Monday, December 10, 2012

Can You Help These Kids?

I received a call this morning and as a parent this just breaks my heart... The Villages' Northeast Region does not have a sponsor this holiday season and the staff in those offices have been working diligently on trying to find community partners to help provide gifts for the kids that they serve.  Sadly, they can't find anyone which means that nearly 100 children could go without Christmas.  Can you imagine your child waking up on Christmas morning and not having a single gift under the tree?  I'm hoping that the power of social media will help us collect some much needed toys, games, books, etc. for the kids served by The Villages in Northwestern Indiana. 

Below are the kids names who need support and their ages.  We are looking for one NEW toy to give to each of these kids.  It doesn't have to be much...maybe $20-$25.  Our only requirement is that these gifts be new.  If you can help please pick up a gift and drop it by one of The Villages' offices in Elkart, Marion, Fort Wayne or Indianapolis (let us know it's for the Northeast Region and we'll make sure it gets there!) 

Thank you in advance for your help.  I know that this weekend when I'm finishing my Christmas shopping I'll pick up a few extra toys...and I hope you will too!


(Name, Age)
Anthony, 10
Ashtin, 11
Austin, 4
Blaine, 7
Bradin, 3
Braeden, 9
Breion, 4
Christopher, 7
Dakota, 13
Dathyn, 11
Devarious, 2
Devin, 4
Dylan, 9
Eddie, 14
Elijah, 4
Elijah, 8
Ethan, 4
Greg, Jr., 12
Illario, 4
Isaiah, 2
Ja’Vionne, 12
Jayden, 4
Jayden, 7 months
Jayden, 8
JD , 8
Jeremyah, 2
Jerrimiah, 10
Jordon, 9
Julian, 10
Kani, 3
Keeian, 15
Koen, 7 months
Kyle, 14
Kyren, 7
Lukus, 13
Martin, 1
Mathew, 5
Nathaniel, 6
Nathaniel, 9
Noah, 3
Octavio, 5
Paul, 16
R.J, 3
RJ, 10
Roman, 1
Ryan, 11 (medically fragile, non-verbal/mobile)
Sean, 6
Therron, 5
Zackary, 3
(49 Total Boys)

(Name, Age)
Akasha, 5
Alexis, 5
Aliyah, 1
Amberis, 15
Angel, 18
Audreauna, 8
Azaria, 4
Brianna, 5
Cherish, 15
Courtney, 12
Cynthia, 15
Donetta, 16
Elizah, 1
Emma, 6
Evealynn, 1
Jaquanna, 13
Jenna, 5 months
Kala, 18
Kaniya, 7
Kim, 18
Kristina, 3
Kyanna, 5
Layla, 6
Madalynn, 1 ½
Madelyn, 3
Maikala, 16
Marinna, 15
Meika, 14
Myasia, 6
Nakkita, 8
Nevaeh, 2
Nevaeh, infant
Raven, 9
Razioa, 3
Tanisha, 10
Taylor, 12
Thallia, 7
Tlijah, 7
Tomya, infant
Troie, 15
Ty’Shay, 1
Whitney, 11
Xyann, 11
Yahida, 14
(44 Total Girls)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Staff Spotlight: Nancy Yeakle

Nancy Yeakle is an Administrative Assistance in The Villages’ Marion-Anderson Office and has been with The Villages for seven years. Nancy manages, organizes and prioritizes the operation of her office while assisting direct-care staff. She works with the foster families in her region to ensure their licensing is current, plans trainings for staff, and organizes support groups for clients. Nancy also fosters relationships with outside companies who support the Marion-Anderson foster children and families. We recently ask Nancy a few questions about her job assisting The Villages in their mission of championing families and children.

The Villages: Why did you choose a career in child welfare?

Nancy: I love working with families and children.

The Villages: Please share one inspiring experience you had in the last year?

Nancy: Last summer our region had a support group for pool safety. The party was at the city pool and we were the only ones there! All of our foster parents and their children (foster, adopted, and biological children) and staff from our office were there. We had a pitch in and it was awesome…just like one big family.

The Villages: What can the community do to help you, and The Villages, better serve vulnerable children and families?

Nancy: Be aware that we are here to help children and families.

The Villages: What is your wish for The Villages and/or the children you work with?

Nancy: For The Villages to continue helping children and families to become happy and bonded!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thanks for Helping us CHAIRish Children

The 2012 CHAIRish the Children event and auction, presented by the Mac Fehsenfeld Family Foundation, was once again a success! Many of the guests to attended the November 9th special event said that this year’s chairs were the best they’ve ever seen. The Villages’ and Prevent Child Abuse Indiana raised over $13,000 that will help support our child abuse prevention programs and services. 
CHAIRish the Children is an annual event where ordinary wooden chairs are transformed by local artists into unique works of art. This year, there were owl-themed benches and table/chair sets, adorable doll chairs, elegant arm chairs, and an Indiana Pacers autographed rocking chair. In its 5th consecutive year, The Villages’ and Prevent Child Abuse Indiana’s CHAIRish the Children event has become a much anticipated event in Indianapolis, and a model for other chair-themed events across the country.

On behalf of the children and families we are privileged to serve thank you to everyone who show support of this important event by generously bidding on the 2012 CHAIRish the Children collection; to our generous sponsors who made this event possible – especially the Mac Fehsenfeld Family Foundation; and to the 35 artists who donated their time and talent to create the amazing chairs featured in our auction. Our next CHAIRish the Children event is already being planned so check our website often for updates!


The Faces of Hope ... Results That Matter

Each and every member of The Villages’ family … our dedicated staff, our invested Board Members, our gracious volunteers, and our heroic foster and adoptive families … share a passion for helping those we are privileged to serve achieve great results! Despite the drastic funding reductions The Villages has experienced during the past four years, we’ve "defied the odds" and made certain that we continue to help every child, youth and family we serve fulfill their potential --- while The Villages help them heal!

ERICKA is a remarkable young woman you’ll learn about on these pages, whose determination and energy charges our batteries daily! Despite a very traumatic childhood, Ericka has graduated from high school, is immersed in her college classes, and has selflessly taken on the responsibility of being the guardian and caregiver for her younger brother --- a young man who was recently discharged from a residential care center. As if all these roles aren’t enough to fill each busy day, Ericka also holds down a job! What a testimony Ericka, and the other 1,400 children served through The Villages, is to our organization’s commitment to results for each child!

JASON, ANDREA and their twin brothers, MARK and MICHAEL are among the 482 children served by The Villages in only ONE foster home while they were with The Villages! Of the 581 children cared for by The Villages’ heroic foster families in 2011, 83% FOUND STABILITY BY BEING IN ONLY ONE FOSTER HOME … an outcome which is among the best in our nation for children who have been abused or neglected by their parents and must be removed from their family of origin. The Villages has a relentless commitment to "matching" each child we are honored to serve in foster care with a foster family which reflects the same ethnicity, geography, and spirituality of the child. The outcome of this intentional, child-centered approach is STABILITY for those nearly 600 children!

The story for Jason, Andrea, Mark and Michael underscores, once more, The Villages’ "passion for permanency" … for they were all ADOPTED by that ONE foster family with whom they lived for nine months … creating a FOREVER FAMILY for these siblings!

It was with trepidation that JEREMY agreed to attend the DADS INC. FAIRY TALE BALL last November with his ten-year-old daughter, Aniya! Why? Because Jeremy had just been released from prison for stealing and had not had any one on one time with his daughter for over two years. Determined to be a better father, Jeremy agreed to create a new beginning with Aniya --- and that is exactly what happened! Thanks to generous DADS INC. and VILLAGES’ DONORS, Jeremy and Aniya had a magical evening … complete with a tuxedo for Jeremy and a new dress for Aniya! Now, they are seeing each other every week … creating a newly established father-daughter bond which will last a lifetime!

Perhaps one of The Villages’ former youth best described why STABILTY, PERMANENCY and RESULTS are so integral to our work when she responded recently on The Villages’ Facebook page!
"I wanted to send a small note telling you how wonderful your organization is. As a child I lived in your Bedford Indiana home. I never knew what a real family was until I lived there. I was taught a lot. I had never felt safe or loved by an adult until I was placed there. It changed my life, and the values I learned there as a child I have carried into my adulthood and passed onto my three children not only made my life better but gave me the skills I needed to make a loving safe environment to raise my own children. Thank you and god bless everyone involved with your organization! You really are changing lives and making a difference!!! God Bless!"

Children, youth and families are vulnerable in every neighborhood and community! But thanks to each of you, The Villages is able to respond to those vital needs! Lives are changed … futures are brighter … and, yes, RESULTS MATTER!

Our deepest thanks for ALL you do to help transform helplessness to HOPE!

With Deepest Gratitude,
Sharon Pierce
President and CEO, The Villages

Sponsor a Villages' Child for the Holidays

Every year, The Villages conducts a holiday support campaign to collect gifts for the 1,400 children served each day throughout Indiana…and each year they are humbled by the generosity of their donors and community partners. In 2011, EVERY Villages’ child and their families received some form of holiday support: 
  • The Murphy family was adopted by a local church who shopped off their wish list and got each child in the family everything they asked for!
  • K’Shawna, who recently aged out of foster care and is living on her own, received a Walmart gift card so she could buy groceries and household items. 
  • Brandon’s name was selected from a Giving Tree hosted by a local business and he opened a Nintendo DS on Christmas morning!
Today, we are asking you to help us spread holiday cheer to The Villages’ children and their families. You can make someone’s Christmas brighter by shopping from one of The Villages’ children’s wish list … by providing gifts and a meal for one of our Kinship Care families … or by purchasing a gift card to give to a Villages’ youth who is living on his or her own and needs help buying groceries, household goods, and personal items.

If you are interested in providing holiday support to the hundreds of Villages’ children in need, please contact Brandi Freeman at or call 1-800-874-6880.  We have the opportunity NOW to let these special kids know that someone cherishes them … and to show these heroic families that they will continue to have the support they need to care for their children. In many cases, it truly takes the "whole village" to raise a child, and you are a very important part of the amazing team that willingly rises to the occasion!

Empowering Families

The Villages and the Children’s Museum are celebrating the role of nurturing adults in the lives of children, and raising awareness of the importance of fostering in the newly redesigned Take Action area of the Museum’s humanities gallery space, The Power of Children: Making a Difference. "Being a partner with the Children's Museum is an invaluable opportunity for The Villages to recruit dedicated foster parents who will make a life-changing impact on the abused and neglected children The Villages is so privileged to serve", said Sharon Pierce, President and CEO.

Thanks to a generous gift from the LDI, Ltd. and the LDI 100th Anniversary Celebration Cultural Partnership Gift Program, the Children’s Museum will be opening a redesign of the Take Action area of The Power of Children: Making a Difference permanent exhibition. This exhibit shares the extraordinary stories of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges and Ryan White; and engages children and families to explore issues of isolation, fear and prejudice throughout 20th century history and today.

In the newly redesigned Take Action area of the gallery three local organizations will be featured to promote mentoring (Big Brothers, Big Sisters), fostering (The Villages), and adoption (Indiana Department of Child Services). The area will encourage families to think and discuss ways to get involved in positive community action. The Villages’ provided stories of children whose lives were transformed by receiving love and stability from their foster families. "Caring adults CAN and DO make a difference in the lives of the children they serve," commented Sharon. "We hope that the stories we are sharing out foster children will inspire families to become foster parents with The Villages."

We hope you will all visit the Children’s Museum soon and take a moment to learn more about The Villages’ Foster Care Program. If you, or someone you know, is interested in fostering please have them call The Villages at 800.874.6880.

Monday, October 22, 2012

CHAIRish 2012: Artist Spotlight, Janet Skinner

Whooo? Whoooo? Who is our latest artist spotlight?  Why, it's Janet Skinner, who had our young, sweet children in mind when creating this one-of-a-kind owl bench!
Janet originally heard about CHAIRish through the Herron Alumni Association, who has been an invaluable partner to The Villages! 
She states:
"Since learning my husband I will be new grandparents this coming January, I have been paying close attention to children’s room designs. I have seen so many adorable designs with owls I just could not resist the temptation to create some whimsical owls for the bench I had selected to hope is that it will bless its new environment with smiles for years to come!"
Janet started painting as a hobby when she was a young adult. At 35 years of age she enrolled at IUPUI Herron School of Art and Design and received a B. F. A. in Painting in 2001.  She now works from her second story studio space, Skinner Fine Art, at the Creative Arts and Event Center, 2 West Main St., Greenfield, IN. She works primarily in oil, watercolor and pastel in a contemporary-impressionist style.
We think Janet's owl bench is precious.  Do you know someone that would love this bench, too?


Monday, October 15, 2012

CHAIRish 2012: Artist Spotlight, Ashten Houpt

 Another of our fantastic artists, Ashten Houpt, has created another unique masterpiece for us this year.  This "Zebra Chair", which is wood burned and has two zebra heads on the back, is quite a work of art.  It was a little tricky getting the chair to Ashten's studio, as you can see below, but she made it work.  (Thanks for your dedication, Ashten!)

She said she wanted the challenge of creating a zebra stripe that wasn't a traditional black and white.  We think these beginning pictures below look awesome - you will be awed by the final product!


Ashten also did the popular "Giraffe Chair" back in 2009, which also featured two giraffe heads on the back.  Both chairs are nostalgic for Ashten, who remembers being a child and experiencing the joy of seeing these beautiful, exotic animals at the zoo.  Her "Giraffe Chair" went for a whopping $550!   
Do you think the Zebra Chair could do the same?  Use the comments section below to tell us how much you love the Zebra Chair and your best guess at what it might raise for The Villages!

Ashten Houpt is a senior at Herron School of Art and Design, studying in the Integrative Studio Practice program and mainly focusing in Book Arts and Printmaking.  She has always had an interest in art and has been taking classes at Herron since she was in 7th grade.  She will graduate this year and hopes to attend graduate school to continue her studies in Book Arts and eventually enter academia as a professor.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

CHAIRish 2012: Artist Spotlight, Ann King

Ann King has been creating chairs for CHAIRish since 2008 and this year she is donating "A Little Extra Love" for our fundraiser.  She is a resident of Zionsville and has chosen a koala to be featured on this stool to represent the time she spent living in Australia.  She shared with us that she was inspired by a poem written by her daughter.  Her creative philosophy reads:
"I try to represent the positive and negative pull in everything I create.  One of my writings states: 'To dwell on what happened in the past or on what might have been -- brings bitterness and despair.  Dwell on what might be -- for hope and purpose.'  I let the viewer choose which he or she sees highlighted in the work."

The saying reads: "Even though you have all the love you could ever want from me,
here's a little extra love to keep you company."
Ann has been involved with helping abused and neglected children in a variety of ways since
1981. She understands that there are many causes to care about in Central Indiana but feels that  many of the problems have been caused by the person needing help.  Children have not caused themselves to be abused or neglected and it is our job to step in and offer our assistance the best way that we can.

Ann's has studied at the Indianapolis Art Center with Paul Sweany, Jean Vietor and Sandy Ezell, among many others.  She has also participated in workshops with national artists such as Judi Wagner and Joan Rothmeral, as well as local artists, such as Rob O'Dell and Henry Bell.  Her artwork has been accepted in the National Abstract Show, Midwest Exhibit, and Indianapolis Art Center, among others places.  She has received several Honorable Mentions and Best of Show in Metalsmithing.

Tell us what you think of Ann's stool.  Isn't it adorable?  Do you know someone who would love to see that in their home?


Monday, September 24, 2012

CHAIRish 2012: Artist Spotlight, Beth Ann Ferguson

As we gear up for our CHAIRish event on November 9th, we want to put a spotlight on some of our hardworking artists.  We've asked them to provide us with chairs in progress, as well a statement explaining their vision for their piece.  This week Beth Ann Ferguson gives us a sneak peak into her two chairs. 

Your Journey Starts Here (Child’s rocking chair)

Life is a constant movement. With every second passing there is always something shifting and creating movement. Every moment is different somehow and it is impossible to repeat the same thing twice in life unless you can reverse time to the moment in which something occurred. With everything you do in life you must think of how you want that moment to be for you. Your free will gives you the chance to make that choice. This is your one life to live from being born to the moment you are no longer alive. What direction will you take?  Your journey starts here....                                                                                        

Inspire the Journey (Adult rocking chair)
Children are so pure and learn from their experiences. Children grow physically, mentally, and emotionally at a rapid rate in comparison to adulthood. I appreciate children for how they are. I am inspired by them. I have the fortunate opportunity to have my own children and work with them daily. I strive to motivate them to care about themselves, what they can do for others, and accomplish great things in life. I hope to give them all the best out of life. The best I can give is my love.

I also have the opportunity to teach art to students in their early teens. I think of how I can make a difference in their lives daily. Sometimes I take moments out of the scheduled school day to just listen to their thoughts, ideas, achievements, and frustrations. I hope to give them the opportunity to grow and change for the quality of themselves and for the future adult they will become. I am very thankful to have a hand in inspiring young minds for our future generation.  And my journey continues…      

What do you think about the progress of Beth Ann's chairs?  Are you an artist that can relate to the process by which she creates and forms the chairs to represent her vision?  If not, isn't it interesting to see how an artist can take an idea and bring it to life? 



Monday, August 27, 2012

Staff Highlight – Melissa Padgett

Melissa Padgett is a program manager for The Villages’ Healthy Families Lawrence County office. She works with at-risk parents to provide a loving and nurturing environment for their children. Melissa has been with The Villages for almost 5 years. We recently asked Melissa a few questions about her job working with vulnerable children and families.

The Villages: Why did you choose a career in child welfare?

Melissa: I really believe that we make the greatest positive impact in this world by supporting our families. I believe that the most critical and vulnerable time is in early childhood, where education has its most profound impact. And I truly love babies, and believe they are the most precious thing on this earth

The Villages: Please share one inspiring experience you had in the last year?

Melissa: It is always in hearing the successes, and even the smallest accomplishment that our staff makes with families. A baby is thriving, a mother is comforted or validated, or a parent is successful and enjoys being a parent.

The Villages: What can the community do to help you, and The Villages, better serve vulnerable children and families?

Melissa: First smile-- share a smile, it doesn't take anything to affirm someone in the parking lot or at the grocery store especially someone you don't know or doesn't look like you. For those that can, be politically active, we desperately need safe, affordable child care in this state. For those that can volunteer a few hours at a school or community center- or at The Villages we always have filing and office work to do. And donate if you can…we always need diapers!!!

The Villages: What is your wish for The Villages and/or the children you work with?

Melissa: To reach our highest potential, whatever that is and have a level of quality of life that gives each of us some peace--- defined by self worth and/or simple daily pleasures- enjoying a story, a smile, a sunset or a warm breeze.  It's all easier said than done, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Villages’ Kids CHAIRish our Guest Artists

We’re thrilled to announce this year’s CHAIRish the Children Artists.  The Villages is working with many returning and some new artists for the November 9th event.  There are 38 artists contributing over 40 pieces of one-of-a-kind artwork and furniture.  Event guests will have the opportunity to bid on these unique and beautiful pieces on our online auction and at the CHAIRish the Children event!  This will surely be a year you do not want to miss.

Drum Roll Please…Introducing the 2012 CHAIRish the Children Guest Artists
Chris Bowman, Adult Chair
Don Briggs, Photography
Mary Campbell Maher, Youth Chair
Andy Chapman, Hand-crafted Chair
Dinny Cochran, Adult Chair
Scarlett Cramer, Artwork
Rae Marie Crisel, Ceramics
Kathy Cunningham, Stool
Elizabeth Angela Ferguson, Adult & Child Rocker
Brittany Ferguson, Adult Chair
Terry Gocking, Adult Chair and Bookcase
Pamela Hacker, Adult Chair
Toni Hall, Children’s Chair
Dan Henne, Artwork
Ashten Houpt, Adult Chair
Ann W. King, Step Stool
Judy Krebs, Children’s Table & Chair Set
Lawrence North High School Art Class (teacher: Ms. Sarah Senff), Children’s Chairs
Emma Meyers, Step Stool
Fran Prince, Adult Rocker
Jane Roberson, Children’s Chair
Shelley Savini-Kroger, Children’s Chair
Sandy Schimmel, Adult Chair
Melissa L. Scott, Bench
Sarah Senff, Child’s Rocker
Vicky Shaffer White, Adult Chair
Christy Shriner, Doll Chairs
Janet Skinner, Bench
Melinda Spear-Huff, Adult Chair
Sharon Strecker, Stool
Julia Fish Thompson, Artwork
Susan Van Huss, Adult Chair
Courtney Wesemann, Child’s Rocker
Katrina West, Adult Chair
Robin Zelenka, Youth Chair

We will have regular updates about CHAIRish the Children including sneak peeks of the chairs, stories about the guest artists, and much more!  If you are interested in being added to the CHAIRish the Children email list so you’re the first to know about all things CHAIRish sign up now.

Important dates to remember:
Online Auction Opens – November 1
Online Auction Closes – November 8
CHAIRish the Children Event – November 9, Indianapolis Artsgarden
Tickets are $40 in advance or $45 at the door

Monday, August 20, 2012

Chopper Drop FORE The Kids

The Villages’ Chopper Drop FORE The Kids is part of the 15th Annual Golf Classic, a fundraiser which supports The Villages’ mission of championing families for children. For only $50 per golf ball you’ll have your chance at winning up to $20,000 from this unique and exciting fundraiser to help support the children The Villages’ is privileged to serve.

At the Golf Classic, up to 2,000 golf balls will be dropped from a helicopter above a specially designed hole on the driving range at Broadmoor Country Club. The eight (8) golf balls that land closest to the hole will win cash prizes. Chopper Drop winners will be announced at the end of the Matt Breman Memorial Awards Reception and Silent Auction.
Think about this...if you bought a $50 Golf Ball you'll not only enter for a chance to win (hopefully) $20,000 but you'll also help a Villages' child.  Look at some of the stuff we've done with $50 for our kids:
  • A 2-month bus pass for a Villages’ youth to get to school and work
  • A “Lifebook Kit” for a child to document the important moments in his or her life.  (Kit includes: camera, scrapbook, stickers, etc.)
  • A “New Parent’s Baby Care Package” for an at-risk parent preparing for their child.  (Package includes: diapers, infant sleepers and toys)
  • And MUCH more!
Get your Golf Ball today while supplies last and enter to win some money...AND help a vunlerable child at the same time.  Here's a simple online form you can fill out to get your golf ball today.

Friday, August 17, 2012

CHAIRish the Children Chairs

Check out some of the 2012 CHAIRish the Children chair styles!  Lots of great options:

The Vineyard Chair

24" Stool

Child's Mission Chair

Doll Chair

Doll Adirondack Chair

Step Stool

Vineyard Chair

Child's Rocking Chair

This year's CHAIRish the Children event is November 9th at the Indianapolis Artsgarden from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.  Stay tuned for more sneak peaks of this year's event!