Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services Seeking Mentors
Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) is seeking mentors for their new mentor program, which was recently developed and partnered with the Worcester County Board of Education. Its mission is to promote the power of mentors to transform young lives, to develop and play a vital role serving 6th graders through high school seniors. January is National Mentor Month, which has been awarded a proclamation by the Worcester County Commissioners starting in January 2018.
The program is funded by the Worcester County Local Management Board through Worcester County’s Initiative to Preserve Families (WCIPF) and is designed to identify students with warning signs of disengagement from school, such as truancy, low grades or behavioral issues. The Board will communicate with WYFCS to assist in recognizing youth participants suitable for the new initiative. Ultimately, this program empowers the mentee to reach for their goals, improve academic performance and social outcomes, with higher graduation rates. Studies demonstrate youth mentoring programs are effective in improving school attendance, performance, social skills, graduation rates, and greater employment opportunity and success.
WYFCS is currently seeking applicants for volunteer mentors interested in serving the community through mentor-based leadership. The objective is to recruit, train and assign volunteer mentors interested in helping youth attain greater opportunities for success in life. Possible preferred candidates include young professionals, business leaders, school teachers, social workers, nurses, police, veterans, retirees, faith-based community, civic groups, philanthropic individuals and groups; government officials.
Volunteer mentor candidates are not required to hold any special or advanced degrees in education or social services and are only asked to be supportive of the children enrolled in the program. Mentors will be interviewed, receive a background check and participate in approximately 3 hours of training from WYFCS prior to being matched with a student. They are asked to commit to the program for at least one year after assignment and will have the opportunity to meet face to face with their mentee at least twice per month. Additional monthly meetings will include group sessions designed to focus on specific challenges and to learn about helpful mentoring tools or resources for the students to be successful in school. Mentors will also receive ongoing support from the program coordinator and will be asked to maintain communication with the child’s parents or guardians regarding their progress.
Worcester Connects will have the first Mentor Interest meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 6:00-7:00 pm, in The Ray, located at 124 N. Main Street Berlin, Md. From 6:00-7:00 pm.
If you are interested in mentoring, applications can be found on the WYFCS web-site, www.gowoyo.org, under the volunteer tab.
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!
Steven Taylor has made his life’s work philanthropy and advocacy, from championing environmental protection and conservation, to helping thousands with mental health care and social support services. After an impressive 32-year career, Taylor announced he will retire from his position as Executive Director at Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) this December. The legacy he leaves behind is a diverse and powerful one.
Raised in Berlin, he grew up on an Angus cattle and row crop farm with his brother, sister and two parents before moving to a house on Ayers Creek. That house stands next to the location where he and his wife Suzy run Ayers Creek Adventures, a kayak and eco-tour business, to this day.
From an early age he found himself engaged with the outdoors, a passion that would later influence his career in environmental preservation and policy.
“My childhood was good,” he said, “I spent a lot of summers in Ocean City enjoying watersports like surfing and waterskiing in the bay. I love the ocean, swimming and fishing. I’ve always liked being on the beach and in an open-air environment. It was a big influence on my life, just being outside.” He attended Stephen Decatur Highschool before going away to college.
After graduating from University of Baltimore with his Master’s in Business Administration in 1987, he began to work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
“When I was at college, there were organizations that came in and talked about what they do; the Chesapeake Bay Foundation was one of them. I was very interested in what they had to say and followed up with them, eventually going to Annapolis to meet with those who worked there. I had a good feeling about the work they were doing. I liked the idea of working outside and experiencing and doing the kinds of things I did as a child.”
Though he was drawn to the return to the Eastern Shore, employment opportunities at the time were slim, and he had met his wife during his college years.
“We supported one another. She had a job in Harrisburg and I was in Baltimore, so we lived in between. She would commute north, and I would commute south. It worked for the two of us at the time. It wasn’t about what I wanted, but what worked well for both of us.” He identifies his wife as being his mentor in advocacy and philanthropy.
“Her family was very generous even though they weren’t extremely wealthy. They just felt it was important to give. Her grandmother used to say, ‘every dollar you give you get two dollars back.’ That’s what she taught me as we got to know one another—the importance of giving and even if you don’t have a lot to give—give something.”
It was through his wife he had his first exposure to working with young people, something that would later be echoed in his career at WYFCS.
“Suzy was involved in some church groups and we did things with the kids like take them ice skating or to the park. For a lot of kids, it was their first time out of the neighborhood. I really enjoyed doing and experiencing what these kids were experiencing for the first time much like what we do here [at WYFCS.]”
After the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, he went on to work for the Environmental Protection Agency in the National Estuary Program, where they received an application for an initiative that would eventually lead him to become Executive Director of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP.)
“We were receiving applications for new estuary programs. They are an exclusive bunch, there are only 28 across the nation out of 100 plus estuaries. I was there at a time when they were accepting and reviewing applications for new ones. The Maryland Coastal Bays was one of them.”
The team he was working with didn’t share his enthusiasm for the project at first.
“They didn’t want to fund the Maryland Coastal Bays Program because they felt like the Chesapeake Bay Program was already getting a lot of money and Maryland was getting more than their fair share through that.”
He was eventually able to convince them that the MCBP would have the highest likelihood of success compared to all the other estuary programs because of its size.
“It’s primarily one county in one state, 175 square miles. Comparatively it’s a small project area; some estuary programs are three or four states, ten or fifteen counties which makes the process much more complicated when dealing with various jurisdictions.” Despite the typical standard of five years of planning before program implementation, as luck would have it that particular round was only requesting three.
“Convincing my team members that it was a small project area and coinciding for the less amount of time for planning was sellable and they accepted that argument.” A short time later, one of his colleagues suggested he apply for the position of Executive Director of the MCBP, effectively being “lent out” by the federal government for a three-year term. His work with the MCBP would become a landmark moment for his career and a turning point for the local environment.
“The Maryland Coastal Bay Program’s mission is to improve water quality and habitat in the Maryland Coastal Bays Watershed. It’s imperative to know what’s happening on the landscape before you can start to address water quality problems because it’s influencing the water quality.”
His position required beginning the planning phase for the project—getting all the partners and stakeholders involved and talking about what potential solutions there were to habitat and environmental issues and to the water that was impacting wildlife. After that three-year planning period, they put the program into motion.
“They’re 22 years into implementing that plan. It includes restoration projects, clean ups, public education, talking about navigation and recreation, how multiple uses can impact one another. It’s a comprehensive look at a particular water body and what things can be done to fix it.”
The end of his tenure for MCBP coincided his wife receiving a job offer to work in New Jersey. Realizing the opportunity that offer presented her, he decided it was time to make a change and leave Maryland.
“I felt that it was my turn to support her… and so I said, ‘you know what, I’ll find a job in the environmental field after we there, let’s follow this career path that you’re on and see where that takes us.’” He described the move as being a culture shock.
“Here on the Eastern Shore things move a little slower, which is nice. In New Jersey everyone just seemed to be in a hurry.” There were however benefits to the change in pace and the move didn’t stop him from keeping close to his favorite habitat.
“There were a lot of things for our kids to do, a lot of activities, sporting events, recreational opportunities. We lived near the shore, about three miles from the beach, on a peninsula. To the east was the ocean, to the south was the Navesink River and to the north was Raritan Bay, it was a great place for me to be so close to water-based opportunities.”
Once in New Jersey, he began working on a watershed project for the Manasquan River and a short time later was offered a new opportunity by one of the members of the planning committee, a professor at Monmouth University.
“He approached me with ‘Steve you’d be a great teacher at Monmouth University. You can be an adjunct professor and teach a class or two on the subjects of your discretion.’ I taught environmental law and policy. I taught about Clean Water Act and what laws and regulations were a result of that. I didn’t find it foreign because I that was where my experience lay.” He also taught environmental science at Brookdale Community College, which he found a bit more challenging, but soon invested himself in establishing the Clean Marina Program (CMP), the first of its kind in the state.
The CMP is what he describes as a “good housekeeping plan for marinas.”
“Marina owners or managers think about where paints are stored, how they would clean up a gas spill; essentially considering potential hazards and what the response would be. It’s all about good management of the marina.”
He decided to bring his knowledge of similar projects to the table in his new home.
“Maryland had already had a Clean Marina Program. I was in a meeting with Environmental Protection Officials and told them about the CMP and that I thought we should bring this to New Jersey. It’s a great thing, it’s voluntary, it’s non-regulatory. They were about to issue a lot of regulations on marinas at that time. But they decided the CMP might be a good way to ease off the marina owners by submitting this voluntary program to avoid the regulation component.”
He spent time using his own experience working with officials to help adapt the policies that had been used in Maryland to New Jersey laws. When that was done, they found pilot marinas willing to try the program out. The success was so great, the CMP was adopted state wide. The call to come back to the Shore, however, was always in his mind.
While living in New Jersey, Taylor’s grandfather listed his property for sale, but due to the market at the time, was unable to attract a buyer. He and his wife decided it made sense for them to purchase the land themselves.
“Suzy and I were talking one night and thought, ‘you know what we should buy that property.’ We were at a point in our lives where we could afford it, so we drafted a proposal to my grandfather and gave him life rights to live there. He said, ‘absolutely.’ He was delighted that another family member would have the land that he lived his life on and raised his children on. It was a win-win for him and for us. We are so fortunate to have had that opportunity and to be living there and so happy.”
After they bought the property, they rented their house for nearly a decade. They planned to retire there but talked about what they wanted to do when they finally returned from New Jersey. Eventually the discussions led them to the concept of Ayers Creek Adventures.
“We did some brainstorming and jotted down ideas and the kayaking piece bubbled to the top; it seemed obvious. It’s a great location for that, it’s a passive recreation, it’s not like a marina with a motors boats cruising around. It seemed like a good fit for the property, and with my background and my ability to provide nature tours on the creek—it was just the perfect thing. Everything came together, my experience and my knowledge, my family being there, our idea of moving back to the Eastern Shore. It all fit into place.”
After a few years operating Ayers Creek, a close friend and current WYFCS board member, Karen Clayland, approached him about become the new Executive Director for the organization.
“She was familiar with my nonprofit experience and thought that I would be a good fit, not because I was knowledgeable about mental health issues or social issues, but because of my experience in managing non-profits. She encouraged me to apply and I did.”
The transition from environmental policy and conservation to mental health and social service was a challenging one.
“It was hard at first, I questioned, ‘what am I doing here?’ But I focused on the business side because that was what I was bringing to the table. There were great staff that were able to handle the mental health component and the social service component, so I really didn’t have to worry because I had a great team. That’s what I still focus on, how I can make this a strong business.”
Despite being on the administrative side, being able to interact with the people WYFCS has been a highlight of his work.
“It’s rewarding working here even though my job doesn’t give me hands on work like some of the team. I get to experience how beneficial our services can be; I see that through the work that we do and the communications I have with the staff. It’s inspiring to see people so dedicated to giving to others in a different way, teaching kids right from wrong and a good and healthy way to live.”
He says being Executive Director has taught him a lot about mental health and its treatment.
“I’ve learned a lot, I didn’t know that so many people struggle with it. One in five at some point in their lifetime will have a mental health diagnosis. I had no idea that it was that significant. That was a huge revelation for me that it was so significant in the community.”
The social issues and struggles within the area also surprised him.
“Worcester County even though it seems like a wealthy county is not. The schools report significant numbers of folks at the federal poverty level or lower. The United Way did a report that they call ALICE that is identifying people working but are living paycheck to paycheck. With the federal poverty level and the ALICE group numbers combined, 30-35% of the people in Worcester County are paycheck to paycheck or worse. I don’t think people realize the extent of social need that’s out there.”
He said he’s seen the benefits of reaching out to the public about these issues.
“The great thing is that when we share this information and call for support from the community, we get overwhelming response. People come forward and they’re willing to buy school supplies or donate money to the organization or volunteer or become a CASA. There are wonderful people in the community willing to come forward and help.”
Taylor believes spreading this information is one of his proudest accomplishments while being at WYFCS.
“Something that I worked really hard on during my tenure here is making sure that community is aware of who we are, what we do and why we do it. I attend almost all the Chamber of Commerce functions and not just go but participate and network and talk about what I do and the challenges that are in the community. I think that that’s where I’ve probably helped the organization the most; helping people know about the services that we provide and the number of people that we help every year, and that there is a need.”
Under his administration, he’s seen WYFCS grow financially as well.
“Aside from spreading our message, my other area of concentration has been making the nonprofit financially stronger; when I started there really wasn’t too much in reserve should something go wrong. We didn’t have money to fall back on if we lost a grant or something tragic happened to the building. By being conservative and looking at staffing arrangements I’ve been able to create that rainy day fund and keep our bank accounts healthy.”
When asked where he saw the organization going in the future after his retirement, he hoped the mission would be to expand into the southern end of the county.
“That’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. It’s just going to require more resources. We need to find additional grants to fund that. I haven’t been able to do that, so I hope the next person is more successful than I was.”
He also said he hoped WYFCS could receive more financial support.
“I look at our funding allocations; we’re receiving a lot of money locally and from the state and very little from the federal government. It should be the opposite; the federal government should be providing the lion’s share of our funding to be supplemented by state and local sources. I think that next person needs to focus on that too.”
The challenge for his successor will be partnering with larger entities to get that assistance.
“The federal government doesn’t have the resources to manage hundreds of thousands of grants to small nonprofits like us. They prefer to provide money to the states so the they are only managing 50 grants as to opposed to thousands. I think WYFCS needs partner with other similar or like organizations in neighboring counties and apply for grants that will come to Delmarva or the region and support similar work.”
After his extensive career, Taylor says he’s looking forward to retirement.
“I think the nicest part will be able to wake up in the morning and not have to rush to do anything. I can just have coffee and sit there, read or watch the news, do some woodworking, or relax. I think that will be the greatest thing, having that peace of mind. Then my wife and I will do some traveling. We want to go visit some national parks and out west. We want to visit our children and spend time together.”
He says he’s proud of the work that he’s done over the past 32 years and the legacy he will leave behind.
“I feel like I’ve done everything I can do help give back to Worcester County and the people who live here. My work with the Coastal Bays Program has had success and that success is really for the children… the kids who are going to grow up here. It’s not for me, because I’m going to leave that behind, but it’s for all the people that are coming up and want to enjoy the things that I used to do. The same is true for Worcester Youth. The kids that live in communities that are challenging hopefully will have greater opportunities to explore and grown on their own. I feel like the programs that I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in have given back to the community. I think that if every person can say that about themselves, we’d live in a better world.”
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.
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
• Zip lock bags (all sizes)
• Hand sanitizer
• Notebook paper
• Masking tape
• Scissors (blunt end)
• Pencils, #2
• White paper plates
• Pencil sharpeners
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first time, Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services, in partnership with the Greater Ocean City, Ocean Pines, Berlin 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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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