October 2019 News

From a woman representing her cell block at the end of a parenting session:

What keeps us sane is the Parenting From Afar class, the food and television- in

that order.

Each month brings so much excitement. Of course, October was no different. As

I sit down to write this Blog, I am torn over which great October activity to write

about. I will try to share some highlights.

Bowling – Each month we do at least one activity for children. One that is a sure fire

success is Bowling. There is something magical about watching the children, many of

whom did not know each other prior to attending our monthly activities, greet one

another. It is not uncommon to see an older child helping a little one, three children from

different families high-fiving one another when they arrive at the bowling alley, or

watching two little ones make each other comfortable by laughing together over a

dropped ball or pins going down. This month our activity was bigger than ever. We had

29 children, all with caregivers, join in the event. We even had to expand to 6 bowling

lanes. Caregivers also are a great part of the activity. For example, one Mom who was

new to this event, bowled with her children. Another took the opportunity to sit back, rest

and eat her pizza in peace. A third bowled along with her children, all the time holding

her phone so she would not miss the children’s Daddy’s phone call from jail. Each

event begins with pizza and drinks, then bowling, and finally ending with the opportunity

for children to choose books from the ‘Book Box’. None of this would ever happen

without the leadership of Gretta Benson and Sue Guissinger and the assistance of all

of our fabulous volunteers. Each takes a lane, helps children who need assistance,

helps keep order, becomes a cheerleader for the children and spends time talking with

caregivers. It is a great example of COIPP at its finest.

If this was all we had done this month, it would have been great. However, our activities

do not stop. Below are some other highlights from this past month.

Sharing Fair- Let me paint a picture. It is a rainy Sunday morning and visitation for the

men in the jail is about to begin. In the downpour, several volunteers arrive early. They

empty trucks and cars, set up the display tables outside the Detention Center with hand

tied blankets, hygiene supplies, art supplies, little toys, clothing and more. Peggy

Bishop pulls up with a car full of blankets made by her church, and others come with

donations to add to the table. A past recipient of Sharing Fair resources shows up with a

large box of newly washed, used clothing from her own baby. She was so appreciative

of our help in the past, she wanted to give back. If that was not enough, let me introduce

you to Hunter and Benjamin. Hunter is a teen aged volunteer who comes to many

events, including Sharing Fairs. When there he helps folks choose items, plays with the

kids, and even lends a hand to parents who have too much to carry to their cars. He is

known for ‘balloon animals’ that he makes for every child who is a part of visiting day.

Enter Benjamin. He just turned four. His Mom works with him to ensure he understands

the value of helping others. This month Benjamin arrived with his Mom to share Winter

items he collected from those who attended his birthday party. His Mom wanted him to

see what a Sharing Fair is all about. Well, once these two boys met, it was amazing.

Hunter took Benjamin under his wing, made balloon animals for him, showed him

around, and by the time Benjamin left one would have thought they were brothers. As

all of this was going on, other children were being served, families were gathering

resources, and a great time was being had by all. Kudos to Pat Einhorn. Thanks to her

we have 6 successful Sharing Fairs a year.

Workshops- This month Head Start was the recipient of our workshops. I developed

and presented two sessions to the same audience of adults on Building Resilience in

Children Following Trauma. The participants were great and very involved in the

discussion. One of the best parts of this workshop were the resources I gave out every

step of the way, all funded by COIPP. Thanks to our collaboration with Dancing Bear Toy

Store and Curious Iguana Book Store, we have help choosing and purchasing high

quality resources that assist when taking on this topic and others. This workshop had

me sharing journals, fidgets, worry dolls, handmade books on calming strategies, and

much more. At the end of the second session, each family attending received an early

childhood library of books on this topic, all award winners and all perfect for the age.

This time each received 9 different, relevant titles. This was so well received, staff and

participants asked if I would come back and do another series in the Spring. I can

honestly say that it will be my pleasure.

Parenting From Afar- Our classes in the jail have continued to be great. This session

Cathy Anderson and I had 16 participants when we started out. By the month of

October, a number of participants had been released. However, those who were still in

jail at the end of October were strong, insightful women. For the men, Brenda

Chapman and Andrew Murphy started their new class at the end of October with 25

men. Remember, all participants voluntarily join us. We hold the sessions for ten weeks,

use a curriculum we developed, and tackle topics like: Stress; Discipline; Building

Autonomy; Encouraging Cooperation, and more. Every class begins with discussion/

game about the participants own childhood experiences, segues into a discussion of

children’s situations we have heard from past participants, problem solves those

situations and ends with each participant receiving a pre-stamped postcard for each of

their children. We love these classes and receive amazing feedback about what they

mean to the men and women who participate. I just mailed out the books the women

chose for their children during the last class. Many of the women have multiple

children, with some living in different houses. In all, 72 books in total were mailed out to

the children of those who had successfully completed the class. These sessions have

become favorites of those in jail- and they are one of our favorites too.

So much more happened this month. We were a part of the United Way Day of Action.

Led by Peggy Bishop, we had about 20 volunteers make hand tied blankets. I spoke at

North Frederick to a young group of boy scouts. We attended the annual Do Gooders

Awards fundraising gala and were the recipients of money raised at that event.

Vanessa Morisette Thompson and Raini Blakeslee gave out candy and shared

information about COIPP at Grace United Church of Christ during a downtown

Halloween celebration and and on and on and on.

Save the date! On Tuesday, December 3, from 5-7:30, we are having our sixth

annual Auction. This year, in addition to our wonderful auction items, great food

and music, we are going to have some new surprises. For only $20 ($25 at the

door), you can join in the fun. Just go to Evite and type in COIPP, or check out our

Facebook page and Website to find out more!

May you have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

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