Monthly Archives: September 2015

First Home with Friends Family Strides Toward Independence

Home with Friends has a success story to share with you. For our dedicated volunteers, generous donors, ever-energetic supporters, old and new friends, here is the update you have been asking for on our new Home with Friends program from Program Director Lora Wooster. See below for her list of things you can do to help support the families.

They Always seem happy to see me!

St. Paul's, Home With FriendsThe first family in our Home with Friends program – Deanne and her pre-school son – lived at our Norwell shelter for almost 3 years. She began meeting with the mentoring team from St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene in Duxbury last year. And despite some self-doubt at the start, she has since made great strides toward self-sufficiency.

Perhaps that is why, when asked about her experience with her mentors, she beams. One of the things she likes best about meeting with them, she says, is that “they always seem so happy to see me!”

Confidence to Meet Her Goals

When she joined the program, Deanne (not her real name) who is in her late twenties, had already faced a number of life challenges and disappointments that damaged her self-confidence and resilience. She grew up with her grandmother while her parents was incarcerated. She never finished high school, and she held a series of unskilled, low-paying jobs. But with encouragement from her mentoring team — and the Secure Jobs program at Father Bill’s and Mainspring – she:

  • completed her GED last October
  • moved into her first apartment in March
  • started training to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in June and
  • found a part-time job at a local hospital in July

Next: A new Career & No Subsidy

She got high marks in her CNA classes and graduated as a Certified Nursing Assistant on September 3rd. That means she is more than ready for the next challenge: to find a full time job that keeps her on her career path in nursing so she can afford an apartment on her own. Up to now she has had a rental subsidy from the state. Now that the subsidy has ended, her mentoring team’s church, St. Paul’s Church of the Nazarene in Duxbury, will provide a decreasing rental subsidy for another year.

Car Troubles and a Short-Term Fix

Along the way, Deanne has been learning that it takes time and effort to build the life skills and confidence that will help her succeed. She is also learning that there will be occasional setbacks that she will need to overcome. For example, when her car died recently, she was able to resurrect it for the time being with the help of her mentoring team and a local mechanic. Unfortunately, the car probably will not last until winter, and she needs it to keep her job. (See our “What we need now” wish list below.)

Her Chance to “Grow and Bloom”

Daylilies, day lilies, Home With FriendsLike the daylilies that survived the heat and drought of my garden this summer, Deanna has overcome many challenges to grow and bloom. And even though she still worries about her finances – she tells me that she could not have made it this far without her social worker and her mentoring team.

Two More Families Matched with Mentors

Highrock NorthSt combinedWe now have two more families on board and teamed up with wonderful mentoring teams from North Street Community Church of the Nazarene and Highrock Covenant Church of Quincy. Both moms are working and one moved into an apartment with her son in August; the other is still looking for an affordable apartment. I will bring you more details in a future update.

What We Need Now for Home With Friends

  • Deanne needs a halfway-decent used car. If you have one you would like to donate, you could receive a tax deduction for its value, and Deanne would know that she will be able to get to work this winter. Contact me.

 

  • We continue to need funding for staff to provide case management for families and to train and equip volunteers to minister to families in motels. If you would like to organize a fundraiser, please let us know, or to donate right now, use the donate button on the Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore website. (Please do not use our old PO Box)

 

  • Please help us increase the awareness of family homelessness in Boston and on the South Shore. You can do this by:
    • Inviting me to speak with the groups you’re involved with at your church or in your community.

 

  • Subscribing to the FHSS blog to hear more stories!

 

Thank you for your acts of compassion and your sharing, giving attitudes in the past – and the future! God’s love has shown through you.

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Lora Wooster is the Program Director for our Home with Friends program, she can be reached at homewithfriends@gmail.com 617-939-3709

 

Norwell Recreation Department: Summer Fun and Great Memories

Norwell Recreation Logo--full address-02Norwell Recreation Department and Norwell Schools deserve a great big “Thank You!” The generosity of local community organizations, and the hard work of the staff at Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore made it all possible. Eight children living in temporary shelter or motel rooms went back to school this fall with plenty of stories to tell when their teachers asked, “What did you do this summer?”

The boys and girls, ages 5 through 12, were selected for the Norwell Recreation Department’s pilot initiative. This initiative offered 6-week scholarships to the town’s summer recreation programs for kids from kindergarten to 8th grade.

“Our day-long programs give kids the opportunity to get outside and get active, socialize with friends, and do a variety of things they wouldn’t do if they stayed at home,” explains Recreation Department Superintendent George Grey. (According to their brochure: No electronic games allowed.) “And from what we heard from the parents and the kids, they had a blast!” he says.

Who Gets These Ideas?

Grey and Michelle Henderson, social workers for the Norwell schools, came up with the idea in early June. The idea was to give under-served children in the town’s schools a chance to participate in the Rec Department’s summer activities. Tuition was covered by the Recreation Department’s Scholarship Fund. However, additional registration and transportation costs were needed to be taken care of before the program could get underway.

Go Team!

That is where ace coordinator Sharyn Burden from Friends of the Homeless of the South Shore stepped in. “Fortunately, we were able to secure generous donations from local residents and organizations such as: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Norwell Police, Masonic Angel Foundation, and Friends of Norwell Kids in Need to pay for program registration and driving the children to and from their activities each day,” says Burden. “We can’t thank them enough for giving the kids such a wonderful opportunity.”

Shout Out to Norwell Recreation and Norwell Schools

Norwell Recreation and Norwell Schools worked together to arrange for staff and a vehicle to transport the participants. Burden quickly coordinated the schedules to and from program sites.

KinderScene

Norwell Recreation, Norwell, FHSS

Two of the children attended the KinderScene sessions at the Town Hall for ages 4 to 1st grade where daily activities included games, crafts, songs, stories and outdoor fun.
Five of the children were in the KidScene camp at Vinal School where 2nd-5th grade children enjoyed field sports, soccer, Dr. Spy dodgeball, music, games, and crafts. This year’s KidScene 4th and 5th graders also went on field trips to Launch Trampoline in Norwood and Boston Bowl in Dorchester.

SummerScene

Norwell Recreation, FHSS

The middle school camper who attended the SummerScene program (for grades 6 to 8 – another Norwell Recreation program) had the opportunity to participate in the camp’s daily on-site activities and take day trips to Canobie Lake Park, Water Wizz, Boston Paintball, Lazer Gate, and Metro Rock.
Popular theme days for all campers this year were “Olympics Day,” “Messy Day,” the “Wacky Wednesday” inflatable obstacle course, and “Foam Day” where Norwell firemen joined the fun by using firetruck foam to create what Grey calls “the wildest slip-and-slide this side of Boston.”

Would they do it all again next summer? “YES!” said participants. “Absolutely,” says Grey. “The success of this pilot means we’ll be looking at sponsoring kids again in the summer of 2016.”

Tell Us Your Thoughts?

We are grateful to Norwell Recreation and Norwell Schools, among other organizations for their partnership with us. We would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about future school vacation events. shelter life is not just a seasonal event, it can be year round for some families. You may leave a reply or go to our  Facebook or Google+ pages.