Monday, December 22, 2014

Programs Matter: A Christmas Story for 2014

By Family Coach  Frenchie Pulluaim

Jason is a single dad raising his three year old son.  They had been homeless about 4 months, living in a hotel, when they applied for our program.  Jason and his son were one of five families adopted for Christmas by Dan Wilkinson and his staff at Datamax this year.

Upon delivering gifts Dan and his staff found that Jason and his son did not have a Christmas tree. After they delivered all of the gifts for the other families, Mr. Wilkinson called to let me know that they were shopping for a tree and ornaments as a surprise for Jason’s son.  Jason was in the job lab when the tree came. He said it was the most beautiful thing that had happened for his family in a long time.

We are very thankful to Mr. Wilkerson. This is not the first Christmas that Mr. Wilkerson has adopted families here at Community LINC, but it was surely one of the most special.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Children Matter: The Effect of Collaboration

By Children’s Program Coordinator Josh Chittum

As a teacher I often worked in close collaboration with my school’s counselors. In fact, I would not have survived without them! I was quite fortunate to have worked with many highly skilled individuals as we addressed the social and emotional needs of my students, which helped improve their academic performance.

It’s not surprising that in my role as Children’s Program Coordinator, a close relationship has been forged with the counselors in our Mental Health Department as well. In fact, I would not survive without them!

The mental health services provided by Community LINC has positively impacted many of the children and teens we work with. A perfect example is how we recently worked together to meet the needs of a young resident I’ll call Nora.

With an effervescent and infectious personality, Nora was tremendously fun to be around. As an effective self-advocate and a spectacular conversationalist, she often showed up early to program and stayed until program staff were turning out the lights and locking the door behind them. It didn’t take much time around Nora, though, to pick up on the fact that she had internalized some negative perceptions of herself.

We knew that she was doing the absolute best she could in her situation, but even with her level of resiliency, it sometimes was a challenge for her to manage her emotions, particularly her anger. In fact, one time after tutoring, in a fit of rage directed towards me, she closed her fist, pulled her arm back and was ready to sock me in the nose if I didn’t comply with her demands.

In her eyes, past the anger, I couldn’t help but see her struggle and pain. I was not at risk for suffering any real harm due to her size, but she was in danger of doing this to the wrong person – a bigger kid, a teacher at school, even a friend. Repercussions from that would certainly add more hurdles to her path, which was already riddled with far too many.

Nora also struggled to maintain consistent relationships with her peers, loving them one day, and doing something cruel to them the next. This often left her feeling isolated and lonely, which only exacerbated the difficulties in regulating her emotions. Additionally, in an effort to seek attention, positive or negative, Nora would sometimes write inappropriate words on surfaces around campus. But most troubling was when a resident reported seeing Nora engage in a type of behavior that is often the sign of past or current mistreatment in a child’s life.

I visited with Nora’s Mother about some of these issues, and for her part, she was not quite sure what to do. But I let her know that we were here to provide support and offer referrals if interested. After bringing my supervisor into the loop and working with the Mental Health Department who successfully got Nora to open up and talk about things happening in her life, it was decided that she would continue to work with her counselor in the home after her family exited for permanent housing, which they did in fact successfully do a few weeks ago.

            This continuation of mental health services into the home seems like such a small decision when I put it in writing. But it’s something that can have a profound and lasting influence on Nora’s life. It would not have happened without our amazing counseling staff, our awesome leadership, and the solid collaborative relationship we have with one another.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Programs Matter: Coming Full Circle

By Family Coach Frenchie Pulluaim

It is always a Blessing to see our residents come full circle.  It’s a huge thrill when they see the value in giving as well as receiving.

Ms. M, a single mother of 5, has done just that.  She suggested that her co-workers adopt a Community LINC family for this Christmas season.  She told them how she and her family were homeless last year with no transportation or employment.  

The group took off like wild fire. They adopted a mom and 4 children and the came down with armloads of gifts to meet and greet the family. 

What a Christmas Story!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jobs Matter: "Giving Back at Christmastime"

By Employment Job Coach Constance Taylor

It was exciting to be approached to partner with an employer who is a past participant, now the Operations Manager for a local parts company.

I remember the day he came to the computer lab for assistance with his resume. His family had just moved into permanent housing. Shortly after they moved from our campus, he lost his job. He was discouraged and concerned about what might happen next. We created a resume and he applied for an entry level position with the parts company. Within one week, he contacted my office and told me that he had an interview scheduled. The next time we spoke, he advised me that he did get the job.

In less than 2 years, he has become the Operations Manager for that same company.

He came to Community LINC to give back to our agency and offer work that will make someone’s dream a reality. His desire is to bless someone who has a less than favorable background history with a job that will allow their family to move forward and reach their life goals. He understands that even people who have made bad decisions, but have decided to move forward, need support and another chance.

What an awesome gift to give someone during this Christmas season. The gift to work, make a livable income and become self-sufficient.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mental Health Matters: Why Recognizing Your Strengths Matters

By Director of Mental Health Services Griselda Williams

Why does recognizing your strengths matter? Because when you recognize your ‘good stuff’ you can build on it.

It seems that as humans we tend to recognize the ‘bad stuff’ in ourselves and in others and say that we are being boastful or bragging, if we speak about our strengths.

I have seen this happen, especially with female clients that I have worked with over the years in human services. There is a young woman-Miss Q, in residence at Community LINC who was like that when she first came with her family. However, over the course the two months that she has been here, she has begun to recognize her strengths and now feels that it is appropriate to speak about them. 

When she first came she would only do what others told her and did not feel it was appropriate to make her own choices. When she came to program group, she would sit at the end of the table by herself and would not speak. She often looked down and would not make much eye contact and she appeared sad and lost.

Much has happened in Miss Q’s life this year, most of it taxing and traumatizing. However, as Miss Q flexes her strengths muscles she is sharing a renewed sense of empowerment. She has begun setting boundaries with partner, family members and even an abusive boss.

In program group last night the topic was “strengths” and attendees were to identify 5 of their strengths and make a collage of pictures that represented those strengths. Miss Q sat in the first chair, she smiled with her head high and she freely shared her strengths as she made a collage. In addition Miss Q helped a fellow group member identify her 5 strengths when the member shared that it would be bragging to say them out loud.

Now that Miss Q recognizes her strengths and is not embarrassed or feels guilty about speaking them, I believe there is no limit to what she may accomplish. It is exciting to see what will come next for Miss Q, now that her strengths muscles are so strong.