July Blog

The Summer use to be a very quiet time for COIPP. That is no longer true. We have been going, going, going all of July and through the beginning of August. Here are just some of our updates.

Board Meeting- In July we held a one day retreat at the local library for all Boardmembers- and all attended! We talked about the history of COIPP, shared everything that we have done and are doing, planned for the Unity Campaign of Frederick, had committee updates, worked on present status and future plans for each committee, and even had time to make a video of why each of us volunteers for COIPP. Of course we all wore our brand new COIPP tee shirts with our wonderful Gingko Leaf logo for the video. Great day- so much accomplished.

COIPP/MHA Special Event- In the research on children with an incarcerated parent, one name stands out- Ann Adelist-Estrin. She is with Rutgers University and is known both nationally and internationally as the person with the knowledge on this topic. How exciting it was for us to get her request to visit our Parenting From Afar class at the Detention Center approved, and then to follow up the next day by spending all day with her and our MHA partners for our collaborative FIIP Program thanks to the Governor’s Grant. She loved our work-and had lots of helpful suggestions. As a result, the curriculum committee has continued to spend time editing our curriculum for the jail, adding a new chapter on the importance of telling the truth to children, moving chapters in our Instructor’s Manual around, and even separating a chapter in two so that we build relationships before we talk about the adverse influence a parent in jail may have on the child. We learn every day, love our Monday curriculum writing, and are so thrilled to have shared with and worked with the best.

Volunteer Packets Just about every day people ask how they can volunteer for COIPP. Well, we now have the organization to do this and do it right. Thanks to the work of Melissa Stooey, marketing volunteer extraordinaire, and Cathy Anderson and Marisel Torres-Crespo, our two volunteer committee chairpersons, we now have a volunteer packet, with an application online. It has lots of great information and should make the sharing of COIPP with those wishing to help us out far easier than in the past. We will even have hard copies of the packet for those who wish to get their information the oldmfashioned way.

Outreach Committee- Theresa Posthuma and Vanessa Thomas-Morris have been very busy with requests for immediate assistance from caregivers and those recently released from jail. They have been amassing all of the information needed to help a child in crisis, and they are prepared to share it with any parent/caregiver who calls. They have been busy giving out with gift cards, offering verbal assistance and also offering words of encouragement. The needs go up and down throughout the year, but the Summer months and the time before the winter holidays keeps these women hopping.

Coffee With COIPP- Nothing has grown so fast and so large as this new program, Every Friday we meet at Federated Charities to work with those who have been recently released from the jail or are in drug rehab and working to avoid jail. to offer topics that ultimately will assist the children in their live. We originally thought the meetings would be monthly, as stated in the past, but the group really wanted a weekly way to get together. In July alone, we have had Delaplaine artist David Modler continue his work with our participants on visual journals, had Maria Haney back to talk about strength and self concept, had Greta Benson, one of our great Board members, teach participants to make watercolor cards for the children in their lives, have Board member Sally Smith share the making of bracelets with charms of hope, and so much more. We are now excited to build a ten session curriculum for all we have learned from our present group. It is important to once again state that the whole program has developed from the needs and wishes of those attending, and all speakers have voluntarily given of their time.

Children’s Activities- The Summer has not slowed this down. In July, thanks to volunteers from the Middletown United Methodist Church, a very successful morning at the Delapline was held. There were art activities indoors, chalk art out doors, and even dogs trained for kindness visiting. We had quite a few participants- both children and their caregivers- and it could not have gone any better. This month, August, we will have our regular monthly Bowling Party, and begin planning for a day at Thorpewood for the children and those raising them.

The list of all we have been doing is so long. We have been writing grants, working on the Unity Campaign, planning for our Silent Auction on Tuesday, December 4 at McClintock Distillery, speaking at events, attending and benefitting from lots of outreach groups such as Souls of Love, working on new scholarship opportunities for participants and on and on and on. Stay tuned for next month’s updates!

May Memories and Highlights

We have been very busy over the last month. There are so many great memories, but we will share just a few highlights.

Our biggest new project has been our Coffee With COIPP sessions held every Friday afternoon for those recently released form jail. We have now been offering them for a number of Fridays and they have become very popular. Thanks to Federated Charities, we have a lovely Conference Room to use. Based on the interests of the participants, we have offered many kind of sessions including improving communication with oner’s kids, understanding the effect of trauma on children, helping with discipline and more. One of our best sessions just happened due to a collaboration with the Delaplaine Arts Center. This two week workshop introduced participants to the making of visual journals. It was a learning experience for all of us- and it was fabulous!!! We could not have done this without the financial help of the Frederick County Rotary!

Our curriculum work, thanks to the grant we share with the Frederick County Mental Health Association, and facilitated by the Local Management Board, is going extremely well. We received it through the Governors Committee. We have now completed our third revision of our Parenting From Afar curriculum, the one we created for and use in our weekly Parenting Classes at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. The women really look forward to each session- and according to our evaluations and testimonials, everyone seems to feel that they are highly beneficial. Our work also includes the creation of workshops for caregivers and we are just hoping that the grant will be renewed. If you happen to be at pan eras on Monday night, you will find four of us working to ensure that all of our work is top notch!

Our children’s activities are going very well indeed. We had our monthly bowling event on a very rainy day. Even though it was wet and cold outside, we had a great time inside at Terrace Lanes. We will continue to have these monthly activities as we serve the children and their caregivers. They are always fun and always free, It has become our reoccurring, signature event. We are also going to be adding more and more activities, so stay tuned for new surprises.

Our Crisis Committee has been very busy at work. It is amazing how some seasons are busier than others, and early Spring often keeps us hopping. People have needed help with food, children’s clothing, and more- and we have been happy to be there. We are using not only stores, but community resources, and have found that we can really help families meet their needs.

We have been busy adding new scholarships as we continue to collaborate with Frederick Community College. We offer financial assistance to those full time caregivers for a child with an incarcerated parent, and we have added scholarships for those recently released parents who want to attend FCC, even if it is part time. We are very excited about this, and cannot wait to meet our new scholarship recipients. Many thanks to the Frederick Women’s Giving Circle for the help they have given us through our past and future scholarship grants.

Workshops for caregivers come in many forms. This month we were able to work with staff from Lucas Village and share information on ‘Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings’, Adverse Children’s Experiences, and helping children and families deal with trauma. The staff was terrific- and kept the sharing and discussion alive with insights and personal reflections. Now they are ready to share with the parents they work with and to perhaps offer formal workshops, assisted by COIPP. Partnerships are always the way to go!

We like working in the community and this month has not been an exception. Shari talked to Community Liaisons, Dana Wile’s fourth grade class at Tuscorora E.S., church groups and others. We always try to educate the community about this issue and love to share all we have learned, as well as our work. Just get in contact with us if interested.

Save Tuesday, December 4. Plans are well underway for our 5th Annual Silent Auction. This year we will be at McClintock’s Distillery in downtown Frederick and we already know it will be better than ever before. Be sure to plan to come!

Parenting From Afar Class Updates

Our Parenting From Afar Parenting classes continued to thrive in April, even though there were many lockdowns throughout the April month. The women continued to celebrate one another and their children. We really enjoy  the last evening the most, the time the women get to go ‘shopping’ for children’s books while others make water color cards for each child. Cathy and Shari go every Wednesday night, regardless of the weather, for the women are really look forward to this opportunity. All through the month, former class participants continued to return just to take part in the classes. Thanks to our MHA collaboration and a Maryland Governors Grant, supported by our Frederick Local Management Board, Cathy, Shari, Cindi and Marisel meet every Monday night to write and edit our ‘home grown’ Parenting From Afar Curriculum. 

What an honor it has been to have national expert Ann Adelist- Estrin come to Frederick several times to work with COIPP and MHA personnel. This was Ann’s second time just with us, but some of us have also heard her many times in the state and at national and international conferences. Ann will be returning in July, will be visiting our Parenting From Afar class at FCADC, and will be reviewing our curriculum. April’s meeting was filled with positives as well as areas for growth. Our Monday night curriculum meetings may never end. 

April Updates

We were really proud to present at the first National Conference on children with an incarcerated parent. Put together by Arizona State University, it had researchers and practitioners in attendance. Shari, our Executive  Director, presented two sessions, one being an overview of COIPP and a second being about Coffee With COIPP, our newest initiative that serves those recently released. In addition to Shari, our co-presidents, Cindi and Donna, and our corresponding secretary, Shirley, were all in attendance. We came back filled with new ideas. 

Our children’s activities are off to a great, new beginning. We now have bowling parties planned for the fourth Saturday of every month. We attracted a number of participants our first month, and can see expansion in the future. Activities are always free, include refreshments, and are put together just for fun. Thanks to Gretta and Sue, two extraordinary COIPP board members, the children and caregivers will have a growing list of fun activities. 

A two part workshop was held at the Mental Health Association. Very well attended, Shari, our Executive Director, offered strategies and resources to help caregivers work with their children when there are negative feelings, especially those of anger. A third session is being done by MHA on self care for caregivers themselves. The evaluations were all in the excellent range and we look forward to continuing the great MHA-COIPP partnership. 

The Crisis Committee has been overwhelmingly busy. Needs from those recently released from jail to caregivers who are having a difficult time supplying groceries and clothes for the kids have filled our plate. Vanessa and Theresa, two of our Board members, have been meeting with and talking to those who reach out to us for help.  So far we have been able to meet all needs. 

Great news from the Frederick County Government. Through a competitive process, we were awarded a $14,500 grant to assist us in our Coffee With COIPP initiative. We will be able to  add transportation, childcare and writing of a curriculum for these sessions. Larissa, Sally, Patty and Shari have taken the leadership, and we are all thrilled to see where this part of our journey takes us. Thanks goes to Pat for taking the lead on this grant application 

Coffee With COIPP

Great addition to COIPP. Every Friday afternoon we have Coffee With COIPP, meetings for those who may have just gotten out of jail. We talk about parenting and personal situations that the group brings up, learn about issues such as Adverse Childhood Experiences, stress and depression, and always end with a giveaway. The group asked for weekly meetings and we are happy to oblige.