Summer at Vera Lloyd

By Natalie Clark

Vera Lloyd youth are already back in school, but thanks to you they had a great summer! We are grateful for the support of many foundations, churches and donors. Trinity Presbyterian Church and Holmes Chapel Presbyterian Church hosted pool parties and cookouts during the summer for boys and girls at Vera Lloyd. Youth also learned how to play the drums because of a grant from Arkansas Arts Council.

Vera Lloyd youth were able to participate in a summer enrichment program thanks to the Riggs Benevolent Fund. Vera Lloyd contracted with teachers from the Monticello School District. This was an eight-week enrichment program that exposed students to the culture, language, crafts and foods of Japan, Peru, England, Swaziland, Romania, Mexico, Hawaii and Madagascar.

A grant from Blue & You for a Healthier Arkansas funded nutrition and cooking classes for our youth. Vera Lloyd contracted with a registered dietician to teach youth about things such as healthy fats and whole grains. Youth used this knowledge in their cooking classes to make things such as quesadillas, fruit salsa and guacamole. One youth said she had never even tried guacamole before! This grant from Blue & You also funded the “Beauty and the Beast” program for girls on our campus. They learned about confidence, manners and self-image during the program. Thank you to our incredible supporters for making this summer possible for boys and girls at Vera Lloyd.

We are proud of Vera Lloyd youth!

By Natalie Clark

It’s the middle of May and we are getting closer to summer and the end of school. For four boys at Vera Lloyd, Ramon, Rian, John and Jerry, that means graduating from high school. In the United States, about 50% of youth in the foster care system graduate high school by the time they are 18. For children not living in the foster care system, the graduation rate is much higher–82%.

Vera Lloyd recently hosted a celebration for these boys who reached this major milestone. On our Monticello campus, staff threw a graduation party with cookies, cake and plenty of 2017 graduation decorations. The four young men will soon walk across the stage and accept their diploma from Monticello High School.

With help from our Transition Services Coordinator Tiara Miller, they are ready for their next steps after high school.

  • Ramon wants to move to Michigan, where he has family. He is considering enrolling at the University of Arkansas at Monticello to complete his first year of college. He wants to earn a degree in criminal justice and have a career as a probation officer.
  • Rian is considering the military or UAM.
  • John is working for the City of Monticello this summer and will enroll at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock this fall. He wants to earn a criminal justice degree and aspires to open his own private investigation firm.
  • Jerry plans to move back to northwest Arkansas and work in automotive repair with other family members.

We are excited for what the future has in store for these Vera Lloyd youth!

We are Family!

By Natalie Clark

Family is one of Vera Lloyd’s core values. The definition of Family has certainly evolved over the years. A modern description is two or more people who share goals and values and have long term commitments to one another.At Vera Lloyd, we use the word Family often. Our youth live in Family-style homes with house parents and their children. We hear time and time again from Vera Lloyd current and former residents that we are their Family. We’ve had former residents marry on our campus, host their children’s birthday parties on our campus and visit regularly to tell our staff about their lives—the peaks and the valleys.In addition to Vera Lloyd’s youth living in Family-style homes and viewing our staff as Family, our staff often refer to each other as Family. You’ve heard, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and our staff often come together as a Family to determine how best to meet the needs of our youth. Our staff Family works diligently to provide healing to our youth who have experienced trauma in their biological families.You may remember the 1979 Sister Sledge song “We Are Family.” My favorite line from that song is: “High hopes we have for the future and our goals in sight.”At Vera Lloyd, we definitely have high hopes and goals for the future of the youth we serve. We are Family. Blessings to you and your Family,Donna Mahurin

CEO

​ Thank you for being our angels this year!

By Melissa Hendricks

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 night. 

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 months. 

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. 

Relax!

By Natalie Clark

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.

-Cynthia Polk