An Open Letter to our Community
This month a year ago, Alexia, Sr. Jean and I were scrambling to assemble a Violence Prevention Grant application to Catholic Health Initiatives, ahead of a March 1, 2018 deadline. We thought a program based on trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy would help families impacted by violence to heal. We were excited to learn in July that CHI would fund us for three years.
The application required that our objectives be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). Now we’re measuring our actual progress against the SMART goals in our application for mid-year reports to our funders – how are we doing?
We’re so grateful to be able to serve a wider age range of kids, with additional grants from two other wonderful funders, The Foundation for Delaware County and Congregation Ohev Shalom. The table below shows who these grants allow us to help, and for how long.
Our first group of families entered the program at the end of September: five families, with 6 adults, 5 teens, and 3 younger children, so a smaller group than our goal of 18 kids and 18 parents. We learned the importance of continuing school outreach, especially since many schools have high staff turnover.
Four of the five families had lost one or more loved ones to homicide, the fifth had a son paralyzed from a gunshot wound. Bereavement and disability pose different challenges to families. We are forming a separate support group for the families of survivors of non-fatal assaults.
Listening to feedback, we are to strengthening the curriculum to better address parents’ distress by incorporating more peer support and information on traumatic grief.
Families attendance was lower than our goal: explanations for missed sessions included incarceration, housing insecurity (2 families), unpredictable work schedules, phone disconnections (3 families). We are recruiting case manager support to help participants deal with food and housing insecurity.
We all learned from these 12 weeks. Through art therapy, a young girl began to understand how she could still be connected to someone who is no longer there. Through group discussions teens and adults learned that headaches, flashbacks, irritability and difficulty concentrating could all be effects of trauma, and how relaxation techniques could help them overcome these symptoms. Group leaders were struck by the emotional intensity of the challenges the families faced: poverty, housing, community violence.
We are now recruiting families for 12 weeks of counseling beginning Thursday, February 21st.
Board Secretary and Treasurer