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BOOM. In his room, Levi* heard a glass shatter in the kitchen, followed by his mother’s high-pitched scream. Then that man’s voice yelling at mom. Between all their rage, Levi understood it was a fight between his mom, her boyfriend, and it was about drugs again.
His heartbeat grew fast, he sat straight in his bed drenched in sweat. Levi looked around, it was just a dream, more of a memory, but he was safe in his room at Harrington House. He had been at Harrington House for a few months following the Department of Children and Families’ (DCF) removal of him and his siblings. The younger siblings were all together in a foster home but Levi, who had always been the big brother protector, even at just the age of ten, was placed in a group home. To cope with the domestic violence he regularly witnessed, Levi was aggressive and distrusting of adults.
“We advocated on his behalf and Levi was granted family therapy with mom and his siblings,” explained Jenn Medeiros, Program Director of Harrington House."
During the first few weeks Levi struggled to make any connections with the caring staff at Harrington House. Then his mother came to visit. She had completed a DCF mandated substance abuse program and was sober. Levi saw the way his mother appreciated the staff, grateful for taking care of her baby. Slowly, he began to open up and it was obvious to the Harrington House staff that Levi’s mom was vital to his treatment.
DCF had recommended that mom’s rights to Levi should be terminated but Harrington House staff knew that wasn’t in the best interest of Levi. He did best when he was with his mom. Harrington House Staff advocated for his permanency goal be changed to family reunitement and it was.
One day it was pouring rain with thunder and lightning, Levi nervously looked out the window waiting for his mom. The bus may have been delayed but not even the weather could stop her from visiting. In Levi’s year at Harrington House, she never missed an appointment.
Levi continued to stabilize and heal; his nightmares became less frequent. Finally, it was time for the family of five to be reunited. A clinician who worked with Levi at Harrington House did family in-home therapy to help Levi’s transition, even though there was no funding for this service. Although the family is doing well, they still need some additional help. Now, Safe at Home, a community-based program at The Home, does in-home therapy with the whole family.
Caring staff will continue to strengthen this family. Each day their progress is visible as they learn to cope, control their emotions, and express their love.
* All names and identifying information have been changed to protect our clients.
I know for many people, including my family, September feels like a fresh start as we embark on a new school year with exciting opportunities and challenges. That feeling is alive here at The Home.
We are excited to be re-opening our programs in Walpole. We currently have students on our waitlist for the academic year at Clifford Academy, a special education school for middle and high school students that also includes a vocational focus. Hailer House, a group home for adolescent boys has opened on the campus serving youth who are in the custody of the Department of Children and Families and our school will open soon. The Home at Walpole will serve as a center for excellence as we treat adolescent youth who have experienced severe trauma and struggle with behavioral, emotional, and mental health.
This academic year, our school-based clinicians who are part of the outpatient mental health clinic have expanded into almost 100 schools! Now, students in private, parochial, and charter schools throughout Boston and the North Shore have access to a licensed mental health clinician right in the comfort of their building. Our clinicians help students who struggle academically, emotionally, or socially and can be referred by a concerned teacher, school-staff, or parent. Access to quality mental health services remains a challenge for many individuals throughout the Commonwealth. The Home’s model of imbedding mental health clinicians in schools help break that barrier and deliver services right where kids need them most.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight our latest Outcomes Report from our Clinical Quality and Outcomes team. Having tangible statistical information on our services and their impact are important for our organization because it allows us to continue the work we are doing well and evaluate where children need additional services. In Fiscal Year 2018, we served 5,919 individual clients with 95% of those being in community-based programs. With each of those individual children, we are also making a positive impact on thousands more as we work with their parents, grandparents, and siblings. We also have made significant progress within our Permanency Initiative. Currently, 90% of the youth served have committed lifelong connections — or a potential connection identified. In this report, we did learn that significant risk behaviors were a barrier toward permanency for 46% of youth. These results will help us make more informed decisions for the future.
We’re excited this new school year has allowed The Home to increase its reach throughout the Commonwealth and positively impact the most vulnerable children and families. I hope all The Home’s friends and supporters have a healthy and happy holiday season.
More than a year ago Hurricane Maria left her path of destruction throughout the Caribbean with devastating results in Puerto Rico. Many Puerto Rican individuals and families fled to Massachusetts, where they had ties to family and friends. The Family Resource Centers Network was put in charge of managing the access to resources for the victims. Our Boston-Suffolk County Family Resource Center staff of six served more than 300 families! Connecting them to temporary housing, enrolling children in local schools, providing weather appropriate clothing, helping them find work, among many other services.
Our staff worked around the clock for over a year to help families as they settled into new lives in Massachusetts temporarily or for the foreseeable future. Our amazing staff, led by Program Director Amy McCarthy, were formally recognized by Governor Baker for their work above and beyond their everyday duties by serving the hundreds of families impacted by Hurricane Maria, our staff worked tirelessly.
Volunteers and mentors are a critical resource in our group homes. Waltham House, a group home for LGBTQ+ youth, is lucky to have Amielle, known as Amie, a volunteer who has been with them for three years! Amie works with curriculum for STEM programs at the Museum of Science and was looking to work more directly with children. Being part of the LGBTQ+ community herself, Amie found a perfect opportunity at Waltham House.
For over three years Amie has consistently come to the group home once week to spend a few hours. “I never come in with a set agenda. I’m simply available for the kids.” She has done everything from help with homework, eat dinner, chat, to baking and basketball. The kids often remark to her that they can’t believe she is not paid and chooses to just spend time. “Many of these kids have never experience authentic love. They don’t know how to receive or give it,” shared Amie.
Her favorite time of the year at Waltham House is the holidays. The staff throw a holiday party and purchase the kids personalized gifts. Often these are the most thoughtful gifts the kids have ever received in their whole lives. “Every kid should have that treat and that feeling,” Amie remarked as she reminisced about the special time of year where the kids and staff really come together as a community and feel like family. Last year, she asked her friends and family to donate money for her to buy gifts cards for the youth. She bought each child a $50 American Express gift card!
Amie is an amazing dedicated volunteer. “I try to spend my time with the kids who don’t seem to fit in the group dynamic yet.” She was just recognized by the Providers’ Council of Massachusetts at its annual convention for her commitment and positive impact on Waltham House and its kids.
PHOTO CAPTION: Amielle Major was honored at the 43rd annual Providers’ Council Convention as volunteer of the year! She is pictured here with Michael Weekes (L), President and CEO of Providers’ Council and Jackie K. Moore (R), Board Chair of Providers’ Council.
The Home relies on corporate partnerships and philanthropy to fill the gap between the services we are contracted to do and what children and their families actually need. The holidays can be an especially difficult time for families as many are already living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet. We are very excited to announce that Citizens Bank and The TJX Companies are joining us again to sponsor the 2018 Big Wishes Gift Drive, donating a combined $100,000!
Citizens and TJX continue to be true partners with The Home. Both companies believe in our mission and are committed to helping the most vulnerable families in our community. Citizens is in its 20th year of supporting The Home and TJX has been a partner for 29 years!
We look forward to another successful holiday season with these generous organizations by our side!
PHOTO CAPTION: Citizens colleagues volunteering in the Toy Room, December 2017