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A Lasting Effect

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I would just like to take a moment to show my appreciation for all that the donors and volunteers have done for us here at Generations.  This program is very unique because of those that support us .  Without volunteers, we wouldn’t have the opportunities we are given or the experiences that they provide for us.  Their care and concern help us with our feeling of being loved and cared for.  This gives us a feeling of security.  They accept us for who we are …  where we are… and don’t look at our past of where we have been or what we have done.  They do not judge us.  Without volunteers, Generations would not be the same.  In our separation from our family, it isn’t easy but all the support we feel from the volunteers makes up for the difference.    Also being separated from family, helps me value my family more and appreciate them in ways I never did before.  This also makes me value others outside my family, like volunteers.  In my case, my family lives far away and has to make childcare arrangements so it is hard form my mom to be able to come very often.  So volunteers really give me a feeling of being cared for and that I am somebody. 

I want to thank Ms. Renee and her volunteer group for arranging outings off campus like art projects and going out to eat.  It is nice to go out in the community and learn new skills and have the experience of trying different foods.  This isn’t something Ms. Renee HAS to do but something she CHOOSES to do and it is really a Blessing!

I’m grateful for everything that donors and volunteers do for us at Generations.  The entirety of Generation is going to have a lasting affect on my life and for this I am grateful!

Thank you!

Matthew

Bottomless Pit

By volunteer Rebecca Warner

Quite a lead in, isn’t it!  But the Generations Clothing Closet can be just that – a never ending need to appropriately clothe up to 76 teenage boys.  Let’s take for example a pair of jeans.  The color, type, and size combination is almost endless, so while the average age of a Generations boy is 14, there can be twelve 14 year olds wearing twelve different sizes of jeans! And that’s not even mentioning color and texture!!  I have to tell you, as the Volunteer Clothing Closet Coordinator, I get a panicky feeling every time I fill a clothing request – whether it is white undershirts, sleep pants, jeans or whatever . . .and see that stack dwindle.  I just hate it when we have a request for a clothing need and that shelf is bare.

While I hold such a gratitude for all the people who have been so generous in providing Generations with new and gently used clothing, the need is always there.  I kindly ask the next time you are ready to find a home for your gently used clothing, or you pass a clearance table full of appropriate items you know a teenager would appreciate . . .please think of us.  In fact, just email me with your name and number at R-Warner@charter.net, put in the subject line “Generations Donation” and I will work with you in getting your donation delivered!  Please know it will be sincerely appreciated!

Thank You Generations

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As a kid, I always thought of myself as one of the bad ones. I hung with the wrong friends and started making bad choices like stealing from my Mom and Dad. Whenever I got caught, my friends turned on me and I soon found myself in juvenile jail.  It was there I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t anybody on this earth I could trust.  Being in jail sure wasn’t the best life. Day in and day out it seemed I just sat there, and my attitude was all about doing what I wanted to do.  Jail didn’t change that.

When I first went to Generations, I felt it was a stupid place. I remember thinking that I’d rather go back to Birchwood and do nothing then stay at there.  My attitude was finally changed by my staff and peers.  When I spoke, there was always someone who would listen, and that all the things going on were for my own good. I started building real relationships, something I never had at home, and I began to understand what trust really meant.

I hate admitting it now, but when I saw my first volunteer group I didn’t want anything to do with them.  I tried to figure out their angle for being there.  What changed my mind was when a church group was out to play corn hole and just have fun.  They talked to us like they really cared, and I saw one of them tear up when all of us said thank you and how much we appreciated them. That was powerful to realize that they were there simply to make a difference in our lives.

I was at Generations for seven months and still working toward my level 2.  My peers and my staff were on me all the time and I was like – leave me alone!  They didn’t give up, but still when I went for my level 2, I didn’t get it.  I was discouraged, but my staff kept me moving forward by continuing to highlight daily what I was doing well. I started writing down those good things, but also the negative things about me.  Those good things would motivate me while at the same time I would focus on working on proving those negative things weren’t really me, and I did a complete turnaround!

When got my Level 3 and then reached my Level 4 I realized I had what was needed to graduate . . . and that put a BIG circle of a smile on my face.  Graduation took me through a roadblock in my life, and I knew nothing would hold me back going forward!  My whole entire life has been transformed completely.  Before, when I looked into the future I saw nothing.  Now I feel like things are in place for me as I continue doing all I need to do for my bright future.  I am keeping my grades up and plan to attend Alabama and play football there.  I dream of playing professional football, but while I’m dreaming I will get my degree to become an Athletic Trainer.

I want people to know that trust at Generations has played a huge role in my success.  Staff earned my trust by showing me they really cared, and I earned their trust by working hard.  I don’t know if it hits all the residents, but I learned Generations’ program is definitely set up where each resident can get the individual help he needs to graduate.  It is great, and I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. For that fact alone, Generations has been a real blessing for me.

Who CARES? Generations Does…

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By Brian Clark, Executive Director

Perhaps the most important factor in the success of the Generations program since opening in 1991 has been our commitment to acting in the best interest of the children we serve.  Central to this philosophy is the ability to adapt and evolve as an organization over time.  In 2007, Generations took a significant step in that direction with the introduction of the CARE program.

The Children and Residential Experiences (CARE) model, first developed by the Residential Child Care Project at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology in 2005, is “designed to guide childcare agencies in establishing practices in the best interests of the child. The aim of CARE is to bring agencies’ current practices closer to well-researched best practices in residential care, and to help agencies achieve congruence between all levels of staff in order to improve how the agency works as a whole. Based on six guiding principles – developmentally focused, family involved, relationship based, competence centered, trauma informed, and ecologically oriented – the CARE model is designed to profoundly influence the way residential childcare professionals think about working with children” (visit www.rccp.cornell.edu for more information).

The CARE model has indeed had a profound influence on the way in which we serve our residents at Generations.  With a renewed emphasis on utilizing relationships to help our residents build new competencies, our kids have been more successful in eliminating unsafe behaviors, thus paving the way to a brighter future and our goal of no more victims.  Our focus is upon helping the residents meet expectations, with the belief that children will do well if they can.  Resident surveys since the introduction of CARE clearly indicate that our kids feel safer and more respected by staff, two factors which are vitally important as they work towards overcoming the shame and trauma that has been so predominant in their lives.  In a word, they are happier.  And happy children become successful children.  Thanks to CARE and Cornell University, the staff at Generations now has an evidence-based model that builds a foundation for changing lives.