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.

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