November Blog

People believe in you and the things you are doing and I truly believe it is only a matter

of time before the organization and the curriculum are recognized nationwide. I know

that you’re all doing phenomenal work and the organization needs to be widely

recognized.  –  Written by an ex Parenting From Afar Mom who is presently at Jessup

Corrections Center

It is November and I cannot possibly capture all of the work COIPP has been doing over

the past few weeks. Much of our time has been spent getting ready for our December

3rd 6th Annual Silent Auction, and preparing a grant application that will allow us to

expand our current offerings. However, this never stops us from doing business as

usual, as well as trying some new activities. There have been our ongoing events, as

well as some new opportunities. However, once again, none of this would be possible

without the leadership of our working board. If you see them, kindly say a word of

thanks to: Sally Smith, Cindi Diamondstone, Gretta Benson, Vanessa Thomas Morris,

Sue Guissinger, Shirley White, Pat Rosensteel, Pat Einhorn, Patty McCardle, and

Theresa Posthuma, as well as our social media team, Melissa Stoey and Mary

Mulligan.

I thought I would focus on two new endeavors for my November wrap up:

Respite Care Meetings– Imagine that you are newly retired, on a budget, and looking

forward to the next phase of your life. Suddenly a call comes. Your daughter is in trouble

as is her boyfriend. They are both at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center and

will be there for months to come. Your grandchildren have no place to go. The question

is simple, “Will you help?’ The answer usually starts with an emphatic YES. However,

as time passes and you see your finances dwindle, your fatigue grows and there is no

end to this dilemma, you find yourself in a difficult situation. Can you really do this? Are

you, a grandparent in your sixties, able to raise children 24 hours a day? How will you

keep up with all of the needs the children present? For a long time, we at COIPP have

talked about offering some kind of respite care to those who do the work of angels,

namely raise the children while the parents cannot. Thanks in part to a grant from the

Frederick Women’s Giving Circle (FCWGC) and to the Families impacted By

Incarceration Program (FIIP), done in collaboration with The Mental Health Association

(MHA), we have started just such a project. On November 8 we held our first Respite

Care meeting-and we cannot wait for more. We met at Head Start at Lucas Village,

while the children went next door to the Police Athletic League gym, so we were in a

perfect place. Thanks to Brandon Chapman, the children were able to play at PAL, eat

pizza dinner and enjoy each other’s company, while the caregivers and COIPP

volunteers assembled at Head Start and ‘relaxed’. We had dinner from Frisco’s, a new

clothing give-away thanks to a donation from one of our amazing volunteers, and even

played Bingo for useful household resources. As we ‘played’ we talked, and talked and

talked. The caregivers had so much to share in terms of their personal situations and

frustrations. When done, everyone took a survey about the Respite Care meeting. The

ratings were so high, we decided to do the event again in 2 months and several more

times throughout the year. In fact, we are hoping to get a grant to support and enrich

our Respite Care efforts. I must add that for this event, given that it was our first attempt,

many COIPP volunteers came to the meeting. We all agreed that it was a great Friday

night for us as well as for the caregivers; it was simply a group of friends coming

together to talk about the difficulties of parenting, budgeting, and finding time for

oneself.

School Counselor Panel session– Every year I am asked to speak to school counselors

about COIPP. This year, Janet Shipman, supervisor from Frederick County Public

Schools (FCPS), asked me to organize a panel discussion for the school counselors. i

included on the panel two grandparents who have raised their children while parents

have been incarcerated, a Mom who has had a husband in and out of jail while she

raised their 3 children, a leader of our men’s Parenting From Afar class, and a leader

from our women’s Parenting From Afar class. Each participant shared why they were a

part of COIPP and then shared the ways they interact with the organization. From there

we talked about what kinds of activities/resources each believed the children and their

families needed from the counselors, and what difficulties they see families going

through when a loved one is in jail. The conversation was rich and honest. We wound

up sharing for two hours with lots of questions coming from the audience. I am

convinced that everyone gained knowledge and came to understand the diversity of the

caregivers who find themselves in this situation. At the end, several counselors came up

to different panel members and talked about how they could individually help each

family. This was a wonderful afternoon. I look forward to more meetings like this with

different departments of the school system. By working together and learning from one

another, we can make a difference in a child’s life.

A Home for COIPP– I am so excited to share that COIPP is reaching a

new phase in its development. Until now, we have not had a ‘home’. We do have a

rented storage unit, a telephone beside my bed, and a rented post office mailbox.

However, we were fortunate enough to be given a Strategic Plan grant from Community

Partnership. This will allow us to rent a space and purchase technology that will help

us with record keeping. Stay tuned; next month we will be sharing our new location.

There were many more highlights in our month. They included my sharing at Dante

Brown’s class on Trauma at Spring Ridge Elementary school, holding our monthly

Reconnecting Class, with Cindi Diamondstone, at the local Frederick County Adult

Detention Center for those dads getting ready to be released on parole, completing a

podcast for therapists who tune in to the Joy Factor, continuing the Parenting From Afar

classes with Cathy Anderson, and more. Of course, books continue to be mailed to

children, one on one meetings and conversations go on with caregivers, and meetings

for overall assistance to those wanting to start an organization like ours in their areas

continue to go forward. One of the biggest pieces of news is our updating our Guide

Star information on non-profit transparency and receiving a Platinum Level designation.

Thanks go to Sally Smith for taking on the update.

I cannot wait until next month when I can report on the success of the auction, offer an

update on the events of December, and share information from our overall review of the

2019 year.

Here is to a wonderful, happy, healthy holiday. May your wishes come true!

Shari

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