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/.