Program Success Stories
Altamaha Technical College:
In six months, one of our GED students at the local Academic Support Center, a 19 year-old who dropped out of high school at 16, advanced from a sixth-grade reading level to beyond a 12th-grade reading level. And, now he helps tutor his fellow students. He doesn’t want to stop with only a GED. He has set his sights on a college degree and would like to pursue his passion for art – as an art teacher! All this young man needed was someone to guide him to the “door of opportunity” and show him that they cared. He found both at Altamaha Technical College’s Academic Support Center under the watchful and caring instruction of director Shawn Williams and his staff. Williams said the biggest hurdle most students face when restarting school is the fear of the unknown. He believes, as does this young man, that you will never know what you are capable of until you try!
American Red Cross:
In April our volunteers responded to a house fire in which we helped an elderly woman with her emergency needs. We were able to put her up in a local hotel and give her financial support for food and clothing as well as helped her get in touch with her doctors to replace her medications that were lost in the fire. Our volunteers followed up with her after the fire and realized that she had no family in town to help her find a new place to live or give her emotional support. Our volunteers worked closely with her and found her a new apartment to rent and helped her with all the paperwork that she needed to receive other assistance. The Red Cross was there in her time of need and if we did not provide the services that we do she would have ended up homeless and without any support.
In February our volunteers responded to an Apartment fire in Brunswick and helped all six families with their immediate needs. One of the family members had to be sent to the Augusta Burn Hospital and we arranged for the family to stay in a hotel for an extended period of time so they could be with their family member. We worked closely with the volunteers from the Augusta Chapter of the American Red Cross and made sure that the family had all their emergency needs met. The family was very happy that they were able to stay with their loved one during such a critical time.
STAR: Employment Readiness Program
Helen Ladson graduated in March 2012. She has had a very challenging life from childhood but always tried to maintain a positive outlook until the loss of her job last year. Helen explains, “I was in a rut. My neighbors in public housing and my friends thought I was coping well with life, but inside I was dying, very depressed and disillusioned with my life.”
“The staff loved and accepted me for who I was. This really impressed me, - acceptance with no expectations.”
Helen spoke at graduation and told everyone that “Operation Self-Esteem”, her name for the STAR experience, was a success. “This is a ‘life literacy’ program. They teach you so much more than computer skills. I learned to be self-reliant, gained confidence and decided on a direction for my life for me and my daughter.
After graduation, Helen was hired by the STAR Foundation, first as a receptionist but was soon promoted to Administrative Assistant.
(I decided to send excerpts from an assignment that we asked our recent class of graduates to complete: “What STAR has meant to me”.) To me, these examples of their reflections of the past 8 weeks are as important as telling an experience of someone who is working or going to college. Those will follow.)
Star has meant a lot to me. It has changed my life and has given me the opportunity to meet new people and has opened me up to so new ideas and new aspects of life. It’s has brought me into a new way thinking and be involved with the community and even how to react to different situations that I on the other hand would have reacted differently in.
Becoming a star student has motivated me to take control in my life and the life of my child. Star has shown me that there’s new opportunity within you just got to take charge and go for it. Star has made me a new person thanks to all the love and affection from the teachers and the people they have in their lives that were willingly to come help with us [volunteers]. I appreciate everything greatly.
Being a part of the STAR Foundation has been an awesome experience for me for many different reasons. The teachers show so much love and encouragement to their students. Letting us know, they really care about what they do here. Also, meeting new friends and the closeness we have shared like personal situations. Most of all we found out who we really are and what we could contribute and receive in this life. I consider this whole experience to have been one of the greatest opportunities in my life. I have so much to be thankful for.
Ok I am not sure how to start this but…here I go. At the beginning of STAR I was shy and quiet and did not know any of my classmates, also somewhat had a negative outlook on some things in life. Now that I have been in the program I have learned to be positive about pretty much everything, I have met new people that I have no problems with, and I have learned a lot about the computer as well.
Ms. Katie and Ms. Ellen have been both wonderful teachers and amazing friends also great guidance counselors. They have really taught me a lot more than just computer skills. My classmates have been great friends and teachers as well. We all have gotten along so great, and that is hard to find, a group of mostly women being around each other so much.
I haven’t yet found the job that I want to do, but I have confidence and I know with the skills I have now I will find the job I want and go on to finish college to be a medical assistant!!!
Star meant to me was coming here and learning how to use the computer and how to type. Getting to know everybody. Learning a lot about life, and how to handle it. Take the step in life and push forward. To strive every day. I learned that life is to short to worrying about small simple and little things. Star has meant a lot to me because, I came in little experience and low self-esteem and now I have self- confidantes. I am very happy that I took this class. And I want to thank Mrs. Katie and Mrs. Ellen for making this happened for me. Without them I would have not taken this class. I would have been sitting home, gaining weight and getting sicker. Star has help me move forward and made things possible for me.
Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy:
We do not have ongoing contact with our clients and the program is just getting to the point where we can begin to pull data from the school system to measure the possible impact of the program. However we were encouraged recently, at a McDonalds Family Fun night, when we met several families (children & parents) who receive Ferst books each month. We were giving books away at McDonalds to any child who wanted one. The children who we met, who are registered in the program, were so excited to tell us which books they already had, which ones were their favorites and they even offered to read a few books to us. It was an experience that reinforced that in some way, though maybe not measurable at this point, Ferst books going into these homes are making a difference and having an impact.
Glynn Community Crisis Center, Inc.:Amity House/Hope House:
It is difficult to describe the chaotic state the individuals we serve present with and the overwhelming barriers they face to living successful, independent lives. By the time our clients make the decision to seek our help, the situation is many times a critical emergency. Rebuilding lives after many years of abuse requires, first, providing for basic needs: safe shelter, food, transportation to work and school, clothing, medical help, and a telephone to reach family and friends. Only then can the work of rebuilding lives begin.
Two such stories are illustrated here:
This is the second attempt for a young mother of a 4 year old to rebuild her life. Her first attempt ended with a return to the abuser; the abuse escalated. By the time our client presented again, she had lost the job that provided support for her and her child, and her car was being impounded for nonpayment of the insurance. She and her child moved into our shelter to receive not only basic support, but also counseling, parenting support, child care and transportation support. The Center made arrangements to pay the car insurance and remove the car from impoundment. Her case manager worked with her to find new employment, develop a budget and find the resources necessary to live independently with her child. The aftercare case management will ensure that our client knows how to manage her family’s safety, and the weekly group counseling sessions will provide emotional support to ensure long term stability of her situation.
Another client came into the shelter after her husband had been abusive for a number of years. She has five children but came into the shelter alone and not speaking or understanding much English. She did have a job which is what kept here sane most days. The first support we were able to provide was to gain custody of the two youngest children with the help of the school social worker and the school. Our client’s husband had taken all of her papers and identification and hidden them from her. We went to her job, got a copy of her papers from them and went from there. We started the process of obtaining her a special VISA through an immigration attorney. Her case manager obtained a divorce lawyer who handled the divorce and child custody issues. Our client is now financially independent enough to pay this lawyer on her own. With our help, she presented in court with a translator and received custody of four of her children, and the abuser received strict visitation rights. She and the children received the rights to the house. They now live together in the house where the children grew up: her husband had to leave and find a new place to live.
She is an ongoing student at LARC learning to better speak and understand English. Her case manager taught her to read her bills so that she knows how to pay them, and all utilities are now in her name. As soon as she is improves her English, we will try for a driver's license. She and her children are an ongoing work in progress, but definitely a success story.
Coastal Coalition for Children, Inc.: Healthy Families
Healthy Families has played a vital role in our community. We have had the opportunity to provide services within the Glynn/McIntosh community for over 16 Years. We have promoted positive parenting skills utilizing educational materials thus preventing child abuse. Healthy Families has a proven track record of success stories. However, I am compelled to share the testimony of Sue.
Sue was a victim of child abuse. She was a survival of emotional and physical abuse. Sue was very frightened when she became pregnant at 18 years old. She feared being a single parent that lacked family support. She had many fears relating to parenting. She reported often wondering if she would continue the cycle of abuse. She feared not being a “Good Parent.” Sue was in desperate need of positive parenting due to her past childhood experiences.
Sue was introduced to our program while in the local hospital by our Assessment Worker. Sue reported the experience as a “Safe Haven.” She was assigned to a Family Support Worker who made weekly home visitations. Our Family Support Worker shared with Sue educational literature relating to positive parenting and modeled positive behaviors. Sue began to practice positive parenting skills. It became evident that she was bonding with her baby. Her knowledge about child development was expanding. She reported her views about parenting transforming. Weekly activities were performed. Sue actively participated in the activities. She enjoyed doing activities with her child. Sue took pride in being a parent. The Family Support Worker reported Sue very nurturing towards her child.
Our Family Support Worker assisted Sue in creating family goals. The Support Worker utilized an Individual Family Support Plan to guide the family in obtaining goals. Sue was linked to the local college for continuation of education and local bank for employment. Sue remained in the program until she completed her Degree and got married. She has 3 additional children. She has reported using the knowledge gain through this program to assist with her additional children thus breaking the cycle of child abuse. She has been gained the ability to be self sufficient.
Sue continues to work at the local bank. She recently called the support worker again to thank her for her patience and concern. She has been very thankful for Healthy Families Program. She remains an advocacy for the Healthy Families Program. She has demonstrated her support by participating in speaking engagements within the community and referring others to our program.
Communities In Schools of Glynn County, Inc: Focus Graduation
During the 2009-2010 SY, two students (one from each school site) were expelled from their campuses. To keep these students on track with their classes and motivated to stay in school, Jill Mitchell-Berg has gotten permission to enroll these students into the Georgia Department of Education Virtual School. Their commitment to participate in this alternative learning environment will show they are responsible individuals. 2) Another FG student who was on a behavior contract but doing fairly well in his classes was involved in a situation with another student, which resulted in referrals for them both. The FG student (since he was on a behavior contract), was in danger of being expelled. Instead of being expelled, Jill Mitchell-Berg was able to suggest intense FG interaction as an alternative. The FG student has since then promised he would not get into any more trouble, and has kept his promise to us. This ninth grade student will be able to now begin his 10th grade year with a “clean slate” and the opportunity to benefit further from his personal growth.
Coastal Medical Access Project: Free Clinic Program
Alice completed the Alive & Lively CMAP program that Glynn County offered to diabetic employees. When her doctor reviewed her records, Alice’s A1C readings had improved from an average 8.7 to 7.4 while she was participating in the CMAP program. Her doctor said, “I don’t know what this CMAP program is doing, but whatever it is, you are doing great and need to keep up the good work!”
Alice said, “They don’t judge and they don’t preach. Instead they teach. The variety of education covered all areas of health and well being. The whole person was covered from head to toe, inside and out. I hope that more employees could be educated by CMAP about this chronic disease as they will become better individuals, better family members and ultimately better employees.”
Jerry delivers pizza and enjoys eating pizza. He has been a patient of the CMAP doctors for three years and purchases his medications through MedBank. Jerry began having trouble chewing pizza and everything else. After a while, soup was all he could eat.
Jerry learned that CMAP was offering dental care at the clinic, and he was able to make an appointment. Dr. Jeff Capes, a volunteer dentist, evaluated Jerry and found that he needed most of his teeth extracted. CMAP then found a volunteer orthodontist who made free dentures for Jerry.
It was a long process requiring several visits over four months, but Jerry is now able to eat pain free.
Angela is a regular CMAP clinic patient who also participates in the Alive & Lively program. Her autistic son lives with her, and she has little time or money to spend on herself. Angela’s health is improving, but her CMAP story is just a little different from the others.
CMAP Alive & Lively staff members feel that it is important to know as much as possible about the needs of each patient, and they really get to know regular clients in the program. A staff member learned that Angela had not had her hair styled in 30 years. Now that may seem to be a small thing, but we all know when you look better, you often feel better.
So the staff nominated Angela and she was selected for a free makeover – cut, color, the works! Angela was more than pleased with the result, and she is happy that her long lock of hair was donated for use in making cancer patient wigs.
Americas Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia Feeding America
"While visiting one of our Kids Cafe sites, I noticed a young boy who quickly finished every bit of his hot dinner. I smiled at him and praised him for being a member of the clean plate club. His reply reinforced the importance of both our Kids Cafe' program and our Brown Bag program when he told me "Yes Mam, I don't want to be hungry tonight: my grandmother barely ever has food in the house."
One of our bags goes to a 91 year old woman who lives by herself. She has daily home health services and is on a fixed income of $266. Although many of our bags are picked up at various sites, her bag is delivered to her. Every time she gets it she says, “Right in the nick of time.”
One lady delivers 16 bags and qualifies for one. She says the food is a Godsend at the end of the month. She watches her grandchildren after school every day for her daughter who cannot afford afterschool care. Thanks to the Brown Bags, she can fix them an afternoon snack. For example, she uses applesauce to make them tea cakes.
Casa Glynn: Visitation and Advocacy Coordinator
Due to the efforts of a CASA volunteer, who was advocating for an infant removed from her home due to child abuse, a fit relative was identified who adopted the child. The mother of the child did not know which of two brothers was the father; the mother had a substance abuse problem. The child was removed at one year with a broken elbow. Both potential fathers were later incarcerated, and the mother did not meet minimum acceptable standards for reunification in two years. Glynn County DFCS had not been able to identify any family member that was fit for placement; they anticipated that when the parental rights of the mother were terminated, that this child would be offered for adoption but remain in foster care until/if someone offered to adopt. Our CASA advocate researched the family issue, and found a second cousin in Atlanta, who, two years after this little girl was removed from her abusive home, was adopted into a safe and loving one!
A mother, who had already lost custody of two children, had a third child removed at birth in the summer of 209 due to her drug use, unfit home, and inappropriate relationships. This mother has been not only receiving services from DFCS, but has been closely monitored by her CASA advocate. This mother has been visiting for two hours each week for 10 months at CASA, and is now transitioning to overnight visitation at her home, has a job for the first time in her life, and is on course for reunification with her daughter.
YWCA of Brunswick: YWCA Child Care Scholarship Program
The child care center responded to an emergency situation of a young couple with a six month old child. The mother of the child was from another country and they visited her family to show the child to her family. Upon preparing to return to the States, the mother was not allowed to leave the country. The father had to return alone with the baby to save his job. Needless to say, he was desperate to find child care and have the assurance the child would be safe. It took almost six months of red tape before the mother was able to return to her family. She arrived just in time to celebrate her daughter’s first birthday and to see her take her first steps. The family was most appreciative of the support and care that our child care staff provided during this most stressful time. The family continues to use the YWCA’s programs and the little girl is now enrolled in our summer camp.
Mother and child moved to this area after the death of her husband/father of the child. Before the father’s untimely death, the little girl was in child care and now was missing the interaction with other children to play with during the daytime. The mother did not need fulltime care but did want her daughter to have the opportunity to be with other children. The YW’s childcare center worked out a part time schedule with the Mother r and is providing a fun and consistent environment while she is learning to cope with the many changes in her young life.
Okefenokee Area Council, Boy Scouts of America: Recruitment, Retention, and Training
Two articles on Scouting Stories:
An old building used as a barber shop was an Eagle Scout project
BRUNSWICK - Samuel Arbo's Eagle Scout project crashed to the ground Saturday.
But that's the way he planned it.
Instead of the usual Eagle Scout project, such as building park benches, landscaping along a fence or planting trees, Arbo decided to tear down a house that was on Brunswick's list of dilapidated structures that had to come down.
"I didn't want to just put up a flag pole or something,'' the 17-year-old Glynn Academy junior said.
Not that there's anything wrong with flagpoles. That's been a pretty popular project for Eagles all over the country.
Jerry Latvala, scoutmaster of Troop 227, said the two requirements for an Eagle project are that they must demonstrate leadership and benefit the community.
But Arbo wanted to do something that would have a lasting effect, and Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson says it will do just that.
"This folds in so well with what we're trying to do as a city and get these dilapidated structures down,'' Thompson said. "I was so excited about this young man taking on something like this that will have an immediate effect.''
The city has been going after property owners to compel them to tear down unsafe structures. Some owners want to tear down old houses, but don't have the wherewithal. In some cases, the city has provided assistance including securing some grants.
Owner Stephanie N. Griffin stood across the street with her two young daughters watching the building fall.
"It's a blessing because I didn't have the money to have it torn down,'' Griffin said.
She inherited the building from her father, Charles E. Wilson Sr. There had been a small house next door that her father had torn down, but the 104-year-old barber shop remained even after the barber moved years ago.
There were two or three homeless people sleeping and storing their meager possessions in the building although it had no front door, its windows were broken and the floor had fallen through in places. It fell to Griffin to tell them it would be torn down Saturday, and one came Saturday for a plastic chair and a few clothes.
"I kind of felt bad, but it was something I had to do,'' she said.
Planning for the project has been under way since January, Arbo said. Since then, he, his grandfather Brent Thomas and others have figured out what it would take to tear down and dispose of the building and went about securing the resources.
Arbo was helped immensely by his grandfather, a Brunswick businessman, and some long-time friends of his family.
For the length of planning, the project didn't take long. Donnie Gibson, who owns a towing service, tore the house down in minutes with Thomas' excavator. Gibson had all the rubble loaded into dump trucks by 10 a.m. as some of Thomas' employees and Arbo's high school friend Richard Saylor worked on clearing the overgrown lot.
The list of sponsors included Jim Eller, Sea Tow, Fendig Tire Co., Tait Feed and Seed, Sunbelt Rentals, D.H. Gibson Towing, Whitlock Landfill, the Yum Yum Shop and Thomas' company, GISCO. Most have been bedrock families or businesses in the community for decades.
Griffin hopes to be able to do something with the lot some day but said she doesn't have the wherewithal to build anything there now.
The city, however, gets to take a dilapidated building off its list and will get a cleared lot.
Arbo's project will allow the city to shift the money to another house on a list of those targeted for demolition, Thompson said.
On average, it costs the city $5,000 to take down a house and more if a house requires extra precautions because of lead paint or asbestos, he said.
"We just spent $8,000 on a burnout,'' he said.
With burnouts, the city has to approach a demolition as if there was lead paint and asbestos because there is no way to be sure, Thompson said.
The demolition was probably a one-time thing for Arbo, who says he wants to attend the University of Georgia or Valdosta State College and major in business.
He may change his mind.
"We'll see after,'' he said, "It could prove to be extraordinary fun.''
Regardless of whether it was fun Saturday, Latvala said the day will stay with Arbo and those who helped.
"A scout can grow up and in five years he can drive by and know he had a part in it,'' Latvala said.
By Terry Dickson of The Florida Times-Union
The Salvation Army: Salvation Army Social Services
A lady came in February 5th for help with rent. Her husband has not worked in about 9 months. He has cancer and may have to have a major operation. He was having a biopsy that day. She is working, but does not make enough to pay all the bills. She has to take off work to take husband to doctor visits and does not get paid. Her husband has applied for applied for disability so that he can get Medicaid. He has no insurance. They live in an older mobile home and their power is very high. She is 3 ½ months behind on rent and 2 months behind on power. She was about to get evicted from and her and power is about to be turned off. We paid her power bill out of the Project Share account and caught up her rent with funds from the Siebel Grant. She was very appreciative and left crying because she was so happy.
A young lady came into the office May 4, 2009. Her husband had left her and her 5 children. All the utility bills and rent was behind. She had recently lost her job, but she had a new job to start in one week. We paid her rent through the Siebel Grant. She called me the next week to tell me that she was at work and was doing find. She thanked me again for the help.
The Salvation Army: Salvation Army Emergency Shelter
There is one girl staying in our shelter. She has started her own house cleaning business and is in the process of getting an apartment.
We don’t hear from the clients when they leave the shelter. Sometimes they may
come by, but not often.
Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia Inc.: Girl Scouts
“I started in Girl Scouts in 6th grade. I was friends with a girl who was in Girl Scouts, and got involved. The next year, new people started coming in the group, and I met a girl who was the first deaf girl I had met. I wanted to communicate with her. Our troop leader was a teacher of the deaf, so I would watch as she signed, and I started learning some sign language. I learned a little by little, and was able to talk with her. After a year went by, we became close friends and were able to talk more.
When I got into high school I met two more deaf girls. They were my friends in school and were in the same troop as me. In the troop, we did a lot of cool things. One thing we did was sewing and we made dresses so we could go to the Renaissance Festival. It turned out that the “Queen” at the Renaissance Festival was also a sign language interpreter.
In the summer, I went to Girl Scout Day Camp. I decided to become a Program Aid in the 9th grade because my leader told me that I would be a good candidate for it. It turned out that I got a whole group to myself and didn’t need a lot of assistance from the adults. The little girls looked up to me and I discovered that I really liked being a leader of other girls.
In the summer after my 11th grade, my Girl Scout leader found out that I wanted to go to college. She advised me that if I wanted to go to college I had to take two units of a language. She told me that I could take American Sign Language as a language if I wanted and use that to get into college, not just to a technical school. I did like she advised, and was able to take 2 units of American Sign Language during my senior year in high school. I really liked it and was good at it. I got to where I could sign a conversation without stopping. It was really exciting and I learned a lot about the Deaf culture, and I can sign pretty well to my deaf friends, too. I have learned a lot of signs, and really like to sign songs. I was really nervous signing in public, but once I started it was OK. I have performed at a Black History Month ceremony, high school talent night, the Optimist Club , and an elementary school Christmas party. I traveled to Macon to help out with a Deaf and Blind school. I made them laugh a lot, and made new friends. My ASL teacher and I had a good conversation in the car coming home, and I have now decided to go to college to become an Interpreter for the Deaf. I feel sure that I will do a good job. I am still active in Girl Scouts. I graduate soon, and my future is going to be bright.”
Golden Isles Children’s Center, Inc.: Forensic Interviewer/Prevention Education
Hannah R. is a 12 year old who had been repeatedly sexually molested by her live-in uncle since she was seven years old. When she came to the Children’s Center a year ago, her behavior was aggressive; she was very angry and failing most of her classes in school. Since counseling, she has been kind, inquisitive, and doing well in school. She no longer lashes out at other family members in anger and is perceived as a role model to her peers. She is one of the young girls who will be starting our Princess Group in July 2010 and is motivated to lead other young girls in crafting. Her enthusiasm to take the lead in the Princess Group is a successful beginning towards her recovery from child sexual abuse. A compelling forensic interview led to the arrest and prosecution of her uncle.
A forensic interview revealed Jose K. is an 11 year old boy was being sexually abused by his father and severely physically abused by a neighbor. When he came to the Children’s Center a year ago, he had failed two grades, had very low self-esteem, and would not talk about his feelings to anyone. After seeing our therapist, he has excelled on recent CRCT’s and was sponsored to attend a soccer camp. An article was published in the Brunswick Newspaper concerning his trials and success. Although, he is no longer in counseling, the Center has maintained a relationship by following-up on his progression in school. He continues to thrive and is becoming healthier mentally and physically day by day.
Hospice of the Golden Isles, Inc. [HGI]: The Jolley House Residential Hospice Facility
Hospice of the Golden Isles is the only community-formed, non-profit hospice serving the Golden Isles and McIntosh County for more than 30 years. We serve patients with life-limiting illnesses and give expert care and comprehensive services based upon individualized plans of care. As a non-profit hospice, we care for all eligible patients in our community, regardless of ability to pay.
Under hospice, the patient is usually cared for in their home. Home is wherever the patient is living: a personal residence, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, a hotel or even an RV. We have one such patient who was receiving hospice care in his RV. He was alone in the world and did not have a caregiver. When it was determined that he could no longer take care of himself in his RV, he was moved to the Jolley House, Hospice of the Golden Isles’ residential facility. In his new home, he is content, feels safe and is surrounded by loving caregivers. He enjoys surfing the web, playing computer games and doing puzzles online. Although his body is weak, his mind is sharp. He is very happy at the Jolley House and is using his gifts to give back to others. As a young child, he learned to crochet from his grandmother. He became proficient one summer spent with her crocheting and watching soap operas. Now, he crochets doilies, tablecloths, blankets but most of all, he crochets prayer shawls for other hospice patients. His work is skillful and beautiful and one can see the love put into every stitch. He crochets at least one full shawl every few days and it has become his ministry, a way for him to give back. He recently said that he would fade away fast if he had to go back to living on his own. He feels so blessed to live in the Jolley House.
This man was estranged from many family members before and during his illness. Since going to live at the Jolley House, this man has reached out and reconnected with loved ones. Over Christmas he was visited by a brother with whom he hasn’t spoken in 26 years. Mending fences and giving back are a large part of the hospice philosophy.Within our residential Hospice Jolley House “community”, we had the privilege of serving a female cancer patient who had no assets, no one who could care for her round the clock, who lived out in the country by herself in a small home that had been vandalized, whose husband was in a nursing home, had no way to pay for her care and was dying. We were there for her and she joined our Jolley House community. In the last months of her life, we gave her the medical care she needed, reduced her pain, gave her a home, safety, and surrounded her with people who loved her and became her extended family. She rapidly became one of those giving, loving people who reached out and helped other patients and their family members with her love and kindness. She died in our facility with little pain, dignity, peace and love.
Our residential hospice patients so often become like family to the other patients in our facility. While we are reducing their pain, helping them to obtain medical benefits, and giving them a safe, loving environment, they are often also building their own relationships with the other residents. This was the case with a Jolley House patient who befriended another resident. When his friend died, he used what little money he had to go to a florist. He dragged himself through the door to order flowers for his friend’s funeral. Of course, we were with him and brought him back home with us here at the Hospice. It was a wonderful example of the love in this “community” Hospice our patients often have for each other and we for them.
Special Olympics of Coastal Georgia
For Brandon, focusing on one specific task and following through is a very difficult goal. As a 9 year old with Autism he has difficulty focusing and can be quite resistant to any type of change or challenge. Before he was a Bronze medal winning Swimmer his family and teachers had difficulty teaching him to follow through with a challenging task. It took Brandon 8 weeks to train for Georgia State Summer Games but he loved the water and formed a great bond with his Coach and his teammates. At Emory University after competing in his first competitive race he earned a sixth place ribbon to which he shouted from the medal stand “I won! I Won!” a few hours later he was awarded the Bronze medal for being the third leg of a fantastically swam 4X25M relay team. For Brandon to focus on competing in a team relay, and to complete a race in a crowded venue with so many distractions, was amazing! Special Olympics not only gave Brandon the opportunity to experience sports and compete but it also allowed him to show himself and everyone else what it is to succeed!
Arnold, a normally somber young man, stood atop the medal stand with a Gold Medal draped around his neck and couldn’t stop smiling. After being in group homes and foster care his whole life he had learned to stay quiet and keep his head down, this would prevent people from knowing that he was different. His Intellectual disability was enough that he couldn’t go to school with the “normal” kids but he always wanted to play sports with them. When his social worker suggested Special Olympics he was reluctant to draw attention to himself by joining, but he didn’t want to disappoint, so he joined the Bocce ball team. Brandon practiced day after day preparing for the upcoming games with 3 others in his group home. After a few weeks his coach discovered his soft spoken voice and calm manner was very useful in helping the other players learn the rules and techniques of the game. He soon found himself the team Captain of a sport that he had never heard of, preparing to go to a State Competition in Statesboro, GA. He was nervous and worried about the responsibility of leading his team but week after week he encouraged his teammates and came up with new ways for them to practice and improve. When he and his teammates arrived at their hotel they were over whelmed. None of them had ever stayed in a hotel before; the bathroom even had a television which was the most amazing thing to all of them! The next day Arnold calmly led his team out to the Bocce field and they started the rapid ascent to the top players. With his quiet encouragement and calming manner he led his team to an undefeated Gold medal victory in their division! His smile on that platform was wide and amazed. He radiated confidence and pride. The medal he won was proof that not only could he lead others, but that he was just as capable as the students he had once envied. The experience with Special Olympics boosted his self-esteem and self-worth and he mainstreamed into the local high school and was adopted shortly after. For Arnold, all he needed was the opportunity to prove that he could achieve great things. Special Olympics had the privilege to provide him with that opportunity.
Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Georgia:
At The Club at Jane Macon we have a family that has been struggling with parental problems. The father was in and out if the children's lives and it began to have a wearing affect on the children, especially the oldest. The grandmother and mother decided that the children needed to be involved in a positive after school program that not only focused on academics but also on peer to peer and peer to adult relationships. The children were then signed up for The Club at Jane Macon and quickly fell in love. The oldest child had a much more difficult time opening up to the staff because of the rocky past he/she had with his/her family. Once the child saw that the staff were here for the entire family, he/she began to open up. Slowly the child started to trust the staff and began to open up about troubles he/she was having at home. Once the child began to share what was wrong, he/she's behavior problems slowly diminished. The mother and the grandmother said that it was like a different place at home; the children were more respectful and enjoyed being around the entire family more.
The children are now at a much happier place then when they entered. They love coming to The Club and especially love the Gym. The mother and the grandmother are so appreciative of The Club and bring in treats for the students and the staff.
Delance, a current ninth grade student of Brunswick High School, is an active Boys and Girls Club Member who attends the Elizabeth Correll Teen Center of Brunswick, Georgia. Before joining the Teen Center, Delance spent much of his time at home playing video games. He spent very little time outdoors or socializing with other kids his age. In the eighth grade Delance began his journey at the Teen Center. From the first day that he walked into the doors, he ventured into an atmosphere of active teenagers which enabled him to broaden his horizons.
At the Teen Center Delance became accustomed to socializing, and he made many friends. In addition, interactive classes taught by Teen Center staff and community volunteers through the 21st Century program allowed him to explore various academic and career areas that will play a role in decisions he will make about his future. Furthermore, due to tutors offered each day at the Teen Center, Delance’s grades showed much improvement. While Delance still enjoys playing video games, now he does it surrounded by a group of friends and he spends the rest of his time engaging in Real Life classes and community service activities around the Teen Center.
In the future, Delance has a dream of attending college. He hopes to explore various careers that include an anime artist, author, chef, guitarist, or even a Nascar driver. Whatever his ultimate career will be and wherever life’s journey takes him, Delance will be able to take with him what he learned as a member of the Elizabeth Correll Teen Center.
In my short time at the Boys & Girls Club Teen Center, I have had the privilege to meet some outstanding kids. But one student stands out among them, James. In the month that I have known James, he has flat out impressed me with all that he is involved with and his character. James is currently a 9th grader at Brunswick High School where he is on the Honor Roll. Let’s talk about a busy man! James is involved in ROTC, rifle club, and student council. When James is not staying after school with student council and has finished all his homework, he comes to the teen center to hangout with some of his friends. As his councilor I never have to tell James to go to Real Life class. The man knows what needs to be done and gets the job complete. James also has to be one of the most respectful teens that I have encountered. James has great manners and just overall a good kid. I can see why his peers selected him to student council. James has a great future ahead of him and will be a great asset to his community for years to come.
Joe is a 17-year-old junior at Glynn Academy and was born and raised in Brunswick, Georgia. Growing up, he encountered several issues after losing his mother to cancer but continued to maintain excellent grades. Joe attends the Elizabeth Correll Teen Center almost every day that it is open and is a Real Life program member. He also works at Refuel Café located inside of ECTC. He has attended the Teen Center since his freshman year and enjoys being able to hang out with friends and attend the Real Life classes every week. The program has really given him the chance to keep up with homework assignments and get help with tutoring from the certified teachers at the Teen Center after school. After graduating high school, Joe plans to continue his education in college where he has thought about perusing a career as a therapist or medical counselor. Joseph Watson always has a great attitude and always shows that he puts forth effort in anything that he does. He has a lot of potential and great things are to be expected from this young man’s future.
By working at the Teen Center I have been given the opportunity to meet and connect with lots of special kids. By connecting with them we have formed a bond and a friendship. The teens share their everyday lives with me, but they also share their pasts, and they share their hopes and dreams for the future. I have especially been able to connect to a group of children that are all related. They are two sisters and a younger brother.
Through my work at the Teen Center and the Real Life program I have seen how a group of three teens has grown and changed for the better. These three kids have not had an easy life. They were living with their mom and drug addicted father when their mother was tragically killed in a car accident. After their mother’s death they were pulled from their father’s custody and were moved from foster home to foster, until they ended up in what seemed like a perfect foster home in a nearby county, but this foster home was far from perfect. In this new foster home they were regularly abused physically and mentally. They were kept from school and their friends.
All of this caused the children to fall behind in school, caused behavioral issues, and even pushed them to attempt to run away several times. When authorities were finally contacted the three kids were pulled from the abusive foster parents and sent to a group living home in Brunswick and enrolled into the 21st Century Real Life program at the Teen Center. The group home felt that the kids needed a safe and positive place to go and have some fun.
Since the three kids have been attending the Real Life program classes they have started doing better in school. They are all three going to class, doing their homework and turning it in, and they are becoming involved in the community. They have participated in Earth Week activities, Relay for Life, and one of them is even working at the Teen Center’s Refuel Café. All three of the youths seem to now have direction and hope for the future. They are all three planning on graduating high school, which is rare in Brunswick. One of the girls wants to join the military and become a nurse and the brother wants to be an oceanographic scientist and discover new ocean life.
With all three of these kids I have been able to see how the Real Life program and the Teen Center has truly improved their lives. These three children came from a tragic background of one broken and abusive home after another and now, they have somewhere to go where things are expected of them. Now they have goals and dreams and ways to achieve them. The Real Life program has made it possible for these three kids to escape the cycle and change old habits and become positive active community members.
Garrett has come to know the Boys and Girls Club to be a safe and fun learning environment. His membership has taught him to respect himself as well as others. As a responsible Teen he has formed healthy relationships with caring adults, who introduced him to several careers. The club has afforded him the opportunity to share opinions and new experiences with other Teens.
I remember when I first met this young man at the Terrill Thomas Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Georgia. He is the youngest of three, and it really showed. He wasn’t as out spoken as his older brothers. He was a cry baby, but he could be bad at times. He was always whining and carrying on about something his brothers have done to him. I went away for college, and when I came back in four years and saw him and his brothers again, I was in awe. He and his brothers went from being bad little rug rats, to model citizens. They all grew tremendously. And even his voice was different. I saw him go from being the little brother who got picked on all the time by his older brothers, to a young man who now stands his own ground. I saw him change from a kid who wasn’t as outgoing and active, to one of the most popular kids in the Teen Center.
Since we’ve added the Real Life program to the Teen Center, this young man has really taken on a much bigger sense of responsibility. He takes charge and does what is necessary of him to complete his required classes. From the talks that he and I have from time to time, the Real Life program really opens his eyes and exposes him to things that really motivate him in his future and helps him towards his career. He sees the importance of career development, going to college and picking a great career. He sees the importance of making good decisions and making smart moves. I can honestly say, the Real Life program has really made a huge impact on his life.
Tre' has been coming to the Boys and Girls Club since before I started working with the organization in 2004. It has been an honor and a privilege to watch him become a young man and also a leader in the club. Ever since day one of the Teen Center opening Tre' has had the potential to do great things he just needed something to help him realize it. The Real Life program was just what he needed to help him out. The classes have helped teach him more responsibility and opened him up to different paths that he could take in life. Whether it was taking Smart Moves classes to help teach healthy and positive ways to live or going to Coastal Ecology to learn about the sea and plant life of our area you could always find Tre' going to classes, and not too far behind him were other members following him to see what class he picked. Some members you would have to ask a few times to go to class, but not Tre' he had his day all planed out and knew where he needed to be at what time. Tre' is always one to help out around the club, be it helping the staff or helping out other members with whatever they need. This willingness to help landed Tre' a job in the restaurant at the Teen Center.