June, 2020

Just had a call from R…. Thanks so much for everything you all did for that extended family today…. This reduces R…’s stress immensely, and the prenatal stress on T….; want to see her through a full-term pregnancy. Onward-

Email received from someone who recommended that a family attend our Covid
Emergency Giveaway

June found us doing more of what we have done so well over the past few months. Our families have many needs, and we continue to do what we can to help our children and keep our families connected. Some of the activities mentioned below may be repetitive of those we mentioned in March, April and May. However, we keep learning, adding new  families, and distributing our resources in a new way.

Fundraising Planning- COIPP has started to plan for the future. We have started spending time building our knowledge base about fundraising in these new times, and beginning to organize our plans. As all non profit Boards know, we are very concerned about our ability to raise enough money given these very surprising times. We have used this month, last month, and probably months to come, to begin to plan how we will raise enough to keep our budget in the black.  We have attended Zoom meetings from non-profit fundraising organizations, met with one another from a distance, attended on line fund raisers for other organizations, talked to other non profits, and started to analyze our needs. Our Fundraising Committee is about to meet. We encourage anyone who has interesting ideas to share them with us via email- coippfredderick@yahoo.com– or better yet join us at our fundraising meetings. Just get in touch and we will send more information.

Fourth COVID Emergency Giveaway- COIPP continues to reach out to our caregivers. The fourth COVID Emergency Giveaway that we held this month was another great success. Thanks to the organization of Gretta Benson and Sue Guissinger, we had bags filled with snacks and summer drinks. Theresa Posthuma picked up a gallon of hand sanitizer for each family, donated by McClintocks Distillery. She added squirt bottles, so that the cleaner could keep being replenished by being in a manageable size. This was a very generous donation, and we are very grateful. We added sizable gift cards to Giant Eagle, and McDonalds, and we were ready. Almost 30 families participated- and there was everything from cheers, thank you’s, and tears as we gave out all of the needed materials. Gretta even met with all caregivers with children over 10 so that they can be ready for a journal activity she is leading over the Summer. What a great day. We gave out just what is needed and lifted many worried hearts.

Curriculum Writing- COIPP continues to write curriculum. Every week through our partnership with the Mental Health Association and our joint program called Families Impacted by Incarceration (FIIP), Marisel Torres Crespo, Cathy Anderson, Cindi Diamondstone and I meet to write curriculum. During COVID, we have completed the third in a series of workshop guides. We now have Instructor’s Guides and Participants Handbooks for Building Resilience in Children, Helping Children Deal with Loss, and Feelings.  As of this writing, we are getting ready to present in at least four different venues.  This may take place through Zoom, or in person with social distancing. Either way, we are ready to go.  

Read Alouds- COIPP has stayed in touch with our children through the reading of quality ‘books aloud’. With the assistance of Curious Iguana Book Store helping choose timely, new books, I have been able to read books with themes that are important for today. For example, I just read two, one focusing on inclusion of all, and the other with the theme of always trying one’s best.  I am near completion of 70 read alouds. For the Summer, I am cutting down to 2 read aloud a week, different from the one a day of the past four months. Sue Guissinger and Gretta Benson are quick to get them right into the hands of the families we work with.

Plans for New Respite Meeting- COIPP had just completed the third in a series of Respite meetings for caregivers when COVID hit. Respite was a time for caregivers to come together, utilize the childcare we provided, have dinner and do some simple, fun activities with others who are raising children impacted by incarceration. Thanks to a group that includes Cathy Anderson, Sally Smith, Larissa Metzger, Cindi Diamondstone and myself, we are going to try to do this via Zoom with caregivers.  We have used June to do the planning and advertising. Larissa Metzger, our very talented Board member and also a staff member at MHA, has advertised the event, put together posters and flyers, and is about to send out notice about meeting dates. Stay tuned to find out how our first effort using technology with our participants works out. We are going to use that time with caregivers to find out what else
we can do to serve families.  

Postcards- COIPP knows the importance of family connections. Later this week we will be delivering our fourth round of postcards to the jail. Research tells us that recidivism doesn’t happen as much if the person who gets out of jail is connected with their families. In addition, the children miss their parents and need to stay connected. With this in mind, our Board has decided to keep bringing postcards over to the jail so that all can stay in touch with families. We stamp COIPP on each one. Our plan is to keep doing this until visits are back. 

We continue to attend meetings on building the best Board possible, apply for grants, encourage donations through different types of outreach-and, most importantly, serve our families by getting them what they need when they need it. This past month that meant distributing children’s books to some, giving gift cards to others, and helping find furnishings for a new apartment for another family. One thing we do know: our work is far from done.

If you are interested in attending any board meetings, you are always invited. Right now we ‘Zoom’ meet the second Friday of each month from 1:00-3:00. Just get in touch so that we can share the specifics: Coippfrederick@yahoo.com.

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