September 3, 2015

Treatment at Lund: A Closer Look

Posted in Program Spotlight, Residential, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services tagged , , , , , , , at 4:07 pm by Lund

When you ask about treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders at Lund, you might hear the following answer.  Lund’s treatment programs are family centered, strengths based, and trauma informed. Lund uses a variety of treatment techniques, approaches and models based on the needs of the client but all are informed by those three important tenets.   This sounds pretty logical and correlates with other things you might have heard about what sort of programs produce the best outcomes but what do these terms really mean?

Family Centered:

The focus of family centered treatment is creating and maintaining healthy connections to others, especially children and other family members.  Such treatment provides a full array of services to tackle the problems that women and their family members must overcome in order to reduce substance use and improve individual and family outcomes.   The goal of family centered treatment is to create a healthy family system with good structure, appropriate roles for each family member, and good communication that allows the family to function well as a unit while concurrently supporting the needs of each individual member.

Family-centered treatment includes both clinical treatment, and community support services addressing substance use, mental health, physical health, and developmental, social, economic, educational and environmental needs for women and their families.  This sort of treatment is highly individualized based on the needs of the family and changes as those needs change.  Participation and length of involvement can look different for each family member.

Women live with their child or children at Lund’s Glen Road facility while they receive treatment.  Not only do they work to address their substance abuse or mental health challenges but they learn parenting skills and are connected to Lund’s job training, education and other family support services.

Lund_outpatient

Relationships are key in Lund’s treatment approach

Strengths Based: 

The very simple definition of this approach is self evident in the phrase – emphasis and focus on a client’s strengths.  The idea is to identify what is going well, do more of it and then build on it.  The core belief of a strengths based approach is that everybody has strengths and has the capacity for growth and change. The focus is not on the deficits or perceived failures of the client but on positive future outcomes.

Trauma Informed:

Many women who come to Lund have suffered from trauma in their past due to substance use, domestic violence or other physical abuse, sexual abuse, childhood abuse or neglect, poverty, criminal activity or other complications of life as an addict.

A trauma informed treatment approach:

  • recognizes the widespread impact of trauma on every aspect of someone’s life
  • supports clinicians, social workers and others who work with the client to identify the signs and symptoms of trauma
  • integrates the knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures and practices at the organization
  • actively works to avoid re-traumatization

Safety, trust, transparency, peer support, empowerment and collaboration are key values at the forefront of trauma informed treatment.

Between July 1st, 2014 and June 30th, 2015, 67 women received treatment at our residential facility while living with their 74 children who also received developmentally appropriate services.  65 young parents, mostly mothers but 4 fathers were also treated, accessed our community based outpatient substance abuse treatment services.  81% of women discharging from our residential treatment and 75% of participants discharging from our community programs showed a decrease in frequency of use.  These percentages are higher than national averages.

Lund helps parents in recovery to change their lives and supports them as they seek to realize the hopes and dreams that they have for their children.  Our talented, compassionate and dedicated employees are constantly pursuing training and educational opportunities in their fields because they are committed to working towards the best possible outcomes for the women, children and families at Lund.

As one client says, “The reason I keep going is for my daughter. All my work is centered around her and giving her the life I didn’t have. The work that I do at here Lund is so I can continue to raise her. I learn and practice parenting skills so I can best meet her needs. I want to get back on my feet and have my own place with my daughter. I want to put my legal past behind me. I want to provide for her to the best of my abilities. Lund is helping me do all of that.”

August 5, 2015

Supported and Successful Transitions – Family Engagement at Lund

Posted in Family Education, Family Engagement, Program Spotlight, Residential tagged , , , , at 7:50 am by Lund

The topics of conversation around the table on Pinterest Tuesday at Lund’s recently formed alumni group wanders between questions about the project at hand – making bags from old T-shirts – milking cows, what to do with avocado oil and the animals at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey.

The group is run by Lund’s Family Engagement Specialists Laura May Ackley and Meagan DeWitt and is for women who are about to transition, or recently have transitioned, from living at Lund’s Residential Treatment Facility into living in the community.

“The women who have been living in the residential program are always surrounded by a community of peers and providers,” says Meagan. “When they transition into the community they might still have providers coming to their home but their level of peer support drastically changes. Many women also discover that finding safe and sober peers, that can also relate to their experiences as a parent in the community can be difficult. The group allows them to remain connected to a peer group that shares the experience of having been at Lund’s residential program. It also allows women who are preparing to transition to connect with other women in the community.”

The group focuses on activities that teach and reinforce independent living and parenting skills. “The specific activities are chosen by the women in the group,” says Laura May.  “The women that are getting ready to transition want to learn about certain topics or the women already living in the community struggled with certain things in their transition and want to know more about it.” The recent shopping bag activity came as part of a four week long session on bargain shopping and was inspired specifically by one of the group participants expressing her frustration that no bags were available at the Farmers Market to carry home her purchases.   The previous week, Lund’s nutrition specialist, Jillian Kirby came to the group to dispense tips and tricks on how to get the best deals at the grocery store.

Making grocery bags from old T-shirts.  Find out how here: http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-10-Minute-T-Shirt-Tote/

Making grocery bags from old T-shirts. Find out how here: http://www.instructables.com/id/No-Sew-10-Minute-T-Shirt-Tote/

“A lot of our topics have an underlying theme of living with financial restraints,” Meagan reports, “while we want to offer them information on resources or a given topic, we also want to encourage them to think out of the box and be creative with what they have. Lastly we like to have fun. Life with children can be chaotic especially after leaving a residential program. This is a place where for 75 minutes where they can laugh, play games and connect with others and relax.”

The alumni group is only part of the family engagement work that Laura May and Meagan do. The focus of their position is to strengthen family support systems for women in treatment. They do this by working with women before they leave Lund and for six months afterwards to help them reconnect, repair and redefine relationships with family members, friends and community organizations that will be supportive of and helpful to them.   They can help women manage the practical needs of independent living and parenting while in recovery and follow up with them to make sure that all the pieces are in place and that they and their children are thriving in the community. They travel all over Vermont to follow up with women who have returned to their hometowns or relocated elsewhere in Chittenden County.

The work is funded by the SAMHSA grant that Lund received in November of 2014 Both Meagan and Laura May’s are new positions but the need was not. Clients would frequently leave Lund doing really well and then start to struggle after a couple of months. Clients themselves would also often say that they wished they had something to hold on to after they left. “Before this position began there was limited availability for the providers whom a client has become so close to, to work with them after they leave,” states Meagan. “We can act as a transitional provider in the community who knows where they have come from and help them get where they want to go.” Life at Lund is very structured and women are constantly surrounded by supportive staff members and peers. Moving to living independently has the potential to be lonely and isolated. Family Engagement provides a coordinated and comprehensive approach to continued support after discharge.

Family engagement looks different for each client as it based on the needs of their particular family. It can be practical parenting support such as working with a mom to help her feel comfortable having her child sleep is his own bedroom after sharing a room with him at Lund since he was born or going with a mom to the grocery store to help them shop within their budget.   Laura May and Meagan also work with older children in a family who have not been living at Lund with their moms, perhaps helping a mom to write letters to an older child to get them ready for mom being a more regular part of their lives once she leaves Lund or connecting with the father to help find appropriate therapists for older children. Laura May and Meagan work closely with Lund’s case managers and clinicians to provide comprehensive, wraparound support to families and help them have the best possible chance for success when they leave Lund.

“Transitioning from a treatment facility to the community while maintaining sobriety and managing a family is difficult. Having a provider that you have already built a relationship with makes the transition feel more supported and more successful,” says Laura May.

 

 

 

June 1, 2015

“Hearing Real Life Stories” – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach at Lund

Posted in Employees, New Horizons Educational Program, Program Spotlight, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach tagged , , , at 3:49 pm by Lund

Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Program

Guest Blogger: Kelsey Francis, Lund Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Specialist

condoms

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month—a time for youth, adolescents, parents, educators, service providers, and beyond to think about how pregnancy impacts the goals and future of young people, as well as how to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancy and STI transmission. It is also a time to educate and empower our youth and teens to be informed, intentional, and responsible concerning their sexual and reproductive health and wellness.

Last week, we reviewed the current portrait of teen pregnancy and birth rates nationally and within Vermont. Despite great progress in reducing these overall rates over the past 25 years, we also discussed the need for continued prevention efforts, given the immediate and long-term impacts of teenage pregnancy.

One of the many pathways to help educate our community about the realities of pregnancy and parenting at a young age is Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach (TPPO) program. Serving middle and high schools, universities, youth-serving agencies, and community organizations statewide, the TPPO program is divided into two subject areas—the Outreach Panel and the Birth Control Methods Workshop. Together, these components aim to combine accessible information and demonstrations regarding contraception and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention with real-life stories about the realities of pregnancy and parenting at a young age.

Let’s take a deeper look into each component.

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Panel is a service in which the TPPO Specialist and current/former Lund clients come on-site to an agency or organization to speak openly and honestly about pregnancy and parenting. The TPPO Specialist discusses statistics and the socioeconomic impacts of teen pregnancy, as well as the services and programs Lund offers to support individuals and families who are pregnant or parenting. Next, the Lund clients share their stories of becoming pregnant at a young age. They address their life pre-pregnancy, choices they made regarding their sexual and reproductive options, their decision to parent or not, their labor and delivery experience, life after labor, how they became involved with Lund, and their future goals and ambitions. After each client has shared her story, the panelists and TPPO Specialist open up a conversation with the audience, taking questions and offering final reflections and advice to their peers.

Lund has also recently expanded its TPPO program to include a Birth Control Methods Workshop. In this comprehensive presentation, audience members are provided with accessible information regarding contraceptive options and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention. The TPPO Specialist leads the workshop, supplementing the information shared with practical demonstrations of each contraceptive method, using demonstration-only samples. Questions, comments, and curiosity are welcome throughout the workshop to ensure attendees are familiar with each contraceptive method’s intended use, availability, effectiveness, and limitations.

Lund’s outreaches have a demonstrated impact on the youth in the audience, and in 2014, 963 Vermont students attended the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Panel. Additionally, we receive positive feedback from attendees about the information they learned and the messages they remember long after the presentations have ended:

  • “I learned that no matter how hard it is to say no to sex, having and raising a child is harder, and it is important not to give in to pressure.”
  • “I heard about real life teen pregnancy stories and how hard it is for people to go through that situation. I enjoyed hearing the real life stories and the advice that the panelists gave us. I think that hearing about these kinds of experiences was very helpful so that we know the risks that are involved with unprotected sex.”
  • “I learned a lot about the vulnerability of kids at my age, the pressures we are exposed to, and how our decisions now impact us in the future.”
  • “I really enjoyed that the guest speakers were so open about their stories…they have had to deal with life’s struggles, and they are so brave. I am extremely proud and impressed with what they have done with their lives now.”

Lund offers the components of the TPPO program as individual presentations as well as via a combined curriculum. For more information, or to schedule an outreach at your organization, please contact Kelsey Francis, Lund Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach Specialist, at (802) 861-2072, or via email at kelseyf@lundvt.org.

 

October 14, 2014

Fundraiser Lunch at NHEP

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Events, New Horizons Educational Program, Program Spotlight, Workforce Development Program tagged , , , , , , at 7:00 am by Lund

Yesterday six New Horizons Educational Program students went on a field trip to Boston to visit the Aquarium and the Simmons IMAX theater.  They raised the money to go on this trip by planning, preparing and delivering lunch to staff members.  The first lunch, at the end of July, was Somali cuisine featuring sambusas, salad and friend plaintains.  The second one, held just last week, featured burritos and apple crisp.  Many staff members were delighted to take part in this fundraiser and enjoy a delicious hot lunch delivered to their desk.  Beats a soggy sandwich any day.   Below Mary Farnsworth, NHEP teacher who oversaw this project, answers some questions below about this project:

How did this project come about?

The NHEP Fundraiser lunches came about as a result of our students participating in and afternoon Business and Economics Class. Tammy [Santamore, Learning Together Coordinator] and I had discussed  how it would be beneficial to have a business class offered to students, especially since some schools require students to take a business class as a graduation requirement.  In designing the class we wanted to provide students an opportunity to think about the process of creating and running a business: coming up with an idea, creating business proposal, creating a business action plan, thinking about cost and profit margins, planning for different jobs/roles, and creating their own marketing scheme. The students started with lots of ideas for what type of fundraiser they wanted create, and even initially began planning for a run or walk event before coming up with the idea selling a homemade lunch.

How did the students prepare for the lunch?

This business class occurred every Tuesday afternoon from the end of March 2014 through August 2014. Leading up to the first lunch on July 30th our students did a lot of work creating detailed business plans. Additionally, they created and analyzed surveys to receive feedback on their idea, met with Amy Cronin [Associate Director of Development] to discuss the logistics of carrying out a fundraiser, did a recipe taste test, talked with Dinah Larsen [Food Services Specialist] about cooking for a large volume of people and estimating food/ingredient quantities, and held a practice run at NHEP.  Going into the first lunch the girls had created a plan specifying each of their jobs and the times that tasks needed to be completed by. The day before the girls worked in small groups each making wrappers or preparing the filling for the Sambusa. The day of the girls worked in teams: a vegetarian sambusa team and a beef sambusa team who were responsible for assembling and cooking their type of Sambusa, a salad team who prepared the salads and made the dressing, and a student who over saw that each plate matched the order and plates were assembled correctly.  Over all the work went really well thanks to our students planning and practice. We did face a slight hitch the day of when some of our premade wrappers broke and we did not have enough, but this was quickly fixed with an emergency trip to the store.

The first fundraiser meal was delicious - fresh and filling.

The first fundraiser meal was delicious – fresh and filling.

What were the benefits for the students?

The most important thing that our students personally got out of this experience was a huge boost in self-confidence. There were times in the planning were our ladies had significant doubts that they could pull this off, but when they did they were incredibly proud of their accomplishment. They also loved having Lund staff come in after to tell them how much they enjoyed their meal. Ladies also were really proud that they raised about $260 dollars ($310 before considering costs).

Are there plans to repeat this?

We and our students would like to do a fundraiser lunch every rotation (5 times a year), and for each offer a different theme to the meal. The students hope that the money raised will go towards more special field trips (including food during those trips if needed), higher quality or special arts and crafts activities, and possibly equipment for their children in the classroom when needed.

 

Thank you to the students and teachers at NHEP for providing this practical and interesting class that had such a great benefit for the rest of the staff.   Roll on next rotation for another delicious.  It will be getting cold and desolate outside so perhaps hearty soup, hot rolls and pumpkin pie are called for.  Sign me up!

May 20, 2014

Lund and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England Host Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month Event

Posted in Commentary, Events, Family Education, New Horizons Educational Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Outreach tagged , , , , , at 8:40 am by Lund

Friday night at Main Street Landing was bustling with people getting ready to watch Jennifer Newsom Siebel’s award winning film “Miss Representation” . There was popcorn, ice cream and …STI Twister?  This wasn’t just a film showing, it was an educational event in conjunction with National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month hosted by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and Lund.  STI Twister was one of the activities the Planned Parenthood student peer educators developed to engage young people in learning about STI’s in a creative and fun way.   As well as this informative twist on a classic game, there was a condom line up, Name the Anatomy and plenty of chances to collect information aimed at young people about preventing unintended pregnancies.

“It’s so great to see young people engaged in learning about sexual health and to feel like they can take the opportunity to do so in a safe and supportive environment,” says Andrea Nicoletta of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “While Vermont has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country, it’s still important for our young people to have the information and resources they need to make decisions when it comes to their reproductive health.  Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is committed to helping teens make good decisions and engage in healthy behavior. We work every day to reach teens with information about healthy relationships and sexuality, as well as the importance of protecting themselves against both unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”

Nipu Coe and Morgan Wrigley from The National Campaign, Andrea Nicoletta from PPNNE and Laura May Ackley from Lund

Nipu Coe and Morgan Wrigley from The National Campaign, Andrea Nicoletta from PPNNE and Laura May Ackley from Lund

Miss Representation is a film about how women are presented in the media and the distinctly prejudiced way they are shown in films, TV shows, newcasts, the realm of politics and more.  The message of the film is that women must support other women in roles of leadership and power and those who consume media must challenge the prevalent model of seeing women primarily in terms of sexuality.  It was thought provoking and ultimately inspiring as it showcased women who have accomplished so much despite the drawbacks of patriarchal media.

Laura May Ackley, Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Specialist, said, “For me this event was about educating and empowering youth which we achieved by educating young people who attended with factual information on birth control methods, STI’s and general sexual health in a fun interactive way.  The film, ‘Miss Representation’ brings up issues that we are faced with every day and for social change to take place we have to start by educating, and the best place to start this education is with young people.”

The event was also attended by Nipunika Coe and Morgan Wrigley, Youth Leaders  from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  They are both high school seniors from Vermont who are part of a team of 18 young people nationwide who work with The National Campaign to provide an accurate perspective on their work.  They spoke about the discussions that they have been having in Montpelier and in Washington D.C.  on pregnancy prevention.  They also encouraged the other young people in the audience to get involved and to stay informed about the choices

Many thanks to everyone who came to this event and to our sponsors Main Street Landing, Bedsider.org, UVM, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Burton Snowboards, The Skinny Pancake, The Peace and Justice Store, Ben and Jerry’s and Hannaford’s Supermarkets.

 

 

 

March 24, 2014

Employee of the Quarter – Cait Keeler

Posted in Awards, Employees, Family Education, Residential tagged , , , , at 2:25 pm by Lund

Cait with Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services

Cait with Kim Coe, Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” said Director of Residential and Community Treatment Services at Lund, Kim Coe, as she presented the Employee of the Quarter Award to Cait Keeler. Cait has worked as a family educator at Lund for the past ten years.

Cait truly stepped up to the challenges of recent staffing shortages and training of new employees. She has also been instrumental in supporting her colleagues in the Early Education program with billing, essential paperwork and clinical reviews. Cait also willingly and skillfully participated in the prep work for the family education and supervised visitation components of ETO (Efforts to Outcomes – Lund’s new data recording system).

Cait has demonstrated strong leadership skills in her ability to assess the needs for Early Education staff to be successful, to design a training and communication process, and most importantly, to implement it successfully. Cait’s collaboration with the Early Education staff and promotion of good communication has supported both families and staff in Lund’s residential treatment program.

On receiving the award, Cait is quick to share the recognition with other members of her team, “I feel honored that my team feels so positive about the work we do together each day.” She also gives credit to the families she works with for being her motivation, “They are the reason why I continue in this work.”

Described as an excellent team member who handles challenging situations with grace and tact, Cait is a valuable asset to Lund and always represents families’ needs and concerns with clarity and compassion . She offers valuable knowledge and skills to all who work with her.

Cait dedication and commitment to Lund’s work, the clients, and helping the family education team and program be successful is inspiring. Thank you, Cait, for your amazing work. You truly exemplify Employee of the Quarter!

March 10, 2014

Shared Parenting – Opportunity and innovation for incarcerated mothers.

Posted in Employees, Kids-A-Part, Program Spotlight tagged , , , , , , , at 11:52 am by Lund

When a woman goes to jail, it is not just her life that is dramatically changed.

There is a growing awareness that incarceration is not solely a hardship for the inmate but for their children as well.  The Bureau of Justice estimates that on any given day there are more than 2.4 million children in the United States with a parent in prison. The number of children with a mother in prison has more than doubled since 1991; an increase of at least 131% over the last 20 years. The Vermont Department of Corrections reports that 994 women sentenced to prison terms between October 2010 and October 2011 had between them 848 children.

Lund’s Kids-A-Part program seeks to reduce the trauma to children of their mother’s incarceration by working with children and caregivers in the community and with the mothers in the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF).  Part of this work is running parenting and family education groups inside the jail for the mothers.

The Kids-A-Part visiting room at CRCF.

The Kids-A-Part visiting room at CRCF.

One of these groups is an innovative program called ‘Shared Parenting’ which addresses the needs of incarcerated women attempting to parent their children from a distance.  The program was started at the Children’s Center at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York by Bobby Blanchard from The Center for Children and Families at Columbia University.

The program is currently evidence informed and implementing the group at CRCF is part of the research to make it evidence based.  The clinicians and case managers feel extremely grateful to have the opportunity to participate in the program.   “Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility was chosen as a site for replication for a few reasons. The demographic is significantly different than that of the population at Bedford Hills which is a maximum security prison housing close to 800 women. CRCF is in a rural state with a much smaller number of incarcerated women, and houses women with much shorter sentences, primarily for drug related offenses. This opportunity for replication is critical to understanding how this approach to parenting education impacts groups across cultures and geographical locations as well as how it can be adapted for regional differences,” says Bobby Blanchard.

The group is facilitated at CRCF by Crystal Fisher, a clinician, and Jo Berger, a community case manager, from Kids-A-Part and Bobby.  It is focused on helping the women to understand that their story and their situation can be understood from multiple perspectives and that it is so important to take these different angles into account when thinking about how to parent and how to interact with their child’s caregiver.  This reflection is mostly done through writing prompts.

“They are asked to write from their child’ s perspective in their child’s voice,” says Crystal.  “If their child was under the covers writing in their journal about incarceration, what would that look like or what would that sound like?  It is so challenging to put it into their child’s voice but we’ve had women who have done an amazing job.  They write in the words the child would say.  It’s amazing and it’s heart breaking to hear what they write.”

A mother might think that her child wants to be with her because she has said so but it takes some careful reflection to start to understand that it might not be so simple.  The child might feel obligated to say that they want to be with the mom, they might enjoy and feel safe living with their current caregiver but might not want to say so and hurt their mom’s feelings.   Examining these different perspectives is a difficult but enlightening process.

For many women, this is the first opportunity to think about someone having a different perspective.  “There is one women,” says Crystal, “She is questioning herself about her incarceration in a totally wonderful way.  She is saying, ‘I am doing things to parent my child from jail’ whereas before she was saying, ‘My Mom’s raising my kid.’  She can point to the things she is doing and show how she is maintaining the connection.  She is hearing that there could be different ways to tell her story.  I can’t imagine these chances would have happened without this program. “

The staff at Lund who are working with this program feel very fortunate to be able to provide this group for the women in the jail and to gain the professional experience that can inform other work that they do.  “This program with Bobby comes along once in a lifetime. I am so grateful. Jo, myself, Lund we’re getting to be part of telling the story of what it’s like to be an incarcerated mother and make that story part of a national narrative.  To have this opportunity through the research to look at something that can fundamentally change the relationship between a woman and her child and the child’s caregiver and the direction of her life. It’s amazing,” says Crystal.

This program will soon by implemented by Bobby in another jail in New York state and Jo and Crystal will continue it at CRCF after the Center’s research is complete.  Parenting from inside the jail is hard for everyone but being able to understand how the experience differs between mother, child and caregiver is such a key step in reducing the difficulties. “Thinking about parenting one’s child always involves learning to parent one’s self, which is a critical step in the mother’s rehabilitative process and that mother can play a critical role in helping her children cope with the separation caused by her incarceration.” says Bobby.  A mother is still a mother even when she is incarcerated and a child still has a mother even if she is in jail.

November 11, 2013

Laura May Ackley – Employee of the Quarter!

Posted in 50 Joy Drive, Awards, Employees, New Horizons Educational Program, Program Spotlight tagged , , , at 12:40 pm by Lund

Laura May at New Horizons with her Employee of the Quarter Certificate

Laura May at New Horizons with her Employee of the Quarter Certificate

Congratulations are in order for Laura May Ackley who was named Employee of the Quarter last week.  Laura May is Lund’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Specialist and works with Lund’s community and residential clients to provide education on birth control options including helping them to schedule and get to medical appointments.  Laura May also coordinates the outreach program which brings young mothers to schools and community groups to talk to students about the reality of being pregnant and having a child while still a teenager.    Last year over 848 individuals were reached by this program.

Laura May is a key part of the New Horizons Education Program teaching team and is far more than just a resource on birth control for the students.  “She is available to support them regarding accessing health and other basic resources.  The students seek her out regularly to ask questions related to their pregnancy, sexual health and in accessing resources and supports in the area for their families,” says Tammy Santamore, Learning Together Coordinator at Lund.  “I believe that Laura May’s presence at NHEP has been a significant factor in engaging the students to remain at the school.”

Recently Laura May went above and beyond her job duties to help a client to set up a new life for herself and her children away from a situation of domestic violence.  She helped the client to negotiate the legal, financial and practical steps that she needed to take in order to ensure her own safety and a brighter future for her family.  Laura May’s impact on the life of this young woman and her children has been extremely significant and she did not for one moment hesitate in doing all that needed to be done.

Laura  May is always one of the first staff members to volunteer her help at events which benefit Lund, from scooping ice cream at the Ride for Children to speaking about Lund’s programs and services at community groups to helping out at the Adoption Picnic.  “Laura May is respected by her peers, community partners and clients.  She upbeat, sensitive to the needs of clients and goes above and beyond everyday to help support the mission of Lund,” says Tammy.  Congratulations, Laura May on this award.  It is very well deserved.

 

October 15, 2013

“I have an anchor now.” – Post Permanency Services at Lund

Posted in Adoption, Foster Care Program, Program Spotlight, Project Family tagged , , , , , , at 8:05 am by Lund

Anjanette has been working with Katherine Boise, Post Permanency Provider, for about 9 months.  This is her story.

“I got a phone call during the holidays from someone at Lund who was doing outreach to check in with families who had adopted and they asked me if I needed any post adoption support. I asked her if she was an angel. I had been praying and crying and talking.  What am I going to do?  Are there boarding schools for a child like mind?  I was beside myself. I was really in need of some additional support and help.  It was perfect timing.

Since I was a little kid, I had always wanted to adopt or be a foster parent. My mother was an orphan and I have the intergenerational PTSD from children who never get adopted.  I know it all too well.  It has always been in my mind that there are many kids who get thrown away because they never get adopted or fostered properly and they have terrible lives with mental consequences. When Dejene arrived in my life, I had 16 days to prepare.    Someone I knew at DCF passed my name onto a social worker because he knew that I had worked in Southern Ethiopia previously and so I got an e-mail asking me if I could take a little boy from Ethiopia. In under three weeks Dejene was in my life.

I was single, divorced and it was just one of those things in life.  It wasn’t the right time, but here it is. I knew it was my son.  I knew it was my kid.  I knew it was my calling. There were too many coincidences, too many things coming together. I had the ability to take a child.  I did not even hesitate at all.  I threw myself into it.  I said yes. They rushed me through the process because they were facing having to put him in an institution because they could not find a home for him. I didn’t see a picture or know anything about his background until a day or two before he got here.  I had to commit before I had the information.  I committed without any clue.  It didn’t matter at that point what he was going to look like though I got a little nervous when I read the file and saw what I was going to be up against.

We had the honeymoon phase for a couple of months and I remember being so mad at people for reminding me all the time that it was going to end.   Do you have to rain on my parade?  It did, it came to a crashing halt.  For the first year or two, I didn’t really believe what I had done to myself.  He had so many problems.  I had a hard time understanding and identifying what was going on.  He had attachment disorder amongst other things. There were school problems, his English wasn’t as good and he was separated from his sister who had stayed with the original adoptive family and we had a really hard time connecting them.

We’re not the standard family.  I guess one of the things that was hard for me was that I did not have any support.  I was on my own.  DCF did some spot checks and Dejene was scared that they would take him away.  I knew and understood that they had to do this but it was so hard for him.  But other than that I have been on my own with this kid until Katherine. We have therapists and I have sought help from counselors and other people.  But Katherine is the first experience I have had with someone helping me regularly on a monthly basis and she will even come out twice a month if we’re working on something.

She has helped me across the board – processing and understanding what is going on with my kid, bringing me literature to understand attachment disorder, bringing materials  to try exercises and she is helping me with the school right now. She helped me with my subsidy to bring it to where it needed to be to support him.  We have identified more special needs that he has. We’ve had neuro-psych evaluations done. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Katherine.  She helps me to keep moving forward.  Even doing things like sending the first e-mail out to the principal of the school to get something going.  It’s so hard sometimes when you are in the middle of managing your child’s special needs, when you are dealing with your own emotions, your job, your family.  Just to have that little light saying I’ll send the e-mail for you can be such a big deal.   Even though sometimes it seems like small things Katherine is doing, they’re huge things to me.  But then she does very big things too.  She has been teaching me about higher cognitive skills and brain dynamics. This is the first time I have gotten this type of support.  I needed it all along but I really need it now he is becoming a teenager.  Knowledge helps you calm down.  When you understand what is happening with a kid, it helps.  I used to take it personally.  His reactions were so counter intuitive to me on certain things that I needed a neutral party to explain and help me understand. That’s been invaluable.

My son needs different sorts of provisions and so Katherine helps me to coordinate that. We have a team approach now which is really helpful.  I have a best friend, Doug, who is my knight in shining armor who has taken on the role of Dejene’s uncle. He is the extended family that has stepped up to help me with this kid.  I don’t have family here and I needed unlikely suspects to step up and become part of the family to help me raise this kid.  Katherine and Doug have been those people.   I never expected and they’ve been such a big help in raising him.

Katherine brought me an article about the difference between crisis mode, when they are operating in the limbic system and they absolutely cannot hear you or respond properly and how you work with them to calm down and use their pre frontal cortex and reasoning skills.  This has been one of the most useful things that anyone has taught me. I have to understand when he is in crisis mode, he really cannot hear me and cannot answer me.  I used to think he was just not cooperating then I would get all freaked out.  It’s not making excuses for him, but it’s so I don’t run myself  into the ground and deal with things the wrong way and set myself, more than anybody else, up.  My son said that he thinks I am doing better too, I am not yelling as much. I have a better understanding. I had to grow up too, learn, listen, change.  Katherine has really facilitated that. It has been the most dramatic help over the six years I‘ve had him. We have a great chemistry, I adore her and we work well together. I enjoy her company and feel comfortable with her in my home. She is here to work with me and not with Dejene and at first I thought it wouldn’t work then I realized that this was great.  I wanted to fix him but I needed fixing too.  I wanted him to change but I needed to change too.  I see him act different when I act different.  It’s amazing.  It’s unreal and so having her to work with me and not with him is the best things ever.  I didn’t need someone else to work with him.  I needed someone to work with me.  I love her, I would sing her praises from the top of a mountain, I really would.   I can’t say enough about her.  She is extremely good at what she does. I know I have an anchor now.

My relationship with my son and my home life are so much better than they were a year and a half ago.  You have to get outside help because if you keep things internal, it festers.  You need fresh ears, fresh eyes.  It can be scary. None of us want to feel like failures.  We’ve all made mistakes.  It’s a tricky game.  I was so passed being afraid to share because I was in such crisis. I was on my knees. I needed help. It’s vulnerable to open up and admit that you cannot handle your kid.  But if I didn’t have these things in place, I would be lost, things would get worse and we would start taking it out on each other.

It’s coming together in a good way.  I have had some of the darkest days going through this and I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I just try it a different way, I try to look at it from a different angle.  I would love to speak to other families because after what I went through I would like to be a support.  I had some dark lonely moments doing this alone, feeling like what did I do to my life? What did I do to myself? I will never be able to help this kid.  This kid is too much trouble for me.  This kid doesn’t respect me because I am not his mom.  He’s never really going to love me.   I have been through every one of those extreme painful feelings and the bottom line is now after all these years and everything we’ve been through, he’s totally my kid.

The bad days are lessening and the good days are outnumbering the bad.  It goes in cycles, like Katherine always reminds me, don’t feel bad if things are going well for a while and all of a sudden they go to hell.  You’ll work through a stage.  It’s helpful because you are so in it that you need someone to keep reminding you and guiding you through the process.  Without that I would feel very lost right now.  I have made so many gains.  I am not just saying this to make Lund happy.  I was lost.  I was really overwhelmed.  I’ll never forget when that lady called, I went into my closet to talk to her in private because I was like “What? You want to help me?”  I think I cried on the phone with her.  Things can get better, things can change.  Children are not fixed.

I would never trade it, even with all the horribleness, I wouldn’t trade it.  The only thing I would change is my preparedness.  If I had had Katherine from the beginning, I would have understood better, sooner.   If my life hadn’t turned this way, I wouldn’t have a kid at all and how good would life be like that?  He’s my legacy.  He’s my everything.  He’s my kid.   He’s the one I get to pass everything on to.  I never cared whether it was biological, I’m a scientist so I know that human beings are all very closely related anyway.  I wanted to be able to pass on my knowledge.  I wanted pass on how to walk lightly on the earth, compassion for others, love for animals, love for life.  I wanted to share my life with a kid. This is all I ever wanted since I was a kid. While I was not looking, it came.  It was meant to be.”

Anjanette and her dog Charlotte at their home in Huntington

Anjanette and her dog Charlotte at their home in Huntington

September 25, 2013

From trash to treasure at CSWD

Posted in New Horizons Educational Program, Program Spotlight tagged , , , , , at 4:27 pm by Lund

It was certainly a scene like no other recent field trip when six NHEP students, their teacher and the school outreach coordinator at the Chittenden Solid Waste District processing facility, posed in front of huge bales of crushed aluminum cans and plastic jugs.  Though this location is possibly not anyone’s first thought when considering field trip locations, it turned out to be interesting, informative and relevant to the students’ lives.

The trip started in the administrative offices where Johnny, our recycling enthusiast tour guide, explained what the facility did and the effect that it has on the trash and recycling industry in general.  The plant processes about 180 tons of material a day, one third of which is cardboard.  The processed items are then sold to manufacturers who reuse them to make other products. It struck one of the students particularly when she heard that the plastic bottle from which she drinks her preferred soda, Mountain Dew, was 99% likely to have been recycled from a previously used bottle.  “I am going to pour my soda into a glass from now on,” she said, horrified.  “You could stop drinking Mountain Dew,” I pointed out.  This was apparently more horrifying than the thought of the recycled bottle.

One of the other students had a question about why bottle caps could not be recycled and Johnny headed that one with the expertise of a man who spends a lot of time in his life talking about bottle caps and holding his thumb and forefinger two inches apart.  “Anything recycled has to be longer than 2 inches on every side,” he said.  “Anything smaller than that slips through the machines. And with the caps in particular, they are made of a different type of plastic than the bottle. So if too many caps end up in the bale, they can cause the whole bale to be not recyclable and worthless.”  This satisfied the student who had been discussing the issue with her father and was hoping for a good answer to take home to him.  This was one of the many practical links that the students could make between this trip and their own lives.

Eager to get into the facility, Kathy led the charge to put on hardhats, safety glasses and safety vests.  With Johnny leading the way, speaking through a bullhorn that seemed overkill in the parking lot but made him only just audible inside the plant, we set off to see the work in action.  The first stop was at a pile of processed glass that was too contaminated to be sold so was just sitting in the parking lot.  The edges were round enough to plunge your hand into without damage   Sure enough, no  one got cut and this wasn’t even the best part of the glass pile.  Plants were growing from it nourished, as any other plant, by rain and sun but rooted in glass rather than earth.  Not only was this surprising to observe but provided excellent fodder for a labored metaphor about growth and beauty seeded in the discard pile that I could later post on Facebook.

Heeding the warning to clump together so that nobody got into a tangle with a forklift, I snapped my Facebook photo and headed inside the plant.  It was a little similar to a middle school disco – loud and smelly, with danger around every corner.   We watched as trucks backed in and dumped their loads of potential recycling material.  It was then shoved onto a conveyor belt by a bucket loader to begin the sorting process.  Gravity is the prime tool in sorting – fans blow off the paper, plastic is bounced off the line, glass slips through the holes.  Everything is very logical.  The students were able to identify products that they use every day and appreciate that their interactions with them are but a small part of the life of the item.     “You have to think about where it’s come from and where it’s going,” Johnny would later say after we left the plant’s work floor.

After some obligatory photos in front of the enormous bales of cans, jugs and boxes (“How long do you think they could stand here and take photos?” Johnny mused, somewhat incredulously.  ), we headed outside back into the fresh air.  We spent some more time at the glass pile, this time at the glass that is going out to be recycled.  It sparkled in the sunshine and was actually, albeit in an industrial, slightly tired way, beautiful.  Seagulls wheeled overhead and Johnny explained that they find food in the glass pile, as well they eat the small pieces of glass to aiding digestion in their gullets.  There was a tomato plant growing from it.

CSWD

Johnny finished the tour with a rousing cry to recycle.  “It wouldn’t just do a little good, it would do a lot.  Currently we are leaving the following generations nothing but problems.  We need to start thinking about ways to slow down and find alternatives.”  The students were left with lots to think about and the tour had introduced ideas that Kathy will expand upon during their environmental science class.

“What did you learn?”  I asked the students later. The general consensus was that it was interesting for the students to see how the recycling gets sorted and to learn what happens to it from there.   It was a reminder to all of us that there is so much to learn in unexpected places.   Though something might seem  like the end of the process to us, like putting a bottle into the recycling bin, it is actually the beginning of a very interesting and long journey that results in something new and useful coming out of what has been discarded.

Next page