And What A Month It Was

December 2018 Blog

As I write this, I am thinking about what can be accomplished when one has a working board of amazing and dedicated people.  Each member of our COIPP Board co-chaired a committee this year, and no one disappointed. In a few days, January 11, we will be having our big meeting of the year where we will have a full review of highlights as well as elect all officers and board members.  It is amazing what can get done when everyone participators. Just look at the partial list of activities below.


Christmas Day Sharing Fair

What does one say to a family when they are in tears as they go to visit a loved one and then say thank you for what we can offer?  What does one do when a child tells you that they miss their Mommy in jail, but then brightens up as they go ‘shopping’ for a few extra goodies? How does one feel when a family says that Christmas was difficult, but the resources we give away made it a great day? Several times a year we hold a Sharing Fair outside of the jail during visitation.  Our favorite, above all, is the one we hold on Christmas day.  Those in jail make a big urn of hot chocolate for all of the visitors, Uncle Ralph’s donates cookies, we gave out hand tied blankets, boots, art supplies, new children’s coats, mittens, hats, gloves and scarves and so much more. This year we had many volunteers who joined us for the first time, as well as many returning volunteers. We stood outside the jail from 8-1:00 giving away everything we brought. In all, we served over sixty children and caregivers and stayed until nothing was left.  We received so many thank you’s from those we served, it really made our day as well as the day of the participants. I thank Pat Einhorn who has taken over the organization of these great events, but she could not do it without the support of Gretta Benson and Sue Guissinger and all who came to help. Thank you ladies for an exemplary job.


Delaplaine Partnership

Self expression is key for the healing of our participants. Did you know that once a month Coffee With COIPP, our weekly meeting group for those recently released from jail or currently in rehab, go to the Delaplaine and meet with artist David Modler and administrator Caitlyn Gill. There they participate in Visual Journaling classes.  We have sketchbooks, art supplies, use a Delaplaine art studio, and learn from the best.   This is one of the favorite sessions in our twelve week program.  In fact, many of our participants now talk about being artists. Many have received scholarships from the Delaplaine for classes, as have their children.  We even received about twenty art kits, put together by the Delaplaine, that we were able to give out at our Christmas Day Sharing Fair.  What a big hit.  Thank you goes to the Delaplaine and this spectacular partnership.


Staff Training

In November I spoke to doctoral students at Hood College.  Several participants in the workshop asked me to follow up with a visit to their place of work.  December brought me to William H. Farquhar Middle School in Montgomery County.  The entire staff, fifty one teachers, stayed after school to learn about COIPP and the possible effect of incarceration and trauma on children. It was a great group- and the teachers were so very interested in this topic.  Their concerns and insight led me to begin to pursue a formal partnership with Frederick County Public Schools. It was clear that staff in all schools would benefit from this kind of learning. Cindi Diamondstone joined me at our first meeting as we pursue the possibility.


Silent Auction

Usually I highlight special COIPP events for children and caregivers, but nothing this month was as big as our COIPP Silent Auction. It is one of our two biggest fundraisers for the year, and It was a huge success. We had a new venue, the McClintock Distillery, a wonderful downtown treat. For the first time  we had live music and a live auction. The food was once again great, thanks to Renaissance Catering, The energy was incredible, and the place was jammed. Thank you Theresa Posthuma and Cindi Diamondstone for taking leadership for this great event. Thanks to the enthusiasm and generosity of everyone, we will be able to continue with all our COIPP endeavors, and add more.


We had a very large number of children attend our monthly Bowling activity in December, had many children and caregivers go to see Frosty The Snowman, thanks to Susan Thornton and her generosity, held our regular weekly Parenting From Afar classes for women at the jail and our monthly Reconnecting Class for men, gave workshops, met with future volunteers, and even recruited two newly released Moms for our Adult Advisory Committee.  Our FIIP partnership with the Mental Health Association continues to grow and we are looking forward to starting a men’s Parenting From Afar class. It was a great, great year- but I have a feeling that 2019 will be even better!


Wonderful News to Close Out the Year!

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.

 Outreach Committee

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!  

Community Workshops

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….




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!

September Blog - Where Does the Time Go?

Here’s to a great Board!

As you look at the month’s accomplishments, please note that nothing would happen without a great working Board. Here is to: Donna, Cindi, Eliza, Shirley, Gretta, Sue, Pat, Vanessa, Theresa, Marisel, Cathy, Sally, and Patty, and Melissa, our head of Marketing.

Our Mental Health Partnership

Thanks to our Governor’s Grant, we have been able to partner with the Mental Health Association (MHA). We have a three pronged approach. We do Parenting From Afar in the jail for women; the grant is able to pay for some of our materials and printing and reimburse our curriculum writers for their time. We then do workshops in the community. Again, the grant pays for the planning and execution, not to mention resources for the workshops for caregivers. We then do a ‘warm hand over’ to MHA for families who need an extra boost as participants either reconnect with their children or struggle with being a caregiver. However, we began to see that this was not enough.

After talking together, we decided to do a deeper partnership. Now the staff from MHA comes to our children’s activities, and our Sharing Fairs held at the jail. They will be attending some of our Parenting From Afar sessions for women in jail, and they are hiring leaders and starting a men’s Fathering From Afar group at the jail that will use the curriculum we constructed. What a partnership! We call it FIIP and it stands for Families Impacted by Incarcerated Program.

Sharing Fair

In late September we had one of our Sharing Fairs, held four times a year at the local jail. Thanks to Pat Einhorn who led the charge, we were able to serve about 80 children either in person or via their caregivers. We set up early with a group of volunteers, and we stood outside the Detention Center giving away all kinds of goodies. This Fair included backpacks, new underwear, hygiene products, books, stuffed animals, hand tied blankets, and lots of other items that help make a child’s visit to the jail fun and meaningful.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who attended, no child or caregiver was left out. We arrived with boxes of goodies and 100 pairs of new shoes- and left 6 hours later with almost nothing left. The next Sharing Fair is scheduled for Christmas Day, where the inmates will be making hot cocoa for the families as we continue to give out goodies. This is always a meaningful day for us.

Monthly Bowling Event

Monthly, thanks to Gretta Benson and Sue Guessinger, we hold our bowling event. We had a great crowd of children and caregivers, a number being grandmothers raising children. We set up as a ‘birthday party’, so that the event is festive. We bowl, we eat pizza, we share and we talk. Of course everything is free.

I was able to meet one on one with a Grandmother looking for some assistance and for resources. Another woman just wanted to talk. However, what I will always remember is one woman who attended both the Sharing Fair and the Bowling Party with her daughter. I had met her months ago at the jail when she was visiting her husband. She had been sad, lost, and looking desperate. At that time she shared that she did not know how she would survive. We went into action. At both of these events she was standing up straight, happy, and reveling in the strength she has shown. She now has a house, and is seeing life through the eyes of anything being possible. It made all of our days.

Delaplaine Partnership

Our Coffee With COIPP meetings, held every Friday for those who are recently released from jail or are in recovery, continue to amaze us. Originally we could not find participants. Now we have 7-15 people coming each week. One of our activities involves our partnership with the Delaplaine. Once a month artist David Modler meets with our participants and teaches them to do Visual Journaling, using quality art resources supplied by both COIPP and the Delaplaine. It is a favorite. In fact, one of the women who took our classes on parenting at the jail and is now attending Coffee With COIPP is starting her own Visual Journaling classes for those in recovery. What a way to spread the word!

The Delaplaine was also able to give many participants full scholarships to classes for both them and their children.T his is a VERY big deal for all involved. And did I mention that the Delaplaine came to our Sharing Fair and handed out Art Bags filled with fabulous supplies to all of the children? Our partnership rocks!

Unity Campaign

This countywide fundraiser takes place every year for Frederick’s non-profits. Each non-profit is asked to come up with a goal. This year’s goal for COIPP was $14,500, the amount we raised last year. However, I decided to challenge each board member to hold her own fundraiser. We had everything from ice cream socials, exercise-a thons, cookie decorating, wine tasting, art auctioning, happy hour, selling of handmade bookmarks, jewelry purchasing, and more.

I am proud to say that through our team effort, we not only met our goal, but we were incredibly successful. In all we raised $20,144 and this is without the United Way partial match which is coming soon! This was successful beyond our wildest dreams but it will enable us to continue our fabulous work.

The list goes on and on as always. From our Parenting classes in the jail that will soon have a men’s component, to the feedback we get from our children and their parents/ caregivers, to the new books on incarceration that have come our way from all over the world to the people who search us out to learn about how they can start a similar group, we have had an amazing month—-and this is only a partial list of all we have been doing.

We are busy getting ready for our December 4th Silent Auction at McCliintock Distillery. Stay tuned and be looking for all of our advertising. Also be sure to check out our new brochure, designed by Melissa Stoey.

I also want to add that the Andrus award I received for being the recipient of the Maryland Retired School Personnel Association volunteer award was for COIPP.

It takes a village and we have it!

August Musings

There was a time when the Summer was relatively quiet for COIPP. That is no longer the case. As I reflect on the past few weeks, I am struck by all we have done. Allow me to share some August highlights.

We have been working hard on the Unity Campaign put together by the United Way. Board members took on individual projects in order to raise money, and the projects were as creative as the people putting them together. We had ice cream socials, online auctions of original paintings, donations given when walks were taken with a Board member, a wine and cheese tasting, a cookie decorating party, and more. The creativity does not stop and all of it is helping us reach our goal. Fingers crossed that by the time you read this, we may have raised the money we hope to earn.

Silent Auction

Our Silent Auction is on December 4th this year, but the work has already started. A committee of folks- Board members and auction volunteers- have been busy at work getting it all together. This year it will be at the McClintock Distillery in downtown Frederick. Auction items are being amassed, the food is being planned, and the ticket system is being organized. Stay tuned; more information will definitely fill our website.

Coffee with COIPP

Coffee With COIPP, our newest program, has proven a success. We have been doing it for a few months, and have learned as we have progressed. We now have decided upon a 12 week rotation of topics. They include everything from a presentation on Adverse Childhood Experiences, to applying for a job when one has an arrest record to building self concept. Three times during this rotation we have participants working with David Modler, Professor from Shepherd University and a Delaplaine artist; the work has focused on visual journals. This is one of the most exciting parts of the series. Thanks go to the Delaplaine Arts Center for their collaboration with us. Several participants have asked for and been granted scholarships at the Delaplaine. We also have had participants from our program go on to Frederick Community College through the scholarships we offer.

We have built the Coffee With COIPP sessions around reconnecting with children and good child-rearing practices. Every week we meet and every week is exciting! Thanks to the interest, we have even changed where we meet. We just outgrew the Federated Charities Conference Room, and now we are at the United Church of Christ in downtown Frederick. This is amazing, since the first time we called a meeting, no one came. Now we have anywhere from 10-15 participants, and sometimes even more.

Parenting Classes

Our parenting classes at the jail continue. However, our curriculum writing committee has been really busy. We have rewritten our Parenting From Afar curriculum a number of times, and we think we finally have it exactly where we want it to be. We now have ten sessions for participants to complete, and an handbook for all participants, filled with meaningful quotes, real situations for discussion, articles of interest, and even homework reflections. We continue to send copies of the participant’s handbook to the caregivers. We now have a partnership with a professor from the University of New Hampshire so that those who are interested can have a newsletter created by their children sent to them, and they can respond via a given postcard. In all, this is one of the most important things we do. In fact, lots of our participants get released and then contact us about coming to our follow up Coffee With COIPP sessions.

Activities for Children and Caregivers

We continue to have our monthly bowling parties for children and caregivers, but now we have a new twist. A member of the Mental Health Association, our partners through our Governor’s Grant, attend the sessions and spend time being available to caregivers who have questions. This is a beautiful partnership and it is taking us in a great direction. In addition, two times during the aforementioned Parenting From Afar sessions, a member of the Mental Health Association staff will be joining us in the jail to begin a ‘gentle handoff’ with participants by building rapport, sharing resources, and sharing information on what MHA can offer. We are in the midst of planning some new activities. Stay tuned to hear all about them.

One of the most exciting parts of the past month was having Jacqueline Woodson, world famous children’s author, come to Frederick County, thanks to the Curious Iguana Bookstore. She shared her newest works at the Delaplaine. We not only had free tickets for Coffee With COIPP participants, but Ms Woodson autographed her books for the children of the women in Parenting From Afar classes at the jail and for the children of participants in Coffee With COIPP. What an amazing author! What an amazing evening! I highly encourage everyone to pick up one of her books at Curious Iguana Book store, one of our favorite partners. These books are so touching and are written from the heart.

Once again, these are only the highlights. The work goes on and on and is always done by volunteers. We now have a volunteer packet, we have a new brochure about to be printed, and we continue to do speaking engagements all over Frederick, as well as the state of Maryland.

I continue to hear from people from around the world who want advice about starting a group like ours or wish to share resources. All I can say is that this is some of the most gratifying work I have ever done and I am so lucky to be doing it amongst some of the finest, most passionate people/volunteers I have ever met. Here is to the COIPP volunteers!

July Blog

The Summer use to be a very quiet time for COIPP. That is no longer true. We have been going, going, going all of July and through the beginning of August. Here are just some of our updates:

Board Meeting

In July we held a one day retreat at the local library for all Board Members- and all attended! We talked about the history of COIPP, shared everything that we have done and are doing, planned for the Unity Campaign of Frederick, had committee updates, worked on present status and future plans for each committee, and even had time to make a video of why each of us volunteers for COIPP. Of course we all wore our brand new COIPP tee shirts with our wonderful Gingko Leaf logo for the video. Great day- so much accomplished.

COIPP/MHA Special Event

In the research on children with an incarcerated parent, one name stands out- Ann Adelist-Estrin. She is with Rutgers University and is known both nationally and internationally as the person with the knowledge on this topic. How exciting it was for us to get her request to visit our Parenting From Afar class at the Detention Center approved, and then to follow up the next day by spending all day with her and our MHA partners for our collaborative FIIP Program thanks to the Governor’s Grant. She loved our work-and had lots of helpful suggestions. As a result, the curriculum committee has continued to spend time editing our curriculum for the jail, adding a new chapter on the importance of telling the truth to children, moving chapters in our Instructor’s Manual around, and even separating a chapter in two so that we build relationships before we talk about the adverse influence a parent in jail may have on the child. We learn every day, love our Monday curriculum writing, and are so thrilled to have shared with and worked with the best.

Volunteer Packets

Just about every day people ask how they can volunteer for COIPP. Well, we now have the organization to do this and do it right. Thanks to the work of Melissa Stoey, marketing volunteer extraordinaire, and Cathy Anderson and Marisel Torres-Crespo, our two volunteer committee chairpersons, we now have a volunteer packet, with an application online. It has lots of great information and should make the sharing of COIPP with those wishing to help us out far easier than in the past. We will even have hard copies of the packet for those who wish to get their information the old-fashioned way.

Outreach Committee

Theresa Posthuma and Vanessa Thomas-Morris have been very busy with requests for immediate assistance from caregivers and those recently released from jail. They have been amassing all of the information needed to help a child in crisis, and they are prepared to share it with any parent/caregiver who calls. They have been busy giving out with gift cards, offering verbal assistance and also offering words of encouragement. The needs go up and down throughout the year, but the Summer months and the time before the winter holidays keeps these women hopping.

Coffee With COIPP

Nothing has grown so fast and so large as this new program, Every Friday we meet at Federated Charities to work with those who have been recently released from the jail or are in drug rehab and working to avoid jail. to offer topics that ultimately will assist the children in their live. We originally thought the meetings would be monthly, as stated in the past, but the group really wanted a weekly way to get together.

In July alone, we have had Delaplaine artist David Modler continue his work with our participants on visual journals, had Maria Haney back to talk about strength and self concept, had Greta Benson, one of our great Board members, teach participants to make watercolor cards for the children in their lives, have Board member Sally Smith share the making of bracelets with charms of hope, and so much more. We are now excited to build a ten session curriculum for all we have learned from our present group. It is important to once again state that the whole program has developed from the needs and wishes of those attending, and all speakers have voluntarily given of their time.

Children’s Activities

The Summer has not slowed this down. In July, thanks to volunteers from the Middletown United Methodist Church, a very successful morning at the Delaplaine was held. There were art activities indoors, chalk art outdoors, and even dogs trained for kindness visiting. We had quite a few participants- both children and their caregivers- and it could not have gone any better. This month, August, we will have our regular monthly Bowling Party, and begin planning for a day at Thorpewood for the children and those raising them.

The list of all we have been doing is so long. We have been writing grants, working on the Unity Campaign, planning for our Silent Auction on Tuesday, December 4 at McClintock Distillery, speaking at events, attending and benefitting from lots of outreach groups such as Souls of Love, working on new scholarship opportunities for participants and on and on and on. Stay tuned for next month’s updates!

May Memories and Highlights

We have been very busy over the last month. There are so many great memories, but we will share just a few highlights:

Coffee With COIPP

Our biggest new project has been our Coffee With COIPP sessions held every Friday afternoon for those recently released form jail. We have now been offering them for a number of Fridays and they have become very popular. Thanks to Federated Charities, we have a lovely Conference Room to use. Based on the interests of the participants, we have offered many kind of sessions including improving communication with oner’s kids, understanding the effect of trauma on children, helping with discipline and more. One of our best sessions just happened due to a collaboration with the Delaplaine Arts Center. This two week workshop introduced participants to the making of visual journals. It was a learning experience for all of us- and it was fabulous!!! We could not have done this without the financial help of the Frederick County Rotary!

Curriculum Work

Our curriculum work, thanks to the grant we share with the Frederick County Mental Health Association, and facilitated by the Local Management Board, is going extremely well. We received it through the Governors Committee.

We have now completed our third revision of our Parenting From Afar curriculum, the one we created for and use in our weekly Parenting Classes at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. The women really look forward to each session and according to our evaluations and testimonials, everyone seems to feel that they are highly beneficial.

Our work also includes the creation of workshops for caregivers and we are just hoping that the grant will be renewed. If you happen to be at Paneras on Monday night, you will find four of us working to ensure that all of our work is top notch!

Children’s Activities

Our children’s activities are going very well indeed. We had our monthly bowling event on a very rainy day. Even though it was wet and cold outside, we had a great time inside at Terrace Lanes. We will continue to have these monthly activities as we serve the children and their caregivers. They are always fun and always free, It has become our reoccurring, signature event. We are also going to be adding more and more activities, so stay tuned for new surprises.

Crisis Committee

Our Crisis Committee has been very busy at work. It is amazing how some seasons are busier than others, and early Spring often keeps us hopping. People have needed help with food, children’s clothing, and more- and we have been happy to be there. We are using not only stores, but community resources, and have found that we can really help families meet their needs.


We have been busy adding new scholarships as we continue to collaborate with Frederick Community College. We offer financial assistance to those full time caregivers for a child with an incarcerated parent, and we have added scholarships for those recently released parents who want to attend FCC, even if it is part time. We are very excited about this, and cannot wait to meet our new scholarship recipients. Many thanks to the Frederick Women’s Giving Circle for the help they have given us through our past and future scholarship grants.


Workshops for caregivers come in many forms. This month we were able to work with staff from Lucas Village and share information on ‘Helping Children Deal with Their Feelings’, Adverse Children’s Experiences, and helping children and families deal with trauma. The staff was terrific- and kept the sharing and discussion alive with insights and personal reflections. Now they are ready to share with the parents they work with and to perhaps offer formal workshops, assisted by COIPP. Partnerships are always the way to go!

Community Outreach

We like working in the community and this month has not been an exception. Shari talked to Community Liaisons, Dana Wile’s fourth grade class at Tuscarora E.S., church groups and others. We always try to educate the community about this issue and love to share all we have learned, as well as our work. Just get in contact with us if interested.

5th Annual Silent Auction

Save the date: Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Plans are well underway for our 5th Annual Silent Auction. This year we will be at McClintock’s Distillery in downtown Frederick and we already know it will be better than ever before. Be sure to plan to come!

Parenting From Afar Class Updates

Our Parenting From Afar Parenting classes continued to thrive in April, even though there were many lockdowns throughout the April month. The women continued to celebrate one another and their children. We really enjoy  the last evening the most, the time the women get to go ‘shopping’ for children’s books while others make water color cards for each child.

Cathy and Shari go every Wednesday night, regardless of the weather, for the women are really look forward to this opportunity. All through the month, former class participants continued to return just to take part in the classes. Thanks to our MHA collaboration and a Maryland Governor’s Grant, supported by our Frederick Local Management Board, Cathy, Shari, Cindi and Marisel meet every Monday night to write and edit our ‘home grown’ Parenting From Afar Curriculum. 

What an honor it has been to have national expert Ann Adelist- Estrin come to Frederick several times to work with COIPP and MHA personnel. This was Ann’s second time just with us, but some of us have also heard her many times in the state and at national and international conferences. Ann will be returning in July, will be visiting our Parenting From Afar class at FCADC, and will be reviewing our curriculum. April’s meeting was filled with positives as well as areas for growth. Our Monday night curriculum meetings may never end. 

April Updates

National Conference Attendance

We were really proud to present at the first National Conference on Children with an Incarcerated Parent. Put together by Arizona State University, it had researchers and practitioners in attendance. Shari, our Executive  Director, presented two sessions, one being an overview of COIPP and a second being about Coffee With COIPP, our newest initiative that serves those recently released. In addition to Shari, our co-presidents, Cindi and Donna, and our corresponding secretary, Shirley, were all in attendance. We came back filled with new ideas. 

Children’s Activities

Our children’s activities are off to a great, new beginning. We now have bowling parties planned for the fourth Saturday of every month. We attracted a number of participants our first month, and can see expansion in the future. Activities are always free, include refreshments, and are put together just for fun. Thanks to Gretta and Sue, two extraordinary COIPP board members, the children and caregivers will have a growing list of fun activities. 


A two part workshop was held at the Mental Health Association. Very well attended, Shari, our Executive Director, offered strategies and resources to help caregivers work with their children when there are negative feelings, especially those of anger. A third session is being done by MHA on self care for caregivers themselves. The evaluations were all in the excellent range and we look forward to continuing the great MHA-COIPP partnership. 

Crisis Committee

The Crisis Committee has been overwhelmingly busy. Needs from those recently released from jail to caregivers who are having a difficult time supplying groceries and clothes for the kids have filled our plate. Vanessa and Theresa, two of our Board members, have been meeting with and talking to those who reach out to us for help.  So far we have been able to meet all needs.

Grant Award 

Great news from the Frederick County Government. Through a competitive process, we were awarded a $14,500 grant to assist us in our Coffee With COIPP initiative. We will be able to add transportation, childcare and writing of a curriculum for these sessions. Larissa, Sally, Patty and Shari have taken the leadership, and we are all thrilled to see where this part of our journey takes us. Thanks goes to Pat for taking the lead on this grant application 

Coffee With COIPP

Great addition to COIPP. Every Friday afternoon we have Coffee With COIPP, meetings for those who may have just gotten out of jail. We talk about parenting and personal situations that the group brings up, learn about issues such as Adverse Childhood Experiences, stress and depression, and always end with a giveaway. The group asked for weekly meetings and we are happy to oblige.