“First of all, COIPP has been a godsend for my grandson and for me. It gives him normalcy and a sense of belonging. It does this for me as well. One more thing. It gives us a sense of family.”
From J., a grandmother
August could not have been busier. One of the things i learn each month is that the month we are in does not slow down the needs of the children. So much to think about.
One of the most amazing events held in August was the barbecue at Staley Park. Thanks to the leadership of Sue Guissinger and Gretta Benson, helped by an incredible committee of picnic organizers, the barbeque was a grand success. There were children, caregivers, and COIPP volunteers, all in attendance. Hot dogs were grilled, and fruit, veggies, drinks and chips were shared.
One of the best parts of the evening was when the animals came to the picnic. Thanks to our friends at Thorpewood, including the Castlemans, we had chickens, goats, horses and a very cute doggie come to play. All I can say is that even a number of the adults could not get their fill. Children were with animals, playing on several playgrounds in the park, interacting with one another, and just having a great time.
The adults were all involved with children and with one another. No picnic can be complete without ice cream, and this barbecue was no exception. The ice cream truck came, ringing it’s bell, and everyone had their choice of ices or ice cream. This evening event really captured the meaning of COIPP. We were all together and enjoying each others company. It cannot get better than this.
Of course, there were more than enough other activities held throughout the summer. I will not forget the shoe distribution at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. It started with the “Soles of Love’ shoe giveaway event at Julie Gaver’s fabulous Myrsville home. Several hundred women came with new shoes to donate and we helped collect them. It continued with another event where six or seven non-profits got to to bag and sort the shoes, and take them home. it culminated for us in a late August Sharing Fair at the jail.
In addition to a number of other resources, we distributed new shoes to 69 children so that they could be ready for school. Thanks for the fair goes to Pat Einhorn who does a great job making them happen several times a year. It is events like this that make the sun shine for everyone.
Coffee with COIPP
Of course, additional events kept happening. We had Coffee With COIPP on Fridays, we had caregivers reach out for assistance when needed, we had community members get in touch asking about volunteer opportunities and speaking engagements for September. We continued with Summer Serve, our summer partnership with the United Way, and much more. The list is long.
Personal highlights included attendance at the International Coalition for Children with an Incarcerated Parent Conference (INCCIP) held in Huddersfield, England. Thanks to the Helen J. Serini Foundation, I received a leadership grant that covered almost all costs. The four day conference included two workshops that Cindi Diamondstone and I did, but it also allowed us to learn from folks representing 11 different countries. They presented on specialized programs they were doing in their countries.
One highlight included listening to student ambassadors, all of whom have a parent in jail, present on their situations and what they want others to know. The conversation included their desire not to be treated differently, not to be pitied, not to be asked what the parent had done, and more. It was a very emotional event for them and for us.
We also got to visit Askham, a women’s jail in York. This was a very different experience, for Askham is an ‘open’ jail with all of the ‘residents’ having jobs, young children being allowed to live with their parent, ‘residents’ working in key places at the jail, and the goal being to get the residents ready to function well in society. We came home with so many new ideas.
Additional August events for me included meeting with different members of Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) as we begin this year with our ‘Memo of Understanding’. Thanks goes to Janet Shipman, MaryJo Richardson and Ann McGreevy as we plan for this wonderful new collaboration. Late August also brought a breakfast meeting for all FCPS partners. I felt honored to be a part of the morning.
Parenting from Afar
Curriculum writing is underway. We will be editing and updating our Parenting From Afar Curriculum. Now that we have a men’s group going, we are ready to ensure that the curriculum we wrote really works for female and men participants. Our initial meeting took place this August with Brandon Chapman and Andrew Murphy, and in September we are beginning to have our weekly meetings to update our present curriculum. Stay tuned.
On a special note, thanks to artist Christine Wilson we have fabulous Ginkgo Leaf notecards for sale. For only $15 for a pack of 5, they are yours. Just message me or email: COIPPfrederick@Yahoo.com and i will get them to you. Between these and the Ginkgo Leaf Necklaces still available from Stacey Krantz at InBloom Jewelers, interested folks can help COIPP any time of the year- and get fantastic items too.
Lastly, we have been hard at work with the Unity Campaign, facilitated for non profits by the Frederick County United Way. All money we raise will be partially matched, so this is the time for your donation. Go to Unity Campaign Mobile app, text UnityFrederick43 at 71777, or send a check into the United Way. If you choose this route, please put Unity Campaign in the subject line and COIPP in the memo line. It can be mailed to: Unity Campaign, c/o United Way, 629 North Market Street, Frederick, Md. 21701. The deadline is September 28 for all money to be in.
We are looking for a new treasurer. Please let us know if you have an interest and a skill.
Cannot wait to see what September has in store for us!