A new participant began to cry. She said this was the first time she felt she could talk with others who really understood what she was feeling.
Noted by a ‘Respite Meeting’ volunteer about a participant
Several women began to weep as they started their recordable stuffed animals. One got so excited she had a number of participants vote on which stuffed animal she should use for her recording. Everyone said ‘thank you’, and one woman said it just made her so happy being here. Another woman said she had been in a few jails, but had never experienced anything like this.
Personal Observation at ‘Stuffed Animal Valentine Day’ recordings
Once again, this has been a month filled with activities. I have chosen just a few to share.
Recordable Stuffed Animals- I love February for a very good reason. It is the month a group of us go into the jail and work with the women on a very special Valentine’s Day present for their children. We purchase special stuffed animals that have recording devices. The women get a chance to record a message for each of their children. They then choose a stuffed animal for each child and place the recorder inside. When the child hugs it, the mother’s message is heard in the child’s ear. While the women are making each of their children a stuffed animal recording, others are busy making Valentine’s Day cards. A COIPP volunteer then puts everything in boxes and prepares them for mailing. Thanks to everyone working so hard, we had all boxes mailed out for receipt prior to Valentine’s Day. This is an incredible activity. I cannot thank the following volunteers enough: Theresa Posthuma, Pat Einhorn, Ally Elspas, Donna Quatman Wilder. This activity brings tears to the eyes of the women participants and to those who are helping. It is extra special! (In case you are wondering, the men get to do the same activity close to Father’s Day.)
Respite Meetings- We are always thinking of activities to serve caregivers in a new, meaningful way. Our ‘Respite Care’ meetings do just that. In February we held our second such event. Past caregivers were contacted and Cindi Powell and others at Lucas Village helped us spread the word. Thanks to Brandon Chapman, we had childcare at the Police Athletic League while the adult participants interacted with us at the adjoining Clara D Harris Community Center. After dinner was delivered from Paneras, participants enjoyed making bracelets under the leadership of Sally Smith, received personal care packages put together by Larissa Metzger, received a children’s book and gift cards, and filled out evaluative information. However, much more important than any of the formal activities was the sharing that took place throughout the evening. Participants and volunteers talked together about available resources and shared needs. New friendships were made. What an evening it was. The evaluations were overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to the next meeting that will take place at the end of March. I must thank Cathy Anderson, Larissa Metzger, Sally Smith, Sally Selby, Barb May, Brandon Chapman and all other volunteers who joined me to make this an evening to remember. I cannot wait to see what our next meeting will bring.
Children’s Activities- One of the spectacular things about COIPP is the total dedication of every board member. Gretta Benson and Sue Guissinger, the leaders of our children’s activities, are no different. This month I could not attend our monthly children’s event held at Backyard Inflatables and it was my loss. Twenty-five children and about 8 caregivers met Sue, Greta and other volunteers at the event and got ready for fun. In fact, a friend of mine was there that day and said that the smiles on the children’s faces were dazzling. Often people do not realize what goes into a successful event. Sue and Gretta contacted Backyard Inflatables, budgeted the cost, got in touch with caregivers via flyers, text messages, and phone calls, planned the afternoon, were present with all of the volunteers, and ensured that everything was both safe and fun. If you see them kindly say ‘thank you’ to them for their dedication and hard work.
Office Move In- COIPP has started a new chapter. In January we rented a space in the wonderful Federated Charities building. By February we were officially in our new office. Thanks to the hard work of so many board members, and the extra help many of their spouses/friends offered, we moved in without a hitch. COIPP wants to thank Elin Ross and the Federated Charities staff, who have so graciously welcomed us into the building. We have already been holding lots of our meetings there, and look forward to a long relationship in this gem of a building on Market Street. Extra thanks goes to Pat Rosensteel who found our conference table, coat rack, pillows, throw, and more. The space is now so homey.
This month, once again, there was much sharing in the community. I presented at St Peter and St. Paul Women’s Philanthropic Group, Windsor Knolls Middle School, Dana Heaton’s Fifth grade class at Tuscorora Elementary School, and more. Thanks to Cindi Diamondstone and Cathy Anderson, even more groups were reached.
+COIPP never stops, and I can never capture all of the work of the organization. As I always think to myself, I cannot wait to see what the next month brings our way.