The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the temperature's warming up! Spring time is finally here! We've dug ourselves out of snow storms, slid our way through ice storms and we're awake, rejuvenated and re-energized! WIN Family Services is at it again - taking on new projects, enjoying new partnerships, and discovering new opportunties to better serve our community.
We have all the details here so read below!
We're on the Air!
Great news! WIN Family Services, Co-Founder and CEO has just recently launched his own, first-ever radio show. Centered on families and relationships, “Advice for Life” is purposed to strengthen the individuals with the tools they need to have happier and healthier relationships with one another. True to the show’s tagline, “Healthy relationships start with YOU. You determine your relationships, so let’s start with you ,” Mr. Laws offers ways and means for listeners to work on their own relationships and communications skills right in their very own home. Audiences can now tune in on Sundays at 9am on Heaven600 AM, iHeartradio.com, or even visit the podcast on our website at www.winfamilyservices.org/takealisten .
Today's Teens -They're Doing a lot Better
than we Thought They Were
The awesome news just keeps on coming! According to an article posted on Child Trends this past February, youth today are doing much better than we ever anticipated! We’ve spent so many years worrying about our kids and what they’re doing and what they’re getting into, but this enlightening article written by an individual whose job it is to monitor the trends set by today’s kids, shows us that we might not have to worry as much as we think we do. Patterns in teenage drug use, under age drinking, driving mortality, and even pregnancy are steadily declining and leaning toward promising futures for today’s children. So let’s do ourselves a favor and stop worrying so much! Kids today look like they’re making better and healthier decisions.
Read all about these changing trends here: http://www.childtrends.org/there-are-some-good-trends-on-todays-teens/
Committed to Those we Serve
Great news! Our staff works around the clock to provide our clients and their families with the strongest support and best service possible. So it is our pleasure to hear from the people that means the most to us! We are extremely blessed to be working with and for the people that we do and we are ecstatic to hear notes of appreciation from them. Here are just a few highlights…
Ms. Bowman took time to recognize our Parent Compliance Manager, Eva Booth: “I wanted to take the time to really say Thank You for all that you do for me and the rest of the parents. I've never met anyone who has worn so many hats at one time. Girl……. You really put the S in SUPER WOMAN and You take the What I Need in WIN to the next level!!!! I must admit you have spoiled me with your Exceptional Customer Service from the start.”
She also took time to commend one of the members of her team – Family Services Coordinators, Pamela Scott: “Thank You for all that you do for me and my children. I truly feel supported and I feel like we have grown closer professionally. I see that you are very passionate about your job and I appreciate being able to call you at any given time whether it’s during the week or the weekend.”
Robert Tibbs, Family Services Specialist, was also on Ms. Bowman’s radar. Here are just a few words she wanted to share with the agency: “In 2013 I went through a lot. My whole world changed but you didn’t. There were times I needed a shoulder to cry on and just someone of wise counsel to listen to me. Mr. Tibbs you are truly a DAD. If I could choose my birth father it would be you HANDS DOWN…. You have such an amazing way with words. Your words paint a picture when speak. It’s an Experience. You’re always professional and never judgmental. I REALLY APPRECIATE THAT…. You are family to me .”
Ms. Bowman isn’t the only life Mr. Tibbs has touched… read this touching testimonial from two of our parents in Prince George’s County – Mr. and Mrs. Rawles: “ I have learned so much through WIN Family Services and therapy sessions with Robert Tibbs. They not only helped me, they helped my entire household. I’ve had my foster child in my home since we was about 15 years old, he is now getting ready to age out in a few months. I won’t lie, the first couple of years were a bit of a struggle. I asked the Lord every night to put the right words into my mouth, to lead me into the right actions, but I turned right around every time He would try to come in and I shut Him out. Finally, I let Him in and I immediately started to see, feel, and hear the difference. Through the Lord and the lessons provided by WIN, the dynamic between my child and I changed – even the dynamic between my husband and I changed! WIN Family Services saved my marriage! Most of all we discovered that not only did these children need us, we needed them. There was such a difference in my home, especially when you learn to let the Lord in. WIN Family Services truly changed our lives for the better.”
We were so touched by our foster parent’s words and have let them instill inspiration in us to continue our mission.
It’s also quite an experience so receive words of encouragement and recognition from those we work with! Placida Braswell, our Program Director in our Cecil County PRP Office had this to say about her team: When you are close up to a tree, all that you may see is a useful source of wood for the fireplace, a home for insects, birds or squirrels... Or maybe you do see a nice looking (maybe even useful) part of God's creation. No matter what you see, you do not see it all... That, my friends, is not how God sees the tree. When we step back from it and begin to see the value of the tree as a life source that so many depend on (even the very air we breathe is connected to that tree)... you begin to merely scratch the surface of the value of that tree in the community surrounding it.
That, my friends, is how I see each of you:
Pillars of Strength
Roots of Determination
Fruits of Nourishment
Fibers of Hope
The list goes on...you are invaluable!
What we do, we would do for free and many of us have been doing just that for much of our lives by serving others. The hours each of you dedicate to your clients far exceeds the requirement... I know that. The pay you receive is nothing compared to the reward you will receive from your Heavenly Father.I am so honored to serve along side of each of you. Thanks for not quitting when we are in the trenches. When we get to the palace, we will celebrate together!
Let’s not forget the amazing parents that we have as part of WIN Family Services! Family Services Coordinator, Alex Brodt had this to say about one of this special families: “What I want to really highlight most is the fact that Mrs. Sutton has worked hard the last 4 ½ months to love him as her own son and impart knowledge to prepare him for independence. She is also prepared to be a resource for him going forward for advice and emotional support. Mrs. Sutton has welcomed multiple youth she has worked with to lean on her for support in these ways post emancipation which really shows her dedication to ministering to others.”
Great job family! Let’s keep up the AMAZING work!
WIN Teams Up with Project PAYE
Recently, WIN Family Services had the opportunity to facilitate a Family Strengthening Practice training to a team of staff at Project PAYE. Project PAYE focuses on creating a pathway for youth to follow their dreams in whatever career they may choose. This FSP session featured an introduction to FSP training for this group of professionals. As an added bonus, we learned that there was a common thread with both organizations; WIN Family Services and Project PAYE provide services for youth who present with some challenges that Family Strengthening training could be utilized as a tool to offer support. We expressed that WIN Family Services are looking forward to continuing to provide further trainings, and prayerfully building relationship and partnership with their organization!
Having a Ball!
WIN staff was honored to be guests at the annual Fire and Ice Ball this past February. With similar goals as the hosting organization, WIN was excited to be part of such a fun event – complete with dinner, entertainment, and dancing! Hosted by Good Cause, an organization dedicated to being the change they want to see in the community, WIN PRP Cecil County was so honored to stand along side them and support the event which benefitted the Good Cause mission. The “Be the Change” campaign puts it work into effect by assessing and meeting the needs of at-risk youth and single mothers in the community. We are so excited for what this partnership holds in store for the two organizations in the future!
Mark Your Calendars!
May 1st marks the beginning of National Foster Care Month! Once again, WIN Family Services will be taking part in the month long effort to raise awareness for foster care and the various needs of the children in our nation. We will be participating in a month long effort to recruit loving individuals who would like to become foster parents and educate existing and future parents on the needs of children enrolled in care. Join us and let’s make a real difference in a foster child’s life today!
Happy New Year family! We are so excited to be entering this exciting time with all of you and can’t wait to share what we have been up to and what’s to come for this exciting year! The holiday season has come to an end and there are so many people we would like to acknowledge and there are so many projects to look forward to as 2015 opens its doors to us. Read on for more news from WIN!
Happy Holidays at WIN!
WIN Family Services is proud to announce that our 2014 Holiday Extravaganza was a huge success! After months and months of planning and preparation, we could not believe the holiday season was already here... and if there is something WIN Family Services knows how to do, it’s how to have a great time! Over 250 guests attended our events held at the Delta Center in Baltimore and the American Legion in Greenbelt. With rooms adorned with bright Christmas decorations and filled with lively music, parents and youth were greeted by staff in reindeer antlers and Santa hats. While sharing a delicious meal, guests were able to enjoy entertainment provided by the youth themselves – everything from musical numbers to fashion shows. The end of the night came the biggest surprise. Youth were given heartfelt Christmas gifts! Each child, no matter his or her age, was able to choose from games, toys, teddy bears, cosmetics, and sports equipment. Guests as well as staff left the events with hearts just as full as their stomachs! We are looking forward to next year!
We Couldn't Have Done it Without You!
It has been a whirlwind of a holiday season and we’re finally getting a chance to catch our breaths! We have so many people and organizations to thank for making our holiday extravaganzas immense successes! What’s a great holiday event without amazing food? Hip Hop Fish and Chicken donated delicious meals for both our Lanham and Baltimore organizations! Our youth and families thoroughly enjoyed the best fried chicken Maryland has to offer! A special thank you also goes to the very generous organizations who made this a very special Christmas for our youth. Thank you to The Steve Smith Foundation, MECU, Evergreen Technologies, Hall of Fame City Sports, Kingdom Church International, Refreshing Life Ministry, and Perfect Order of Church; the looks on all the children’s faces as they opened their presents were absolutely priceless. You all have made this a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday for our community!
WIN in Toyland
WIN Family Services teamed up with spiritual radio station, Heaven 600AM, to create a memorable holiday experience for youth. December 1st marked the first of three toy drives benefitting WIN foster youth and youth in need. The Baltimore Pain Relief Center hosted the first toy drive of the season and we are proud to announce the event had a great turnout! On December 18th, we held two more drives at both the Big Lots in Reisterstown Plaza and the Walgreens at Quarry Lake Shopping Center. Everything from toys, to sports equipment, to winter-wear, to make-up sets were donated from members of the community. Heaven 600AM listeners were able to hear first-hand accounts from members of WIN staff who shared information about the organization and real-life stories of how a simple gift could change lives. We are so thankful and blessed to have been a part of such a great event! Thank you again goes to all those who participated, especially Heaven 600, George McCreedy, Doresa Harvey, The Baltimore Pain Relief Center, Big Lots, Walgreens and all those who took time to stop by the drive and donate!
"Ms. Boston was part of our organization many years ago. We always love to hear from our former clients. Read more about Ms. Boston’s story:
To begin this wonderful story about Win Family Services the first thing I can say is blessing; that is exactly what WIN Family Services was to me. I was a bit of a rebellious teenager as you could say. I entered foster care around the age of 12, so by the age of 18 all I knew and wanted (at that time) was freedom. My desire for the wrong things led me to be kicked out of foster care, which in turn left me homeless. I had nowhere to turn, no friends, no family and had almost lost hope.
I reached out to the Department of Social Services Baltimore County who told me there was nothing they could do to help me. After hours of sitting in their office crying and not knowing what I could even possibly do, one of the workers, Ms. Tonjua Boston presented an idea of the “Aftercare Program” which allowed youth whose cases had been closed to come back into care, on a contractual basis. Without hesitation, I signed the contract. Unfortunately, even with the contract being signed they still would have to find me a placement, which I was told could take weeks, or even a month. The Department recommended me staying at a women’s shelter until something available came up.
At that moment I began to pray, I had no idea what was going to happen, how it was going to happen or even when. All I knew was God was going to fix it. Not long after praying did Ms. Tonjua Boston come up to me around 4:30 in the afternoon and said “we have an interview for you, get ready we’re going tonight.” The interview turned out to be with WIN Family Services. I remember meeting Mr. Gregg Harris (who did the intake with me) and he was so sweet, and compassionate, and truly genuine. I cried and told them I didn’t know where I was going and what I was doing. After a long emotional meeting, Mr. Harris presented me with the best news I felt I had heard in years at that point… They had found me a foster home, all within the same day.
I arrived at social services, got an interview with WIN Family Services and was placed into a foster home that night at 9pm. I remember this like it was yesterday! I knew God would come through, and He came through with AMAZING people. Eventually during my stay in WIN Family Services I was placed with a wonderful foster mother named Ava Powell. She was another blessing in disguise. She worked with me to get back into college, how to gain independent skills, introduced me to church…but most importantly she actually treated me like her own child. To this day, years later I still call her “Ma”, I still talk to her, and still see her. She is my family, and I have God and WIN Family Services to thank for that.
This program is truly a blessing; programs like WIN set the standard of quality. WIN is more than a program, it is a family. Thank you WIN from the bottom of my heart, you truly have helped change and impact my life for the better."
- W. Boston
DREAM-ing of a Re-Launch
WIN Family Services is re-launching its newest program in 2015. We are now offering our DREAM group to adults! Now all the fun opportunities given to our youth will be extended to our adult clients. DREAM (Destiny Realized Equal Achievement Maximized) is our talents and arts development group in which our clients are encouraged to practice and hone the skills of their choice and use them as part of their healing process. In 2015, adults can now take part in the activities and use their God-given talents therapeutically. We are truly looking forward to this program and discovering creative ways to help with healing!
See Annie "Tomorrow"!
If you haven’t gotten a chance to see the newly released “Annie”, I highly recommend you do so! Not only does this film capture our hearts the way that the original Broadway show and 1980s film did, but the modernization and relatability takes this movie to all new heights. The prominent message of the movie, as it has always been is “Family is the greatest gift of all”, but there are a few changes to the story that are simply hard to miss.
According to an article from the The Adoption Institute, while the film alludes to the foster care system of this nation, there are a few occurrences that are solely meant to make a touching Hollywood script. It is the Institute’s hope that as a nation, we find a way to bridge these gaps so that the real-world children arrive at their happy endings.
First, Annie (played by Quvenzhané Wallis) is not an orphan, but a foster child. This simple change sheds some light on the reality of thousands of youth in America, and for that we are thankful. However, while being adopted by a famous, wealthy, single individual shares a hopeful message, it is far from the norm. It is the goal of foster care agencies across the U.S. to bring these children to their forever homes, how ever only a fraction of foster children are adopted within the country. We are constantly in search of individuals who are willing to provide kids with a happy and healthy home.
Next, true to the original story line, Annie embarks on a journey to find her birth parents. WIN Family Services stresses the importance of birth family contact. There may be issues within the family, bad decisions could have been made, but there is still love. Interacting with the birth family is essential to the healing of youth enrolled in our therapeutic program. And much like Annie, for someone who has never known their birth parents, there is still that curiosity and fantasy of where he or she really came from. Unlike the movie, in present day foster care or adoptive situations, birth families play a more prominent role in the life of the child.
Also, while we hope to create similar happy endings, just like Annie and Mr. Sparks (played by Jamie Foxx), there are some that take a slightly different path. WIN Family Services, has been blessed to have witnessed happy endings of our own, but what about the thousands of other youth in the nation? In the world? The new “Annie” film calls us to think about various ways we can take the necessary steps to ensure more heart-warming story lines. Let this film inspire you to give a foster child the happy ending they deserve. Be the parent every child dreams about!
Lastly, there is one parallel between the movie and the real-world that we cannot deny – the resiliency of these children. Annie, just as most children in similar situations, displays a strength and nature that comes unique to those who have been dealt a more difficult hand. We aspire to have the same unrelenting spirit and hope as these children. Just like Annie, let us maintain optimism and cheerfulness even when we experience disappointments. Children that have been placed in care are courageous and smart, let us be the ones to uphold their spirits! Find out how you can be a blessing in a child’s life today.
A Perfect Love
For the past two years, we have been partnering with Perfect Order Church of Baltimore City with the past two years. With the motto, “Where imperfect people worship a perfect God,” Perfect Order’s mission is to promote acts of love throughout the city, no matter of the situation or background, and we have been honored to join with them to make a difference in our community. Throughout the years, Perfect Order Church has helped WIN in creating memorable experiences for our foster youth and providing them with the best we have to offer. We are truly grateful for their support and the support of Pastor Alex Butler. Lov3Works is a great non-profit Pastor Butler created, committed to providing those in need with the necessities of daily life – whether it is a hot meal, clothing, or just coaching for the means to live a full life. Please consider donating to this wonderful cause and help make Baltimore a better place for all! Visit http://www.perfectordermovement.org/ today!
A Night on the Red CarpetWIN Family Services will be present for the Baltimore Red Carpet Premiere of “Nocturnal Agony”, a faith-based movie that addresses issues that plague today’s community such as mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse, and substance addictions. Join on us on February 15th for this red carpet event, complete with appearances from gospel artist Hezekiah Walker and actor Lawrence Hilton Jacobs. Contact us today for more information on how to purchase tickets for the premiere at (410)578-8003. To learn more about the movie, visit http://www.nocturnalagonythemovie.com/.