October Musings

Once again, it has been a terrific month for COIPP. It is always difficult to choose the best things to share, but here are some highlights.

Children’s Activities:

This is the reason we came into being- and we grow, and grow and grow for the kids. Thanks to Gretta and Sue, and lots of great volunteers, this month children and their caregivers got the opportunity to once again bowl, have lunch, ad share conversation. In addition, there were balloons, a birthday party atmosphere, and lots of surprises, such as book giveaways, as well as magazines for the caregivers to look at and take home. In other words, it was a party simply to celebrate the joy of a Saturday activity. Shari was on hand to talk with caregivers about some problems that have come up for them, and Vanesa was there to represent the Outreach Committee and share what they could do to help individual families. This has been a great way to serve children-and we look forward to a new, different activity that we are trying in November.

Coffee with COIPP:

First, a shout out to Larissa, Sally and Patty who organize and run all of our weekly Friday meetings for those in rehab and/or recently released from jail. When we started, we never thought we would grow as we have and October was no different. In fact, at our last meeting where folks from MHA came to present on mindful eating, we had over 20 participants. Our activities this month ranged from art focused to distribution of hygiene products, but all centered around reconnecting with families and how to adapt the activities shared for the children. We are especially excited that many of our participants have been granted scholarships at the Delaplaine Arts Center for themselves and/or their children. What a great connection.

Reconnection Meetings:

Starting this past month, we now have monthly meetings at the jail in both the men’s section and in Work Release. The topic is Reconnecting, and it’s my job to go in and talk with those participating. October was a great beginning. The participants were very honest about their questions and concerns and seemed most interested to talk about this topic. In fact, several said they would welcome far more conversations on this. As a part of the work, I read the children’s book, The Rabbit Listened. It is an early childhood book, and I had no idea how it would go. The men loved it—and most requested that I send a copy of the book to their children. They are already in the mail!

Speaking Engagements:

October was filled with opportunities to share the work of COIPP. Cindi Diamondstone and I spoke at the National Family Involvement Conference, held in Harrisburg, PA, on our Parenting From Afar curriculum and the general work of COIPP. I spoke to Foster Care providers in Baltimore City, library staff at the Frederick downtown library, talked at local churches, and even did a very successful two session workshop on Loss at Head Start. This is one of the favorite ways we have to share our work- and I look forward to every one of them.

Books and the Public Library:

Great news came this month. Thanks to Janet Vogel from the public library, all of the books we now purchase for families, will be available at the local library. We have books on everything from Love to Feelings to Incarceration. We are thrilled that these titles will now be available to all children.

As said, these are only some highlights. The month has been filled with collaborations, individual meetings with families, work in the jail and so much more. Stay tuned for next month’s highlights!