Vera Lloyd Goes Back to School

Natalie Clark - Friday, July 29, 2016


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

- Cynthia Polk, Clinical Director, LCSW



Core Values know no season

Natalie Clark - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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.


Donna Mahurin

Mental Health Month

Vera Lloyd - Monday, May 09, 2016


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. 

Three Vera Lloyd residents graduating this spring

Vera Lloyd - Monday, April 11, 2016

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 is ever present

Melissa Hendricks - Monday, February 22, 2016

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!


Christmas Wishes Fulfilled

Vera Lloyd - Thursday, January 07, 2016

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.


Thank you to Arkansas Black Hall of Fame

Tori Gay - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

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.  

Thank you for changing lives!

Tori Gay - Thursday, August 27, 2015

We appreciate First Presbyterian Church, Fort Smith; Kirk in the Pines in Hot Springs Village and Trinity Presbyterian Church in Little Rock for providing a week at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center for 15 teenagers, age 14 to 17, in foster care who live at our children’s home. Thank you also to board member Doris Simmons who provided stipends for clothes and other items our children needed while at camp.

During their week at camp, kids took part in daily camp activities that included:

  • Completing a low ropes course
  • Touring the Eco Center
  • Participating in a nature study
  • Harvesting vegetables in the garden
  • Baking cookies in a solar oven and
  • Spending time at the pool, pond and creek
  • Learning archery and bouldering
  • Playing field games
  • Writing and performing for skit night
  • Packing foodstuffs for the Stop Hunger Now program.
  • Attending Vespers Services each evening.

The boys and girls enjoyed all the water-related activities, especially since it exceeded 100 degrees several days that week. By Friday, they were ready for a few days of rest!

Kaitlyn, 17, from Sebastian County, lives at Pettus Home and has been in residential care at Vera Lloyd for several years. She works part-time at Vera Lloyd and is preparing for her senior year of high school. She enjoyed being at Ferncliff because it helped her build stronger bonds with other boys and girls at Ferncliff and meet teenagers from other areas of the state.

Thank you to our churches, board members and Ferncliff staff for changing lives through this special week.