Thursday, October 15, 2015

Children's Matters: Resilient Tree

By Children's Program Coordinator, Josh Chittum

A fantastically-talented volunteer with the Children’s Program painted this Resiliency Tree in our elementary program space a few weeks ago. There are three ingredients that help resiliency grow, which we emphasize to our children and youth. These ingredients are: thinking about what you have as opposed to what you don’t have; thinking about what you can do as opposed to what you can’t do; and thinking about who you are and the things you like about yourself.

Each month, children will decorate or write a sentence on a leaf that highlights one area in their life that boosts their resiliency. Each leaf will fall into one of the three categories discussed above. Last week was the first time children were able to hang their decorated leaves and they all thoroughly enjoyed it. Their leaves included statements like:

I have a loving family
I am sweet
I am respectful
I am cool
I can follow the rules

I feel fantastic when we give our children opportunities to focus on what’s right in their lives rather than what’s wrong. Of course, we don’t do it because it gives me warm fuzzy feelings. We do it because it’s necessary and beautiful for our children to recognize and internalize how awesome they are. Ultimately, this resiliency tree is a metaphor for the resiliency inside each of them. The mural gives them an opportunity to share with others the beauty of their internal tree. Our programming offers water and fertilizer, but the kids themselves are the ones to make their resiliency grow stronger and more beautiful. That’s how amazing they are.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Putting the Past Behind

 By Employment Job Coach, Constance Taylor

It’s always exciting to see a Community LINC graduate family gainfully employed, in their permanent home and happy again. I recently walked into a gas station and heard a voice call my name. A former Community LINC resident, Jalissa, spotted me, and told me, “I thank God for Community LINC. I knew I could do it but the program really helped me get it together. We have our own place now, I have a car, and I am still working. I am a manager at the store now. We are so happy. One of her children said to me, “I spilled some ice cream on the seat, but my mother wiped it off.” WOW but a sight to behold! For the next several days, I cried every time I thought of them.

I remember the day this young lady showed up in my office really sad and discouraged about her life. We cried together. She had a temp job when she entered the program, but was not hired on full time. She shared how she was tired of instability, and wanted a better life for her son as he grew older and more aware of their lifestyle. She told me how her son would lie down beside her in bed at night and ask questions trying to understand her life.  I told her that her life could be different.

 We cried and prayed and she left determined to do something different. Finally it happened, Jalissa got a job working as a sales associate. I would see her walk some of her children to daycare, put others on the school bus and then walk to work. She continued to put money in her savings and finally she was ready to move to her new home.

Jalissa and her children are happy. She received a promotion at work, and with her new budgeting skills, was able to purchase her own car. She overcame her barriers and created a healthy, wholesome environment for her children. She vows to never go back but only move forward. This is how you put the past behind.