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.