I have been thinking about the past few weeks, and there have been so many highlights, however, i am choosing to begin with one extraordinary event:
A heartwarming story…
At the jail we have weekly Parenting From Afar classes for female participants. Many months ago a woman named Rachel entered the class. She always had great insights and reflections, and soon became someone who was focused on self-growth and helping others. Rachel was released and continued to be active with COIPP. She now attends our weekly Coffee With COIPP meetings, comes to our activities, and even made some items for the Silent Auction.
Recently it came to my attention that Rachel had, all on her own, nominated me for a special award by the Ravens Football team, the Community Quarterback Award. I became a finalist and COIPP will now receive $1,000 as a part of the award. First, this honor is for all members of COIPP. However, what is the important part of this is that Rachel, all by herself, raised $1,000 for us. I take my hat off to her and her continued, important, meaningful journey.
As said, there were many more highlights. They include, but are not limited to:
Silent Auction Success
This event is one of our two largest fundraisers for the year, and this year it was fantastic. We had a new venue, the McClintock Distillery, a fabulous Silent Auction Committee spearheaded by Theresa Posthuma, the support of Renaissance Catering, an added Live Auction, music by the Matt and Julian Duo and more. At the time of this writing I do not know exactly how much money was raised, but I know that it will be a substantial boost to our cause. It took countless people to get this together and I cannot thank everyone enough. Each year we have a debriefing meeting to reflect and learn, and this year will be no different. While it was an amazing event, we look forward to even a greater time next year- and that is promising a lot.
We have Boots! Lots of boots!
Julie Gaver, the wonderful founder and head of Soles of Love, called the other day. She had over 20 pairs of boots for us all tucked away in her trunk. We met up, and transferred them to my car. They will highlight our Christmas Day Sharing Fair at the jail. Stay tuned to hear how they are received.
It will come as no surprise that when there is incarceration in a family, the need for assistance for the children rises. Theresa Posthuma and Vanessa Thomas-Morris make sure that needs are met. As the holidays approach, the number of requests go up. That is exactly what has been happening over the last few weeks. Our two volunteers are never too busy to reach out, meet with caregivers or those recently released and offer help as needed. Thank you ladies! You help so many.
Coffee with COIPP
This activity never fails to amaze me! Originally we hoped to have these meetings monthly, but the participants asked for them weekly. In the past few weeks we had lots of folks come out to hear speakers, make things for their children and for the Silent Auction, and basically share their journey with us and with each other. It is Sally Smith, Larissa Metzger, Cindi Diamondstone and Patty McCardle who do the leg work and I cannot thank them enough!
Fired Up About Our Children’s Activities!
Monthly we continue to hold our children’s Saturday activities. This month we went to Hot Fired Arts on 7th Street. With a great turnout of over 20 participants, we had a blast! Children of all ages attended, and everyone made a fabulous painting to take home. Of course there was pizza and drinks- it was a total success! Special thanks go out to Gretta Benson and Sue Guissinger and all the volunteers for always getting these events together.
Giving Tuesday Thanksgivings
We had never participated in this event prior to this year. Though we were not up and running until late in the afternoon of the day, we raised a substantial amount of money. I continue to be amazed when it comes to the generosity of Frederick County. In addition, the Englands, owners of Dancing Bear Toy Store and Curious iguana Bookstore, took a percent of their proceeds for that day and donated it to us. Given all of the participation, we raised well over $2300. I had to share. It was an extraordinary day of giving!
This month, as is true every month, we had many community groups wanting to know more about COIPP. They included my speaking at Hood College for Doctoral Candidates and at William R. Farquhar Middle School in Montgomery County for the entire staff of over 50 teachers. A number of additional workshops are to be held in the coming months and I look forward to each and every one of them.
In coming months I will be writing about the newly forming Men’s Parenting From Afar group at the jail, the ongoing Work Release and ‘Soon to be Released’ Reconnecting workshops now given monthly at the jail, Coffee With COIPP meetings and so much more.
For now all I can say is that our work is continuing to grow in scope and numbers. If you have an interest in joining us do not hesitate to get in touch. We are always looking for volunteers and interest in joining our Board. To find out more and how to apply to volunteer, please visit our Volunteer Page and download our Volunteer Packet and/or Volunteer Application.
Until next time….