburg this week. Christina will be working in the Right From the Start Lead Agency as a clerk. She is particularly going to help out during Brooke's maternity leave (in the short run!) Please make her welcome and "show her the ropes!"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tomorrow Patty, Missy and I venture to Tygart Lake for a VISTA meeting

Tomorrow, Patty, Missy and I venture over to Tygart Lake State Park for a statewide WV Promise VISTA meeting. These quarterly meetings are an opportunity to share news among the WV Promise VISTA projects, and go over reports and updates. Pam Dugan always puts on a very hospitable meeting and it helps create a bond across the state with these great WV Promise projects.

On-going fund raisers related to the Americana Music Tribute Series

We have just finished another very successful fund raiser; the Cajun Cook Off and Hank Williams Tribute. There are several ways to help support our "musical" fundraising efforts throughout the year. We have t-shirts ($10 each, all sizes) for sale, which support the Tribute Series, and gave a visual way to show your support when you wear them proudly throughout the year. It is fun to see past year's shirts on staff around the offices on "casual" days! They become a good conversation piece, when someone standing behind you in line can ask about the Americana series!
There are also raffle tickets for a fantastic trip to Nashville Tennessee in September to attend the Americana Music Festival. These $20 tickets give you a chance to win a prize package worth over $1000- three nights lodging in downtown Nashville, within walking distance of the Ryman Auditorium (site of the awards ceremony) and many other live music venues, which you will have access to attend live shows over three nights, with many of the biggest names in Americana music. There is also some spending cash in the bargain.
Sponsorships of upcoming events are also a way to support the Series as well as the CHS-Parkersburg site in general, as well as getting your business name out in support of children and families services. We could use some sponsors for our first Outdoor Festival (The Shindig) in June; sponsors would help with expenses of putting the event on, such as sound, promotion, etc. Your name would be prominent in the advance material and at the event itself. Prizes is another great way to support the Americana series. At each event, the audience enjoys lots of fun along with the entertainment either through contests, or just the luck of winning a door prize. Over the years of the Series, many people have fun memories of winning a prize, or winning a contest!

Wrapping Up Child Abuse Prevention Month

We feel we've contributed the best we can to promoting National Child Abuse Prevention Month here at CHS-Parkersburg. We were so pleased right at the beginning of the month, to have area Methodist churches include our pinwheels in an Easter Egg Hunt. This led to the churches setting up pinwheel gardens throughout the month to raise awareness of child abuse prevention, and encourage people they could make a difference. We had several events with our students in our after school program, including hanging up the banner made last year by the art class at Jackson Middle School on our sign in front of our offices. We had our community forum on "What the community can do to Support Families and Prevent Child Abuse," and another forum on the DHHR's efforts to provide family supports through private agencies providers. We participated in the Children's Memorial Flag Day ceremony down at Government Square, where, despite the somber reality of commemorating child deaths, we reminded the community that everyone can make a difference and contribute to strengthening families and reducing the risks of child abuse. We continue to feel our greatest contribution to preventing child abuse is the daily work of all our staff at supporting and nurturing and strengthening families by our help and advocacy and service.

First Book Meeting

We are having an informational meeting about the First Book program this Friday at 1 pm at our offices on St. Mary's Ave. This national program works with local groups to distribute books to families that otherwise might not have access to books for their children. It stresses the value and importance of reading and books to the development of children. Any one is invited to attend this informational meeting to help us get a project going here in Parkersburg.

Town Meetings in Parkersburg

I was excited to see that the Mayor of Parkersburg announced town meetings over the next few weeks. The first one is right here at McKinley Elementary school this Thursday evening at 6:30 pm. We have such an interest and commitment to this neighborhood that we will be glad to hear what the city is thinking about in terms of revitalization and projects. There is also going to be a town meeting the following week on Thursday at VanDevender Middle School.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Surprise Baby Shower last Friday!

Well, the staff pulled off a great surprise on Friday. Brooke is having a baby soon, and the staff mobilized to put together a surprise baby shower on Friday at noon. The staff really organized a great meal, and some presents, all behind Brooke's back. Now, Brooke THINKS she is aware of everything going on in the office, but these fellow staff members can pull one over on anybody. Shelley perhaps with the greatest stroke of genius, convinced Brooke that she should go downtown with a few of us, to the Children's Memorial Flag Day ceremony (she WAS glad to go, but it was MOSTLY a guise to get her out of the office for awhile). Because the event was shorter than expected, some frantic texts were involved in warning people we were returning earlier than expected. But the surprise was pulled off without a hitch. Some great "covered dish" lunch was enjoyed, and Brooke really appreciated the gifts. We were glad to have Carna stop in for the festivities, bringing her little baby, and older brother Logan. These get-togethers prove very good for staff morale, and team building!!

Thank you's for the Cajun Cookoff and Hank Williams Tribute

At the Parkersburg site of Children's Home Society of West Virginia, we treasure and value our many great community supporters. Our recently held Cajun Cookoff and Hank Williams Live Music tribute leaves us so appreciative of so many fine people. The chefs in the Cajun cookoff: Faith Pennington, Andi Roberts and Devin Page, Joe Peyton, Tim and Pam Bauman, Jonny Nutter, Ann Griffith and Wendy Tuck, all contributed some mouth-watering dishes. Not only their food contributions but their energy and spunk during the cook off contributed a lot to its success. The musicians: Lisa and Jerry Queen, and their Neon Moon Band; Matt, Will and Ben Kirkland, Steve Peck and Jonny Nutter (doing double duty after the cookoff!!). These musicians really captured the spirit of Hank Williams and his great influence on Americana music, with spirited sets. We especially thank Jonny for nobly taking the late set, after most everyone had left, to still put on a high energy, solid set complete with many Hank III numbers, and well-chosen traditional songs mixed in. Donations of prizes came from many great local businesses, such as: McCarter Health Care, Holl's Chocolate, Party Creation and Supplies, Mulberry Lane, Emerson Lanes, Vienna Dairy Queen, and the Texas Roadhouse.
Kim and her staff at 6 Pence really set things up great for us, and helped throughout, and during the "big switch" from the Cookoff to the music venue. The bar staff in the back room, contributed half their tips to the benefit; and for this we are very appreciative; as they keep such a good attitude and fun time back there. Thanks to Kim also for supporting us by providing the very able and hardworking sound crew.
And finally, thanks to all the CHS staff who helped out; this was a HUGE team effort, with everyone pitching in to do whatever it takes. There were many exhausted folks from the hard work leading up to the event, to running it smoothly, to helping with the aftermath.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

CHS-Parkersburg on the front page of the local newspaper two days in a row!

We had front page coverage two days in a row: Friday (Saturday's paper) for our involvement in Child Abuse Prevention Month (and specifically on Friday, for the Children's Memorial Flag Day event) and this morning, (Sunday's) for the Cajun Cookoff. This was our fund raiser for our foster care program, and it was covered by reporter Jeffrey Saulton. The cookoff, and following Hank Williams Tribute were a success, raising over $1200 for our foster care program. Lots of hard work by many staff contributed to its success. Missy and I will be putting together a complete thank you message soon.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hank Williams Tribute and Cajun Cookoff

The date is near for the Hank Williams Tribute and Cajun Cookoff, as a benefit for the foster care program here at CHS-Parkersburg. Saturday is the day! 6 Pm is the time! 6 Pence Pub is the place! $5 is the donation! We have some enthusiastic Cajun chef's fixin' up some good food; and the musicians are tuning their instruments and loosening their vocal cords. Its a fun time, and supports our work with area foster children and foster parents. There are contests and prizes and each year builds some great "collective memories" of music and fellowship. Missy Storey has been doing a great job of "lead" organizing, but many others are contributing a lot of time and energy to make this event a success.

United Way Alliance visitor yesterday

Samalla Roberts of United Bank visited our site yesterday in her role as a community member of the United Way Alliance of the Mid Ohio Valley. She spent a good long visit here, learning about our various programs, and specifically the after school program and the shelter, which receive funds from the local United Way. We were very appreciative of her visit, and interest, and enthusiasm for our work and mission. She seemed genuinely impressed and engaged. Many staff met her, and all impressed her! We hope Samalla will be a regular visitor and supporter! I go to make the presentation about our request on May 5th before the United Way committee.

friend of CHS-Parkersburg

Bettie Lucas, a long time supporter and friend of CHS-Parkersburg died yesterday of cancer. Bettie was actively involved in the FRN in its formative years, and was a leader of Youth As Resources in Wood County. In our early years of the Mid Town Family Resource Center, we received several mini-grants from YAR to do youth-led community service projects. The Tinkers, the innovative computer recycling project we operated for many years, was funded often through mini-grants from YAR. Many youth in the early 2000's in our programs received fantastic youth leadership opportunities through YAR and Bettie's encouragement. Bettie was also very active in Martin Luther King day events in the community, and we shared projects and youth. Bettie was involved in many, many great community projects, and will be missed and remembered fondly by all who knew her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Child Abuse Prevention Community Forum last night

We had 12 people attend our community forum on "what a community can do to prevent child abuse." We showed the video prepared by Prevent Child Abuse, and used the guide that explored the three approaches. The focus was on strengthening families, reducing stressors families experience, in order to create families where abuse and neglect would not occur. The participants were passionate about the positive goals presented and gave good examples that showed an awareness and vision. We have compiled some of the comments and "next step" recommendations and will incorporate them, not only into our local strategy, but convey these on to the state Prevent Child Abuse chapter as a local response. Thanks to all who came out, and contributed to helping the community!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fund Raiser this Saturday night

Hank Williams Tribute show this Saturday night

The next event in the Children's Home Society of West Virginia-Parkersburg "2010 Mid OHio Valley Americana Music Tribute Series" is this coming Saturday starting at 6 pm with a Cajun Cookoff at 6 Pence Pub in Parkersburg. $5 donation supports the work of CHS-Parkersburg's foster care program. The music starts a little later, after everybody has sampled and voted on their favorite Cajun delights. (As of now) Four acts of music are set to play tributes to Hank Williams. Lisa and Jerry Queen and the Neon Moon Band will be featured, with their always special renditions, and special guests. Matt and Will Kirkland will play a set. Steve Peck and Jonny Nutter are the stalwarts in the line up, playing most every tribute show throughout the year. We'll have a few contests and some prizes throughout the evening. Come out and have an enjoyable evening of music celebrating Hank Williams, and support our work with area foster children.

New Benefit Show organized - April 30th

New benefit show set up- April 30th-

Fred Shreve has organized a music benefit for us, at CHS-Parkersburg. Fred, a songwriter and music fan, has known about our various musical fund raisers for several years. He and some cohorts in his school and the community, are getting together a benefit show for us, Friday, April 30th at 7 pm at Jefferson School auditorium. $5 donation supports CHS in the Parkersburg community. Fred is the principal at Mckinley school where we have our after school program, and is the center of our neigbhorhood work. Fred is a talented songwriter and wry entertainer, as well as an enthusiast of singer-songwriters in the Radney Foster, John Hiatt, vein. Greg Syner also writes songs in the folk, country rock, genre. They also have a band with some great vocal harmonies, doing "classic rock" covers. There are flyers up around town, and listen for spots on the TV and radio. Come out for an enjoyable evening of music and support our work in the McKinley neighborhood.

Yet Another Busy Week Coming UP!

Take a deep breath, as we have another busy week coming up (we warned you about April!!) Stay tuned for many more exciting updates of activities and goings-on at the Parkersburg site of Children's Home Society of West Virginia. By the time we get finished up with the Hank Williams Tribute Saturday night I will be exhausted you can gar-own-tee........

Welcome Jessica Cruit, our new truancy diversion worker

Jessica Cruit began her employment with CHS-Parkersburg Friday as our new truancy diversion worker. She is doing her orientation with us, and will begin at VanDevender Middle School next week. Please welcome her if you see her, and we will be connecting her with various staff members and community links to help with her orientation to the work and agency.

Community Baby Shower

Several staff were instrumental in organizing a Community Baby Shower which was held Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Parkersburg. 52 people attended to get information and resources, 20 "vendors" participated. Lots of door prizes and "goodies" were distributed. I stopped in to see the festivities, and saw our staff hard at work, and networking effectively. This is another strong example of our deep community engagement at work.

"Glasser Group"

Lisa and I held our monthly "Glasser Group" (a self-help support group using the concepts of William Glasser) this past Thursday. We helped the participants explore what the concept of a "Quality World" meant, and how they could look at it to help them figure some things that are important to them, and how it could improve their outlook and functioning. This continues to be an exciting ground work being laid, while acknowledging the challenges of having a free floating group of people participating. We are gaining a lot of experience and knowledge of how to conduct such groups in the community with a wide variety of people!!!

Community Forum on the Family Support services (referred to as the Socially Necessary Services)

We hosted a community forum on Thursday for interested community members about the family support services (referred to as 'socially necessary services.' This was well received, and had a good representation of CHS staff and programs. Two vital community perspectives were presented very effectively about how the services are delivered and the impact on the families, and the mandates of the WV DHHR. This is one of 5 community forums we are holding over the next two months. This offering to the community to exchange ideas and perspectives on critical children and family services is something we are deeply committed to, and will continue to seek ways to engage the community in dialogue and action.

Partners in Prevention Team meeting

We had a Partners in Prevention Team meeting Wednesday. Lisa did a great job of summarizing the busy work of the Partners in Prevention projects. The input and feedback from the team is critical to us, and shows the deep partnering we are involved in with these fine folks.

Family Night last week

We thank Jodi Smith of 4-H and WVU Extension for doing a parenting session last week at the Family Night at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. She did an effective presentation on discipline, to much appreciation from the parents. Jodi had also participated in the Parents Retreat a few weeks ago. We work closely with 4-H throughout the year, including our local club, and camps in the summer. Lots of leadership opportunities are shared in our partnership.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coffee House last night at the Mid Town Family Resource Center

Roger Adkins and Cody Jones performed last night at a coffee house here at our 1739 St. Mary's Ave storefront. They each performed a set of about an hour, mixing original songs and covers in the genres they are passionate about. There were over 25 people in attendance, making it a fun exchange between musicians and audience. These offerings at the Mid Town Family Resource Center are a part of what we do, trying to connect people in the community with each other, around the building of community, and raising awareness of what we do, and providing a positive activity and opportunity for neighborhood youth and community members. The way we set these up, we never know how many people will come out, and its always rewarding and exciting when there is a good turnout; people are never disappointed in the quality of the music! Roger and Cody both have engaging styles of song-selection, between-song-banter, and connecting with the audience. They both have lots of fire and passion for music, in many veins. We hope to continue to hold these live music events, along with the variety of other "drop in center" activities that go on at the Mid Town Family Resource Center.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Our monthly support group based on the work of William Glasser

Next Thursday, April 15th is the next meeting of our "Glasser Group"- a free flowing group of people that gets together once a month to have a discussion about concepts from William Glasser, and how they can help our lives. Youth and adults alike participate and there is usually one little exercise or activity to stimulate the discussion, as we try to help each other in supportive ways. These meetings start at 6 pm and last an hour.

Community Baby Shower

Next Friday there is a community baby shower at First Presbyterian Church, with several folks from our site participating. It will be from noon to 1 pm; with many organizations that assist young families present to provide information, give-aways, and prizes. This is a comprehensive, community wide event with good cross section of participation by early childhood services. April 16th is the date.

Family Night next Tuesday

After the Parent Retreat a few weeks ago, it was encouraged that we have a session at a family night on positive discipline of children, so we're including that in this month's Family Night at the Mid Town Family Resource Center on Tuesday April 13th. Jodi Smith, from the WVU Extension (and 4-H) will lead this session.

Foster Parent Support Group

Tonight, here at our Foster Care "suite" we are having our first effort at a foster parent support group. Missy Rickart has taken leadership in organizing this. She has past experience organizing military family support groups. We are excited by this idea, and have long felt this was a good idea, and have included ideas like this into our site strategic plan; increasing ways to involve our foster parents in leadership and support, and further advocacy.

Cajun Cookoff

We're within a few weeks of our Cajun Cookoff. Saturday April 24, we are having our second Cajun Cookoff, this time at 6 Pence Pub on 7th Street in Parkersburg. It will begin at 6 pm. We are still looking for some people to enter dishes into the cookoff; and encouraging supporters and Cajun food lovers alike to come out and do some tasting and judging. This cookoff is followed at 9 pm by another musical tribute show; the Hank Williams Tribute. Hank, famous for his song Jambalaya (hence the connection with the Cajun food cookoff!) will be feted by up to 4 acts of local musicians playing songs celebrating his music. The benefit that evening is for our foster care program here at the CHS-Parkersburg site.

Saying Good Bye to our truancy diversion worker

Melissa Jameson leaves us as of today, from her position as Truancy Diversion worker at Vandevender school. She ably performed the duties of that job for a year, gaining great respect and working relationship with key folks in the schools related to improving students' attendance. We will miss her steady effort on behalf of the students, as she moves into another field of social services, job assistance with adult MR/DD clients.

Coffee House tomorrow night

Saturday, April 10th at 7 pm we will be having a coffee house here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center (suite 3) with Roger Adkins performing on guitar. He will likely have a few friends along. We are keeping this pretty low key; mostly a word of mouth event, with a little promotion having gone on. Roger lives close by and participated enthusiastically in our April Fools coffee house, so we hope to cater a good relationship with him, for future possible musical events.

Positive Youth Development brainstorming session

A small group of people associated with our CHS-Parkersburg site got together over lunch today to brainstorm ideas of ways that youth could take part in youth leadership opportunities around our agency's site. We focused on youth attending conferences; participating in such activities as summer programming, drop in center nights, fund raising and the like.

Life Skills Sessions kick off to a good start

Missy and Lisa began a series of Life Skills sessions yesterday evening with older teens associated with some of our programs here at the Mid Town Family Resource Center. About 10-12 youth participated. This will be a twice monthly get-together that will be very interactive among the youth, in gaining not only "hands on" life skills, but overall support for their transition to adulthood.

Article in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel

There is an article about Child Abuse Prevention Month activities in this morning's Parkersburg News and Sentinel. It includes a picture of three of the youth who have been long time participants in our neighborhood programming, by the Pinwheel Garden that St. Andrews Church has on their property. I will try to include the link to the story.

Easter Egg Hunt

Staff from our CHS-Parkersburg site participated in an Easter Egg Hunt organized by 4 Methodist Churches in the Parkersburg area last Saturday afternoon in front of Parkersburg High School. It was a windy day, where everyone was having to batten down any light weight objects, such as the flyers about Child Abuse Prevention Month, that our staff were displaying! Pinwheels, the symbol being used nationally to remind people of Child Abuse Prevention efforts, were distributed to many children. We have appreciated this new(er) partnership, especially with St. Andrew's United Methodist Church, which is just across the street from McKinley school, where we have our after school program.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Get ready for some reminders and announcements about a BUSY April here at CHS-Parkersburg

I'll be recapping and announcing a lot of exciting activities next week for the month of April. We're really out there engaging the community from our site! Get ready!!!!!

Another Music event added to the calendar

Fred Shreve and some educator pals have organized a fund raising live music event for us! Fred is the principal at McKinley (our neighbor school) and is a fine singer-songwriter and performer. He has a great little band going- they do some classic rock covers, and Fred and Greg do some original songs. The event will be Friday April 30 at the Jefferson School auditorium. Donations will be $5 at the door, and all proceeds will benefit the Mid Town Family Resource Center and our after school programming. 7 Pm will be the time. More details will follow.

Staff wind up their weeks getting ready for the Easter weekend

The hard working, dedicated staff of CHS-Parkersburg tie up their work weeks and get ready for a beautiful weekend. Lots of families get lots of help and support from this fine group of employees.

Nice Little Coffee House last night

We had about 15-20 people for the April Fools Coffee House last night. Lots of young people! Some kids from the shelter, from the Tuel Center, and some neighborhood youth. Roger Adkins provided the biggest bulk of guitar playing. It was a fun, relaxed event; something to build on for sure! Roger will be back on Saturday, April 10 for a coffee house of his own, with his acoustic blues style, and possibly some friends. This event serves as a "youth drop in center" event, and provides a positive engagement opportunity for us with community youth.