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2018 Annual Reports

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

April Volunteer Spotlight

Sharon Fitzgerald – Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)

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: Until 2014, Sharon was a resident of northern Baltimore County and taught middle school for the Carroll County Public School system for 20 years.   Throughout her career, she encountered very diverse children, families, and situations.   Although an advocate for all children, Sharon always found herself drawn to those in need of additional support, academically as well as emotionally.

Sharon has been married for 40 years this May, and she and her husband have one daughter.  In 2014, her husband convinced her to retire so that they could move to the Eastern Shore in order to enjoy their transition into their retirement years, but more obviously so that he could pursue his kite boarding hobby!  Admittedly, it was a difficult change for Sharon, but she has found her niche, by becoming a CASA volunteer.

BEST PART OF YOUR VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE: Advocating for children in need has always been my mode of operation and knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of children is the most gratifying experience. Meeting and getting to know the children and watching their growth over time when placed within an environment that helps them thrive–seeing them be successful, happy, and enjoying the life they deserve, providing hope, and ultimately the reality of a better future for them is the best part of my volunteer experience.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE FACED: Although I do understand the necessity, I think one of the biggest challenges is dealing with the timetable involved and all the protocols involved in dealing with the court and related agencies.

WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE OTHERS TO KNOW: First, in becoming a CASA, you’re not alone. Initially, you receive in-depth training and, subsequently, continued support throughout your case(s).  The CASA team is there to guide you, so never hesitate to address any questions or concerns with them.  You don’t have to figure it out on your own!

Second, please know that the time and energy you expend in being an advocate for these children is extremely important and helpful.  Do your best to develop relationships with the children and with all collaterals involved and maintain contact with them. Be persistent.

CASA PROGRAM STAFF STATEMENT ABOUT SHARON: Sharon is a passionate, reliable and dedicated CASA volunteer. She communicates regularly with staff and works collaboratively with interested parties toward meeting the best interests of the children she represents.  She is an organized and excellent reporter of critical information to the court. She serves her position with a pleasant calmness and openness and takes an unbiased approach to her investigative work and reporting. Sharon cares deeply for the children she represents but maintains appropriate boundaries. In her time as a CASA volunteer, Sharon’s case has been dealt many difficult situations, all of which she has handled and overcome with grace. She truly goes above and beyond in advocating for the children she serves. We are so very fortunate to have Sharon on the Lower Shore CASA team!


WYFCS Welcomes New Youth Programs Coordinator

Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) welcomed Tiffany Scott on January 22nd as their new Youth Programs Coordinator. The Youth Programs Coordinator oversees programming for adolescent programs and the Berlin Youth Club (BYC). Strengthening Adolescent Boys with Education and Resources (SABERS) is a support program for boys in 7th and 8th grade.  The Berlin Youth Club (BYC) is for youth ages 6-11 who reside in the town of Berlin.   The Youth Programs Coordinator organizes cultural, educational, and social activities for the youth throughout the year.  The Coordinator also organizes youth activities for various town events and manages a volunteer corps to help with youth activities.

Tiffany comes to WYFCS from the Worcester County Health Department where she worked as a Community Health Outreach Worker in their Patient Centered Home Program.  From this experience, she developed her love for public health and helping others.  In 2017, Tiffany took on the role of a Community Health Educator with WCHD’s Chronic Disease and Tobacco Prevention Team. During her time with prevention as the Healthiest Maryland Business/ Worksite Wellness Coordinator, Tiffany was able to further her passion for holistic health and wellness through community partnerships. Tiffany is also a CDC-Certified Diabetes Prevention Coach and enjoys empowering participants to become their best self through nutrition and physical activity.

Tiffany earned her bachelor’s Degree from Salisbury University in 2015 with an area of concentration in Community Health and Health Education. Currently, she is a full-time student at Maryland University of Integrative Health working toward her dream of becoming a Certified Clinical Nutritionist. Tiffany plans to one day build on her work within the community to create a healthier community through the power of nutrition.

For more information about youth programs, please call our office at 410-641-4598.


WYFCS Receives Grants to Expand Access to Mental Healthcare

On Wednesday, December 6, WYFCS received two grants that will expand access to mental healthcare in the region. The Maryland Community Health Resources Commission and the The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc. contributed $125,000 each to support service expansion at WYFCS. The grants will enable WYFCS to hire two clinicians to provide mental health services. Our agency can’t thank these two phenomenal organizations enough for their support!


CASA Volunteers Needed

WYFCS is recruiting volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). A CASA volunteer, is a court-appointed, trained, and committed adult who represents and advocates for a child’s best interest in the child protection system. By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can help keep abused and neglected children safe, giving them a chance at finding happiness. If interested, please contact Brigitte Southworth at 410-641-4598.


Non-Profit of the Year

Worcester Youth and Family is proud to receive the Non-Profit of the Year Award through the Greater Ocean City, Maryland Chamber of Commerce! WYFCS has been serving the community since 1975 and we continually strive to increase awareness about mental health and make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. Thank you everybody for the support!


Angels In Adoption Honoree

WYFCS has been nominated by Senator Chris Van Hollen and named one of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) Angels in Adoption honorees.  The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the millions of children around the world in need of permanent, safe, and loving homes and to eliminating the barriers that hinder these children from realizing their basic right to a family. Each year, the Angels in Adoption program honor a wide spectrum of individuals and organizations making extraordinary contributions to adoption, permanency and child welfare.


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