Last week the kids were on spring break! In this post, Ms. Kamelle shares some of the teen house’s adventures!
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Last week the kids were on spring break! In this post, Ms. Kamelle shares some of the teen house’s adventures!
On International Youth Day and every day, we strive to recognize the vital importance of protecting some of the most vulnerable youth in our community from abuse, homelessness, and neglect.
Our kids have loved visiting the zoo in the past. From exploring the new exhibits to zip lining across the Saluda River there is something for kids of all ages. You can help us celebrate National Zoos and Aquariums Month by donating tickets for our kids.
This year there are 3.5 million students expected to graduate high school, a milestone each one of them has spent their entire lives working toward. But did you know that kids who have been in foster care are 50% less likely to graduate by the time they turn 19?
This day is an occasion to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society. At Palmetto Place we love taking the kids to local museums to learn more about the community they live in, history and culture. Living in the capital city we have so many cool museums to check out.
Visit the links below to see what our local museums are doing for May 18th:
for all things history related in Columbia, visit Historic Columbia today.
Want to help send the kids and teens at Palmetto Place to the museum? Click here to make a donation for summer activities, donate tickets or email us at email@example.com.
Last week the kids were on Sprig Break and we were able to share some brand new experiences with them, like zip lining through the Gorge in North Carolina with Generation Next.
We love watching the seasons change and spring in South Carolina might be one of our favorite things. Even after the hardest of winters, the trees and flowers begin to bloom and give new life once again. For the kids and teens we help every day, it’s a visual reminder that life might not always be easy, but when you’re determined it eventually brings change. For the 10 teens in our care who are preparing for high school graduation, this spring brings a lot of change. We’ve been helping them with college applications, taking them to tour campuses, and walking them through the financial aid and scholarship processes. Last month we held a higher education workshop for our underclassmen to help them begin the college planning process. We’ve already been able to celebrate a few acceptance letters too!
Trevor has lived at Palmetto Place since November 2015. Before coming to Palmetto Place he didn’t have stable housing and was bounced from one school to another. This put him a full year behind his other classmates. It was discouraging for him not to graduate on time, but with the support from our staff he set new goals.
In the last year he has worked hard to find and maintain a job, pass his driver’s test, and even get his own car. Once he knew he was stable in his new school, he was able to get more involved with the school band and with the help from the community we were able to provide him with his own trumpet. This spring he was recognized as a Legend in the Making by his high school and has accepted a band scholarship to SC State.
Our other graduates are looking into programs at Midlands Tech and Greeneville Tech and a couple have received confirmation that they’ll be joining our country’s Armed Forces. We are so proud of all the hard work and dedication from all of our residents. This spring is certainly a reminder that in time, all things change.
Monday evenings are my favorite time during the work week because all of our teens pile into my office (and eat all of my candy) to tell me about their weekend and funny stories – along with the dozens of needs they each have for the week. Last Monday, as they were telling me about bank accounts, W-2s, job interviews, extra credit stuff, etc., one of them stopped and said "Ms. Jill, you know we all have so many needs as juniors and seniors, but I need for you to put one thing at the top of your list for tomorrow. Hannah, (a new 9th grade resident who is very quiet, humble, and sweet, who was in the house doing her homework) needs a new pair of shoes. She'll never tell you because she's so quiet, but I think she would like a new pair that are a little more girly than the pair she has. I can find out what size she wears for you."
Although I promised I’d put it at the top of my list, that wasn’t enough. They made me show them where I moved her need to the top of my to-do list sticky note. Then I tried to sing "We're all in this together" from High School Musical, but they weren't having it.
This is why I love my job. Because, even though I have 9 high schoolers that drive me absolutely insane all week, they support and love each other in a way that can never be described. Even though they'll never admit it, we're all family at Palmetto Place.
Written by Jill Lawson Director of Case Management
One of our favorite activities each January is the kids’ New Year’s Resolutions! We thought you’d enjoy seeing what’s on their minds for 2016. Our youngest, a 4-year-old, wants to eat more Chinese food and to go to school. This week we were able to enroll her in 4K. A 7-year-old boy wants a pet bird and to go to Disney. An 8-year-old wants to be a movie star, visit Paris and be a cheerleader for the Dallas "Cow Boys!" She'd also like to learn to enjoy math and get better grades in school, both of which are goals we are working towards. A 9-year-old boy wants to be adventurous and eat red pepper on his pizza, learn how to do a back flip and spin on his head, travel and learn the Electric Slide (our Case Manager has promised to teach him!)
All of the residents at Palmetto Place have goals for 2016. Stay tuned to hear what our teens are thinking about this year!
All of our kids wrote their letters to Santa earlier this month and, as you can probably imagine, Santa received a wide range of requests. Our little boys asked for action figures, toy airplanes and footballs, our teen girls want hair supplies, make up and jewelry. One wanted help paying for her dream prom dress. A 14-year-old wrote, “I don’t want much, but if you send me my family I will be the proudest (happiest), and that will be a Christmas Miracle.” For many, that simple Christmas wish of family is all they really want.
This year we were able to watch one girl’s Christmas miracle come true. I’m not sure if Santa has anything to do with it, but I can’t deny there is magic in the air. The day she came in from school and we were able to tell her she was going home, something special happened. You could see it in her face. At 14, she’s a believer. Before she left she whispered to me, “Santa does exist. I asked him to go home and now I am.”
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching a child get their wish. As our many Palmetto Place Santas and elves collect gifts for our kids and our office turns into Santa’s Workshop once again, I notice items that were specifically asked for and I can’t help but smile knowing on Christmas morning more wishes will come true.
Many of the residents at Palmetto Place may not have happy memories of Christmas morning. For some, Santa has not visited every year. One teen didn’t want to write a letter to Santa because he “didn’t want to be disappointed again.” We’re making sure that this year Santa finds him on Christmas morning.
There are many Christmas traditions we love showing our children and teens. Like baking and decorating Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, making Christmas cards and leaving stockings out to be filled by Santa. Community service projects are also part of the Christmas tradition at Palmetto Place. The kids made beautiful cards for the veterans at Dorn VA and they’ll be delivering candy canes and hugs to some special folks next week. For some these are familiar traditions, for others the idea of decorating cookies is brand new.
With less than two weeks until Christmas, we have two open beds. Without a doubt they will be full on Christmas morning. It seems like every year we take in a child just days before Christmas. In addition to getting that child settled in, we also have emergency Santas on standby to make sure these kids have something special to open on Christmas Day. You can help us make Christmas special for each child at Palmetto Place, even the ones who haven’t arrived yet, by making a donation now. This year, every child will have fond memories of Christmas at Palmetto Place and we couldn’t do that without you and the support of the community.
By Grace Bennett, Project Coordinator
“The known smells, sounds, sights, and feel of home let our brains relax and rejuvenate. It's a key part of why 'There's no place like home.'” When I saw this tweet from Amelia Franck Meyer (@alfranckmeyer), can you guess the first thing that came to mind?
If you know me, you know my mind went to the smell of food. My very first thought was of the smell of bacon as I walk into Palmetto Place in the morning. Ms. Matilda and Ms. LaConte cook some great breakfasts and the bacon smell is a great way to start the morning.
Amelia knows what she’s talking about – she knows kids and she knows kids who’ve experienced trauma. She’s the CEO of Anu Family Services in Wisconsin and Minnesota and a guru at well-being for kids and taking care of kids who are in out-of-home care, just like our kids. When she speaks, I listen, because what she says is important and crucial for the right care of kids who’ve experienced trauma.
So, let’s talk about the five senses of home.
Bacon in the mornings! And laundry - the almost nonstop smell of laundry. I love that clean smell!
I can mark the time in the afternoons by the sound of the kids on the basketball court. It means they’re home from school. It means I get to take a work break and go play for a few minutes and see how the day was at school. It’s 15 minutes that I can connect with kids as they unwind. I will always remember one particular middle schooler who started playing at exactly 3:45 every day all by himself. It was his way to relax and think through the day. I learned a lot from him.
Endless smiles. That’s what comes to mind. We have smiles in the mornings before school! Okay, truth – that’s mostly elementary school kids. Middle schoolers, well, they’re a little grumpy. High schoolers, they’re so independent that they’re just out the door. If you have kids, you know!
There’s a lot to see at Palmetto Place. There are older kids helping younger kids, houseparents and volunteers helping kids with homework or playing games or reading. To walk through the house on any given afternoon is a treat. It is a house buzzing with activity. It is kids being kids.
Ask the kids and they will tell you their favorite foods! Ms. Gloria’s spaghetti, Ms. Jenny’s baked chicken, Ms. Betty’s shrimp fried rice, Ms. Jill’s Christmas Eve dinner and on and on and on. Ask kids and adults who once lived at Palmetto Place and they’ll have their own memories of food they loved.
A wise friend taught me something very smart years ago. Hugs, high fives and handshakes. As her kids enter her classroom each morning, they get to choose one. I borrowed this from her – that’s the highest form of flattery, right?
Hugs, high fives and handshakes are what all kids need, but especially kids who’ve experienced trauma, abuse, neglect. I’m a big fan of a hug. I hug every kid who wants a hug. New kids who’ve just arrived at Palmetto Place are understandably standoffish at first. Who is this woman and these other adults and all these kids who want to be my friend? Who can I trust? And after a day or so, after they’ve seen other kids give hugs, then they want in on the hugs and the high fives! That first hug is always a little hesitant. But then it becomes a giant group hug.
Touch. It’s how kids learn to connect with others. It’s a part of learning to trust. It’s a part of accepting love.
Since it’s the first week of school, there are other parts of the sense of touch on my mind too. The feel of those brand new shoes. Carrying a brand new backpack to school. Writing with a newly sharpened pencil on that smooth new composition notebook. Everyone's new haircuts! Thank you InnerSole, FiA Midlands, AFLAC, TD Bank and many others for providing shoes, school supplies and much more!)
Do you see a pattern? All of these memories through senses – they are the feel of home. And there’s no place like home. When home isn’t a safe place, there is Palmetto Place.
~ Erin Hall, Executive Director
Monday marked the first day of school for our children… well, everyone except Kevin. Kevin was thrilled to have the whole big house and all of the houseparents’ attention to himself today. He said that he woke up later than everyone else – and it “ROCKED!”
Later, he took his two new favorite toys, Batman and Spiderman, and the three of them played a rousing game of pick-up basketball (it was a close game, but Kevin made a last-second three point shot to win against the plastic figurines).
After basketball, Kevin went on an adventure with the houseparents; getting him registered for school. As he walked up to the elementary school he was nervous; starting a new school year is never easy. After getting the paperwork filled out Kevin wanted to meet his new teacher. Although he can’t remember her name, he said, “She seems really nice. I’m excited about fourth grade even if I’m going to have to learn multiplication!” He was starting to feel better about starting school when he heard a familiar voice. Darting down the hall and around a corner he saw his favorite substitute teacher!
On their way home from running errands he asked if he could get his favorite lunch, McDonalds and chocolate milk! He ate lunch with some staff members, something he doesn’t normally get to do when all the kids are home. He expressed a little apprehension about having to take timed multiplication tests, but quickly talked himself out of it when he realized how smart he would be once he mastered multiplication.
Though he was excited to get back to school to see his friends, what was even more exciting was that this afternoon, he got to pick whatever channel he wanted on TV. Unrestricted by “all those girls” to choose a suitable movie, Kevin was able to kick back and watch Cars, and took up as much room on the couch as he wanted. As Cars came to its denouement, Kevin realized he had done everything he had wanted to do in his day off. Luckily, just then, the van with the other kids pulled into the driveway and they came barreling into the house, wide-ruled notebooks and #2 pencils flying.
Kevin loved the peace and quiet of the morning, but by the end of the day he was thankful for the usual hustle, bustle and chatter. He was thrilled to have the other kids back around – those he has come to consider his family – so he could hear their stories of new classrooms, new teachers and old friends on the playground. By the end of the school day, Kevin couldn’t wait to begin his own school journey tomorrow (even if he does have to learn multiplication). We wish for you and yours the same that we wish for all our children – a happy and healthy start to the school year! We can’t wait to see what this year brings!