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Collinsville Staff: Raising Awareness

The Collinsville Staff at One Hope United, celebrated GO BLUE month in all programs by raising awareness in the community. Workers in the Family Support Program, Visitation Program, Intact Services, System of Care, Functional Family Therapy, and Multisystemic Therapy all shared knowledge throughout the month with those they came in contact with to acknowledge Child Abuse Prevention Month. This awareness was made by sharing knowledge during community interactions and supporting the cause by wearing t-shirts designed by supervisor, Brionne Rhodes for all staff. These shirts help spread the word of child abuse month and allow the workers to support the cause while the carried out their daily work working with our families in their homes.

Staff all met together on 4/29/14 to share in the support of child abuse prevention month.  Way to go!

From L-R: Corinne Fish (SOC) Tammy Wick (VS), Brionne Rhodes (Supervisor), Brigette Spellbring (Intact), Rebecca Chavez (Intact), Cherrel Beck (FSS), Amy Sanders(Intact), Kristen Kinnear (SOC), Tina Reed (VS), Michelle Rommerskirchen (FSS), Kara Lowry (FFT), and Jayne Wetzel (FSS)

GO BLUE Community Spotlight: Blue Ribbon Walk

One Hope United – Hudelson Region partnered with local agencies in Mount Vernon, IL to sponsor a Blue Ribbon Walk to raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention month on Thursday, April 3, 2014.

Despite the threat of rain showers, over 100 community members and 12 OHU employees took part in this important event.  Also in attendance were OHU Foster Grandparents, who enjoyed being able to show their support for children in Jefferson County.

“This walk is a great way for us to kickoff Blue Ribbon month at OHU and in Mount Vernon.  There are so many children in Jefferson County dealing with abuse and neglect and because of events like this walk, we are able to bring awareness to this important issue. We are looking forward to all of the other great activities we have planned for Child Abuse Prevention month.” said Jayme Godoyo,  OHU Fund Development Officer.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support our GO BLUE campaign and join with OHU as we work together to strengthen families and communities.
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Putting Feelings Into Words

Steven*  is a 16 year old involved in Comprehensive Counseling services through OHU Charleston.  When he started counseling he was a shy young man who struggled with talking about his feelings related to his family’s dysfunction.  Steven’s mother was already receiving counseling services through One Hope United and he observed her depressive symptoms improving.  Witnessing first hand her relief from depression, and having her spend more time with him, encouraged Steven to ask his DCFS case manager to refer him for counseling services too.

When he began meeting with his counselor he knew he wanted to feel better about himself and his family’s situation but it was hard to put his thoughts and feelings into words.  Steven kept in mind if it worked for mom, it can work for me. He quickly engaged and was able to share that as the oldest sibling in the family, he felt responsible and guilty for not protecting his younger brother from harm which led to DCFS being involved with his family.  His counselor helped him process his feelings and challenge his thought distortions.

Through this process he became more verbal and outgoing in session and quickly made progress to achieve his goals he set forth for counseling.  The counselor noted as he opened up in sessions, he was reporting an emergence of being more outgoing at school and in other settings.  As the counselor was finalizing discharge planning with him, he shared a conversation he had with a group of peers at school about a book series he was reading.  He had an a-ha moment in session and stated with excitement, “I’m really more like the other kids now than I am different.”  Through counseling, Steven was able to resolve his feelings about himself in relation to his family, but also experienced personal growth and insight as a maturing young man.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the family.  Photo above is a stock image.

Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services

In November 2012, Emma*, age 14, was referred to One Hope United due to conflict between herself, her father and her stepmother. At the time of the crisis at the police station, the parents wanted to lock the child out of the home due to the extreme nature of the conflict. Emma was being physically abusive towards her stepmother and she was verbally abusive towards her father. The case manager was able to resolve the crisis at the police station and the parents allowed the child to return home in hopes that Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services (CCBYS) follow-up services would help resolve the conflict in the home.

In the beginning of CCBYS services, Emma was sneaking out of the home, engaging in dangerous sexual behavior, lying to her parents, not complying with parental rules, being defiant towards her parents, and being both physically and verbally abusive toward her father and stepmother.

The case manager worked with the youth and her family diligently for several months on her behaviors. The case manager worked with Emma on understanding the consequences of engaging in the dangerous sexual behavior by giving her handouts on STDs and teen pregnancy. She provided the family with a rules chart. There were rewards and consequences for Emma’s behaviors. This assisted Emma with knowing that when she displayed good behaviors she would be rewarded and when she displayed negative behaviors, there would be consequences. She provided Emma with anger management so that she could learn how to display her anger in a healthy manner rather than becoming physically and verbally abusive toward her parents.

By the spring of 2013, trust was restored back into the family. The client was referred to a psychiatrist to address her past trauma that contributed to some of her behavioral problems. She was complying with her parents’ rules and she had learned new anger management techniques. She was no longer verbally or physically abusive toward her parents. Her reward for showing such great improvements was a trip to Florida for spring break.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the family.

Intact Family Services Build a Happy Home

Nicole* and her four children were referred for services last summer. Nicole was previously involved with child welfare services and was reluctant to participate again despite a court order. At the time of referral, Nicole was not working, was residing in a home in poor condition, and was allowing a 26-year-old homeless male to live with the family. Her oldest son, Ryan, had been in juvenile detention for the last 8 months. Chase, attending middle school, had learning disabilities and did not socialize with his peers. Anthony, her 10 year old, displayed extreme aggression at school and was briefly hospitalized because of an incident at school.

Despite her initial reluctance, Nicole eventually became engaged in services and started to make progress in her own life and the lives of her children. Nicole has been employed for the last six months as an in-home care provider and loves her job. In fact, when Nicole’s car was not working during the recent winter storms, she walked to each of her client’s homes, in a foot of snow, to make sure she could maintain her job.

Having a job allowed Nicole to start tackling some of the repairs she needs to make to her home. When her home needed a new furnace and she didn’t qualify for any assistance, she combined her earnings with her income tax return, purchased a new furnace, and hired a contractor to do the installation.  She used these same funds to have new water pipes correctly installed so that she would have problems with the pipes freezing next winter.  Nicole new budgeting skills also allowed her to keep some money in the bank so that, in the future, she can paint the kid’s bedrooms and start repairs on her kitchen.

Nicole completed parent training course and immediately started to put the lessons to work.  She created a behavior chart for her children to allow for tracking.  She used the conflict management skills to help manage arguments between her boys and assert her authority in a positive manner. The children responded to these changes and were able to start solving problems in a less aggressive manner.

Initially, Anthony would scream “Go away” and “Get out of here, you are DCFS” whenever the Intact Worker visited the home. By working with Nicole and the school to switch Anthony to a different classroom and dramatically change his behavior at school and at home. The Intact Worker is now receiving smiles and hugs from Anthony when there is a visit in the home.

Chase’s school counselor reports that he is a happier child and better able to interact with his peers.

When the boarder Nicole was trying to help failed to follow through on his promises, Nicole asked him to leave.  Nicole demonstrated her new found self confidence and ability to make decisions in the best interest of her family by having him move out.

Nicole has demonstrated tremendous progress and transitioned from a reluctant client to one who welcomes assistance from One Hope United.  She is happier, more confident and much more engaged with her children.  As a result of her hard work and the progress of her children, the Intact Worker plans to request the court order for services end early.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the family.

Quarter Mania Event in Hudelson Raises over $2,000

Have you ever thought you could win a Miche bag for $1? How about two tickets to a comedy show for 50 cents? Or maybe a large, 2-topping pizza for just a quarter? On Friday, February 28, guests of our first ever Quarter Mania event did just that!

Quarter Mania, a quarter auction event, was held at the Effingham Elk’s Lodge and over 50 people attended. There were also 11 vendors present, selling items from Tastefully Simple, Thirty-One, Mary Kay and others. Each of the vendors donated at least one item to be “auctioned” and with any sales they made the night of the event, they donated a portion of the proceeds back to One Hope United.

Still wondering how this works? In short, paddles are purchased for $5 in order to gain entry to the event. As the auctioneers, Jayme Godoyo and Samantha Coffey, displayed items and stated the number of quarters needed to win the item, guests who wanted to “bid” put the specified number of quarters into a bucket at their table. The tickets were then mixed up and a number was pulled (like Bingo). The chosen paddle number then won the item (as long as they put their quarters in the bucket!). “All-in” paddles were also offered for $25 and guests who purchased these paddles did not have to throw in their quarters – they were automatically “in” for every round.

Because of the generosity of the Kohl’s Cares program, five volunteers from the Effingham store were on hand to help at the event. We will also be receiving a check from Kohl’s for $500.

Guests had a great time at the event and we have already been approached about when the next Quarter Mania event will be! In total, over $2,300 in-kind was donated for the event and nearly $2,200 in cash was raised to benefit One Hope United programs. Thank you to all who attended or helped to make the event possible.
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Sunshine Coach arrives in Hudelson

Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis awarded another Sunshine Coach to One Hope United’s Hudelson Region. 

The van, valued at $31,323, will be used for clients served by the Collinsville office through Family Support Services and Transportation and Visitation. The vans were awarded at the Champions for Children Summit in St. Louis on November 12, and officially released to One Hope United on Friday, January 24.

Baking Christmas cookies in Centralia

Sprehe-Christmas-CookiesBoard Member Gregory Sprehe has been an asset to One Hope United, and has years of demonstrated leadership within the organization. He is President/Owner of Com-Pac International, Inc. Greg’s wife, Victoria, is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis and had approached Patricia Griffith, Executive Director, about opportunities to volunteer on the residential campus. 

When Greg and Victoria came to the Centralia residential campus for the first session on Wednesday, November 20, it was evident that they have a special place in their hearts for the children of One Hope United. They made a number of desserts and packaged them in “goodie” bags, plastic bags that were made by Greg’s company! Greg and Victoria will be visiting campus again on Wednesday, December 18 – just in time for Christmas! They will be making Christmas goodies and the youth are so excited to spend time with the Sprehes again.

Family Portraits at Centralia Residential

When the leaves begin to change and the air become a little crisper, residential youth know that it is time for their family portraits! Each year at Centralia Residential Treatment, youth and staff dress up and have their photos taken by a professional photographer. It is an exciting day because many of the youth have never had individual photos taken (outside of school pictures). Youth are also encouraged to invite any family members he or she has to join them for the photos. This year’s “Picture Day” was on Sunday, October 27, 2013 and the photos were taken by Jennifer Enkoff Wood. It was a beautiful day and the colors make the photos even more impressive. Staff have the opportunity to have family photos taken that day too. 

A holiday tradition in Centralia is for various sizes of the photos to be printed and given to the youth as one of their Christmas presents. It is always a joy to see their faces when they see their photos for the first time. It is an unexpected gift for youth who have not been here for past Christmas celebrations, and one that they always remember. They cannot wait to show off their photos to staff and their family members. Staff members have already begun the sorting and wrapping of these photos and cannot wait to give them to the youth for Christmas!

Staff Blog: Hudelson Christmas story

Written by Emily Blackburn, Residential Coordinator in Centralia, Ill.

The Christmas holiday is a magical time of year for all but even more so at the Children’s Home. Each year, we spend hours on end planning for Christmas in an attempt to make this Holiday special for the residents that live at One Hope United’s Residential Children’s Home. For many of our residents, this is the only real “Christmas” that they have ever experienced. We have many traditions that we have set for the staff and youth at OHU. Some of these traditions include special arts and crafts activities, trips to look at Christmas lights, listening to Christmas carols, Christmas Stocking decorating, Home Christmas decorating contests and the lists go on. 

This year, I was coloring angel tree tags with some of our female residents. Angel tree tags are used for donors to purchase gifts for the residents on our campus. The youth carefully make their Christmas lists and many times, this is the first Christmas list that they have ever written. As I sat with the youth who were coloring angels, I began to talk to all of the girls about their Holiday traditions. The girls took turns around the table talking about their experiences with the Holidays. One girl stated that when she thinks of Christmas, she thinks of when her stepdad broke her arm. I sat stunned at the table as that was not the response that I was expecting. I processed through the event with the resident and she explained that he had broken her arm and was physically aggressive with her on numerous occasions. She stated that her school reported the abuse and her family did not support her – they sided with the stepdad. I told the resident how sorry I was she had to go through that but reminded her that she is now safe at OHU. 

After hearing this story, I did a lot of self-reflection about my own traditions and how happy my memories of Christmas are from growing up. I have tried to incorporate some of my own childhood traditions with our residents over the years as well. It wasn’t until this Christmas that I had really connected that such happy times for many can be so traumatic for others. As a public servant and employee for OHU, it is my mission to create happy memories and set traditions for the youth that we serve, with hopes that they can leave OHU and be able to reflect on the “happy” and “meaningful” memories that were made at the Children’s home.