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!