August, 2020

“We received a wonderful package…& wanted to let you all know that it was be packed full
of love and happiness! TY to everyone who puts in the time & energy! COIPP Crew definitely rocks!! ♥️♥️♦️♥️♥️”

Thank you note, as received, from a Mom after receiving a Resource Box

The past month just rushed by. There were COIPP activities happening all the time. For this month’s Blog, I am highlighting just a few. However, I want to start off with one that was rather unique.

Index Card A Day Project (ICAD)– If you don’t already know her, let me introduce you to Gretta Benson, a talented long time volunteer with Kids Activities and a member of our Executive Board. She had a great idea for the summer. She purchased basic art supplies for older children and sent out an email asking who would like to participate in a special project. Every day she sent out ideas about open-ended projects that could be done using the resources given, including index cards. Each email was simple to follow, and presented kids with a myriad of ideas using the simplest tools. She checked in with the kids and kept encouraging them to participate. Some sent her finished projects. The ideas were so fabulous, we convinced her to put them together into a booklet.  Anyone who is interested is invited to request one.  It will be well worth your time.

Resource Boxes– An idea we have shared before just kept on growing this month. In August we were able to send out not just one, but two Resource Boxes. Once again, thanks to Curious Iguana Book Store and Dancing Bear Toy store, the boxes on mathematics named It All Adds Up, were mailed to over 75 families. At the end of August the science resource boxes, The World of Wonder, were mailed to almost 90 families. With each mailing we included an evaluation. The responses written bring tears. It is clear that these boxes really assisted families with limited resources. We have continued to write grants so that we can afford keep up this work. Thanks in part to the following foundations and groups, we have been able to send out such resources to our families: The Delaplaine Foundation, The Helen J. Serini Foundation, The City of Frederick, the United Way COVID fund, and others.

Workshops As COVID has hit, we find that more and more caregivers want to talk about their children and learn strategies for helping them with their feelings. The result is an increase in workshops that we have been doing throughout the community.  In the first week of August, I completed a two-part series on Helping Children Manage Their Feelings for the Judy Center. I also presented on the same topic for Lincoln Elementary School.  This was done with the help of the wonderful Heather Quill, Lincoln Guidance Counselor, and Kari McDaniel; the workshops were a huge success. All participants used distance learning, and managed the technology very well. They each received lots of resources, hand delivered by Heather for Lincoln and Kari for the Judy Center. These included a small library of award winning and high quality books on feelings. The workshops are filled with strategies that parents and caregivers can share  with children so that they can cope with all kinds of feelings during these difficult times. These workshops are done through the collaboration we have with the Mental Health Association, and our program called Families Impacted By Incarceration Program (FIIP).

Covid Emergency Giveaway In the pre-COVID past, we held Sharing Fairs at the jail six times a year. Since COVID hit, and the jail has been closed to visitors, we have had our giveaways as “drive-bys”, with participants driving up and COIPP volunteers giving each a bag of goodies and a gift card.  This month we wished to celebrate the return to school. Thanks to one of our caregiver/grandmothers, who is also a teacher, we had a list of what children might need as they return to school via virtual learning.  Pat Einhorn, Sue Guissinger and Gretta Benson filled bags, and then their cars, with lots of resources.  We met at Staley Park and displayed lots of resources. We had school supply bags filled to the brim under the pavilion’s roof.  We also had new shoes from Soles of Love, baby clothes, children’s books, extra supplies and more. We also gave out gift cards to Wal-Mart and McDonalds. We offered the participants the opportunity to sign up to vote and the opportunity to learn more about the census. It was a great day.  Many thanks to all of the volunteers who joined me. including the aforementioned organizers, as well as Cathy Anderson, Steve Einhorn, Pat Rosensteel, Cindi and Barry Diamondstone, Sally Smith, Sally Selby, Theresa and Mark Posthuma, and Howie Scher who acted as our Spanish interpreter for the day. I never know who has more fun, the participants or the volunteers. One thing is clear; by now we are all friends who care about one another. We had over 30 participating caregivers, and they represented over 60 children.

 August Respite MeetingWe tried our second Zoom Respite Meeting this month, and we are so glad we did. We talked about each participants parenting strengths and challenges in the time of COVID. The talk was honest, helpful and supportive.  When we started respite meetings this way, we had no idea as to whether they would work. They do. Each participant received a gift card for coming, but, more importantly, the book I Am a Warrior Goddess.I think we can say that each caregiver who came is a Warrior 

Goddess for taking on the difficult task of raising a child. We are already planning our September meeting. Many thanks to the following people who joined me in the fun: Cathy Anderson, Cindi Diamondstone and Sally Smith.However, for the second month in a row, big kudos go to Larissa Metzger for all she did to organize the event. 

Far more has been going on behind the scenes. We have been working on a plan for ongoing fundraising in the time of COVID, an additional marketing plan, submission of grant applications for further financial assistance, completion of our 

Strategic Plan. Many thanks to Sally Smith and Pat Rosensteel for leading these efforts.  We had our annual shoe gathering thanks to Soles of Love. Our volunteers Cathy Anderson, Ally Elspas and Peggy Bishop made this shoe collection work. In addition, we have used this time to continue to increase our own knowledge through listening to podcasts, long distance attendance at meetings, and staying in touch with other non-profits.

May you all have a healthy September and may things get back to whatever is normal in the near future.

Most Sincerely,

Shari Ostrow Scher
Executive Director

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