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2018 Annual Reports

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Speak Out!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

It is important for us to enlighten ourselves about domestic violence, the patterns, and the myths. Domestic violence occurs when behaviors are used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. Examples of abuse include name-calling or putdowns, keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends, withholding money, stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job, actual or threatened physical harm, sexual assault, stalking and intimidation. Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are still forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence. The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. An important step to help yourself or someone you know in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing the warning signs listed on the “Violence Wheel.”

ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not physically harmed, they could develop emotional and behavior problems.

Myths about Domestic Violence

  • Domestic violence only happens to poor women and women of color.
  • Some people deserve to be hit.
  • Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause domestic violence.
  • Domestic violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife.
  • If it were that bad, she would just leave.

If you are being abused, REMEMBER

  • You are not alone
  • It is not your fault
  • Help is available

To learn more about this issue, visit www.domestic violence.org.  If you are a victim and need help, you may also contact the local Life Crisis Center at 410-749-HELP or Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services at 410-641-4598.


Worcester Youth and Family CASA Premier Volunteer Spotlight: Rosalind Becton

DUTIES: Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA’s) are trained to advocate for children in the child welfare system. A CASA develops a relationship with the child he/she advocates for and follows the child’s case to ensure the child receives needed services. The goal is seeing the child placed in a safe, permanent home.

PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Rosalind has spent a lifetime as an advocate. Her varied careers included working as a civil rights worker, a community organizer, and a legal aide for a public interest law firm.  She retired from the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct and moved to the Eastern Shore 6 years ago. Rosalind and her husband of 55 years continue the family business of decorating religious institutions.  A chance encounter with a child who had “aged out” of foster care and was homeless piqued her interest regarding foster children. Later, at the urging of a New York family court judge, Rosalind decided to explore volunteering as a CASA. She finally trained as one when she relocated in Worcester County.

BEST PART OF YOUR VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE: According to Rosalind,” contributing to a positive outcome in a child’s life is a heartfelt joy.  By definition, volunteers are unpaid.  Better than monetary compensation, better than money – hands down – was a hand written ‘award’ presented to me by ‘my child’ proclaiming me the ‘best CASA.’  I will treasure my award forever.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED: Rosalind says, “It is challenging to focus on a child’s needs and preferences while simultaneously reconciling the regulatory policies and procedures of Social Services as well as legal mandates and dysfunctional family concerns.”

WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO KNOW: “Seeking the best outcome for the child’s situation may include family reunification, long or short-term placement with loving foster parents or adoption.  Some assignments are only of short duration and others can last for years.  In every case you have the support of the CASA program director and volunteer coordinator. The required time spent with ‘your child’ is not burdensome, but once you realize how much the child appreciates having a CASA, you find yourself freely spending additional time with the child.” Rosalind also shared that she appreciates the many opportunities for continuing education the CASA program offers.

CASA PROGRAM STAFF STATEMENT ABOUT ROSALIND: Rosalind is a fierce advocate who continuously keeps CASA staff members on their toes! Rosalind leaves no stone unturned on a case. She is dedicated to research and finding the truth. She unabashedly offers refreshingly candid encouragement to caregivers and providers, alike, while extending copious amounts of emotional nurturance and understanding to our most vulnerable children. Rosalind broke the mold herself. We are so very fortunate to have her as part of the CASA team!


National Recovery Month by Dr. Jennifer Leggour, Psy. D.

September is National Recovery Month which is an observance held every year to educate people that substance use treatment and mental health services can enable those with a mental and/or substance use issue to live a healthy and rewarding life. Similar to recognizing improvements made in other health fields, Recovery Month celebrates the gains made by those in behavioral health. The observance reinforces the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall well-being. It also reinforces the idea that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.

In recognition of National Recovery Month, this article is designed to help families and loved ones who are assisting someone with a mental illness or substance use disorder. It is important to note that these difficulties not only affect the individual, but everyone who is close to them. This journey can be heartbreaking, frustrating, and exhausting. It is therefore very important for family members to be educated, get support, and engage in good self-care. Here are some helpful guidelines from the Addictions and Recovery website: https://www.addictionsandrecovery.org/family-support/families-anxiety-depression-addiction-ptsd.htm

1. Negative Feelings — It is normal to have some frustration and resentment toward the individual along with compassion and hope. The feelings might seem selfish, but they are normal. Mental health and substance use issues are stressful, even when handled well.

2. When to Talk — It is never too early to have a conversation with that person. If you wait too long, you will probably speak out of frustration rather than caring. Mention your concerns in a supportive way, and expect that they will be defensive. To reduce defensiveness, it can be effective to talk about how the issue hurts you rather than how it hurts them.

3. Things You Can Do for the Individual

  • First, educate yourself about the problem and understand that the person doesn’t want to be treated as if they are “broken.”
  • Many individuals can be withdrawn, so let them know that you will be available when they are ready to talk.
  • Understand that certain behaviors like avoidance or irritability are part of the issue – and it is not about you.
  • When you are frustrated, try not to accuse, judge, or engage in name calling. Recognize that it is a scary time for both of you.
  • Make sure you both take time to relax and have fun. Recovery is hard work.
  • Set boundaries that the whole family can agree upon. Do not use boundaries to punish or shame, and instead us them to improve the health and functioning of the family.
  • Allow the individual time for recovery – time for appointments, meetings, self-care, and fun.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the potential the individual has within them.
  • Behave as you would if your loved one had a serious illness – what would you do if they were diagnosed with cancer or heart disease?

4. Additional Things You Can Do for Someone with Substance Use Disorder — Provide a sober environment and do provide excuses or cover up for the individual. Do not shield them from the consequences of their addiction. People are more likely to change if they have suffered enough negative consequences. Do not argue or talk about things when they are under the influence. If you want to provide financial support, do not give them money. Instead, buy the actual things or services that they need directly.

5. Understand that Your Lives Will Change — Things will not go back to the way they were, and you will create a “new normal.”   Remember that there is a silver lining and your loved one’s recovery can be a chance for everyone to learn how to be healthier and happier.

6. Things You Can Do for Yourself 

  • The most important guideline is do not work harder than the person you are trying to help. If you do, you will become exhausted and the other person will resent you for pushing them too hard.
  • If the individual does not want to do anything to help themselves, then you can still do something by being an example of balance and self-care.
  • Take care of yourself and avoid self-blame. Remember you can’t control another person or make them change.
  • Get professional help – talk to a therapist or go to a support group. You may need as much support as your loved one.

7. The Three C’s of Dealing with Someone with a Mental Health or Substance Use Issue 

  • You didn’t Cause the problem.
  • You can’t Control the problem.
  • You can’t Cure the problem.

Only they can do the real work.


Back to School Tips for Parents by Dr. Jen Leggour, Psy.D.

With the beginning of the school year quickly approaching, is your family ready for this transition? Is your child ready to succeed? Instead of waiting until the last minute, now is the time to begin preparing for the back-to-school transition. Here are some helpful tips for parents who want to have an active role in making this transition successful.
Discuss the transition – Check in with your child and see how he/she feels about returning to school. Ask what he/she is looking forward to, what fears he/she may have, and what he/she needs to feel successful. Also ask if there is anything that he/she wants to complete before the end of the summer such as camps, activities, seeing friends, etc. Develop a plan for addressing these things and addressing the transition back to school. Talk about preparations that the family will be making to get ready. Most children like visuals, so it would be helpful to write it down or use a calendar to show your plans.
Adjust your child’s schedule – Typically schedules are more flexible in the summer and often bedtime is later. Begin a schedule where you gradually transition back to the school bedtime and wake up time. This should be achieved about one to two weeks before school starts.
Check on educational tasks – Many schools give reading lists and packets of work for the summer. If your school does, now is a good time to review progress on this list. Begin assigning some additional educational tasks to assist in refreshing study habits and basic skills. Reading in general is a good way to stimulate the brain and it can be an activity that you do together.
Prepare a study area – About one to two weeks before school starts, set up a special place in your home where your child can do school work and homework. Make sure it is free from distractions and incorporates things that your child prefers for studying. This shows your child that education is important to your family and that you support them.
Communicate with teachers and the school — Contact your child’s teachers at the start of the school year or attend an open house. Get acquainted with them and let them know you want to be an active partner in helping your student to learn and grow. Plan to keep track of your child’s subjects, homework, activities and progress throughout the school year. And, consider serving on your local PTA or joining other parent groups that engage with and support your child’s school.
Shop now – Plan ahead for school shopping so that it is less stressful and more enjoyable. Schools typically send out a list of what is required and many local stores have the list available. You may want to call the stores first to check availability of the supplies needed in order to reduce running around. In collaboration with your student write a list of additional items they need including clothing. This will assist in budgeting and establishing expectations before you arrive at the store.
Take your child to the doctor, and make sure your child has health insurance coverage — It’s a good idea to take your child in for a physical and an eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations, and you may be asked to provide paperwork showing that your child has all the necessary shots.
Provide healthy meals — Good nutrition plays an important role in your child’s school performance. Studies show that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches do better in school. Make sure your child has a good breakfast and fix nutritious meals at home. If you need extra help, find out if your family qualifies for any Child Nutrition Programs, like the National School Lunch Program.
Offer coping skills for stress — Parents can soothe the transition back to school by supplying children with tools to help them process their emotions. Here is a list of activities and tools to help calm tension and ease nervous as the school year progresses.

Back to School Supply Drive in Full Swing

Worcester Youth and Family Services (WYFCS) has begun its yearly “Back to School” drive to benefit schoolchildren in Worcester County unable to acquire necessary materials for the upcoming term. Over 200 backpacks filled with school supplies were donated to students at local schools in 2018.

WYFCS Executive Director Steve Taylor stressed the importance of the drive to the community.

“The School Supplies program is extremely important to the children and families in Worcester County. A significant number of families in the county live at or below the federal poverty level. Pocomoke schools report roughly 70% of the children fall into this category, about half of the families in Snow Hill and roughly 30% of the families in the Berlin area struggle financially,” he said, “In addition to those living at the poverty level, many more families are living paycheck to paycheck.”

He also emphasized the difficulty of living in monetary uncertainty.

“Any major expense such as a car repair or refrigerator failure will place families at risk of paying their bills,” he said, “Providing school supplies can be a tremendous help to these families. School supply requests are also intended to help teachers who sometimes use their own money to help the children.”

Deborah Smullen, billing and insurance specialist for WYFCS, said that all participants in the organization’s youth programs would receive backpacks.

“Bags are provided to our Berlin Youth Club, SAGES and SABERS members and their siblings, as well as our Family Connections families,” she said, “We also donate boxes of miscellaneous school supplies to area schools directly to lift the burden from teachers and administrators. Members of the public are invited to fill out a bag request form for their child at any time.”

Smullen requested that donations be made by Friday, August 9. Drop off locations for items include 124 North Main Street, Suite C in Berlin, at the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce at 12320 Ocean Gateway in Ocean City and at Ayers Creek Adventures at 8628 Grey Fox Lane in Berlin. There will also be a “Stuff the Van” event at Walmart, at 11416 Ocean Gateway in Berlin on Saturday, July 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Patrons are encouraged to purchase school supplies to be loaded in the WYFCS vans.

School supplies being requested are:
• One, three and five subject notebooks
• Post It notes
• Bottles of glue
• Pencil pouches/cases
• Colored pencils
• Composition books
• Crayola crayons
• Dividers
• Zip lock bags (all sizes)
• Highlighters
• Hand sanitizer
• Notebook paper
• Masking tape
• Scissors (blunt end)
• Pencils, #2
• White paper plates
• Pencil sharpeners
• Tissues
• Wipes (Clorox or Lysol)
• Plastic two pocket folders
• Regular two pocket folders
• Ear buds
• Glue sticks
• Large pink erasers
• Paper towels
• Dry erase markers

Bags will be distributed Friday, August 29 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Dr. William Henry Park in Berlin during a community event with lunch provided by Homes of Berlin. A parent or guardian must be present at the event to pick up the backpacks or may pick them up at the WYFCS offices.

Additionally, monetary contributions can be made to Worcester Youth and earmarked for the back to school drive. For more information, visit gowoyo.org, call 410-641-4598, or contact Debbie Smullen at dsmullen@gowoyo.org.


WYFCS and Local Chambers of Commerce Asking for Items for New Teacher Welcome Bags

For the first time, Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, in partnership with the Greater Ocean City, Ocean PinesBerlin and Snow Hill Chambers of Commerce are asking for donations to fill bags for the new teachers of Worcester County. WYFCS is encouraging local businesses and non-profits to give helpful items for the upcoming school year.

Many of these teachers are new to the area. We feel it is important to make them feel welcome as well as educate them on our area businesses and our community at-large. It also serves as a free advertising campaign for businesses choosing to donate.

We are requesting 100 items per business to place into the bags. Accepted donations include advertising pieces, coupons, promotional products, or goods with a company logo.Suggested items include: planners, sunscreen, hand sanitizers, chapsticks, sharpies, USB drives, koozies, promotional sunglasses, hats, binders, folders, coupons, discounts, gift cards, even candy or mints! We want to get teachers into your businesses and learn about their county.

Those interested in donating should deliver items to the WYFCS offices no later than August 15. The offices are located at 124 North Main Street, Suite C, in Berlin, MD 21811.

We are also requesting volunteers for the “bag stuffing” event on August 16 at 12 p.m. in the Ray (located within WYFCS offices.) Lunch will be provided.

For more information, call Morgan Coulson, Communications Coordinator at (410) 641-4598 or email her at mcoulson@gowoyo.org, or by contacting your local Chamber of Commerce: Berlin: (410) 641-4775 or chamberinfo@berlinchamber.org; Greater Ocean City:(410) 213-0552 or info@oceancity.org; Snow Hill: (410) 334-0104 or snowhillchamber@gmail.com; Ocean Pines: (410) 641-5306 or Kerrie@OceanPinesChamber.org.


We’re Seeking Donations for “Every Child Needs”

Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) has started a new initiative, “Every Child Needs” (ECN), and is seeking donations. The program will supply at risk children with basic needs such as blankets, pillows, pajamas, shoes, clothes, toiletries, coats and duffle bags.

Each year, WYFCS participates in the “Christmas Spirit Campaign” with the Young Professionals of the Greater Ocean City Maryland Chamber of Commerce to ensure disadvantaged children have a gift to open on Christmas morning. In 2018, the organization had multiple requests from children for a bed, mattress, blanket or pillow due to lack of said objects at home. Many professed to sleeping on couches or sharing beds with siblings. Often, they were in transient living situations such as staying with varying family members, homeless shelters or crisis centers. Executive Director Steve Taylor of WYFCS said the requests were a revelation to the organization.

“It was disheartening to learn that so many children don’t have their own bed or bedding items,” he said, “but it was inspiring to learn that the children wanted basic necessities over games and toys that many other children will be receiving for Christmas.”

Worcester County Public Schools report that 42.06 percent of school students live in households at or below the federal poverty level. They relayed to WYFCS that some children would bring plastic trash bags, duffle bags or backpacks with extra clothes to school each day, claiming they were unsure where they might sleep that night. The ECN program will use “Community Needs” grant funding to help families purchase basic living necessities.

WYFCS works with nearly 80 children through youth, adolescent, and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) programs. These children are to be given first preference with donations. Worcester County school guidance counselors have also offered to partner with WYFCS to provide leads about families with needs.

Candy Kitchen of Ocean City has donated stuffed animals, Quilters by the Sea Guild of Ocean Pines have donated handmade quilts and fleece blankets, Stevenson United Methodist Church Women’s Group has made a cash donation for pillows and pillow cases, and through Atlantic General Hospital, Pajamaprogram.org has collected over 200 pairs of pajamas and 200 books to assist with the initiative.

WYFCS Insurance Specialist and ECN founder Debbie Smullen said the program was intended to give children a sense of ownership and pride.

“We will be working with children in our programs, the school counselors from all Worcester County Schools and anyone who comes to our office in need for distribution. Our hope is to expand to mattresses and beds,” she said.

Donations can be made by visiting their offices at 124 North Main Street, Suite C, in Berlin, Maryland, by mail, online at gowoyo.org, or via their Facebook.

For more information contact Morgan Coulson, Communications Coordinator, at 410-641-4598 or mcoulson@gowoyo.org.


Annual Pirate Party Raises Over $40,000 for Worcester Youth Programs

Approximately $40,000 dollars was raised May 17 at the eleventh annual Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) Pirate Party, held at Sunset Grille in West Ocean City, Maryland. The money will be matched with grants, generating more the $200,000 in program funding for youth in Worcester County.

WYFCS is a non-profit founded in 1975 that helps people of all ages with a broad spectrum of services that include mental health counseling, youth and adolescent enrichment programs, advocacy for abused and neglected children, and empowerment initiatives for those less fortunate. The Pirate Party is their largest fundraiser, with over 150 guests in attendance.

Each year, members of the community volunteer as “pirates” and garner donations in the name of WYFCS in hopes of raising the largest amount. This year’s pirates included Amy Czyzia, Bruce Krasner, Caroline Phillips, Darren Cummings, Earl Conley, Frank Mattes, Grey Lindsey, Jamie Davis, Jennifer Dawicki, Joe Kendall, Karen Bush, Maureen Purnell, Michael Belich, Pastor Ron Schatz, Rod Rippin, Sharon Knowles, Shelly Bruder, Shelly Messick, Spencer Byrd, Vinny Pierotti, Randi Spano, and the current highest earner, Kenny Tomaselli.

Executive Director of WYFCS, Steve Taylor, said the event was vital to the work the organization does.

“The pirate party is a fun-filled community event that recognizes the importance and value of helping children in Worcester County, “ he said, “It generates community involvement and the local financial commitment necessary to match federal and state grants dollars capable of expanding the agency’s programmatic impact for Worcester County children.”

The event was sponsored by 5 Star Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, Atlantic Physical Therapy, Austin Purnell, Ayers Creek Adventures, Beach House CrossFit, Bergey & Company, Bookkeeping & Business, Solutions, LLC., Cards Technology, Castle in the Sand, The Church Mouse Thrift Shop, CrossFit OC, D3Corp, Delmarva Power, Dough Roller, Harborside Bar & Grill, NFP Insurance, Pohanka of Salisbury, Taylor Bank, and The Ewancio Family, IV Solutions.

The organization will continue accepting “pirate” donations through June 16. Donations can be made online on our website, gowoyo.org, by mail, on Facebook, or by visiting the office at 124 North Main Street, Suite C in Berlin, Maryland.


WYFCS Welcomes New Communications Coordinator

Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) welcomed Morgan Coulson on May 20 as their new Communications Coordinator. The Communications Coordinator performs administrative duties as a front desk receptionist as well as running social media including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Morgan designs and maintains the gowoyo.org website, writes press releases, takes photographs and video, sits on the marketing committee, promotes brand awareness, and serves as public relations liaison.

She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography and minors in Spanish, Biology, and Creative Writing from Salisbury University in 2011. Prior to joining WYFCS, she served as the Director of Marketing, Media and Public Relations for the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce (SACC), where she also planned and oversaw events such as Taste of the Town and the Salisbury Restaurant Week Launch Party. In 2018 she founded the SACC’s Salisbury Febrewary Brew Fest and sat on the Marketing Committee for the National Folk Festival. She also held the office of Associate Director of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, assisting in daily operations as well as events such as Spring Celebration, the Bathtub Races, Jazz and Blues Bash, and the Fiddler’s Convention.

In her free time, she works as a freelance photographer and writer, having been featured in local publications such as the Bayside Gazette, Ocean City Today, The Maryland Coastal Dispatch, the Salisbury Independent, the Salisbury Star, Metropolitan Magazine and others. Morgan was thrilled to become part of the team at WYFCS, as she sees it as a vitally beneficial resource to the Worcester County community. She is passionate about promoting positive mental health and helping to erase the negative stigma surrounding it. Morgan hopes to help further the message for WYFCS through her skillset.

For any press or public relations questions, call Morgan at our offices at 410-641-4598.


From One of our Therapists: Make Time for Family this Summer

As the days of Summer become shorter, the importance of spending time bonding as a family becomes increasingly important. Throughout the school year, children spend over 1,000 hours in the classroom and are often shuffled from activity to activity. A recent study has shown carving out family time can be very challenging with families being busier than ever. The summer months often provide parents with a reprieve from their strict daily routines, and provide families the opportunity to spend time more quality time together. According to research, family time is critical to the development in children’s ability to build self-esteem and strengthen bonds, and nurtures positive behaviors and creates memories.

Parents can take advantage of a more relaxed schedule by going on vacation, having family game nights, or simply enjoying low-cost activities. Families should select activities such as a beach day that are enjoyed by everyone to provide the best possible experience. Parents and children could create a family bucket list that includes the desires of everyone in the family to create your own memories and a summer everyone will never forget.

Setting aside family time demonstrates the importance of family values to children. Despite the busy schedules of varying family members, the prioritizing of time spent as a family demonstrates to children the importance of quality time together. Families who share meals, read to their child, talk with them or engage with them one-on-one are more likely to have more quality experiences with one another. Children and teens who have positive and meaningful time with their family are likely to communicate more effective, improve their relationship and bonds to family members and learn how to listen and work together.

Worcester Youth and Family, and the Town of Berlin, offer many opportunities to share experiences as a family. From the fireworks on the 3rd of July to family outdoor movie nights, and National Night Out, there is no shortage of activities that can be shared with children and families of all ages. Please visit berlinmainstreet.com/events/ and ococean.com/events for fun local family activities!

By: Amanda Chaffee, LMSW


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