Reunification programs at Family Connections empower parents to build up the skills needed to raise their children well.
For Isabelle, who was young and unexperienced, caring for her 2 adopted children with special needs proved to be far more difficult than she ever expected.
Here is her full story:
“I was raised in an emotionally abusive household. Then I married a man who was just like my father. We adopted our kids from Ukraine when they were 15 months and 18 months old. It turned out both of them had pretty serious special needs.
At the same time that I was separating from my husband, we were charged with abuse and neglect and the State took the kids away. Stuff had happened that shouldn’t have happened. I wasn’t a strong person. The best thing was that they took my kids and got me to Family Connections.
When I got there, nobody else had believed I’d ever get my kids back. But I never missed a meeting and I learned to trust the counselors. They helped me learn things about myself. Every baby step of progress I made, they were there to cheer me on. They gave me my strength back.
I learned you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of your kids. Now, for the first time, I’m really enjoying life and enjoying my kids. I’m capable of taking care of them in a calm way, even though they have very special needs.
I have great family and friends. And I have Family Connections. When I have a bad day, I talk to my supports and I just keep climbing up the hill. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t remember what it was like when I didn’t have my kids. So whatever I have to do to help them, I just do it. And the bottom line is, we’re together. And as long as we keep talking to each other and trusting each other, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish.”
Have you gone to camp as a child? If so, you’ll know how much camps can make a difference for a young person.
One only has to hear the laughter of children swimming in a lake, hear them whisper to one another around the campfire that they don’t want to sing one more round of “Boom Chika Boom,” see them eagerly line up for my famous sloppy Joe or share in an anger management life skills group about how good it feels to know that they can be angry and to figure out the right way to act to believe that residential camping, day camp, or home stays are a crucial and important part in the improvement of a child’s quality of life.
says Sharon Baldwin-Montgomery, founder and executive director of Camp Winonah
Send more inner city kids in New Jersey to camp by giving generously to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, which supports the Fresh Air Fund.
Sussex County has a high unemployment rate of 13.4%. When the pandemic hit last year, it rose to 17%. Among the unemployed are senior workers who face additional barriers to getting hired.
With the Urban League’s help, they enhance their skills and rebuild their job history through community service positions. And 90% of the program participants have kept their jobs beyond their placement period!
“What began at age 12 as sneaking beer with his friends had become, two decades later, a physical dependency.
Typically an outgoing, insightful person, Erick had become isolated and depressed when he was in active addiction.
One night, he was arrested as part of Operation Helping Hand, a law enforcement initiative in which officers play an active role in connecting individuals suffering from opioid addiction with treatment, recovery and support services.
At the police station, Erick spoke to Maria Alvarez, who said to him ‘This is what it’s like now, and this is what it can be.’
Erick says that his arrest was the push he needed to begin the process of recovery,
Erick entered a detox facility and then residential treatment. The program was highly structured, and Erick responded well to the intensive treatment. After he completed the program, he moved to New York and started rebuilding his life.
He is still in touch with Maria, and says they’ve built a trusting relationship and a friendship.”
When you give to Greater Newark Holiday Fund, you are a part of recovery, rebuilding, and second chances.
Your donation can make 10x the impact for families and communities in the greater Newark area. One gift is distributed among 10 reputable social service agencies who provide counseling, feeding and educational programs for the most vulnerable in their communities.
Would you give generously to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund?
That’s roughly 1 in 10 children who don’t have enough nutritionally adequate foods for an active, healthy life.
Solving the issue of food insecurity in our communities starts by lending a helping hand. That’s why we’ve partnered with 10 agencies across Northern New Jersey who help feed the hungry through food pantry programs.
Visit holidayfund.org to learn how you can help meet the needs of hungry families in New Jersey today.
Meet Emma Daceus, a social work student and intern for one of Catholic Charities’ residences. Emma’s older brother, who is now 30, was once part of the Strong Futures program for young men who are aging out of the child welfare system or who are homeless.
Years later, Emma and her brother still remember the kindness of Kathy Elias, who is the Division Director of Children and Family Services at Catholic Charities.
It just goes to show how caring for someone today can impact so much more than we think!
Godspeed on your studies, Emma. Thank you for stepping up to be somebody else’s hero in the future.