Our October meeting opened with a reminder about our Winter Wonderland event, scheduled for Tuesday, December 1 from 4:00-7:00pm at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Springfield, MA. We plan to host over 100 family members. We are accepting all sizes and types of donations. Every gift helps make the event more inclusive and successful. Because we have no budget, we only offer this event through the dedication and kindness of our volunteers.
Monetary donations can be sent to: Karen Cassidy at THOM Regional Consultation Program, 1506A Allen St., Springfield, MA 01118. If you would like to volunteer or set up a table at the program please let Karen know. There are a limited number of tables available on a first come, first serve basis.
Our meeting continued with a description of THOM’s “Let’s Get Organized” strategies for families. One strategy is to collect business cards from all of the families’ helpers. Some families are collecting business cards by taking photos with their phones. Adding a description of the helper (hair color, glasses, etc) helps the family remember who is who. The reality is that families lose track of who they’ve seen, what agencies have visited their homes, and who they like (or don’t).
Next up, Maria Zygmont and Madeline Johnson shared info about Brightside for Families and Children. Brightside was founded in 1881 by the Sisters of Providence as Mount Saint Vincent Orphanage in West Springfield. This institution has evolved from the early days as an orphanage to a temporary residence for children in need. In 1968, Brightside for Families and Children was chartered as a private, non-profit corporation. In the last fifteen years, Brightside’s Residential and Day School Program closed, but the Family Support Programs and Services continue through their offices at Providence Behavioral Health Hospital in Holyoke, MA.
Brightside participates in the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative. Madeline Johnson spoke earnestly about programs that teach children important communication skills, with goals of helping them participate more fully in social contexts.
Our last speaker was Jan Lamberg with The Support Network. Jan coaches families in how to approach schools when advocating for their children’s needs. She spoke about the critical need for documenting interactions with the school. The Support Network offers sample letters for parents requesting educational evaluations. Please contact Jan through The Support Network for sample letters.
Our next meeting is on Wednesday, Nov 11 (Veteran’s Day!)
To get a little local history, check out this video: