With financial support from Talbot Community Connections, Inc., the 8th Annual Back to School Resource Fair provided age appropriate school supplies in cinch sacks to needy families in our community – 60 Pre-School back packs, and 250 Elementary school aged and 138 Middle/High cinch sacks were provided. After receiving her cinch sack, one little girl exclaimed, “I’m so happy.” Partners in attendance included the Talbot County YMCA, the Talbot Health Department, Mid-Shore Pro-Bono, Early Head Start, Talbot County Public Schools-Care Packs, Talbot County Free Library, the University of Maryland Extension Office 4-H, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Chesapeake Multi-Cultural Resource Center, Chesapeake Voyagers, Priority Partners, and Acme Market. There was also a special visit from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Department with K-9 Raven.
Ms. M is the head of a multi-generational family consisting of Ms. M., her adult son, her adult daughter who has four children, and her niece. Ms. M has custody of her niece and diverted a foster care placement. The niece's mother is severely mentally ill and not capable of caring for her young daughter. Ms. M's son is cognitively limited with mental health difficulties. Ms. M's daughter is also cognitively limited; however, she is capable of caring for her children: a teenage son and three grade school daughters. Ms. M is gainfully employed part-time. She has, however, suffered from depression after the sudden death of her sister. With eight members in the family, there is often not enough money to cover household expenses. Financial assistance through Talbot Community Connections, Inc. enabled this family to stay together and avoid the trauma of eviction.
Talbot Community Connections, Inc. funds supported art and journaling activities through the Children’s Advocacy Center to enhance the therapy outcomes for victims of child sexual abuse. One of the participants reflecting on the activity shared that the project "allowed me to understand how far I have come and how I have moved away from the pain into the light. I am no longer alone but can express myself and my thoughts and feelings with others who understand and accept me for who I am." The girls who participated were able to share their message of hope and healing with the newer girls in group through the use of art and poetry – a clear, non-threatening way to communicate their thoughts and emotions and to offer hope for a bright future.
Foster parents are an intricate part of the team when a child comes into foster care. They work closely with the social workers and biological parents. Foster parents are required to have 10 hours a year of continuing education credits in order to continue their license. Talbot DSS staff saw an opportunity to offer foster parents trainings on topics that they choose and fellowship with other foster parents through quarterly potlucks and trainings made possible by Talbot Community Connections, Inc. funds. Talbot DSS foster parents are surveyed to find out what training needs they have and then staff locate a speaker on the topic. One of the most requested and successful trainings in 2015 was on trauma. Vicki Rahenkamp, a local licensed trauma therapist, provided two trainings for foster parents on this topic and shared how to work with a child who has experienced trauma. One foster parent stated about the potlucks, "Potlucks are great and very much needed. They allow foster parents to network together, share ideas of things that are working for their families and things that are not. I think they are a very important tool, as well as the training that is provided, to help us continue to care for our children.”