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.