Submitted by Carol Dupuis.
(Feb. 18, 2020) — Youth and Family Services of Haddam-Killingworth needs YOUR help. You may be retired, or you may still be actively working. We need a few folks who are willing to attend monthly meetings and help with agency events. We are basically a fundraising Board.
Maybe you are a philanthropist looking for a good cause in which you can make a difference, maybe you are someone who is terrific at fundraising events, maybe you are someone with grant writing experience or maybe you are someone who just wants to help make our communities even better places in which to live and raise children. If you are the least bit interested, please call our agency at (860) 345-7498. Leave your name, number or email and I will get back to you.
The staff and BOD of Youth and Family Services are ready to dive into a new year that will be busy and support our mission. The agency served a number of families, a total of 52 children. The generosity of our communities is such a blessing and the appreciation of the families is heartwarming.
We are so grateful for the financial support of the towns of Killingworth and Haddam. YFSHK is not a town agency. We are a non-profit 501-C3. The agency also receives support from the United Way and the Salvation Army. The Killingworth Lions Club has also been a great supporter. Many local businesses and individuals have also donated to YFSHK. Since the beginning, we have been the grateful recipients of Federal and State grants. These have been so well run by dedicated YFSHK staff for many years; resulting in renewals, whenever possible. However, our last one finishes up at the end of June 2020. Federal and State grants are no longer available. Consequently, we must generate other funding.
We also need the help of the communities at large. That help might be financial donations; attendance at our events such as a recent and timely one, done in conjunction with the library: “Vaping-What Parents Should Know” on Jan. 16, at the Brainerd Library. Grandparents, guardians and caregivers are welcome at all our events. They are open to Haddam, Haddam Neck and Killingworth families and other events through the school year and summer. We will be having a Family Olympics event during May. Watch for info on the 2nd “Run A Muck” to be held neat the end of the school year. Movie nights during the summer, in our office yard, are great fun for families and they are FREE! Of course there is also our annual 5k Pumpkin Run, our largest fundraiser for the year, in the past. Keep an eye out for some new changes to make the event more attractive and excite new interest in it.
Our Counseling Department, directed by Katy Kennedy, LMFT is fast becoming self–supporting. Katy has increased the numbers of folks receiving counseling and has enabled us to collect more from insurance carriers. No one is turned away. We have a sliding fee scale down to zero, for those who have no coverage. She is able to see people in a room at Killingworth Town Hall. This was enabled by First Selectwoman, Cathy Iino. Katy is also able to see clients in an accessible room in the Haddam Social Services Building. That was enabled by former First Selectwoman Lizz Milardo and the town Social Services Director, Jessica Condil. We are very grateful for all of their help. Anyone needing a counseling appointment may call the agency at (860) 345-7498.
During the school year, our Prevention Coordinator, Lindsey Lehet has been running after school groups at the Intermediate, Middle and High Schools. These groups are all focused on helping students make good decisions and become giving, kind members of our community. Some of our high school students have given presentations around the State. They have attended National and State level conferences on leadership in these areas. Though Lindsey is no longer available during the school day, some of our other staff members and a teacher will continue these programs through the rest of the school year
Lindsey, along with Michele Ouellette, is the leader of the Healthy Communities-Healthy Kids Coalition. This is a group of adults and students who are trying to stem Alcohol, and other Drug Abuse. Lindsey will stay actively involved with the Coalition. This is such an important mission in these days of the Opioid crisis and the Vaping Crisis among our young people, as well as older members of our communities. Suicide prevention is another issue we need to address. None of these issues affect just teens. The Coalition is an area we can use help from concerned citizens. Please call the agency (860) 345-7498, if the Coalition interests you. You do not have to be a parent or connected to the schools. Being a concerned young adult to a senior citizen is the only qualifier. In an effort to reach a greater number of folks, we have switched meeting time to third Thursday EVENINGS, at 5:30 p.m. at the Haddam Killingworth Middle/Intermediate School library. Please join us at the next one, Feb. 20, 2020.
For our younger population, our Early Education Coordinator, Karen Pasiuk, will be having some educational playtime events for parents and little ones. Watch for announcements of her activities. The Killingworth Lions work with us and the school nurses, to do special vision screenings. It is a valuable program to pick up possible vision issues, early.
Youth and Family Services also runs the Juvenile Review Board for our communities. It is a diversion program designed to give school age people who are arrested, an alternative to appearing in court. An intake interview of the student and their parent/guardian is done. Their cases are presented to a panel of volunteer members who ask questions of the student and parent/guardian and talk about what the offense was. The panel deliberates and comes up with recommendations for consequences. These must be completed satisfactorily within a certain amount of time. There is another appearance before the panel. If the plan has not been completed satisfactorily or the student has another offense, he or she will go before the Court. There is only one chance before JRB. Our JRB works on a Restorative Justice model. If you might be interested in serving on the JRB, call Laurie Ruderfer at the agency office. Obviously, this is a position that requires extreme confidentiality.
YFSHK is working on bringing back a mentoring program to our District. It is a work in progress. If you might be interested in becoming a mentor, please call the agency and one of the folks involved will get back to you.