OMHC Families Benefit From Donated Supplies

This year’s donated school supplies were set aside for families using BCC’s Outpatient Mental Health Clinic (OMHC) in Pasadena, MD. Thanks to the incredible generosity of Brooklyn Community UMC and Oakland UMC (Sykesville, MD), families selected what they needed for their children’s upcoming school year.

All told, 65 families (including 79 OMHC clients as well as many of their siblings) benefited from the supplies.

Andrea Carroll, Director of the clinic, was on hand while the families were ‘shopping.’ “One mother was so overwhelmed with joy, praises, and thanks, that she gave me a hug and cried on my shoulder,” said Carroll. “Here are a few of the other reactions and notes of thanks we received.”omhc-school-supplies-2016

“Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you!” from a grandmother raising four school-aged children who has been down on her luck this past year and has a disabled child of her own.

“We are so glad that BCC was able to help us with our supplies. It is so expensive with two children and one income.”

“Thank you all for all that you have done with the supplies. This means more to me and my family than you would even imagine.”

“Wow!!! There are so many supplies to choose from. We love that BCC lends a helping hand.”

“The Board of Child Care is so thoughtful year round with the donations that they receive. We are so happy that you are able to help our family.”

“I am so thankful for all of the companies and people that make it possible for Board of Child Care to help families that need help. Thank you BCC for sharing and making everything easier for our family.”

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Sometimes all it takes is a note

thank-you-card-community-serviceCommunity service project by BCC youth has lasting impact on hospital

Several months ago, the Spiritual Life team asked youth to create get well cards for patients at hospitals throughout Maryland. The community service project was not about personally knowing the people the cards would go to, but understanding that being kind, even to strangers, is important.

Rev. Stacey Nickerson, BCC’s Director of Church and Community Engagement, received a note back from a hospital chaplain who had received a stack of the cards.

get-well-soon-cardDear Nieces and Nephews,
Thank you very much for your lovely, kind and thoughtful cards. I keep them in our chaplain office at the hospital – so they are always there, ready to be given away. I’m taking my time, allowing God to show me how to use them.

About three weeks ago, I gave away the first card to a gentleman on the behavioral unit. This is for people with emotional and mental illnesses. I’ll call him David. He is in his early 80’s and was very depressed when he came to the hospital. We had some good talks, but he couldn’t see any hope for the future. He has no family, and had a heart attack that left him unable to care for himself. He tried to end his life before coming to the hospital.

When I gave him your card, he looked at it, said “thank you”, and returned it to the envelope. He left the envelope on his tummy, and went back to sleep.
A few days later I saw him again. He still felt hopeless.

Well, yesterday, I read about him on the computer before I went to see him. I was so happy to read that he was feeling better. I went up to the 6th floor to see him for myself. He was still lying in bed, but he actually gave me a small smile. I hadn’t seen him smile before. He said: “it’s too hard to stay negative with about a hundred positive people in here all day long!”

He is being discharged to a nursing home. He thanked me for visiting and encouraging him. Your card was with his belongings that he is taking with him when he leaves. You definitely played a role in his recovery, because you are one of those “hundred” positive people who made it hard for him to stay sad.

So thank you very much for supporting David and showing him God’s love.

On Tuesdays, I lead a spirituality group on this unit. We talk about God together. So next week, I plan to take some of your cards with me, and focus the whole session around giving one of your cards to each member of the group. We have young and older people, men and women, black, white, Asian, Hispanic – everyone. I never know until I arrive who will be there, of course. We will discuss what it means for young people like you to take the time to make these cards, sending a message that says: “we may not know you but it doesn’t mean that we don’t care”. Your cards are a message from God, letting these people know that God still cares about them. It gives them a lot to think about, and makes them smile.

Another week in my group, I plan to have the group members make their own cards for other patients in the hospital, and even for the staff, to say thank you for caring for me! That will make the nurses and doctors feel happy.

I would never have had these two great ideas if you hadn’t made your cards and sent them for me to use. Your cards are truly an inspiration. Even when your cards have all been given away, your idea will stay behind and keep bearing fruit.

This is how love works.

Thank you again for your ministry to these lonely and troubled people.
With love,

~ Angela

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Glen Mar UMC Confirmation Class visits BCC


On September 17, 2016, Glen Mar United Methodist Church’s Confirmation Class visited BCC’s Baltimore campus. They held their retreat in the chapel. The class brought a donation of scented body wash for our youth. These items will be used in welcome bags for new residents arriving at BCC.

Thanks Glen Mar UMC!


Interested in Reserving the Chapel for your group?

We welcome faith groups to use our Baltimore campus chapel at no charge.  Simply send us a note via our Contact Us form if you would like a staff member to send you some more information.

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Halethorpe United Methodist Church helps Strawbridge music program

yarb-and-terry-check-donation-drop-offBCC welcomed a very special group of visitors to campus this month. It turns out that the group from Halethorpe UMC, led by Yarb (pictured left) knew the new music teacher at our Strawbridge School, Ms. Terry Sann (pictured right). To show their support for her new position, they donated $200 towards new instruments. BCC used the funds towards purchasing new Keyboards for the music classroom.

Thank you Yarb and everyone at Halethorpe UMC!

music-donation-made possible by Halethorpe UMC
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BCC Spotlight: Jernise Ayers, Behavioral Interventionist

jernise-ayers-employee-spotlightAyers started at BCC in 2014 as a Child Care Worker on the Denton Campus covered in beef stew (Not a typo! read on for the full story). In October 2015, she was selected to manage a community-based program BCC received a grant to start. Ayers graduated in 2004 with a B.S. from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in human ecology (child development concentration). A Dover, DE native, Ayres has spent her career to date focused on helping young adolescents.

You’re at a BBQ and somebody asks you what you do. How do you describe your role? The kids and the families you work with?
I start with the basics and just tell them I work at a group home in the community. I admit I do get a few funny looks. I think that comes from the stereotype that some people have of who lives at a group home. Or they think that because I’m a girl that I shouldn’t be working with adolescents with behavior challenges! But I just tell them the kids are awesome and that it’s your relationship with them that matters more. Not how big or strong you are.

Who have been mentors for you as you’ve started your career?
I would definitely say Karen has been a role model (Ed. Note: Karen McGee, Denton’s Program Director). I can ask her anything and I learn something from her every time. My older sister is another – she’s like my second mom. She kind of raised me because my mom worked an overnight job.

Do you get a lot of support from your family for what you do?
At first I don’t think they really understood why I wanted to do this. Even though my sister is older we’ve actually been living very parallel education and work lives. We graduated from our respective colleges a week apart. My sister is working at a group home in Delaware as a parent aid and my cousin actually just started a job in the human services field. So now it’s becoming more of a family thing and I think everyone understands a little better who we’re actually helping and how much of an impact we are making.

So the “stew” story we gather is kind of famous on campus. Could you share what happened on your first day?
My first day at BCC is definitely a story shared often around here. I was sitting with two boys at lunch and they started to argue about something. One of them accidentally spilled his bowl of beef stew all over me. I finished my shift and believe me each day since I have kept a spare set of clothes in my car! I guess some people would have said this job wasn’t for them after something like that, but I knew after that first day I was supposed to be here.

You’ve switched roles from Child Care Worker to working on this Community Program grant. Tell us about that.
About a year ago BCC was awarded a grant from Caroline county to do more therapy with young adults who were exhibiting “at risk” behaviors. The work was really focused on early intervention and trying to keep them out of the foster care or juvenile court system. This year Caroline county shifted the focus of our work to target youth who have at least one parent recently released from incarceration.
I do a lot of work on just basic communication. When a young person hasn’t had this adult figure in their life for some time it can be difficult to reconnect (and vice versa for the adult – they feel awkward and don’t know what to talk about). I’m excited because this work is all about strengthening families and the stronger we can make them, the stronger the community will be overall.

What’s next for you? Going back to school?
My next life adventure is definitely graduate school. I’m going to try to do my degree online because I really like this job and don’t want to leave!

If you could snap your fingers and something could be different, what would it be?
Probably extend the day. There just isn’t enough time to do everything I want to!

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Day camps become ‘the best part’ of a BCC summer

BCC residents see Harper’s Ferry and West River, host Baltimore campers

DSC_0005The Board of Child Care (BCC) partnered with the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church (BWC). The two organizations are trading the use of their respective facilities to benefit Baltimore city youth affected by violence as well as foster care youth BCC serves.

BCC hosted BWC campers to the Baltimore campus July 13 and 20 and Aug. 2 and 4. Participants from the West River UMC camps, which include youth from Baltimore city United Methodist Churches, ranged between 15 and 20 campers each day. Campers enjoyed the use of BCC’s recreational facilities like the teambuilding ropes course, indoor basketball gym, outdoor pool, and the on-grounds skateboard park.
In return, BWC hosted 36 BCC program participants to West River – a 45-acre facility on West River just 20 minutes from Annapolis – Aug. 10. Another 20 visited Camp Manidoken, a 300-acre camp featuring an 842-foot zip line – bordering the Potomac River and C&O Canal near Frederick August 17.

These sites are part of Camp LIFE, the camping and retreats ministry of the BWC. Their facilities include opportunities for archery, boating, camping, ropes courses, and swimming.

Additionally, 14 BCC participants in Baltimore joined 12 participants from BCC’s West Virginia campus in Martinsburg at Cunningham Falls outside of Frederick for a fun day of similar recreation.

“The opportunity to give children an experience with nature is one that speaks to our mission with the community and as care givers,” BCC President and CEO Laurie Anne Spagnola said. “Underserved children rarely enjoy these opportunities, and it’s our responsibility to broaden their horizons.”

Since 2006, BWC and BCC have shared the mission of broadening life experiences for traditionally underserved children by presenting safer options for summer recreation.

BWC operates a summer program that provides a free camp experience for Baltimore city youth through city-based United Methodist churches. The Board of Child Care provides therapeutic, residential facilities for children and young adults in the foster care system.

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BCC now offering trauma-informed training to community

Directors, trainers and staff will help community parents, and first responders mirror informed response techniques

With the goal of teaching the community how to utilize the same techniques Board of Child Care staff employ with program participants, BCC is now teaching Trauma Informed Care (TIC) training techniques.

The idea was hatched at BCC’s Eastern Shore campus in Denton, MD. Realizing the community lacked trauma-informed provider training, Karen McGee, BCC’s Director of Operations in Denton, responded by convening a training event June 30 to provide practical information and strategies for our community partners.

“This training was well received by all who attended and really shed light on how trauma can effect everyday life and behaviors,” McGee said. “The takeaway responses that were shared at the end of the training event were a testament to the need for this type of training.”

BCC’s Baltimore campus followed Denton’s lead, offering the training to campus staff, so they in turn could teach members of the Baltimore-based communities they same techniques. TIC is part of the Child Welfare Trauma Training toolkit, from the California Evidence Based Clearinghouse (CEBC).

“What makes this significant is it increases the chances of reunification by teaching what we know to the parents and caregivers,” said BCC President and CEO Laurie Anne Spagnola. “The ultimate goal of all of this is to enhance safety, promote permanency within the homes of the children we serve and keep families together.”

The topics presented will also include emotional competence and using consequences, and new techniques and skills to help prevent and de-escalate crises will be demonstrated and then practiced.

** Editor’s Note: The original version of this report, published Aug. 25, 2016, identified  Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) instead of Trauma Informed Care (TIC). Keywords regrets the error. 

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Moving Up and celebrating NAEYC in DC

BCC’s Early Learning Program recognizes participants, new accreditation

Backpacks5At some point, all children are asked what they want to be when they grow up.

So when BCC President and CEO Laurie Anne Spagnola heard so many of the children participating in BCC’s Early Learning Program identify as future police and firefighters, she marched along to the beat.

“All of us adults are going to be in good hands when we get older with all these first responders around us,” Spagnola said July during BCC’s Moving Up ceremony July 29 in the District of Columbia.

The presentation included celebration for the Jellyfish, a group of 16 children three years old and under, and the Whales, 16 children three years old and over. Over 100 parents, friends and other family members packed the classroom for the two celebrations.

Mayra Ramirez, lead teacher for the Jellyfish, and Juliet Price, lead teacher for the Whales, were lauded for their efforts through the year.

All participants in the ceremonies received a backpack with stickers, crayons, bubbles and either a book to read or a book to color, courtesy of Bethany UMC in Ellicott City and coordinated by Rev. Dr. Stacey Nickerson.

Krystina Johnson, Asst. Program Director, presented certificates to the children. Because the DC operation has a significant waitlist, there’s no drop-off expected from the program’s current enrollment of 72 participants.

“We’re fortunate to enjoy the luxury of a waitlist, but it speaks to the outstanding job our staff does in creating value in attending Board of Child Care’s ELP for the children and parents we serve,” Johnson said.

The breakdown of DC enrollees include 57 percent from private pay and 43 percent from subsidy vouches from the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The DC staff also celebrated accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – the nation’s leading organization of early childhood centers – July 28. A celebration dinner was held for staff. The NAEYC certificate, conferred June 6, 2016, is valid through July 1, 2021.

BCC earned outstanding scores within the 10 NAEYC program standards the ELP was judged and evaluated upon. NAEYC awarded BCC 100 percent marks in five categories, 96 percent or better in two other standards, giving BCC a mean score of 95.8.

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Sprint Tech Day dials up career opportunities

Simple idea turns into helping BCC youth experiencing path towards a corporate career

Logo_of_SprintIt started as a passing idea to help underserved teenagers and young adults in Baltimore. As a store manager for the wireless provider Sprint, Richard Barlione had the desire to offer knowledge and training to repair broken phones, as a skill to market for future job opportunities.

On July 21, 10 youth from BCC’s Baltimore campus earned certificates for participating in Sprint’s Tech Boot Camp at the company’s downtown Baltimore store in the city’s Inner Harbor.

Barlione was inspired to start this program through Ricky Ventures Enterprise, a local nonprofit serving Baltimore’s youth.

Joined by a similar number of Morgan State University students, BCC participants paired in teams of three and four, tasked with putting a business model together quickly and then prepare to present to their peers. During another session, kids had was to learn some of the functionality of the phone by taking pictures and creating hashtags.

Catonsville Store Manager Devon Brown spoke to the kids regarding the technical aspect of the business, including the costs associated with repairing and swapping devices. Kareem Garrison, Sprint’s Business Solutions Account executive, explained how he began his career as a sales representative before a promotion to a store manager, and now runs his own division for Sprint selling Business Accounts.

BCC resident Michael C. won an iPad mini for his contribution to Sprint Tech Day, and then announced he would give the gift to his younger sister because, “she needs it for school.” Brian Hedlun, president of the Washington, D.C, Baltimore and Virginia region, gave out brand new Bluetooth headphone sets to three other BCC participants.

“It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve done in a long time,” Barlione said. “We’re thrilled about the turnout and excited to see the potential in so many of these young adults.”

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The thrill of a lifetime, for the athlete and staff

BCC participant swims his way to gold at Maryland Special Olympics

SwimmingPoolThe athlete’s pledge for the Special Olympics is: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Ryan Russell, a BCC childcare worker on the Denton, MD campus, learned the famous pledge while chaperoning Eli B. to this year’s games held at Maryland’s Towson University.

What he did not know was how profound an effect of witnessing the swimming competition would have on him as Eli brought home three medals.

“I have never met a group of people more willing to be themselves,” Russell said. “Underneath the high fives and the awards, there was a feeling that you were unequivocally and unapologetically proud to be your true self. The beautiful thing was this phenomenon was totally unspoken.”

During the swimming competition, the last place swimmer was cheered as if he or she were leading the pack. Sometimes a swimmer dove at the wrong time, into the wrong lane, or forget the last lap of the race. But instead of tears and jeers for mistakes athletes were encouraged, high-fived and praised. Bravery was all that was required.

“This just speaks to the true connections that both Eli and the BCC staff make through experiences like this,” said Karen McGee, Program Director for the Denton campus.

Russell formed strong bonds with his teammates and the families after he began taking Eli to the Easton YMCA in 2015.

“I can’t even fathom the kind of courage it takes to wake up every day with a disability, but these kids do it with grace, kindness and no fear,” said Russell, who just passed his first year anniversary with BCC. “I wish I had half the bravery these athletes have.”

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