In the spring, we shared with you a story of a father committed to honoring his son’s memory and raising awareness of mental illness in an effort to help others whose children are sick.
Denis Asselin, of Cheyney, Pa., stopped at KidsPeace while on a 552-mile pilgrimage to raise awareness about Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that robbed him of his son. His goal, with “Walking With Nathaniel” was to visit places where his son spent time before taking his own life. Nathaniel was at KidsPeace’s Children’s Hospital when he was 11 years old and first started battling BDD.
In a letter to KidsPeace, Asselin thanked those who met with him, saying their attentiveness gave him the confidence he needed to keep moving forward with sharing his son’s story.
Aselin was kind enough to share some of the statistics from his journey. He met with 145 professionals at hospitals and clinics and talked with more than 250 people while walking. He collected $24,782 for the International OCD Foundation, of which $9,000 has been earmarked for education and the remainder for research. Asselin and his family are already discussing with the Foundation the possibility of a walk in October 2013 that could involve other families from across the country who have been affected by OCD.
Youth from the Alternative Services Program at Mesabi Academy in Minnesota have been hard at work helping out in the community.
One group pitched in at the Buhl Public Library, where they moved furniture and books in preparation for new carpet installation then got the library organized after the installation. The library volunteers were very thankful for our help and invited the youth to the library’s open house.
Other youth have ben working at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Virginia. The store manager, Vic, has been very supportive, as he has worked with troubled youth and adults from the community and understands the need for them to work in a positive environment. Mesabi youth recently helped open a new section of the store that had previously been used for storage. They cleaned, sorted through boxes of donations and installed shelving. They also helped display new items for sale, unload trucks and decorate for the holidays.
We look forward to continuing to serve our community.
The Newtown, Conn., school shootings are another sad reminder of the need for attention and funding to be directed at mental health treatment.
At KidsPeace, we are acutely aware of the increasing needs of the population we serve. But as legislators grapple with the possibility of slashing mental health funding in an effort to avoid the "fiscal cliff," KidsPeace and other mental health providers are once again getting the squeeze.
Read more about the struggles facing organizations like ours in our latest Salisbury Patch blog and find out why mental health should be everyone's concern.
Some former KidsPeace foster care clients helped make this holiday season a little brighter for children and teenagers now in our care.
When Kelly Little, program manager for FCCP Williamsport was planning the annual holiday party and put out a call for donations, she was pleasantly surprised to receive gifts from some people she once served as a caseworker.
Brittany Weisenberger, now of Montgomery, Pa., was one of those former clients who donated gifts for a 3-year-old girl. Weisenberger entered the system in 1998, when she was 10 years old. She and her two siblings were separated, and she stayed in foster care for a few years until she started attending boarding school in Hershey. She knows how much support and love foster care children need.
“I know how it is not to have your mom and dad there,” she said. “I like to always give back to where I’ve been a part of.”
Weisenberger, now a stay-at-home mom to two children, 2 years and 8 months, is grateful to her foster parents, who she said showed their children “how to be a family” and with whom she still keeps in touch today. Her childhood experiences make her even more determined to take good care of her family.
“It makes me work harder so they don’t have to be put in the system,” she said. “They have a mom and a dad and a supportive home.”
The Employee Activity Committee (EAC) is selling KidsPeace Kuisine cookbooks for $10 each. KidsPeace associates, friends and families across the organization shared 350 of their treasured recipes for the cookbook. The cover was designed by Dalton B., a discharged client from the Crockett House, Pioneer Center on the Pennsylvania Orchard Hills Campus. Ivy Fox, late night MHT, also from the Pioneer Center, came up with the name for the book.
Cookbooks make great gifts for the holidays or any occasion! To place an order, please call 610-799-8073 or email EAC@kidspeace.org. We received so many requests for cookbooks that extra copies were ordered and are expected to arrive in January. The EAC has gift certificates for those who want to give the cookbook for a holiday gift.
A partnership in Maine is raising awareness and funds for KidsPeace.
Electricity Maine has chosen KidsPeace as a recipient of their “Power to Help” program. This means that for every customer that enrolls in Electricity Maine's program and mentions KidsPeace as a referral source, the company will now donate $5 to KidsPeace. The funds stay in the local area to help families served by our Lewiston FCCP office.
This is just the beginning of the generosity of Electricity Maine. The staff members have sponsored our foster children and teenagers and are purchasing holiday gifts for all youth in our foster homes across the state. They also helped with a holiday lights contest for our foster homes and gave the house with the best display a month of free power.
Looking for an easy way to help the children we serve? Just head to Facebook.
Mike Fisher, owner of Print Concepts in Allentown, Pa., has graciously nominated KidsPeace for a $5,000 donation through the Univest "Caring for Community Giveaway." Now we just need to rack up addtional votes to show Univest why our charity should be chosen.
If you'd like to help, please take a moment to visit the Univest Facebook page and nominate KidsPeace as well. This is a wonderful opportunity for our kids and would make 2013 a very happy New Year. Nominations may be submited until Dec. 31. Tell your friends, and log on today!
KidsPeace is thrilled to announce steps we have taken toward placing more children in permanent, loving homes.
Virginia Foster Care and Community Programs had its first adoptive placement -- a boy from Texas -- in our Richmond, Va., office in October. We are providing services until his adoption is finalized in the next six months. We have also submitted a proposal to the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) in Washington D.C. to facilitate adoptions for children in the custody of CFSA with families who reside in Northern Virginia. We are anxiously waiting to hear if we will be one of the agencies selected to do this work.
We have had five adoptions in Washington D.C. so far this year, and several more are pending in the next six months. We are especially thrilled to report that two of our youth who had been in foster care for more than 15 years have been adopted together by a family in Virginia.
We received our Maryland adoption license in the spring and passed our first licensing visit from the state's DHR on Nov. 29 with no citations. We have two adoptive families who have been selected to take a child from North Carolina and a toddler from Delaware. Once the out-of-state counties sign the contracts and interstate adoption is approved, we will be able to place both of these children with their new families.
Are you thinking of bringing a child into your family, or do you know of a child who needs a home? Find out more about our adoption services.
by Joe Toscano
Once a year I get to be a "super hero", complete with superhero suit and the all gadgets that cause people to say, “Oh boy, I gotta’ get me one of those." It may only be for one night, but for the past six years it has been my own personal Christmas blessing.
"Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane...It’s Santa Claus!"
That’s right, Ol' St. Nick, the chubby old geezer, still makes children of all ages swoon whenever he arrives. Is it the red suit or the funny hat? Maybe it’s how he gets all those gifts down the chimneys or under the doors of homes and apartments all over the world. Whatever it is, from his eight tiny reindeer to his ear shattering, "Ho, Ho, Ho," he never fails to awe and amaze us.
It is true that beyond my one night stand--I play Santa for the annual KidsPeace (Kidspeace.com) Christmas party--the red suit hangs unceremoniously in my closet. But for that one night, the looks on the faces of the children of KidsPeace always seem to overwhelm and inspire me to do the things and to be the person I had always hoped I could be.
It may be Santa who gets the glory this time of year, but the real super heroes are the many men and women who have sacrificed better pay and financial success for a career devoted to helping and caring for our most vulnerable, the children that fill the rolls of KidsPeace across the country. By the way, they do it all year long!
It is more often than not a job filled with broken homes and broken hearts. Their selfless sacrifices see to it that the lives of the many, many children in their charge are not broken, that they have the opportunity of a full life filled with the love and care that only a family can provide.
Although not every story has a happy ending, I shudder to think how many more lost and lonely children would be following a path that will surely lead to anywhere but health and happiness if not for the efforts of KidsPeace and their entire staff. While it may be the countless men, women who are the foster families that provide loving care on a daily basis, it takes the work of counselors, case workers, training personnel and placement and crisis staff to create a support network to handle each child individually. The alternative may be useful, residential children’s homes are functional and oft times necessary, but they are no substitute for a loving family home.
So, I want to thank KidsPeace, specifically the staff at the Aaron Court, Kingston location for giving me this annual opportunity. While my wife, Beverly and I are also foster parents in the KidPeace program, there isn’t enough room in this article to explain the untold joys, and sometime heartache, that have filled our lives since we became part of the program.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the many local and national business owners and the men and women who help to make this a very special time of year for so many children. Their generosity often goes unrecognized. It is this generosity that helps fill Santa’s sack with so many wonderful toys, clothing, books and games. While they seldom get to see it firsthand, the smiles on the faces, the laughter and the joy they bring to so many boys and girls is a "Thanks, Santa," meant for each one. Yes, it is Santa who gets the hugs and the kisses, but the very special "Thanks, Santa," I accept all on your behalf. Each of you are the real superheroes of the Christmas season.
You know who you are. May your blessings be endless and what you have shared come back to you and your families a thousand times over.