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40 Staff members later, more or less...

I just spent 40 minutes or so telling our newest staff member, Stacey Vaughn, about the history of our agency. We've been in existence for almost seventeen years now and I've been here since Day One. For that reason, it's been my role to sit down with each new staff member and tell her about our humble beginnings, our steady growth, and most of all, the principles we were founded on. We never want to forget or lose those--operating from a strengths based perspective, working in partnership with parents, collaborating with other organizations, and staying flexible, and family friendly. Keeping it going!

Words from a 13 year old youth.

Hi. My name is "John", I'm 13. I go to a school in Essex County, New York. School is not my favorite thing to do. I have been receiving services from Families First for about one and a half years. First I was in Intensive Case Management, then I went to the Waiver Program. I think the change has been good for me because I feel that I have done better in Waiver than in ICM. When I started in ICM I wasn't doing good at home. I would throw fits and the cops would come to calm me down. My mom would call my stepdad and if he couldn't calm me down my he would call the cops to help.

At first I had trouble in school concentrating because I would be really depressed. I didn't like to take my medicine because I didn't feel I needed them. Now that I'm in Waiver, I realize I need them because they help me not to throw fits.

The theme for Children's Mental Health Awareness week is resilience. It means to help me not throw fits. It really means to bounce back from hard times. Some fo the things that helped me bounce back were my coping skills, not wanting to be hospitalized and support from people I care about.

Some of my coping skills are rubbing my legs and head, listening to music ( I like country music best), riding my bike, using my computer, watching TV, and going for walks with permission. I learned my coping skills after reading a book called "A Five is Against the Law". I realized that taking walks helps me to calm myself down giving time to think about what I did and then come home and apologize.

Another thing that is important in my recovery is not wanting to be hospitalized again because I realize that going to a mental hospital is as bad as going to jail.

The most important thing I have now is a whole group of people who support me such as my church family, my mom, Families First, and a lot of other people I care about. People have been supportive to me because they help me know it's not okay to throw fits because I can be who I want to be but also change a little bit.

In conclusion, I know that coping skills have helped change my attitude. Not wanting to be hospitalized has helped me along with support from people who care about me to change my attitude. I realize that I don't have to change who I am to have a better attitude. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!

Spring's Coming!

It doesn't look much like it, but Spring is definitely coming. Just take a walk outside and you'll hear the birds chirping and chattering--they know. Not to mention the days getting longer--especially with this weekend's time change. The sap will be rising soon, and that means a visit to Papa Claude's Sugar Shack. A group of staff and participating youth will be walking to Papa Claude's shack on Saturday, March 26 for a firsthand look at how maple sap is made into syrup. After that it's back to Families First for what else--a pancake breakfast with real maple syrup. Yum!

Great Plans Afoot

We had a great meeting today to develop plans for Children's Mental Health Awareness Week in early May. We've got some great ideas for that week! They include having parents write about their hopes and dreams for their children in fabric squares for a quilt, videotaping youth talking about mental health, a Brown Bag lunch speaker on mental health, and our second annual Walk to Raise Awareness of Children's Mental Health issues. Check out the pictures from last year's walk in our photo gallery.

If all goes well, we'll be posting the video here on our website, so keep an eye out for that! We'll keep you posted!


Winter Break is coming up fast and we have lots of great activities planned for participating youth during the week!