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.