This month, we were happy to invite our mentors and clients, and their families, to a Fall Outing! To celebrate client progress and success, as well as thank our mentors and clients for their hardwork, we treated them to cider and doughnuts at a local cider mill in each county.
In Washtenaw County, participants attended Wiard's Orchard & County Fair. Our attendants spanned all ages at this event, so Wiard's was the perfect place for them. Our families were able to go on hay rides, walk through the corn maze, pick a pumpkin in the pumkin patch, pet the farm animals, and participate in many of the other activities. Besides the fun activities and tasty cider and doughnuts, we also had great warm and sunny weather!
Since our participants in Oakland County had children under the age of one, we attended Yates Cider Mill. This historic cider mill allows visitors to see how the cider is made! Attendants enjoyed the river walk, picking out pumpkins, ate delicious cider and doughnuts, and visited the farm animals. We were lucky to, again, have warm and sunny weather for our event!
We plan to host one more event at the end of our mentoring program. Dates, locations, and time is yet to be determined. Thanks to our families and mentors who attended! If you missed it, we hope to see you at the next one!
Our clients have voiced their need to learn more about budgeting and financial management. To meet this need, we partnered with the University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU) to provide a budget workshop for our clients in both Washtenaw and Oakland counties. The UMCU has budget advisors who help credit union members analyze their income, basic living expenses, and debts during an initial free two-hour consultation. Lucky for us, they also provide budget workshops free to the community!
Beth Blanco, UMCU Budget Advisor, was happy to tailor her training material to the unique needs of our teen parents. Clients began the workshop by playing an interactive game that helped them understand budgeting in a tangible way. Mentors also came to the workshop to learn, lend their support, and even help with childcare. Workshop participants were engaged, and asked great questions.
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The EMU Wraparound Project is happy to welcome two new staff members! Due to prudent use of funds, we were able to reallocate monies to hire a much needed part-time wraparound facilitator for each county. We are pleased to introduce Carmela “Kari” Mascar and Ginger Houghton as our new part-time wraparound facilitators.
Kari will be meeting our client needs in Oakland County by taking clients from the waitlist. Kari has been in the field for over 20 years and has a Masters in Social Work (MSW) from Wayne State University. Our clients will benefit from her rich and varied experience gathered from working in various positions, including Adoption Social Worker for Catholic Social Services, Social Work Specialist at DHS, Child Care Worker at Christ Child House, Supports Coordinator for Wayne Center, and, most recently, executive director of Lutheran Adoption Service.
In Washtenaw County, Ginger will be providing part-time wraparound services in a school pilot project. This project is meant to reach the tier three, or most at-risk, population in schools, while raising awareness to school personnel about the effectiveness of wraparound and its prevention value to reach students, and their families, before their needs cannot be met within traditional school settings. We are beginning this pilot in Forest School in Ypsilanti. The referral criteria for this pilot is only different in that students do not need to be pregnant or parenting, however this is considered a risk factor. Referred students should be at least 13-years-old and at-risk for or currently experiencing court involvement, foster care placement, mental health needs/emotional impairments, and/or homelessness.
Ginger is an MSW student at Eastern Michigan University (expected graduation is Spring of 2010) that brings an exhaustive and varied list of experiences to the table. Her experience includes working with at-risk populations as an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps member, including migrant workers, middle schools students from a struggling school, and children with disabilities in a camp setting. For her MSW program, Ginger is currently interning with seniors at the Turner Senior Center in Ann Arbor.
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Our Earmark II grant has been approved! This will extend the current wraparound project until December of 2010. We are happy for the opportunity to continue to serve our clients. With this new grant, we will also be able to hire two part-time facilitators. One facilitator to help with the waitlist in Oakland County, and the other to provide wraparound to our school pilot clients, which we hope will raise awareness to school personnel about the effectiveness of wraparound. This school pilot project allows us to extend our services to teens that may not be pregnant or parenting, but still meet our other criteria of having mental health issues, court involvement, housing struggles, or being in the foster care system.
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We are excited to announce our new mentoring program, for which we are now accepting applications. For more information about getting involved, check out our Be a Mentor page.
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We are excited to welcome Catherine Kabira and Maquira Williams to the team! As facilitators in Washtenaw and Oakland Counties, they will be working closely with the teens involved in the project, as well as the network of people and services that make up “wraparound.”
Catherine began her career as a social worker with a degree in Sociology from Eastern Michigan University and an MSW from the University of Michigan. She has several years of experience working as a teacher and a wraparound care coordinator in diverse social and cultural settings, and enjoys working with children, families and their communities to improve their quality of life through advocacy for access to quality services.
Maquira began her career in social work with a degree in Sociology from Oakland University. She enjoys working with families and advocating for and empowering others, and she developed this passion for serving families while working as a Foster Care Case Manager. Afterward, she transitioned into an intensive in-home counseling position where she monitored high-risk children. Most recently, she has been on the frontlines of HIV/AIDS Prevention, as well as a volunteer for the Alternative for Girls (AFG), where she was introduced to women in the commercial sex world.
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Our funding has been approved! The Office of Justice Programs officially approved our grant proposal for funding under the OJJDP FY 08 Earmarks Programs in the amount of $536,609 as of September 30, 2008.
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