Christmas at Vera Lloyd
Because of you, boys and girls at Vera Lloyd this holiday season experienced the gift of your generosity and love. Thank you for purchasing gifts for children who are healing from abuse, neglect, abandonment and adjudication while they live at Vera Lloyd’s children’s home in Monticello. Let me tell you a little about Christmas Day at the Barton Home for girls and the Trimble Home for boys, two of the five homes for youth at Vera Lloyd.
Barton Home for girls in foster care
Clare and Deverick Franklin, house parents, and the eight girls at Barton Home decorated for Christmas weeks ago. The girls received a small gift for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve, they shared hot chocolate and opened one gift before heading to bed.
On Christmas Day, the girls woke up about 7 a.m., came downstairs for hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls and gathered—excited—around the Christmas
tree to open gifts. They stayed in their pajamas for the morning festivities.
They were thrilled to open gifts of clothes, shoes, gift cards, make-up kits and more. They attended church with their house parents. After church, Clare
and Deverick prepared steak and potatoes at the girls’ request. They ended the day watching Christmas movies together.
The girls traveled to Little Rock after Christmas to have lunch at Chili’s and spend gift cards at Park Plaza.
Trimble Home for boys in foster care
Brandon and Wendy Williams, house parents, said the boys’ wish lists were all fulfilled. “The boys had a great time and were thrilled to receive gifts they really wanted and needed,” Wendy said. Favorite gifts included clothes, tablet computers and shoes.
A few days before Christmas, Brandon, Wendy and the boys opened board games for a game night. They had hot chocolate, played games and enjoyed a fun family
On Christmas Eve, Brandon and Wendy put gifts under the Christmas tree. The next morning, the boys had breakfast and opened gifts. After they tried on
clothes and played with their new games, they had a big lunch of ham, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls and pie.
They, too, traveled to Little Rock over the holidays to spend gift cards on clothes and other items.
Brandon and Wendy were equally excited to receive gifts for the home, especially a coffee pot—the Trimble Home has not had a coffee pot in recent
Some of the boys and girls at Vera Lloyd had home passes so they could visit family members or family members traveled to Monticello to visit with youth
on campus. A grandmother for one of the boys at Trimble Home made a special trip to see her grandson on Christmas Day.
Love. Caring. Generosity. Christ’s healing love. Thank you for sharing the reason for the season with boys and girls at Vera Lloyd.
August 15th is National Relaxation Day! A lot of us live a fast-paced lifestyle. We often neglect time for ourselves. As this occurs, our physical and mental needs are not met which moves us actually away from achieving our life goals. Overall health is more than just the physical component; it involves an emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness. All of these components either complement or work against each other and one area can impact the others.
Counseling techniques, when warding off stress or burnout, can start off simple but require a change in habits. The person must actually engage in the effort of utilizing coping skills. Change is difficult especially with a busy lifestyle, but quite necessary if new results are desired. Positive coping skills are essential for everybody, not just individuals seeking counseling. However, what works for one person may not work for another. For example, if gardening is not your passion, it may not be a suggested coping skill. However, if you are open to the suggestion of incorporating it, then it could be.
Other examples of positive coping skills include: listening to music, playing with a pet, going to the movies, taking a hot shower, writing/painting, praying, and engaging in outdoor activities. Many coping skills are available and can be individualized. Negative coping skills include: driving fast, biting fingernails, drinking alcohol excessively, eating too much, smoking, avoiding friends and family, and many more. The negative coping skills are the ones that are to be avoided. However, all coping responses have limitations (WebMD, 2015-2016). They have to be used on a regular basis to be effective or sometimes can even lead to new stress. Even overuse of something once positive can become ineffective. A vacation to the beach can sound relaxing but could start off being stressful with all of the planning details. Even taking the same yearly trip could become monotonous and not present itself as an effective coping skill.
There are more detailed relaxation techniques available via counseling. If you feel overwhelmed with every day or chronic stressors, please see a counselor who can introduce you to deep breathing, positive self talk and cognitive coping, visualization and/or mindfulness techniques. Those may sound like foreign concepts but anyone with the attitude for change can learn and utilize them. If you are in the Monticello area, please call the Laurence E. Schmidt Counseling Center for more information or to schedule an appointment 870-367-9035.
Common Coping Responses for Stress - Topic Overview (2015-2016). Retrieved August 4, 2016 from: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/tc/common-coping-responses-for-stress-topic-overview.
It is almost that time of year again. School aged children, whether ready or not, will be going back to school. Some have relocated while others await new challenges and situations from attending a higher level school i.e., advancing to middle school or high school. Parents, educators and others need to be mindful of the difficult adjustments that some children face. Research has continuously proven that a variety of psychosocial, adjustment and health problems impact learning and performance in a profound way. Children and teenagers have the propensity to internalize some emotions which could lead to poor academic performance (School Mental Health Project, 2010).
The following are suggestions to follow to ease difficult adjustments.
1. Show that you care and are open to talking. Keep the communication lines open. A child needs to feel that others are receptive and understand.
2. Be physically and emotionally available to the child. Genuine interest in a child’s well-being requires face to face time (without distractions such as a cell phone).
3. Realize that simply listening is a crucial step. Everything does not have to be solved in one quick step.
4. Pay attention to your emotions as he/she relates to you. If the child confides in you, that displays trust.
5. Gauge a child’s response to how much help he/she wants. A child may want you to be very involved or just take a silent back seat approach (and be available when he/she decides).
6. When attempting to help formulate solutions, involve the child in his/her own approach. Don’t be demanding of the child to follow your rules and ways of approaching things.
7. Reinforce good sleeping, exercise and eating habits.
8. Encourage the utilization of positive coping skills. Ensure that the child engages in healthy, enjoyable activities that encourage good mental, emotional and physical health.
School Mental Health Project: Mental Health in Schools: An Overview (2010). Center for Mental Health in Schools. Retrieved July 29, 2016 from http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/aboutmh/mhinschools.html.
- Cynthia Polk, Clinical Director, LCSW
In the last newsletter I wrote about Vera Lloyd’s number one Core Value…Love. In this issue I want to share with you how our other core values are reflected in summer activities.
Trust –Each home has a Nurture Group or circle of trust at least once a week where our youth talk about what one young lady referred to as “real issues”. The youth also receive instruction from staff on self-regulation.
Family –Families experience vacations and outings during the summer. Our youth have enjoyed a trip to Magic Springs, a week at Ferncliff Camp, and a visit to the Museum of History with their Vera Lloyd family.
Respect –Guitar lessons continue for our youth this summer. Learning to play the guitar requires respect for the instructor and each other, as well as discipline to practice.
Empowerment –Our first Junior Academy is taking place this summer, as part of the Transition Services curriculum. This program prepares juniors for their senior year and beyond. The goal is to teach personal responsibility and empower our youth for life after Vera Lloyd.
Love, Trust, Family, Respect and Empowerment…our core values know no season. Thanks to your support and our dedicated staff Vera Lloyd youth will have a summer to remember.
Take care of yourself during National Mental Health Month
by Cynthia Polk, Director, Laurence E. Schmidt Counseling Center
May is National Mental Health Month. Our mental well-being is a component of overall positive health. Life can get so busy juggling extra responsibilities and stressors. When it becomes excessive to the point of negatively influencing every day functioning, it may be time to consider seeing a counselor/therapist. Work, school, family life and other relationships can be impacted by unresolved stress.
According to a recent article in the Journal of Counseling Psychology (2016), many stigmas exist about seeking mental health counseling. A therapist? But I am not “crazy!” Other resistant mindsets include being strongly motivated to protect self-concept, minimizing issues, gender resistance, family, friend and co-worker attitudes, seeing it as a sign of weakness, being worried about confidentiality and not believing it will be effective.
Think of it as another confidante (who will not tell your business) and will provide advice and suggestions to promote positive living. Therapy can also promote improved inner peace, help identify goals, assist with learning new patterns of behavior, clarify the thoughts and feelings of self and others, and provide an impartial sounding board and a safe and friendly ear.
If you are someone you know is feeling overwhelmed with life, I encourage them or yourself to make an appointment to see a licensed professional counselor.
Lannin, D.G., Vogel, D. L., Brenner, R. E., Abraham, W.T., & Heath, P.J. (2016). Does self-stigma reduce the probability of seeking mental health information? Journal of Counseling Psychology: (63): 3-351-358.
Spring is a busy time of year, especially for seniors in high school. Vera Lloyd’s three seniors are no exception. They recently enjoyed prom and have graduation coming up soon.
Like many other seniors, our girls are both excited and anxious about leaving home (Vera Lloyd).Our Transition Services Coordinator Tiara Miller just stepped in to her position in December, so she has focused a great deal of her attention on preparing these young ladies for their next chapter. They have toured colleges, technical schools, and transitional living programs, in addition to working on independent living skills and transition plans.
As you know, many seniors take a senior trip. The Vera Lloyd seniors do not usually have this opportunity, but Tiara has organized a Senior Retreat Trip for our girls. They will head to Fayetteville in early June to tour the University of Arkansas, explore other educational opportunities and have FUN visiting a place where they have never been. Thanks to a generous donor, they will have wonderful accommodations while in Northwest Arkansas.
Our Transition Services program is in its infancy, but we know that giving our youth a chance to explore education and career options beyond high school, master independent living skills and create support networks through mentor relationships will make a difference in their lives after Vera Lloyd. Our senior girls are looking forward to their future and we are looking forward to seeing them become successful adults.
LOVE – yes, we heard that word often during the month of February with the celebration and commercialization of Valentine’s Day.
As you know, Vera Lloyd’s mission is to "share Christ’s healing love with children, youth and families in crisis." In preparation for our new strategic plan, the word LOVE is ever present. For example, in a recent staff retreat we discussed the core values of Vera Lloyd and at the top of that list was LOVE.
Our staff and volunteers show LOVE to our youth in so many ways, whether it is taking them on an outing, teaching them a new skill, making sure they have school supplies, listening to their concerns or saying "I LOVE you," before they go to bed at night.
Have you ever thought of food as LOVE? I haven’t, since I’ve been blessed to have never known food insecurity. However, our Program Director Betsy Anderson recently wrote about our children and youth who have emotional issues attached to food. This comes from the fact that some of our children have literally starved, some have lived in homes where food was used as a form of manipulation and control and some have had food provided inconsistently - ate like kings when money came in, then starved or had to steal the rest of the month. Because food nourishes our body and helps us maintain stability in so many ways, having a twisted relationship with food can lead to twisted behaviors. These behaviors may require an extra dose of healing LOVE on the part of our staff. It is sometimes not enough to just provide them with consistent meals and healthy "anytime" snacks, we must also help them modify their behavior and develop a healthy relationship with food.
Thank you for the many ways you show Christ’s healing LOVE to our youth by supporting us with your time, talents and treasures. We LOVE you for it!
Thank you to everyone who bought gifts, fulfilled a wish list, coordinated angel trees and donated funds and gift cards for the boys and girls at Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Family Services.
Your support helped fulfill childhood wishes that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
“The girls had a blast,” said Pettus house parent Kacey Butler. “You could hear the excited voices all over the house while they opened gifts.”A Beats headphone, iPod, and Kindle Fire tablet were a few of the electronics that girls received. Other gifts included bikes, clothes, candy and gift cards.Every time Angela opened a gift she’d say, “How did they know this is my favorite!?” She was especially elated after unwrapping a CD by her favorite band, One Direction.
Andre and Cynthia Lattimore, house parents at the Walton Home, woke up all eight boys—ages 15 to 18—at 7 a.m. for Christmas. They were excited and happy to see gifts under the tree. They opened boxes with clothes, shoes, socks, jackets, backpacks and luggage. Later, they joined together for a Christmas brunch of ham, dressing, macaroni and cheese and rolls. One of the boys said, “I am happy to be at Vera Lloyd. Some people in the Division of Youth Services’ care don’t have the opportunities we have at Vera Lloyd. We’re lucky to be able to celebrate Christmas this year.”
Thank you for changing the lives for boys and girls at Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Family Services.
A grant of $1,800 in 2015 from the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame will be invested in improving academic outcomes for boys and girls at Vera Lloyd.