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VIP Corner: Grantees announced

by Special to the News-Times | January 17, 2021 at 6:00 a.m.

This column will be shared in two parts. See the other grantees awarded this cycle in next week’s Sunday Living section.

SHARE Foundation recently announced its 33rd round of grant awards and fourth year of grants focused on prevention and intervention of crime and violence through the Union County Violence Intervention Plan (VIP).

Implementation of the VIP began in 2018 in six focus areas: Mentoring; Re-entry; Neighborhood Watches/Clean Neighborhoods; Parenting/Life Skills; Jobs/Targeted Education; and Mental Health/Substance Abuse.

According to research across the United Sates implementation of evidence-based programs and services in these areas of focus are strategic keys to proactively addressing crime and violence. According to Debbie Watts, VP of Community Impact for SHARE Foundation, each grantee has successfully adapted an evidence-based program to address one or more of the focus areas identified by the community in the VIP and currently measures outcomes to track long-term progress across the county.

VIP grants totaling $223,050 have been awarded to the following:

The Boys & Girls Club Teen Center received $42,000 for the Teen Life Skills Enhancement Program to promote alternatives to violence and pathways out of poverty. This program addresses the Jobs and Targeted Education Focus Area of the VIP.

For years Boys and Girls Clubs of America have been engaged in comprehensive strategies to help their members build self-esteem, acquire honest values and pursue productive futures. The “Teen Life Skills Enhancement Program” increases soft skills and job readiness, and provides personal and professional development opportunities. The programs “Career Launch,” “Diplomas 2 Degrees” and “Money Matters” teach the importance of building job-readiness skills for a career, developing short and long-term education goals and money management. By partnering with local businesses, they offer on-the-job experiences such as internships, job shadowing and after school apprenticeship-like programs and introduce them to trades or other careers through real world experiences.

Mentoring is also an important part of the program, which enables a mentor to help guide the youth in areas they need most, such as building motivation, confidence, teamwork, respect, responsibility and accountability. With this knowledge and consistent mentorship, they are able to be part of a higher level of society and contribute to the curtailment of current situations such as violent behavior, bad decisions and the unemployment rate.

Club staff provides life skills training such as the importance of being on time, dressing appropriately, how to write a resume, how to interview and how to point out their own personal strengths. They arrange college tours and provide trade-school information.

The Boys & Girls Club is seeking men and women interested in being a mentor as well as businesses that would be willing to offer job shadowing or an internship to these young men and women.

Contact Larry Yarbrough, Teen Center Director, at (870) 863-8753 for more information on how to be involved as a mentor, to enlist your business to help, or to get your teen enrolled.

The CALL received $12,150 for support center operations in Union County and addresses the Parenting and Life Skills Focus Area of the VIP.

The CALL is a statewide organization that works to grow the number of foster families and homes in the state, to provide training and support to the families that do and the reunification of families when possible. The CALL Support Center is a home setting that provides a public footprint for foster care intake and a safe space for supervised biological visitation so that families can spend quality time together. The “home away from home” creates an environment of normalcy where children are comfortable as they visit, play and eat with loved ones.

Across Arkansas, over 8,000 children spend time in foster care every year due to neglect or abuse. At any time, there is an average of 50 children from Union County in foster care with 15 homes available, meaning some children have to live outside their home town.

The network created for foster parents through the work of The CALL is a crucial element in the success of foster families and their sustainability to continue the work to keep their home open for future children. Foster care is hard work; these families are the heroes that go unseen in many instances in our community. They need support, and they need to have a community that understands their needs.

The CALL Mall located at the Support Center accepts donations of food, clothing, games and other supplies that foster families need as they open their homes to new children. To learn more about The CALL, contact Karen Hicks at (870) 904-0581.

The Eagle Foundation received $32,000 to expand services at the Eagle Learning Center and will address the Mentoring Focus Area of the VIP.

The Eagle Foundation Learning Center provides a supportive yet different learning environment for children with varied learning styles by forging collaborations with churches, schools and nonprofits to place trained, compassionate mentors and role models with children and adolescents who need them.

Services currently include personal and small group instruction in reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary, math, test prep, organization/study skills and ADHD support. They also include personal and small group intervention for students who exhibit characteristics of dyslexia and dyscalculia (both often associated with ADHD). As a support to social-emotional development, they offer a course in conflict resolution to students and their parents/guardians entitled The Young Peacemaker.

When students and families enter the doors, they experience a welcoming, comfortable and structured environment where teaching mentors spend from an hour and a half to three hours with their students each week. All teaching mentors are competent in their field of expertise, trained and intentional about building quality relationships with their students.

Eagle Foundation is providing educational programs that support families and complement local schools with services that fill educational gaps for some students. This relates to increased academic performance, increased school attendance, a subsequent increase in confidence and coping skills that will likely over time result in decreased in-school disciplinary actions, and long-range outcomes of decreased drop-out rates and crime.

For information on how to volunteer or inquire about enrolling your child, contact Executive Director Jennifer Wylie at (870) 310-5993.

Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center (HPRC) received $32,000 for A New Hope program. A New Hope addresses the Re-Entry and Parenting & Life Skills Focus Areas of the VIP.

This program seeks to build stronger families by increasing good parenting and life skills leading to successful re-entry outcomes and in doing so, reduces at-risk behaviors which lead to re-incarceration. The New Hope program is delivered in two ways. First, select women and men who are incarcerated in the Union County jail receive life-skills education using the Genesis Process curriculum which is a hybrid evidence and faith-based approach to address self-destructive behaviors. Clients served through Drug Court or court-ordered classes receive life skills education through the Rewired curriculum utilizing approaches that deal with fighting addiction and self-damaging behaviors. Second, women and men attend parenting classes at the Center or other locations using the Earn While You Learn curriculum. The curriculum has been used successfully by HPRC for 20 years with over 2,700 clients. The curriculum is offered in Spanish, is available online and can be personalized for each client’s needs.

There is strong evidence that group-based parenting programs reduce inappropriate conduct, behavioral and emotional problems among participants’ children while improving their mental health, problem solving and emotional regulation skills. Positive and warm parent-youth relationships in which parents set consistent, developmentally appropriate limits and demonstrate an interest in their children’s education and social relationships are associated with a healthy child, positive adolescent development and the prevention of violent behavior. Healthy parents and healthy home environments lead to a reduction of violence overall.

HPRC acts as a referral to other services from community partners such as mental health counseling, food, nutrition, and health education programs, childcare, and spiritual support. For more information on the services provided by Hannah Pregnancy Resource Center contact Executive Director Paula Williams at (870) 862-1317.

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