Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Staff Spotlight: A.J. Broxon

Amelia (A.J.) Broxon has been a social worker with The Villages for the last 15 years. She has helped countless children and families over the years, and is a valued member of The Villages’ team. We recently asked her a few questions. Learn more about A.J.

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

A.J.: I love children, and have always been drawn to provide services to assist youth. I am a helper and caregiver. I believe the world can be changed and changes can begin with the youth.

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

A.J.: One of the many inspirational experiences includes seeing youth successfully move from graduating high school to entering a college program and being successful as they move to a job they enjoy. I have also seen successful connections for youth to begin adult relationships with their families and discover their ability to manage their own apartment.

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

A.J.: Be patient and willing to give the youth a chance to show their true abilities. Continue to provide supportive resources both financial and through groups, volunteers and mentors. Take a chance and believe in a youth.

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

A.J.: I wish all youth could experience positive, hopeful relationships so they gain confidence and feel successful as they develop and contribute their talents within the community and society.

Hit a Homerun with The Villages

The Villages’ Family Night at Victory Field returns for another exciting night of baseball on Tuesday, June 11. Please join us as we cheer the Indians on to victory over the Norfolk Tide and raise money that will enrich the lives of the children and families served by The Villages!

Last year, we raised over $10,000 and sent over 300 Villages’ children and their families to the game!!! It is our goal that this year we will raise even more money to support our mission and send more children to the game. Five dollars of every ticket we sell will be donated back to The Villages to fund our life changing programs and services offered to abused and neglected children in Indiana.

As you are purchasing your tickets for the game, please consider buying extra tickets and donating them to The Villages so we can send the special children being lovingly cared for by kinship care and foster families to the game! Every child deserves a night at the ballpark with their family and friends; and this is your opportunity to make that happen. Your gift will help ensure that a vulnerable child is able to create a fun summer memory that they can cherish forever!

On behalf of The Villages’ staff, families and children we are grateful for your support. Thank you for making a difference in the life of a vulnerable child!

May: National Foster Care Month

Each May, National Foster Care Month provides an opportunity to shine a light on the experiences of the thousands of children and youth under 18 in the foster care system. The campaign raises awareness about the urgent needs of these young people and encourages citizens from every walk of life to get involved! At The Villages, we are committed to helping our children find permanency and stability through our 276 foster homes.

William* is now 15 and has had a 12-year history in foster care. He had sever anger issues regarding his childhood abuse, and subsequently felt no hope for obtaining personal happiness…until he met the Taylor family!

About 6 months ago, William was placed with a Villages’ foster family. Rebecca and Jim Taylor have welcomed several children into their home over the years and have said that William was one of the more difficult cases they faced. He was angry about what his parents did to him, disappointed about some of us previous placements, and overall unhappy. But since having him in his home the Taylors have helped him realize that he can make the future he wants for himself by making good decisions now.

Today, William is working on things that make his happy. He is getting good grades, making friends…he even attended first school dance where he felt confident enough to get out on the dance floor! He is volunteering at a local homeless shelter and really happy to be helping others. And he’s planning to mow lawns this summer so he can earn some money!

Williams says that the Taylors are the first family to make them feel like he’s welcomed and one of their own. He credits them for being his role models for how he wants to live his own life. His Villages’ social worker attributes this to his emotional stability and growth.

If you are interested in helping a child like William visit our website to learn how you can become a Villages’ foster parent. Happy Foster Care Appreciation Month and thank you to all of our amazing foster children and parents!

* Name has been changed to protect the child's identity. 

Mothers Come in Many Different Forms

Sarah Gerhing, Therapist and Post Adoption Supervisor, has been with The Villages for 7 years and has worked with countless children and youth. Everyone Sarah has worked with has a special place in her heart, but a there was one youth who made a lasting impression.

Teon’s story is tragic. When he was 5 years old he was placed in foster care. He was adopted, but sadly Teon’s adoptive mother passed away and he found himself back in foster care. When Sarah met him he was preparing to leave the foster care system and live on his own. Sarah’s job was to teach him life skills that would prepare him for independent living.

While Teon worked with Sarah he obtained his GED and got his driver’s license. The two worked to identify Teon’s life goals, and created a plan that would help him achieve those goals. Teon wants to be a police officer. He applied and was accepted into the Army so he could received training and experience that he can use later. Teon just completed Boot Camp, and stays in touch with Sarah. “He’s a kid who has worked so hard,” said Sarah Gerhing. She is so proud of what he has accomplished considering the hardships he has faced.

Teon and Sarah have a special bond. Last year, Teon called Sarah on Mother’s Day and said “I know you are not my mom, but I wanted to wish you a happy Mother’s Day because you’ve been like a mom to me”. Sarah was touched by his thoughtfulness. “He made me cry,” she said. “He’s such a sweetheart.”

A “mother” takes on many different forms; at The Villages, we believe a “mother” can be any special woman in a child’s life. For Teon it is Sarah, the one who helped him overcome a painful childhood and worked with him to become a successful adult…who has loved him like a mother would love a child. On behalf of The Villages’ children “Happy Mother’s Day” to all Mothers…the biological, foster, and adoptive mothers; to Grandmothers; friends; neighbors; and social workers! Thank you for all the love and support you show the children in your life.

Honor your mother today with a gift to The Villages!  Click here to make your donation.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meet David...One Amazing Villages' Kid!

David, age 8, has gone through more than most people do in a lifetime. After suffering abuse and neglect at the hands of his parents, David found the love and support every child deserves from an amazing Villages’ foster family. The Klines opened their hearts and home for David, and fell in love with him immediately! David is just like other kids his age…he loves sports, playing video games, and spending time with his family – his amazing foster family!

“Events like these are so important to the children we serve”, said Sharon Pierce, The Villages’ President and CEO. “The Villages’ children we serve aren’t bad kids…just kids who have had bad things happen to them. Attending a sporting event like Pack the House with their family helps them feel normal and just like the other kids who are at the game with their families.”

On Saturday, David will drop the puck to kick-off the Pack the House for Charity hockey game. He, his foster siblings and parents will be among the 10,000 people attending the game. David was selected as the ceremonial Puck Dropper among the 1,400 children served by The Villages.

There are thousands of children who are hurt by the people who should love them the most – their parents. The children served by The Villages are receiving the love and support they need to overcome this trauma, but The Villages’ can’t do it alone. By purchasing tickets to Pack the House you’ll help fund The Villages’ life-changing programs and services offered to abused and neglected children like David.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Staff Spotlight: Brenda Wilson

Brenda Wilson is a supervisor for The Villages’ Healthy Families MOM Project in Indianapolis and has worked with the organization for 11 years. Brenda works with staff whose job it is to provide parenting support for at-risk first time parents. We recently asked Brenda a few questions about her job working with vulnerable parents and their children.

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

Brenda: I have always had a calling to help people. I enjoy working with families on empowering them to achieve their goals. I also want to help children to achieve at their highest potent.

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

Brenda: The fact that we had two events where over 300 hundred adults and children attended. We were able to be creative and provide them with services and items at a minimal cost.

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

Brenda: The community could do more to advocate for more money to be invested in the programs that make up The Villages agency.

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

Brenda: I would wish that The Villages could provide all the services needed for children and families to be successful in achieving their goals without the worry of if there is enough money.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Heartfelt Thank You

Every year we are humbled by the generosity of our donors and volunteers. We just wrapped up a very busy holiday season where EVERY Villages’ child, youth and family who requested assistance received support; our older youth, kinship care families, and foster families celebrated holidays thanks to generous sponsors; and our friends and donors were very generous as they financially supported our mission. We recently received a note from one of our families that we wanted to share with you about how grateful they are for the amazing Christmas they had thanks to one of our donors:

I don’t know where to begin. This year [2012] was one of the hardest our family every experienced. A couple of years ago my husband lost his job and had to take another one working below the level he used to work at and for less money. It’s been a struggle but we made it work. Early this year a young boy was placed in our home and while we’ve helped lots of kids during our four years of fostering, this child was the most difficult we’ve ever had. He had a lot of behavioral and emotional problems on top of a few medical conditions that seem to make things worse. He fought us at every turn, but thankfully with the help of our Villages case manager we made a lot of progress with him. But around Thanksgiving he started acting out worse than before and that’s when we discovered that he was take away from his parents at Christmas and he doesn’t like the holidays because of the memory. My husband and I wanted to give him a great holiday but we weren’t sure where to start. We ask The Villages for help and what they did was amazing. They found a donor who pulled out all the stops. I had never seen so many gifts before. They provided food too. I was speechless. On Christmas morning our foster son woke up and saw gifts that filled our entire living room and he was shocked. Then we had a meal with some of his favorite foods. That night when I was tucking him in he said to me “this was the best Christmas ever”. Since the holiday he’s been a completely different boy. He’s been happy and carefree like little boys should. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to help our family.
This is just one of the many joyful stories The Villages receives every year. We are able to provide camperships, tutoring classes, birthday gifts, and much more every day thanks to people like you! We are humbled every day by the generosity our friends show us. Thank you to everyone who helped make the holidays.

Adoption Training

The Villages is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant from The Center for Adoption Support and Education, to provide Clinical Adoption Competent Adoption Training (TAC) to licensed mental health professionals, providing them with the knowledge skills and values they need to provide adoption competent mental health services.

TAC is a standardized, manualized curriculum developed in collaboration with national experts in the field of child welfare, adoption and mental health and rigorously evaluated at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. A 13-session instruction program (a total of 78 hours of instruction) engages students in clinical knowledge and skill building, followed by monthly group clinical case consultation sessions over a 6-month period.

Topical Areas Include:
  • Clinical and Ethical Issues in Planning, Preparing for and Supporting Adoption
  • Clinical Issues in Providing Therapeutic Services: Grief, Loss, Separation and Identity
  • Trauma and Brain Neurobiology
  • Clinical Issues in Providing Therapeutic Services: Attachment
  • Adoptive Family Formation, Integration and Developmental Stages
  • Openness in Adoption and Birth Family Culture
  • Race and Ethnicity
The Villages’ expert trainers, Alfreda Singleton Smith and Jill Budnick, are excited to announce that the first training class is scheduled to begin in February, 2013. There is limited space still available for this training. If you are interested in participating please call Alfreda Singleton Smith or Kimberlee Cottingham at 317-775-6500.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pack The House for Charity

We hope you’ll join us for Pack the House for Charity on Saturday, March 2nd! Proceeds from this special event with the Indiana Ice will help support the children, youth, and families served by The Villages, Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, and Dads, Inc. Over the last five years, with the help of generous donors like you, we’ve raised over $35,000 from Pack the House which helped to support our life-changing programs and services. This year, we ask you to join The Villages team as we “Pack the House” and raise much needed money to support the children and families we are privileged to serve!

Tickets start at just $11 and group packages start at only $300! At least five dollars of every ticket The Villages sells will fund our life-changing programs and services. This support will ensure that we not only SERVE the over 1,400 children we work with daily, but ENRICH their lives. With your support, we’ll be able to provide a tutor to a child who is struggling to keep up with her peers at school; help assure a youth who is aging out of foster care will be able to live independently on his own; and that parents who are expecting their first child will have the support they need to be the best parents possible!

We know there are many organizations worthy of your support, and today we are asking you to support The Villages by purchasing tickets this important event! Click this link to purchase your tickets today! We appreciate your generous support and look forward to seeing you at Pack the House for Charity on Saturday, March 2nd.