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Every Child Deserves Someone Who Cares: Ryan’s Journey
Neglected during his first few years of his life, Ryan* experienced significant trauma that would affect him for years to come. He and his two siblings experienced unimaginable maltreatment and neglect at the hands of their biological parents. They were removed from their parents and placed in a foster care family. Everything seemed to be going so well, the foster parents decided to adopt the sibling group.
As many kids who experience childhood trauma do, Ryan began to act out. The dark curly-haired five year-old became physically aggressive to his new parents. He was disruptive at home and in school. His new family didn’t know what to do, Ryan’s older sister and brother were much easier to handle. The adoptive family, unable to manage his behaviors, signed custody of Ryan back to the state. This time Ryan didn’t just lose another set of parents; he lost his siblings, the only family he had through his difficult short life.
Over five years, Ryan was bounced through several residential programs and group homes. He was placed on multiple psychotropic medications which left him irritable, groggy and apathetic. School was difficult for him academically and behaviorally. His self esteem and spunk suffered.
At barely the age of 10, Ryan had moved more than seven times, had lost two sets of parents, and was separated from his siblings. There was finally a light for him though when he was referred to The Home for Little Wanderers Intensive Foster Care (IFC) program. The Home’s IFC connects specially trained foster care parents with children that face challenges including emotional, behavioral, and/or developmental needs. Our organization provides professional training, 24-hour clinical staff support services, and a monthly support group, among many other services.
In his new foster home with Ted and Deb*, two loving and well trained adults, Ryan began to thrive. He was taken off all of his psychotropic medications and was freed of their debilitating side effects. Thanks to the dedication of his foster parents and Ryan’s own perseverance, his aggressiveness and oppositional behavior was managed to the point he no longer acted out. Less burdened by his trauma, Ryan was able to show his fun side.
Now, Ryan is 17, a senior in high school, and has formed positive and lasting relationships with Ted and Deb. Academically, school is still a struggle for him due to his learning disabilities but he works with an educational advocate to ensure his senior year goes smoothly. He spent his summer working as a junior coach at his community basketball camp where the kids loved and respected his skills on the court. The foster family has transitioned into his pre-adoptive family. "We hope to finalize Ryan’s adoption in 2015," shared Deb, "even though we already consider ourselves a forever family."
*Names and photo have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of our client.
On November 14, The Home, Brandeis University and The Providers Council, will hold a Young Men of Color Conference. The last two years have been challenging as the nation struggles with the issues of race and the relationship between police and communities of color, most especially, boys and young men of color. Protests have shown what minority communities have lived with for decades at the hands of our societal institutions. While the majority of youth served by us and other providers have experienced trauma, boys and young men of color have been disproportionately impacted. The Conference is a way to bring them together, in like experience, with older men among our panelists and guests to talk about how to remain safe while navigating their lives.
While they are relatively safe when living or going to school at The Home and other agencies; we still know that they confront a world that can be unforgiving and dangerous once they leave our care.
The young men in our programs have witnessed violence against other young men like them. They have been trying to make meaning of what they have heard and seen. We decided to hold a Young Men of Color Conference for our young men of color ages 12-21 to give them an opportunity to be with peers to talk about their experiences and to walk away with tools to support them as citizens of their communities and our world.
All of us at The Home are pleased to bring this opportunity to our boys and young men. I look forward to sharing the results of the Conference in a future correspondence.
Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph.D.
Frustrated with her 16-year old son’s lack of school attendance and occasional drug use, Marta* found herself at Suffolk County Court. She didn’t know where else to turn. Marta had already sent Javier* away to live with his father in Puerto Rico for a year. Javier came back with the same rebellious attitude. After explaining her concerns to courthouse staff, Marta was told there was an alternative to filing a Children’s Requiring Assistance petition: services at the local Family Resource Center (FRC).
Marta and Javier were welcomed into the Boston-Suffolk County FRC by The Home’s staff. They worked with a Family Partner to set goals and get to the root of the problem. "Staff empowers youth to be part of the solution and reminds them if they work with FRC staff court can be avoided," explained Amy McCarthy the FRC’s Program Director. Javier’s first goal was to find an alternative school that offered different paths to graduate because he wanted to continue his job at a local restaurant. Slowly, he opened up to the Family Partner. School seemed pointless after he attended an entire year in Puerto Rico but his credits didn’t transfer. He often perceived his mom’s concern as anger and disappointment. Staff taught Marta about self care and healthy ways to combat stress.
Today, Javier is regularly attending his new school and Marta has been going to the YMCA. McCarthy says the family will be formally seen for a couple more months and then the FRC will remain in touch about support groups and events. "I’m grateful that this option was available instead of sending my son to court."
We are excited to announce that Walmart is sponsoring The Home’s Big Wishes Gift Drive this year! Since 2009, Walmart has become a great supporter and friend to The Home. They have donated more than $160,000 through event sponsorships and in-kind drives! We were honored to have their Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations, Chris Buchanan, co-chair our 2015 Generous Masters Golf Marathon.
The Home does not just benefit from general support from Walmart. We have been lucky enough to have them get directly involved with our programs. The Plymouth Walmart store recently launched a paid therapeutic internship program for three of our youth at Southeast Campus. This opportunity will give them work experience and skills that will last a lifetime.
Walmart is also helping to fund our healthy eating initiative! Obesity disproportionately affects the kids we serve. Children who are in out-of-home care are at a greater risk for obesity because they are more likely to be on medications and live in areas with limited grocery stores and easy access to fast food. The grant from Walmart will help The Home provide our kids and families with the education and services they need to make healthier decisions.
On behalf of the kids and families we serve, a HUGE thank you goes out to Walmart for its commitment to The Home and the greater community.
Corporate team building can benefit our kids!
STAG Industrial, a Boston-based real estate investment firm, dedicated a day of community service to The Home. Using the volunteer day as a team building opportunity, STAG employees came prepared with patio and gardening supplies, new furniture, paint and great attitudes.
The 40 employees were divided between three of our programs. Roxbury Village, an independent living program for nine young adults ages 18-22, got a new look inside and out. STAG bought and moved in new furniture for the program. Outside, volunteers did some extensive landscaping and cleaned up the overgrown back patio to be a usable outdoor area. Volunteers at Roxbury House, a group home for adolescent boys, went above and beyond by planting flowers, spreading mulch, and removing brush and even some trees! Kapr Bangura, program director of Roxbury House, is using the care of the new garden area as a way to teach responsibility to the young men in the program. Among other projects, Harrington House, a group home for children ages 8-16, got a Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation (SMART) room. STAG painted and assembled supplies for the SMART room which is used to help kids regulate their behavior. They also created portable play therapy kits to be used when a child cannot get to the room. The creation of this room and kits directly improves our kids’ access to evidence-based services!
The day ended with all of the volunteers and many kids from each program at Harrington House for a cookout. Youth from the culinary program at our Southeast Campus provided a dinner of delicious barbeque. Program Director Kapr engaged and entertained kids and adults alike with a therapeutic drum circle. Even STAG’s CEO Benjamin Butcher joined in playing percussion!
The Home gives a big thank you to all of STAG’s work and the $15,000 donated to complete it! We are glad they enjoyed it too. "We loved chipping in and seeing the final result. We want to do another one soon," said Delva Campbell of STAG.
On September 8th, 80 golfers joined together to hit the links and support The Home at the renowned Black Rock Country Club in Hingham. This year our women’s tournament, formerly known as Home in One, joined with our Generous Masters Golf Marathon for one large event! A big thanks goes out to Mike Dunn, Chris Buchanan, Cindy Mulica, and Michelle McDonough for co-chairing the successful event! With their help, close to $200,000 was raised through sponsorships and raffles to help support the vulnerable children and families The Home serves.
Generous Masters has been a mainstay in our fundraising calendar since a close friend of The Home’s founded it in 1994.
Thanksgiving is a day full of family, food, and fun. Afterwards comes two of the best shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Tuesday after the holiday weekend has been deemed #GivingTuesday. It is a nationwide initiative to remember those in need, give back, and celebrate generosity after weekend of celebrating your own family and friends with food, football, and gifts.
The Home is asking you to join the movement by spreading the word and helping the children and families we serve with your donation on Tuesday, December 1st.
Watch The Home’s own #GivingTuesday video and learn more at thehome.org/givingtuesday
The kids at The Home need your help to prepare them for the unpredictable New England weather. We are looking for donations of NEW sweatshirts, fleeces, rain slickers, light jackets, and winter coats.
Items can be dropped off or mailed to:
The Home for Little Wanderers
10 Guest Street, Brighton, MA 02135
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Home for Little Wanderers
780 American Legion Highway
Roslindale, MA 02131
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Kick-off the holiday season by sponsoring your own team at The Home’s annual Gingerbread House Decorating Competition. Each team will be joined by a celebrity chef or Boston personality. Sponsorship opportunities start at $1,500. For more information please contact Jamille Benson, Director of Special Events, at 617-927-0682.
Help make this holiday bright for thousands of children and families by participating in our Big Wishes Gift Drive. You can choose an individual child or family by purchasing gifts and essentials from their wish list. Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at our new Toy Room location located in the rear of the The Thrift Shop of Boston at 33 Corinth Street, Roslindale, MA 02131.
The Home is the largest provider of behavioral health services in the Boston school system with clinicians on site in 42 locations at the elementary, middle and high school levels. We work with students, teachers and families to intervene at the onset of emotional, behavioral and learning problems and address systemic issues that affect student learning, such as bullying, alienation, trauma and violence.