February, 2021

Oh What A Month It Was! 

“Thank you Ms. Shari for all of the boxes you have given me. The resources really 
helped me during quarantine.  If you didn’t give me any of these toys/books I would probably be even more bored. I really appreciate everything you have given me
during these hard times.”

Written by a child upon receipt of the newest Family Resource Box

Meet some special COIPP supporters:

You have often read about the extra support we get from Marlene and Tom England, owners of Curious iguana Book Store and Dancing Bear Toy Store in downtown Frederick. While we cannot say enough about the quality of the resources we purchase from their stores and the discounts they send our way, it is how they go far beyond the usual work of similar stores that make them true COIPP heroes. They fundraise for COIPP, call when new, appropriate resources arrive, keep us apprised of new books that are published on topics of particular interest to our children, individualize the contents of Family Resource Boxes we mail out, donate money to the cause and even take extra time out of their day to talk with COIPP participants who drop by. I would be remiss not to mention that not only Tom and Marlene deserve big thanks. Their entire staff works tirelessly to help COIPP.  This has been a team effort. Thanks to these cheerleaders who help us every day.

Unity Campaign

We are once again part of the United Way Unity Campaign. This fundraiser for Frederick’s non-profits is our largest fundraiser of the year. There is a partial match of money thanks to the generosity of corporations and businesses throughout Frederick.  Due to the generosity of our donors, we have been able to increase the goal originally requested for this year. If you help us, we will not only be able to continue our present work, but expand programs and add to the resources we distribute. Please consider making a donation. Text Unity202156 to 71777 or go to the following link to make a donation:


Highlights of This Month’s Activities

Gail House Classes- Through March of 2020, we offered classes at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center (FCADC) for parents who were incarcerated. Due to COVID, all in person visits and classes were ended.  However, this month we started on a new journey. We are now teaching Parenting From Afar to women at the Gail House, a residential drug treatment program in Frederick. We do this via Zoom. We hope to bring the same course to the men at Olson House. A huge shout out goes to our colleagues at the Mental Health Association and our collaborative program called Families Impacted by Incarceration Program (FIIP).

Expanded Children’s Activities- February was the month for some new beginnings. We added juggling lessons and demonstrations by Christian Kloc, an amazing, talented, patient young man. Katie from Thorpewood created some videos about the Thorpewood Farm and allowed us to send these fabulous videos to our children. Add in a nature walk we were able to do at Staley Park with both children and caregivers, all of whom wore masks, and we have a month filled with success.

Workshops- This month we had the honor of doing the first of a two-session workshop for Healthy Families. It was all about Children and Their Feelings and was designed to share strategies and resources to help children through anger, sadness and trauma. We are very excited to have this opportunity through the Mental Health Association. We have a number of additional workshops planned and always enjoy the opportunities this brings.

Respite Meeting- This month we held our always popular Respite Meeting. We focused on Family Activities and things to do during inclement weather. We were able to purchase a high quality age appropriate board game for every family and a gift card to a grocery store.  These have become favorite monthly events and we are always looking forward to the next one and we hope to expand these opportunities.

So much more is taking place. We spoke to the Board members of Standing Firm Against Frederick’s Homelessness (Steadfast), to mentors at I Believe In Me and more. We added an Advisory Committee to COIPP and completed our 2020 Annual Report To The Community. Our fundraising committee and social media group kept going forward. We staffed our office every Wednesday and kept working on website migration and data collection. We had the honor of picking up a collection of hygiene supplies donated by Lisa Barber and the staff at La Petite Childcare Center. In all, as much was happening behind the scenes as in front.

Ongoing Fundraisers

  • Gingko Leaf Note Cards designed by Christine Wilson (5 for $15). If you are interested in purchasing a packet, message Shari or email coippfrederick@yahoo.com
  • Stacey Krantz, InBloom Jewelry, has designed a one-of-a-kind Sterling Silver Necklace, Resilience. The pendant is in the shape of a gingko leaf. Profits from the sale of these necklaces are donated to COIPP.

If you are interested in attending our Board meetings, please let us know. We meet via ZOOM, the second Friday of each month fromnoon-2:00. Just get in touch so we can share the specifics: coippfrederick@yahoo.com

Check out our Website, coipp.org if you are interested in volunteering with us. It does take a village, and as always, we are truly grateful for your support.

In the meantime, please continue to take care, and stay safe and healthy!

January, 2021

“They help out children who have an incarcerated parent and also also help out the caregivers who are caring for the children of incarcerated parents.  Truly an amazing organization.”

Participant in COIPP and present board member

Attention! Attention! Attention! An Important Fundraiser is here!

A committee, led by Sally Smith, has been working hard on fundraising ideas. We know that given the plight of our families and our need to pivot in recent months, we have to keep fund raising and hopefully raise more than ever before. Our biggest fundraiser of the year has started- and our fundraising committee is ready. Through the Unity Campaign, facilitated by the United Way, we not only raise funds, but we receive a partial match for all donations we receive. Board members are busy attending workshops on fundraising, coming up with new and exciting ideas, publicizing our events, and initiating lots of creative activities.  Please note that anyone who wishes to donate to the Unity Campaign, should do so by going to www.Unityfrederick.com, find Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership (COIPP), and make a donation. Donations can also be be made by texting Unity202156 to 71777. A check written to Unity Campaign with COIPP written in the memo line, can be sent to us at: COIPP, 22 South Market Street, Suite 101A, Frederick, Md. 21701. We will deliver it to the United Way.

Highlighting Members of the COIPP Team

In the next few weeks I want to highlight some amazing people. This month, we wish to say a huge thank you to Sam and Julie Castleman. They have attended events, brought their farm animals to picnics, donated used appliances and desks to some of our participants, and opened their farm to some of our families. Katie, who works with them, has even created some fabulous ‘farm’ videos for us to share with our children. We highlight them not only for what they have done, but for how they do all of this in their humble way. Never judgmental, they follow their hearts. I post this for I hope it will make each of us think about what we can do to help a family.

While many are finding the time of COVID to be one of personal boredom, this is not true for the members of COIPP.  We are busy-and we keep finding new ways to help.  Some January highlights are below.

Covid Emergency Giveaways (CEG)– Once again we held another COVID Emergency Giveaway (CEG) this month.  We had close to 45 participating families who drove by as we placed bags of goodies, children’s books, handmade quilts in their cars- and followed with a gift card for groceries.  What always impresses us is how very appreciative the participants are. There are always words of gratitude and some tears. A wonderful addition to CEG over the past few months is the work of Sally Selby. She has been volunteering with us for a long time, but now she is really digging deep. She finds out not only the ages and genders of the children, but also their personal interests. She then finds books for that specific child.  This month she bagged 163 books and gave them out to 39 caregivers. Amazing! 

Staying Connected- Can you picture yourself as a child with a parent in jail? Your family has little money, and you cannot visit your loved one due to COVID restrictions. We are very aware of the trauma this can cause. We  once again stamped our logo on hundreds of pre stamped postcards and delivered them to the Frederick County Adult Detention Center. All the research tells us that staying connected is what keeps people from recidivism and keeps families together.  Hopefully the postcards will help. I just ordered 600 more; this is an ongoing COIPP project in the time of COVID. 

Respite Meeting- Each month we have a Respite Meeting for a group of caregivers. January was no exception. This month we focused on getting ready for Valentine’s Days, imagining a perfect day, and sharing how one can take care of oneself during these difficult times. The women in the group are fantastic- and the sharing never stops. Thank you goes to all the participants and the group of volunteers who work each month to make this happen. It is one of my very favorite activities- and we are working to expand to other caregivers through workshops over the next few months. 

A Growing Collaboration with the Mental Health Organization (MHA)- We have had a collaboration with MHA for a number of years. However, it seems to grow stronger and stronger as we continue to work together.  Weekly four of our COIPP members meet to review and create workshops and parenting curriculum. We then meet regularly with MHA staff to plan and share. We have been very busy working with MHA so that we can begin to teach Parenting From Afar at the Gail House, a residential drug treatment center in Frederick.  Our new work at Gail House begins as February begins- and given all of the support we get through this collaboration, we are ready and raring to get started. 

Time For Bingo– As we keep finding ways to stay connected with children, we continued to have a monthly Bingogame in January. And what fun it was! Thanks again to Howie for assisting me with the number calling- and special thanks to Gretta Benson for once again organizing the event. We had a great time- and the winners all received small prizes for their winning ways. At the CEG, Gretta gave out more bingo boards and chips to all of our families. We want to make sure that we have more games- and that everyone has the resources they need to attend, or to play within their families.

There continues to be so much more work completed behind the scenes. This month we focused on applying for more grants, putting the final touches on Family Resource Boxes, funded by both the Delaplaine Foundation and the Rotary of Frederick, working on the building of our data base, migrating our website, attending workshops on equity and much more. In addition, I had the honor of speaking at the Frederick County Retired School Personnel Association. The work never ends- but neither does the fun!

Are you looking for a perfect book for the child in your life? Marlene England and Curious Iguana Book Store has stepped up. A new book called Milo Imagines the World, written by Matt de la Pena, Newberry ward winning author, and illustrated by Christian Robinson, Caldecott honor-winning illustrator, has just come out. The Curious iguana Book Store in downtown Frederick is giving us $5.00 for each book sold- and they are donating 25 autographed copies of the book to COIPP. I just bought several copies for my grand daughters. I hope you will do the same; the book’s message is important.

December 2020

“And the year finally comes to an end”

“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to be… I just want to thank you guys for everything you all have done for my girls and I. Love 🙏🏾❤️ Please stay safe.” 

Like all of us, I look forward to the end of 2020. What a year it has been! Our most used words seem to be “pivot”, “doing a 180”, and “Zoom”. With all of that said, we never slow down. We have been up to the new challenges by adding new activities, as well as altering old activities. Below are just some of the December highlights. However, first a huge thank you goes to every member of the COIPP board. Our officers are: Sally Smith, President; Pat Rosensteel, Vice President; Theresa Posthuma, Treasurer; Gretta Benson, Recording Secretary, Shirley Smith, Corresponding Secretary and Cindi Diamondstone, past president.  Others on our board include: Ally Elspas, Cathy Anderson, Pat Einhorn, Vanessa Thomas-Morris, Sue Guissinger, and Larissa Metzger,  

Respite Family Meeting– What could be better than children and caregivers, Santa and lots of helpful elves? 
December brought us a new twist on our ongoing monthly respite meetings. This time we asked the caregivers to bring their children to the meeting, and we centered it around giving, great memories, and wishes for the future. Unbelievably, Santa stopped by. (Thank you Mark Posthuma who seems to know Santa personally.) We all had a great time and look forward to repeating this activity for years to come. 

Covid Emergency Giveaway– Picture a long line of cars and happy, thankful caregivers and children, all with big smiles.
We held another giveaway this month. This time we had 42 participants drive by to get bags of resources, cookies donated by Milk Bar, and a gift card for food. Our numbers continue to grow each month. By the way, Santa was ever so kind and even made a stop at this COIPP event. What was interesting was the number of children who asked Santa to take a photo with them, something they have missed out on this year. We love having friends in high places. 

Zoom Bingo– What a great afternoon with COIPP. 
This month we tried our first Zoom activity with the children. Thanks to the organizational skills of Gretta Benson, and the Bingo assistance of Howie Scher, we were able to hold our very first Zoom children’s activity –– and it was a great success. On a Saturday in December over 35 caregivers and their children joined in the fun. We already have planned our second such fun time and hope to do many more. 

Hooray for City Youth Matrix– There is nothing as touching as one nonprofit giving to another. That is Frederick collaboration. 
Aaron Vetter and City Youth Matrix came up with a kind offer that amazed us.  They were given a donation of 50 gift cards for $175 each from a Clarksburg church. City Youth Matrix had the need for 30 of them, and offered both us and I Believe In Me the rest of the cards. We used them for our families that have been attending Respite meetings. Frederick is a community that prides itself on its giving.  This is a prime example. We cannot thank City Youth Matrix enough! 

Holiday Donations– Even during Covid, hearts are huge.
Thanks to the generosity of others, many of our families have received extra assistance for the holidays. This has come in the form of face masks, books, hygiene supplies, and financial donations to COIPP.  I will share the donations of just two community members.  A huge thank you is offered to a local music store owner who called with a brand new music jam set. I later told him that it was difficult deciding between two COIPP volunteers who both have  incarceration in their families. Days later I received another call from the same owner who had an anonymous donation of a brand new keyboard.  We were able to bring joy to both families.  We also had a huge monetary donation where the donor asked that families be directly assisted for the holidays. We have been able to use this money to help us with gift cards for January, a time when donations are usually down. There have been so many donations –– too many to name. 

Fundraising Video– Difficult times call for new strategies. 
Thanks to the hard work of the fundraising committee, and specifically Pat Rosensteel, we have produced a video for potential donors. It focuses on how each donation can help our families meet their basic needs. We are hoping that this video will encourage those who already support us to think of us again, and for those who do not know about what we do to come forward with a monetary donation. 

Postcard delivery– We help keep the communication alive.
There are currently no visits at the local jail. While some have been able to remain connected to their children through the use of iPads now available at the jail, some have not. We therefore continued to deliver pre-stamped post cards for the current jail population. In this way, all can write notes to their children and keep the bond that helps all. 

Governors Award– COIPP has had a year of recognition, ending with the following.
I would be remiss not to share my excitement about receiving the Governor’s Award for  Outstanding Volunteer in Maryland. This award may have been given to me, but in truth, it is a recognition of the hard work done by the COIPP board and volunteers. Without their everyday work and ongoing efforts, this never would have happened. I want to say “thank you” to Pat Rosensteel for the nomination and a “thank you” to everyone who makes COIPP just what it is –– the best nonprofit in town! 

There have been so many additional COIPP activities. Our office has been open on Wednesdays from 11am-1:00pm so that we can welcome those who stop by. I was on the University of Maryland podcast in the Center for Ethics and Justice talking about COIPP and all we do. I spoke at Orienda Center in Sabillasville to those who are in drug rehab and working towards reunification with their children. A group of us have been in planning meetings with Gail House so that we can begin doing weekly parenting classes with the women who reside there. We are working with at technical support program, CIVI, and are just about ready to migrate our web. Our list is long, but the blog only covers the highlights.

November, 2020

“Thank you so much for the help you all don’t know how much it means to me and my family. Especially that gift card we can get so much things with that and I been struggling financially bc I have no job and it’s the holidays and I don’t want to not be able to get anybody presents. My girl has money but I hate not being able to contribute so from the bottom of my heart thank you so much!!”

Testimony (Following November Covid Giveaway 2020)

How can it be November? I feel as though the months are passing at breakneck speed. Here are just a few of our highlights; they never capture all of the work that is being done every single day.

Sharing Fair– Our monthly numbers for our COVID Emergency Giveaways keep growing. In November we had 42 families participate, up from the original 11 several months ago. These are tough times for sure, and we know how important these events are. We have also learned how to do the giveaway quickly, following the rules of COVID. The line moves right along, starting with receiving a bag of goodies, and a gift card, diaper pickup when needed, ending with book pickup for the children. All of this begins and ends in one hour. Interestingly, there is a group of cars always waiting for us even before we open. What is also of interest is that families must sign up in advance. Just about every family shows up. This shows the importance of the event.

Workshops– One of the activities we continue to have is our Workshop for caregivers and others. Our Respite Meeting this month was dedicated to Part 2 of a workshop we began in October on “Helping Children Manage Their Feelings”. Our participants gave it an enthusiastic two thumbs up. This month I presented at I Believe In Me and offered the same workshop. It was extremely well received by the 15-20 participants. Because of COVID, we decided to postpone Part 2. In truth, so many folks liked it that they did not want to lose momentum by moving it all to Zoom. This turned out to be a great collaborative event. Earlier this month I made my second visit to Orenda House, a drug rehab house Sabillasville. Initiated by Brandon Chapman, this will be a monthly happening. It is a great way to introduce the residents to COIPP, and to share with the 30-or-so women some information on child development, including trauma, ACEs and each of their effects on children.

Fundraising– Though it is not always “sexy”, fundraising is one of the biggest things we tackle. Without it, we would not have all of the great activities that COIPP is known for. This month we have been working on a script for an “Animoto” video that we will air in December and a Giving Tuesday request for Facebook and Twitter. Prior to this, we sent out our first attempt at a fundraising letter, mentioned in a prior blog. Thanks to all of those who wrote and edited (and edited and edited) the letter; as of today, the last day of November, we raised almost $9,000. This is amazing! However, the needs of our participants are many, and we are not having any shortage of ideas on how we can add COVID restricted activities so that we keep giving our families all that they need.

Grant Writing– The life of a nonprofit can depend on grants. We are no different. This month and in recent months, we completed or worked on our application for grants from the Delaplaine Foundation, The Frederick Rotary, Fredrick County CPG requests, and more. We have also been busy advertising for a grant researcher, a part-time job for the coming year, thanks to another grant we received. It was recently shared as a national statistic that, as a result of COVID, only 1/3 of nonprofits will remain active. We have been fortunate to receive many of the grants we have applied for, but this work never ends.

In addition to all of the above, many of us have attended workshops on a variety of topics including science of the brain, cultural sensitivity, FIIP discussion with author and professor
Dr. Avon Hart-Johnson, grant writing and much more. In addition, we continue to work on preparing for the migration of our website, preparation for creating a database for both our caregivers and our donors, learning about fundraising approaches and so much more.

Now let’s see what December brings our way. I know it will never be boring.

Have a very happy holiday season-and stay safe!

Shari Ostrow Scher
Executive Director