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.

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