News

November 2014 Newsletter

Happy Holidays family! The weather is crisp and the days are shorter, but WIN Family Services, Inc. is as hard at work as ever! This has truly been an busy but exciting time for our organization and we can't wait to share some great news with you! From holiday events and new programs, we have a fun-filled season in store for you!

Take a look!

Great Nonprofits photo resizedWIN is Top-Rated!

WIN Family Services has recently been named a 2014 Top Rated non-profit by GreatNonprofits.org! Organizations with this distinguished award are known for the amazing work being done in each community and beyond! This honor and is all thanks to the awesome reviews we received from various members of the community. We are truly touched and humbled, yet proud of the work we have done in the community. We promise to continue to uphold the excellence we have been commended for! Thank you for everyone’s support and trust in us!

 

 

 

Through the Hills horseback riding program 5

WIN Team in Cecil County is opening up their children to wonderful experiencesl. Their latest endeavor? Horseback riding! What better way to expand a child’s worldview than to place them up close and personal with one of the most beautiful creatures on this planet – horses! Children enrolled in Cecil County’s program are getting the chance to experience these magnificent animals as part of their therapy. The Freedom Hills Horseback Riding Program is a fun and safe way to get your kids outdoors. Are you looking for a new activity for your kids? Consider horseback riding at Freedom Hills, every Tuesday and Thursday from 4pm-6pm.

For more information visit http://www.freedomhills.org/

 

never give up photoNever Give Up!

 

“Changing lives…Strengthening Families.” That is what WIN is all about. So, when one of our Direct Services Workers took time to write us about how one of her clients was doing, we were elated to hear of the progress and the strides taken to improve the life of one individual. It’s accounts like this that keep us going in times of difficulty. We extend a special thank you to Ms. Smith for never giving up. See below for a special message from one of our Direct Service Workers:

“Good evening Family!

I'm just giving an update on a client that I spoke about in our last contract review meeting. I was extremely concerned and upset about her being alone in her situation, with a house full of family. It disturbed me that out of a husband, five adult children and a host of other family and friends, no one was ever there to support her in her few times of need, especially now, when she was facing something that could have destroyed her entire life, as she knew it. Out of everyone, she felt that I was the only person who cared and stood by her because of our monthly visits and our many texts that we exchange weekly. It pained me that she had to go through so much on her own when she was always there for everyone else, giving so much of herself that she rarely had enough left over for herself.

Well, my update is that prayer works! My client had court yesterday. Out of everyone, only her mother, lawyer and I showed up to support her. After a lot of hugging and praying, her case was called. I did not expect to have to speak to the Judge, but when asked, I took a deep breath and spoke the truth. The Judge was shock and elated that the system actually worked for someone. The court appointed my client therapy, and through the therapist, WIN came into play. The judge was so impressed by my client's progress and her assurance that she would stick with our program that she was released without probation. It was clear that my client made mistakes, not because she was a bad person, but like many of our clients, she was crying out for help within a situation that was extremely overwhelming, as well as, scary. Today, another representative and I attended a memorial service of our clients' mother. We were there to support our clients, as well as, their family and friends not because we had to but because since the moment we found out that their mother made that transition, our hearts would not allow us to stay away. With this “job”, come many rewards and challenges. We sign on to share in the good times, as well as, the sad and heart wrenching times.

We all fall short, but how many of us has a love one to catch us? How many of us know that others will not allow us to stay down for long? Or, how many of us are truly alone and only have the pure kindness of others, which are placed in your life for one reason or another, to lift you up? We, as DSWs, have power that we should not ever take for granted. Our actions, no matter the reason or how small the amount of time spent, we are a prayer answered to many.”

-          D.Smith

 

 

 

 WIN is Recognized for Its High Level of Care

WIN Family Services’ DYRS program has been recommended for its high level of care and attention for each child enrolled. Ms. Laing, Program Manager for DYRS, took time thank our staff members for the assistance they provided to one particular youth in need, no matter what time or day. “This speaks volumes of your commitment and dedication to this population,” she says.

As an organization, we work hard to provide each and every child with the time and attention they deserve. We are truly dedicated to the well-being of our clients and are glad others are willing to take on the same mission. WIN Family Services will continue to produce great results and assist in building new lives and futures for our foster youth.

 

Steve Smith croppedThank You Steve Smith!


There are truly amazing people in this world and Steve Smith, Sr. of the Baltimore Ravens and the entire Steve Smith Foundation family is testaments to that. As we have been preparing for our Holiday Extravaganza for the youth and families we serve, we called upon the help of our community to make this vision a reality. It was such an unexpected but HUGE blessing to have received a very generous donation from the Steve Smith Family Foundation. Our heads are still reeling from the generosity!

The Steve Smith Family Foundation aims to provide hope and inspiration to youth and adults in need. Mr. Smith, that is exactly what you have done with your donation to our organization. Thank you for taking the time to instill a sense of pride, self-worth, and happiness in those we work with. You have truly helped us change lives. THANK YOU STEVE SMITH FAMILY FOUNDATION! 

 

WIN is doing #GivingTuesday

givingtuesdaylogo
It’s that time of year again! The days are getting shorter and the weather’s getting colder. We must be approaching the holidays and WIN Family Services is once again taking part in GivingTuesday, What’s GivingTuesday, you ask? GivingTuesday falls on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday – two days focused on buying and getting. Why not dedicate a day focused on giving and helping? Our GivingTuesday campaigns asks of one simple thing. This year, we are working to provide our foster kids and families with a memorable holiday experience – complete with a warm meal, lively entertainment, and thoughtful presents. But we can’t do this alone! We are asking for the help of our supporters and members of the community.

 Kindly visit our GivingTuesday Razoo page at http://givingtuesday.razoo.com/story/Winholidaycelebration. Every penny received will go toward a new gift for each child in our program. Give the gift that keeps on giving…show a child they are loved this holiday!

 

Parent Reminders

New Foster Parent Orientation will take place January 2015

Parent Support Meetings will resume January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Posts

Welcome to the award winning  WIN Family Services Blog ! Here we will explore more in depth the many facets of WIN! Do you have any pressing questions about therapeutic foster care or community mental health? Have you ever wondered about our take on current events and its effects on the community? Need us to cover specific lessons from the Family Strengthening Practice Model? The WIN Family Services Blog will be your one stop shop for a more in depth look at all things WIN; click here to start reading!

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January 2014 Newsletter

Happy Holidays from WIN Family Services, Inc.! This season has been gearing up to be a busy but fun-filled couple of months. In this issue of the WIN Family Newsletter, you will find exciting news about new additions to the website, upcoming projects, past collaborations, and special awards/announcements! Read below for more on the latest from WIN Family Services!

 

WIN Family Services Recognizes Feats of a Wonderful Parent

Shontee McMillan 3WIN Family Services is proud to have Ms. McMillan as a part of our team. She has been a tremendous source of support and inspiration for our youth. Recently, she opened up to WIN about the difficulties she faces in life and how she never let those struggles get in the way of her calling in her personal testimony:

In 2009, I became a foster parent for WIN Family Services.  My fervor for working with challenging youths made me one of WIN’s most dedicated parents.  Originally from Saginaw, MI I got a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Michigan University.  My major was English, Language, and Literature with Mathematics minor.  I moved to Baltimore in 2000 to become a middle school Language Arts teacher with Baltimore City Public School System.  I graduated Magna Cum Laude with my Masters in Secondary Education in 2009 from Towson University.  After teaching 6-10th grade English and Language Arts for 10 years, I became an English Adjunct Professor at Baltimore City Community College, BCCC.

 I am now a Student Success Specialist/Case Manager for the Academic Acceleration for African American Males (4A) Program.  In August of 2012 I faced my greatest challenge ever…I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Rectum Cancer.  After doing two rounds of chemotherapy treatment, radiation, and having surgery I am blessed to be cancer free!  The past 1 ½ years has proven to be extremely difficult for me. Because of my permanent colostomy, I became extremely self-conscious, depressed, and ultimately suicidal.  However, after 9 months of “living hell”, I woke up one day and the fog was clear, my cognitive functions were beginning to improve, and I decided to accept my NEW NORMAL.

 I realize that my work here on earth is not yet done.  So, I decided to continue my passion of working with students, education, loving on family and friends while writing a book and shooting a documentary to share my story.  I am also starting a foundation called SO Shontee’.  The foundation will be for minority children who have an ostomy.  I will be able to show those children someone who looks like them while also providing books written by minority authors as well as pouch covers.  I find reverence in two very personal scriptures from Jeremiah; 17:14 ‘Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise’ and 29: 11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Mr. Laws Recongized by the StateGovernoncitation resized

WIN Family Services, Inc. is proud to be led by an all-inspiring individual – Alford Laws, Jr.  This past October, Mr. Laws was honored by both Governor Martin O’Malley  and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake for his 20 years of exemplary service and dedication to the youth and families of Maryland. Governor O’Malley and Mayor Rawlings Blake expressed their admiration and appreciation of Mr. Laws’ efforts in improving lives and communities by issuing certificates of recognition, presented to him by a member of the WIN Team, Dawn James. Please join us in celebrating our leader; congratulations Mr. Laws!

 

 

 Congratulations Mr. Laws!

Congratulations to WIN Family Services CEO, Alford Laws, Jr. who was honored at the 6th Annual Dream 4 It, Inc.’s Sensational Summer Night event for his efforts to improve the lives of youth and families across Maryland. Held at the Gordon Performing Arts Center in Owings Mills, MD, over 400 people attended the concert event which featured artists such as Doreen Vail and Micah Smith. Founded in 2008, The Dream4It Foundation raises funds to support numerous educational endeavors designed to provide youth with scholarships for higher education positioning them to realize their Dreams. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $40,000.00 in educational scholarships. We are so proud to be led by Mr. Laws, whose unwavering compassion support has helped thousands!

Learn  more about Dream4It,Inc.

 

A Season of Fun and Frolick!

tfcholiday2 resizedOn December 17th, the Delta Sigma Theta sisters and alumni of Baltimore graciously invited WIN to the Delta Center for a day of celebration and entertainment for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program. They also offered many activities and presents for youth and families to take part in. DREAM wowed the audience with a presentation of the talents and skills they had taken time to practice and hone. Everyone had a great time!

Just a few days later, 92Q Jams and Konan joined WIN Family Services, Inc. and its therapeutic foster care program for holiday festivities. Each child enjoyed a present donated from 92Q’s toy drive and Perfect Order Church.  Konan, 92Q’s popular on-air personality, deejayed and hosted the entire event, providing entertainment and activities for youth and parents. As a special surprise, Lil’ Key and Beans and Frank made guest appearances and performed for the audience.

WIN would like to extend its immense gratitude to the Delta sisters, Perfect Order Church,  92Q Jams, and Konan for generously giving their time, efforts  and donations to making these special events  possible!

 

WIN Teams up with 92Q Jams

WIN Family Services geared up for the holiday season, partnering with 92Q Jams and on-air personality, Konan for the annual Toydrive1 resized92Q Toy Drive. Despite the bitter cold, hearts were warmed as dozens of individuals from the Baltimore community took time to visit the toy drive table posted outside of Walmart located in Randallstown. Radio station representatives also took posts at other Walmart locations in Catonsville and Owings Mills. Donations ranged from dolls to racecars, from board games to puzzles. From 2pm to 6 pm, WIN staff, parents and youth were present for the event and even got a chance to be featured in interviews. During the toy drive, Konan also interviewed those who took time to donate to the youth in need. When asked why they were donating answers ranged from, “You can’t forget about the kids,” and “You should always help those in need.”  “We are truly blessed and humbled to witness the support we’ve received today. These people have truly embraced the spirit of Christmas and are ensuring that our children have a very happy holiday,” shared WIN Family Services CEO – Alford Laws, Jr. With over 100 toys, games, and crafts in tow, all donations were used as presents for WIN’s youth and families at the organization’s annual holiday event. WIN would like to extend a special thank you to 92Q Jams and Konan for facilitating the event making it all possible.

 

 

WIN Meets with New Antioch Congregation

WIN Family Services, Inc.  was very excited for the opportunity to host an information and training session at New Antioch Baptist Church on December 7th. Members from the community were able to gather at New Antioch to learn more about WIN Family Services and receive a special and dynamic presentation from the CEO himself – Al Laws, Jr. During the holiday season, Reverend Kenneth Barney invited WIN to speak to the church congregation and post a resource booth to answer any questions and receive more information after services. WIN Family Services, Inc. is very interested in creating long lasting partnerships with churches all across Maryland. To meet with a representative for volunteer opportunities and how to get involved in your own community or to schedule a presentation for your own congregation, please contact Laura Mueller at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or give us a call at (410)578-8003.

 

Ray Lewis Foundation Holiday Dinner Giveaway

raylewis4 resized WIN Family Services, Inc. was very excited to once again be a part of the annual Ray Lewis Foundation Thanksgiving Dinner Giveaway on November 26, 2013. Numerous organizations - including WIN Family Services, MCS Services, and Maryland Physicians Care -  gathered at Liberty Elementary School and partnered with the Ray Lewis Foundation to create a memorable event for all, ensuring that families across Maryland have a delightful Thanksgiving.  Even a cold, rainy morning could not keep volunteers and attendees away. From the morning until the afternoon, volunteers worked to put together 500 meals for the less fortunate.

Families all over Maryland were nominated by partnering organizations and invited to take part in the event. With over 10 staff volunteers on board, WIN Family Services assisted in creating an enjoyable experience for all of the event’s attendees. Some volunteers assisted in putting together Thanksgiving meals with items donated from Frito Lay, Safeway, and Schmidt Baking. Other volunteers assisted in directing families to where they could go to pick up their items.  “The turnout was wonderful! So many people came out to help out during with the giveaway. The event went off without a hitch,” shared Kristina Ramos, WIN Family Services’ Communication Coordinator, “I can’t wait for next year’s event!”

 

 

WIN takes part in Harvest for the Hungryharvest1 resized

WIN Family Services recently partnered with Heaven 600 to promote “Harvest for the Hungry”,a food drive for the  Bea Gaddy Foundation (http://www.bea-gaddy.org/index.html ). “Harvest for the Hungry” was held all day, November 14th,  at the Stop Shop and Save, located on Harford Avenue. WIN Family Services staff joined representatives from Heaven 600 and Inspirations in collecting donations from the community that would ensure the less fortunate a happy and fulfilling Thanksgiving. Sponsors of the event included MECU, the Model Lyric Opera House, Turkey Hill, and Manifest Wonders Christian Center. “While we are a human services organization ourselves, we recognize the need to give back to the community. We’re very excited to take part in this event,” said Alford Laws, Jr., CEO of WIN Family Services, Inc. WIN Family Services staff, Family Strengthening team members, parents and youth were interviewed on-air by radio personality, Doresa Harvey, sharing information regarding therapeutic foster care and mental health services, as well as information about Family Strengthening and how to get involved within the community.

 Those coming in to do their weekly grocery shopping at the store walked into a pleasant surprise. The fun-filled event included activities such as raffles for movie tickets, free giveaways, and even a performance by female gospel group, Immeasurable. Throughout the day, members of the Baltimore community stopped into the grocery store and filled at least four cartloads of non-perishable food items, utensils, paperware, and monetary donations. Mark Davis, WIN’s Director of Family Strengthening shared, “This was a great opportunity for WIN Family to come together with different organizations and ensure that people across Maryland have a wonderful Thanksgiving!”

To view more photos of the event, visit www.heaven600.com.

 

Rodney Burris - The Voice of the Community

rodneyburrisDelegate Rodney Burris is a political consultant and family advocate that has been a helping hand for the Baltimore community for years. Mr. Burris offers a wide range of experience within the Baltimore community as an educator, national speaker, youth and family advocate and entrepreneur. With the betterment of the youth as his main priority, Mr. Burris has been tutoring students and encouraging them to be the leaders they wish to see in this world. He is especially skilled in speaking to his audiences about life after graduation, future careers, positive decision making, constructive communication, goal-setting, credit awareness, financial budgeting, and community involvement. In addition to his life as an educator and speaker, Mr. Burris has also developed workshops that are designed to leave individuals equipped with tools to effectively access and utilize resources, and with an encouraged sense of direction. Currently, WIN Family Services has teamed up with Mr. Burris and his fervor for neighborhood empowerment to promote the Family Strengthening legislation in Baltimore City.  He is truly an advocate for the Family Strengthening Model and its impact on the community.

To read more about this endeavor, click here.

 

WIN Family Services takes part in the Classic Casserole Program

arthurjasmine

The days are growing shorter and colder. During these cold months, everyone looks forward to having a nice, hot meal to warm the bones. This holiday season, WIN Family Services is taking part in Our Daily Bread’s Classic Casserole Program (http://www.catholiccharities-md.org/our-daily-bread/odb-food-service/food-donations.html ). We are inviting all staff, parents, and youth to take part by making delicious Chicken and Broccoli casseroles to be distributed at the Our Daily Bread Employment Center hot meal program. We would like to ensure individuals and families throughout Baltimore have a delicious, nutritious and hot meal to enjoy. We will be collecting frozen casseroles and dropping them off to the center in Baltimore. Pans used for the casseroles must come in the uniform size of ½ size pan with dimensions of 2 9/16 inch deep and 12x10 inches. We will be collecting all casseroles to be dropped off by December 16th 2013 at 12pm. See below for casserole directions and the recipe:

Casseroles must be:

-  Made

-  Covered tightly in foil

-  Labeled with the date and name of recipe and group

-  Frozen in the home

-  The group has a drop-off point (usually a church or business parking lot) on a designated date

-  Have drivers bring them to Our Daily Bread Employment Center 

 

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Ingredients needed:

• 8 oz. wide egg noodles, cooked and drained

• 2 packages frozen broccoli, cooked and drained

• 6 slices yellow cheese

• 2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted

• 4 chicken breasts, cooked

 

The cost for ingredients to make this casserole is about $20. If you are interested in participating, please give us a call at (410)578-8003 or email Kristina Ramos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Learn more about the Classic Casserole Program!

 

New Additions!

WIN Family Services is pleased to announce the addition of our Events page on the website! Visitors of the website are now able to stay in the loop of all WIN events from trainings, to DREAM meetings, to holiday parties. Just visit WIN Family Services and click on the “Events” tab for our full calendar and check to see what we have in store for you this month.

Take a look at our upcoming events and see how you can get involved today! : http://winfamilyservices.org/eventcalendar/cat.listevents/2013/11/21/-

 

Reminders

‘Tis the season! WIN Family Services is gearing up for a fun-filled and hectic holiday season. Take a look at just some of the exciting events we have lined up this year!

December 7, 2013 10am to 1pm – WIN Family Services Collaboration event at Perkins Square Baptist Church

December 15, 2013 – WIN Family Services Information and Training Session at New Antioch

December 21, 2013 11am to 2pm – WIN Team DREAM Ryte Tyme Café Holiday Event

 

 

 

 

March 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to the WIN Family Services Newsletter! As Spring draws nearer, we've been busy as bee!  In this issue of the WIN Family Newsletter, you will find a special story from one of our former foster youth, information on special events and updates about our latest community outreach project! Read below for more on the latest from WIN Family Services!

WIN Team Shares Special Writing

Kelly L. of WIN Team wrote a thought-provoking piece on conformity. Kelly was generous enougkelly resizedh to share his writing with all of WIN Family Services (image to right is not of Kelly L.):

Conforming means the act of matching attitudes, beliefs to group’s norms. It also tells about having the attitude to following a policy; for example, when your mom tells you to do something positive and you conform to it. It’s best to conform when you know something bad is going to happen.

Do we conform or obey other people all the time? Of course not, but there are times that we do. So when is it good to conform? It is good to conform when someone is telling you something that will benefit you to do better. Another advantage of conformity is when it has something to do with your life; for example, when a doctor tells you to take your medication religiously so that your health issues can be resolved. Now, when can we say that to conform is not advisable? If negative advice is given; for example, if someone tells you to do something negative like kill someone, or beat someone up, then it is not good to conform. Another disadvantage of not conforming is when it’s against your will; for example, when someone forces you to do something that you don’t want to do. After knowing the advantages and disadvantages of conformity, as a teenager, I can say that nowadays many of my fellow teenagers are breaking the law, killing people, stealing, dropping out of school, etc.

What about you? Do you easily conform?

 WIN Reunites with a SpeciaAl and Donald resizedl Young Man

Almost 10 years ago, Donald Smoot walked through the doors of WIN Family Services, feeling scared and alone. He first entered foster care at five years-old and was placed in 50 homes before joining WIN’s program as a teenager. “I felt like nobody wanted me...Until I met this guy”, remembers Smoot as he took the time to speak with WIN staff at the monthly CEO Address on February 17, 2014. That guy was none other than WIN CEO, Alford Laws, Jr.  Smoot  went on to recall his experience with WIN, expressing his gratitude to all of those that made an impact and stayed with him throughout his time with the agency. He also shared that he has remained close with the family that WIN had placed with him so many years before, spending holidays with them and keeping in touch as much as possible. A true testament to how just giving youth love and support can move mountains; Smoot went on from WIN’s program to attain his college degree and is now a paramedic firefighter and Regional Field Safety Coordinator.

WIN Family Services, Inc. is truly grateful to Mr. Smoot for taking the time to speak with the entire staff. His story renewed the spirits of many, particularly Donte Griffin, a Family Training Specialist,  “All those days, nights, all those seeds [we planted]… you will find them."  We look forward to seeing Mr. Smoot and all of our former foster youth in the days to come!

 

WIN is Going to the Circus! Ringling Brothers resized

Every now and then special events come into town that provide enjoyable and memorable experiences for our kids. On February 27, 2014 WIN  was blessed to receive a donation of vouchers to opening night of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. We would like to extend a special thank you to Tiffanee Daley, Ashley Johnson and the entire Feld Entertainment team for their assistance and extreme generosity in facilitating this exciting and fun-filled event for our youth. The tickets will be distributed to our youth in Baltimore and Prince George’s County so that they may take part in the memorable show. We truly appreciate Feld Entertainment for making this event possible for our youth.

WIN Holds Canned Food Drive larspantry resized

WIN Family Services, Inc. has partnered with LARS (Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services) in their mission to uplift communities throughout Maryland. LARS’s mission is to assist the homeless and low-income individuals experiencing crisis by offering services that promote self-sufficiency. We are excited to partner with them as a source of support for the Howard, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties of Maryland. To learn more about LARS, visit their website at www.laureladvocacy.org.

Too many times, individuals and families lack the means and necessities to lead happy and healthy lives. Families do no always have an opportunity to have a full and nutritious meal. WIN Family Services will be holding a company-wide food drive in which all locations will be participating. All non-perishable food items will be donated to LARS’s food pantry that directly assists those in need. Items needed include: canned meats, tuna and tuna helper, canned fruits/vegetables, Spaghettios, canned soup/stew, crackers, peanut butter and jelly, juice boxes, macaroni and cheese, pasta, rice, spaghetti sauce, cereal, oatmeal, “just add water” pancake mix, and shelf stable milk. Due to limited storage space, LARS will not be collecting clothing or furniture items at this time. We will be collecting food donations all throughout March.

We would love to have everyone – staff, parents, and clients -  involved and really give back to the community! For more information on how you can help, please contact Kristina Ramos at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Parent Reminders

March 25, 2014, 6pm – Parent Support Meeting at  Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church

April 1, 2014 5:30pm - Baltimore New Parent Orientation

April 3, 2014 5:30pm - Prince George's County New Parent Orientation

Stay Tuned! WIN Family Services will be launching its first blog April 1st! Need parenting advice? Any pressing questions you might need answers to? Want to further explore family strengthening? The blog will be your one stop shop for all things WIN!

October 2013

 Welcome to the WIN Family Services Newsletter! In this issue, we will feature great news about our youth and their accomplishments, a re-cap of last spring's "Rock the Runway" event, news of recognition of awards in WIN Wins, a look into the recent trip our youth were able to take to Georgia at the Hip Hop Summit Event, and the inspiring story of our CEO's commitment to the youth and the community, as told by ABC2 News!

 

Congratulations Mr. Laws!

Congratulations to WIN Family Services CEO,  Alford Laws, Jr. who was honored at the 6th Annual Dream 4 It, Inc.’s Sensational Summer Night event for his efforts to improve the lives of youth and families across Maryland. Held at the Gordon Performing Arts Center in Owings Mills, MD, over 400 people attended the concert event which featured artists such as Doreen Vail and Micah Smith. Founded in 2008, The Dream4It Foundation raises funds to support numerous educational endeavors designed to provide youth with scholarships for higher education positioning them to realize their Dreams. To date, the Foundation has awarded nearly $40,000.00 in educational scholarships. We are so proud to be led by Mr. Laws, whose unwavering compassion support has helped thousands!

To learn more about Dream4It, Inc. visit: http://dream4it.net/

 

 

Congratulations to our Youth!graduates

WIN Family Services, Inc. is proud to announce the successful high school graduation of six of our youth in Prince George’s County and 11 of our youth in Baltimore. This spring, many of our youth in Prince George’s County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City also graduated from elementary or middle school! In the weeks leading up to these momentous occasions in their lives, our youth have achieved notable success such as: making curfew, achieving straight A’s, and being a part of the Honor Roll for the entire year! Please find time to recognize and send our well wishes to these outstanding youth. Congratulations everyone, you’ve made us all proud!


DREAM Reaches New Levels

WIN Family services is excited to share news of a wonderful breakthrough with our youth in DREAM at our Prince George’s County office location! With the suggestion of one of our Family Services Coordinators, Tristan Meltzer, our youth wrote “Letters to our Younger Selves”. Mark Davis, our Director of Family Strengthening, took time to speak about the dynamic and fruitful experience, “We had the most powerful evening in DREAM PG since I’ve been here.  The youth were engaged, empowered, inspired, and encouraged.  Best of all, we have it all on tape!...Tonight was the largest attendance outside of DREAM in the Park that we’ve ever had. Let’s keep the momentum going!”

Tymera Wheeler, a Family Services Specialist at WIN, commended Mark and DREAM on a job well done:

“I want to congratulate you for one of the best D.R.E.A.M programs I have participated in.  The energy was high, there was plenty of participation and the food was off the chain!  Thank you for having the vision and conviction to continue to improve the format that provides our children the opportunity to show their God given talent.  I was excited to attend and look forward to the next D.R.E.A.M".

Mark is looking forward to the next DREAM meeting to continue brainstorming great ideas on taking DREAM to the next level!


Youth Dazzle Audience At "Rock the Runway" Event

Mark Davis stood in front of the silent kids of the DREAM program. “So…who’s interested?”  He prodded the teens again, hoping to get more of a response than the crickets that could be heard chirping from a distance.  Mark, WIN Family Services’ Director of Family Strengthening had just finished proposing the idea of a fashion show event featuring DREAM participants. He was met with shifting glances from the kids, either to each other or just to their shoes – avoiding all eye contact.

rocktherunwaycroppedWIN’s DREAM program (acronym for Destiny Realized Equals Achievement Maximized) was designed to help youth realize and hone their God-given talents and interests. As an arts and cultural enrichment program, DREAM participants utilize their inherent strengths as therapeutic approach to achieving life goals. Its main purpose is to help the children achieve the confidence that he or she needs to become what they have always aspired to be in life.

Shaquan, one of the older girls in the program, tugged at her faded t-shirt, “What am I supposed to wear?” In a world where they have experienced far too many transitions and disappointments, a glamorous and flashy event such as a fashion show seemed too far out of reach. To parade in front of an audience exhibiting the utmost confidence was unheard of. Many of the youth here had been taken from their homes and moved from place to place; their personal belongs dwindling to a few toiletries and basic articles of clothing – hardly the essentials to create a full-on fashion extravaganza. “I’m going to rock the runway?” Shaquan asked again. 

In the upcoming weeks, the WIN Family Services staff and the DREAM participants worked around the clock, with the determination to pull off an amazing event. Most of the youth involved in the fashion show entered foster care with only the clothes on their back. This just would not do. Staff members visualized and created flashy clothing ensembles; old t-shirts were embellished with rhinestones, beads, and dye. Everyone was taught the ways of the catwalk, from walking with a confident swagger, to tips on hair and make-up. Slowly, a transformation seemed to come over the youth. With every step on practice runways, they seemed to hold their heads a little bit higher. From feeling as if they had nothing, all of a sudden they were America’s Next Top Model.

On Friday, April 26th at the Great Blacks in Wax Museum, a hush fell over the audience as people began to take their seats one by one. The band stood in the background, prepping for their debut performance. Flowers made of recycled soda cans and bottles adorned the stage and twinkled in the light. A proud banner hung from the wall announcing this exciting event, “Rock the Runway”. The band played their first notes, indicating the beginning of WIN Family Services DREAM program’s first ever, and fashion show event.  It was gearing up to be a hectic and exciting event!

One by one, the models took to the stage, some smiling and some laughing. Some were even keeping the fashionable pouts that models today notoriously use. The stage that was set up in The Great Blacks and Wax Museum in Baltimore became the runway of Milan during fashion week. The kids’ social workers, foster parents, and family members were seeing them in an element they rarely see– full of life, pride, and confidence.

 As the fashion show came to a close, enthusiastic audience members rushed up to the stage to congratulate the models and performers – no one beaming as bright as the young girl who thought she had nothing to offer for this event, “It’s like Cinderella,” Shaquan smiled, showing off her outfit to all those near. In that moment, it all became clear: All these kids needed were a dose of self-assurance to be able to accomplish anything they could dream.

 WIN plans to host Rock the Runway events every other month. Not only did staff request to hold the event, the success of this inaugural event and all future events are for the youth who gained so much more than new clothes – they discovered  a new attitude and self-confidence to carry them through the rest of their lives.

 

WIN Wins!

WIN Family Services, Inc. received the GuideStar Exchange Gold level logo, a leading symbol of transparency and accountability provided by GuideStar USA, Inc., the premier source of nonprofit information. The logo demonstrates WIN’s deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability.

In order to be awarded the GuideStar Exchange logo, WIN Family Services had to thoroughly complete a report of our nonprofit organization on www.guidestar.org for the Gold level of participation.

We hope you will check us out and tell us what you think: http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/52-2054536/win-family-services.aspx

 

hiphopsummitresizedDREAM at the Hip Hop Summit Event

On July 26, 2013, 11 members of the DREAM program traveled to Columbus, Georgia to attend the National Hip Hop Summit. Performers and music lovers of all ages,  from all over the United States, gathered at the Liberty Theatre to share in their common admiration of musical art. This was a wonderful opportunity for our youth to express themselves freely through their talents and music, as well as meet others from different states who shared their love of music and entertainment. The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer was on site to cover the event and took time to speak with our Director of Family Strengthening, Mark Davis.

To read more on the event, visit: http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2013/07/27/2603180/hip-hop-summit-attracts-young.html

 

ABC2 News "2 Good 2 Be True"ABC2

WIN Family Services was recently featured on WMAR-ABC2 News’ segment, “2 Good 2 Be True” on Friday, September 13, 2013. The segment highlighted WIN’s Chief Executive Officer, Alford Laws Jr. and his call from a life of exploring the universe as aeronautical engineer to a life committed to strengthening youth and families. The news clip told the story of Mr. Laws’ change of calling and how it has impacted thousands of youth in Baltimore and Prince George’s County.  “2 Good 2 Be True” also featured one of WIN’s former youth who rose from a life of delinquent acts to obtaining his bachelors degree.

To watch the news clip, visit http://www.abc2news.com/dpp/news/region/baltimore_city/al-laws-2-good-2-be-true#ixzz2fqDWy7v

 

Parent Appreciation

A big thank you foes to Mr. and Mrs. Desmond and Angela Rogers for taking the time to cook a delcious meal to share with our Pringe George's County staff. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the curried chicken, potatiesm rice and cabbage, We are truly grateful for the wonderful parents!

WIN would like to take a moment  to highlight a true act of compassion and support that one of our amazing foster parents did for two siblings who WIN has been working with for 5 years. This incredible woman truly exemplifies the mission of WIN.

This past August, Ms. Joyce Marshall took two brothers on a visit to see their biological mother in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Ms. Marshall had been a former foster parent to both young men. Although she is not currently hosting either youth, she has remained a steadfast source of emotional support and love for the brothers, keeping contact with both throughout the years. This was truly an emotional trip as the brothers experienced some anxiety at the idea of reuniting with their mother whom they have not seen in over 10 years. However, Ms. Marshall remained encouraging and understanding.

To Ms. Marshall, WIN would like to give a big THANK YOU for the gift you gave to the brothers. You truly have a servant’s heart and God will reward you for this in heaven!