Blog May, 2020

And so it goes!

“Thank you very much for giving me everything. All the things you have given me
will keep me busy during this tuff time. I will be doing every activity you gave
me and I will be reading every book you gave me. All of the stuff you gave
me means a lot to me….”

‘Thank you’ note from a child who received a COIPP Resource Box: “The World Around Us”

As the social distancing continues, and the jail visitations have yet to resume, COIPP continues to be as busy as ever. For the month of May, most of our activities were expansions and con-tinuations of our April activities. Below is an update.

The World Around Us” Resource Box COIPP has added to children’s at-home resources. Thanks in part to a grant from the Delaplaine Foundation, and with the assistance of both Curi-ous Iguana Book Store and Dancing Bear Toy Store, COIPP was able to send out about 70 re-source boxes to our families. The theme was “The World Around Us”, and we worked to fill each box with hands-on materials. They included: a 100 piece jigsaw puzzle of the world, books about other cultures, an inflatable globe, a children’s cookbook with simple recipes from around the world, special markers for drawing one’s place in the world, and much more. Every evaluation received was outstanding. If we receive funding, COIPP is hoping to send out a third book of materials with a new theme. Stay tuned.

Third Hygiene Supply Giveaway – COIPP has taken our regular Resource Fair and turned it into a giveaway of needed resources for families in a manner that fits these times. In May, we had our third event with full respect for social distancing. While the first one brought in about 10 families, and the second had about 14 families participating, this one brought almost 20 families to the giveaway. We handed out handmade pillow cases filled with cleaning and hy-giene supplies, and also handed out food and gift cards. In addition, anyone who had not re-ceived our “Staying Connected Activities Booklet” was offered that as well. Funded by Fami-lies Impacted by Incarceration Program (FIIP), it was our original, creative effort to offer lots of no cost or low cost ideas for children and parents who are in jail to maintain contact. Special thanks goes to Sally Selby, Gretta Benson and Ally Elspas for volunteering their time for the event, and to Pat Einhorn and Sue Guissinger for helping with all the organization this event required.

Additional Postcards– COIPP knows that staying in touch can be difficult without visitations at the jail and with the high coast of telephone calls. With that in mind, we decided to once again buy pre-stamped postcards to distribute at the jail. This time we brought over about 250 cards. Our contact at the jail counted them and called to ask if she could give one to each person in jail instead of the original group who had taken our parenting class. We of course agreed. Research tells us that staying in communication with family is one way to avoid recidi-vism. We liked the idea enough to plan to do this again in June-and keep it going for the dura-tion of “no visitations”.

Read-Alouds COIPP is proud to say that we have just completed well over 50 read-aloud books. Each book is chosen with our young children in mind and cover many topics of interest. We get positive comments from caregivers all the time, and it is clear these are appreciated. We also make them available to groups in Frederick like Head Start, Frederick County Public Schools, City Youth Matrix, and more. In addition, COIPP has heard from others, such as those involved in international work and those working in DC, who want to offer them to the families they work with. We are proud to do this, for one good idea should be copied by others. Thanks to Pat Rosensteel’s good ear, we now do all recordings with a microphone. Special thanks to Howie Scher for his daily, time intensive work filming, editing and getting the stories out to everyone. It takes hours- and he happily does the work.

CNN Article COIPP was fortunate to have been approached by a CNN journalist, Jonathan O’Beirne, who had heard of us and wanted to do an article on what we were doing for families during the pandemic. Thanks to his hours of effort, not to mention his talent, we had a piece shown on CNN. In addition, a group called Newserv picked it up and it was shown in 20 sepa-rate regions. The program highlighted much that we have accomplished, and ended with two of our favorite COIPP family members listening to a read-aloud while studying “at home”. This publicity enabled us to reach so many people who can now emulate the work we have been doing. Of course, a Blog can never capture all the work being done. We continue to write grants, plan for additional resource boxes, attend meetings about alternative fundraising ideas, support families with gift cards, raise money, and work to make sure that every family has what they need to support their children. Sally Smith and Pat Rosensteel, our president and vice-presi-dent, work tirelessly with me to make sure all is being done and done well. We cannot wait to see what June brings our way. We already have started planning. 

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