Summer 2015 Masthead

 

A Season for Swimming, sunshine,
and summer camp


Girl jumping in pool 
   

Isolated. Alone. Homeless. These are a few of the words Adriana* has used to describe her childhood.

Adriana, an energetic 11-year old, came to The Home’s Longview Farm Campus this past winter to receive therapeutic mental health treatment and special education services. These 7 months have been the most stable of her life. She is one of five siblings and her large family struggles in ongoing cycles of poverty and homelessness. Always hoping to find more opportunity, Adriana’s mother moved the family from state to state along the east coast and Midwest, recently settling in Massachusetts.

“This summer is the most fun,” Adriana excitedly shares with her clinician at Longview Farm. It is a season full of many “firsts” for the dark haired active young lady. Adriana is attending her first ever summer camp at a local YMCA!

Making friends has always been a struggle for her. She never stayed in one place for too long and constantly changed schools. This made it difficult to find and maintain friendships. It’s apparent this summer is different. As soon as Adriana gets to camp she rushes over to her group of three other girlfriends. Quickly their hellos transform from hushed tones to erupting giggles. A proud smile spreads across her sun-tanned face; she is always trying to make others laugh.

Most mornings camp counselors get the day started by playing sports — wiffle ball, soccer, volleyball, frisbee — activities Adriana’s never participated in before. On rainy days, she gets to let out her creative side doing arts and crafts. After lunch, comes her “most favorite thing ever,” swimming! Adriana had never swam before this summer. Her circumstances never gave her the opportunity to take a dip in a pool or lake, or the ocean. A little apprehensive on the first day of camp, Adriana just put her toes in the water. Today, after being taught by counselors and cheered on by new friends, Adriana jumps in without hesitation, taking to it like a fish. Working to perfect her cannonball she yells out to her friends, “Look at this one!”

The repercussions of constantly moving, lack of stable shelter, and the continuous uncertainty adversely affected Adriana. She struggled in school, suffered from acute anxiety, and had difficulty with transition. Adriana has thrived with the structure and clinical support at Longview Farm. 

Each day Adriana and the other five children, who attend the camp from Longview Farm, return to campus with exhausted smiles, dirt under their fingernails, and playful chatter of their day’s activities. The opportunity to attend campus lets kids like Adriana try new things — swimming, sports, crafts — which builds their confidence and self-esteem. The Home wouldn’t be able to send kids to camp without the support of our friends and supporters.

*Names and photo have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of our client.

 


 

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From the President

Dear Friends,

This summer has been filled with camps, field trips and fun for our kids. We often focus on clinical work and mental health during the year, and it’s important for the kids to keep up their academic achievements gained during the school year. But, it is also essential that the youth we work with have the opportunities to experience the joys of play as well!

Although its doors opened in the spring, The Home’s Family Resource Center (FRC) in Roslindale held its official opening ceremony on July 14th. The FRC was created in a 2012 law that replaced the outdated Children In Need of Services (CHINS) program with a decriminalized, family focused approach called Children Requiring Assistance (CRA). It took creativity and grit from the members on the advisory board to create a brand new structure of care to serve struggling families and their children, but the hard work has finally paid off.

The Home was lucky enough to be joined by prominent leaders of this project who worked tirelessly towards its completion: State Senator Karen Spilka, First Justice of the Suffolk Juvenile Court, Terry Craven, and Boston City Councilor, Charles Yancey. “It has been an almost ten year journey to make the state-wide network of community Family Resource Centers a reality,” remarked Senator Spilka.

Although it is only the pilot year, I have high hopes for the Boston-Suffolk FRC as it connects youth and families to services within their communities instead of with handcuffs and courtrooms. I look forward to seeing the positive impact of the new FRC on our community.

Sincerely,

Joan's Signature

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph.D.

 


   
  Equine Therapy
   

Horses Make Stable people

Robin, an 8-year-old student at Southeast Campus, stretches her arms out in glee as she trots around on her new favorite horse — and friend — Odin. However, just minutes before, Robin’s face showed only one emotion while sitting atop the horse: terror. Sensing her fear, the staff at Mare Willow Farm had eased her through the process of riding a horse for the first time. Through small, gradual steps, Robin began to gain more confidence and trust that Odin would keep her safe. Now, Robin looks as if she has been riding horses for years.

Students from The Home for Little Wanderers’ Southeast Campus have been attending Mare Willow Farm in Plymouth since December 2014 as part of the equine science program. In addition to riding horses, the students learn to groom them, lead them properly and keep their paddocks clean.

 


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with a little help from our friends

Devaney Energy, a local, family-owned business out of Newton, is a real leader not only in the energy industry but in supporting local communities. As philanthropists, Devaney Energy has a long list of charities which The Home is proud to be among.

The energy company was founded in 1934. It has grown to 150 employees and is now in its fourth generation of the Devaney family. Being a long time establishment in Newton, Devaney Energy is committed to making its surrounding towns a better place to live. Their fundraising for their philanthropic commitments is unique. The company has a dedicated oil truck which donates a percentage of its sales to the Ellie Fund, a Needham-based charity which supports breast cancer patients and their families during treatment.

Devaney is a sponsor of our Voices & Visions fundraiser donating more than $15,000 in three short years! James Devaney, President and CEO, invites friends and employees to fill his table at Voices & Visions and participate in the silent auction and program. We cannot thank Devaney Energy enough for their continued support of our programs which serve some of the vulnerable children and families in the commonwealth. The Home is proud to be supported by the Devaney Family.

 


  Capital Summer NL
   

 

Strengthening families on beacon hill

In the 2015-2016 legislative session, The Home has been actively involved in two main advocacy efforts; The Children’s League of Massachusetts (CLM) Foster Care Omnibus bill (S90/H76) and the Citizens for Juvenile Justice (CFJJ) sentencing of minors bill (S905/H1436). The Home helped draft these initiatives based on our knowledge of what works for this at-risk population. Brian Condron, Director of Communications and Advocacy gave oral testimony on the foster care bill, and the advocacy team prepared and submitted written testimony for the sentencing bill. If passed, these bills will create positive changes for at-risk youth in our communities.

The CLM bill focuses on providing better life skills training and educational stability for the foster children of the commonwealth. The CFJJ bill will bring together a number of important reforms that can reduce crime, save money, and get youth on the right track. It touches upon the over use of arrests in schools by decriminalizing nonviolent verbal misconduct. There is a growing trend of arrests in schools for non-violent behaviors which disproportionately affects young men of color and negatively affects their lives for years to come.

We have seen the positive effects of some of these measures within our own programs, and are hopeful that children across the commonwealth will be able to experience it as well.

 


  Foster Care Kid Summer NL
    

 

fitting in as a foster care kid

Youth in foster care battle stigma, self-doubt, and an engulfing feeling of loneliness. Jillian, a clinical case manager at The Home’s Comprehensive Foster Care program, recognized these common issues as she completed her weekly visits with the foster care youth in her caseload. She tried to reassure her kids that they were not the only youth in foster care. Instead of just telling them, Jillian decided to create a foster care youth support group that meets monthly while their foster parents, separately, attend their mandated foster care meetings. Kids, ages 13 and up, play therapeutic games which help them talk about and process their experiences. Recently, the group played a therapeutic version of JENGA which had different questions pertaining to common experiences in foster care. One block asked, “How many times have you moved?” All of the kids in the group discussed the challenges of bouncing around and having to start over so many times. One young woman who just completed her sophomore year of high school shared, “I don’t remember how many times. But I do know I’ve been to three different high schools.” After meeting for only six months, Jillian has recognized that the youth have a sense of solidarity and are always looking forward to the next meeting.

There was a need for these foster care youth to know that they are not alone but part of a larger community of other kids facing the same challenges. The Home is thrilled that Jillian saw this need and found a way to fill it with an innovative solution.

 


 

Preschool outreach program's SMART ROOM sparks powerful progress for young children

  Preschool Outreach
   

Connor*, a four year old boy who had been attending weekly play therapy treatment for almost a year, recently began his transition into the SMART room, an innovative addition to The Home for Little Wanderers’ Preschool Outreach Program (POP). As an infant, Connor experienced extensive physical abuse that ultimately resulted in his removal from his biological family. Following several transitions between caregivers, Connor was adopted at the age of three and began various treatments for his trauma.

SMART, or Sensory-Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment, encourages children to use their whole body and mind when interacting with toys in the room. In this way, children are able to process trauma with a completely different approach. Connor, for example, left his first SMART session sweating, smiling, and having had deep and unfulfilled sensory needs met.  In the SMART room, he was guided to develop various sensory regulating tools that helped keep him in a normal window of arousal and dramatically reduced his hyperactivity, distraction, difficulty in following rules and in playing well with other children. Within the first month of using the SMART room, Connor showed more consistent trauma processing play than he had in the previous year of treatment in the traditional play room. Connor continues to use the SMART room on a weekly basis, where his levels of arousal and his ability to calm himself are constantly improving.

With the help of SMART, POP continues to help children achieve success in family relationships and their learning environment. As one parent remarked, “The SMART room is the only type of therapy that will work for our boys.”

 


   
  Generous Masters
   

Mark Your Calendar

September 8th: Generous Masters
Black Rock Country Club, Hingham, MA 


This year’s Generous Masters Golf Marathon has a new swing to it. We have combined our former women-only Home in One event with the Generous Masters tournament to maximize the fun! Join us for a day out on the green and relax at an evening reception award and ceremony.

For more information, visit:
www.thehome.org/gmgolf     

 

Aug. 15th – Dec. 1st:
Keep Kids Warm Coat Drive

   
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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.
or
The Home for Little Wanderers
780 American Legion Highway
Roslindale, MA 02131
Monday – Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 


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.