January 2019 Connects E-News

A Mentor Makes a Difference

Matt Utt and his mentee DanielAn internet search led Matt Utt to a relationship with a young man that has enriched both of their lives for almost two years. Utt found FCCS’s Friendship Mentoring Program while looking for opportunities to give back and work with at-risk children. Matched with Daniel, a 9-year old who is one of five siblings, Utt has thoroughly appreciated having the opportunity to create positive experiences for his mentee, as well as to encourage others to become mentors.

Building a rapport with Daniel came easily to Utt. “He’s pretty low key and I’m an introvert too,” Utt said. “But after the first outing, he opened up.” The two quickly bonded and Utt hangs out with or is in contact with Daniel and his family just about every week. Some of Utt’s favorite things to do are to share new things with Daniel and introduce him to new people. “It’s been great to show Daniel things outside of his own world,” said Utt who has taken Daniel camping in Virginia and had the youth spend the day with him at his office.

Utt has developed a good relationship with Daniel’s family and a great deal of respect for the young man’s mother. “It’s cool to see a parent who loves her kids and is really trying to make things work with limited resources,” he said. After introducing Utt’s colleagues at Select Sires Inc. to Daniel and talking about the mentoring program, the group adopted Daniel's family for Christmas. One coworker was even inspired to mentor Daniel’s brother.

Utt has spent much of his life working with young people through mentoring programs and youth ministries and sees the importance of creating strong relationships with at-risk youth. “If you can take a kid who has had a difficult situation and show him that someone outside of his family sees that he has value, give him a consistent presence and show him that the world can be an awesome place, it’s invaluable to that child,” said Utt. He urges others to mentor and give it a full commitment. “If you’re going to do it, do it 100%,” he said. “There have been times when I didn’t feel up to entertaining a kid, but I’ve never regretted spending time with him…It’s got to be a priority.”

Interested in becoming a mentor? Join FCCS for Make a Difference Night on January 31 at 855 W. Mound Street from 5:30 to 7 p.m., where you’ll learn about the agency’s mentoring and volunteer programs. Call (614) 275-2690 for more information.

Click here to learn more about being a mentor with FCCS.

Tips for Today: Resources for New and Expectant Parents

   The prospect of being a new parent can be very overwhelming, but help is available locally to provide parents with the support, health care and other resources that they may need to keep both infants and mothers safe and healthy. Columbus has one of the highest infant mortality rates among America’s 50 largest cities. According to the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force Report, “the leading causes of infant mortality are being born prematurely, congenital anomalies, sleep-related infant deaths and maternal complications of pregnancy.” Prevention methods can help avoid and mitigate these causes.

The central Ohio community has a number of free resources for new and expectant parents. Here are just a few:

Columbus Public Health

Columbus Public Health offers a variety of free services to new and expectant mothers including home visits from nurses, social workers and outreach workers; help finding prenatal and pediatric care; help applying for financial assistance with healthcare; and assistance getting other social services. For more information on their New Born Home Visiting, Moms & Babies First and Pregnancy Support Services programs, call (614) 724-BABY or visit their website.

Celebrate One

Created as a result of the work of the Greater Columbus Infant Mortality Task Force, Celebrate One offers online educational resources, the Step One program which connects mothers to prenatal care, as well as the pregnancy support group Moms2Be and parenting support group Mothers Cove. One of the cornerstones of the Celebrate One outreach is providing infant safe sleep information to ensure that families follow the ABCs of safe sleep: babies should sleep Alone on their Backs and in a Crib. Click here or call (614) 645-1717 to learn more.

Help Me Grow

Offered in every Ohio county, Help Me Grow promotes healthy growth and development for babies and young children through home visits by trained professionals. Contact Help Me Grow at HMG@odh.ohio.gov or (800) 755-GROW (4769).

For a list of additional resources available to families in central Ohio, visit the CAP4Kids website.

Holiday Wishes Granted

    FCCS would like to thank the central Ohio community for once again making our community’s children’s wishes come true. Since the program's beginning more than 50 years ago, Holiday Wish has been able to grant more than 193,924 wishes. Thanks to your donations this year, we were able to provide gifts for more than 6,498 children during our Holiday Wish program. Thanks to our Black Girl Magic Campaign, all of our culturally specific needs were met for the third year in a row!

This is the result of the generosity of individuals who fulfilled wish lists, dropped off toys, ordered gifts from our Amazon wish lists, made cash contributions, attended toy drives or even hosted a toy drive at a local business or community organization. We would like to give a special thanks to the work groups, community organizations, and individuals who volunteered to sort and wrap toys at our offices. We loved spending time with you and could not have made this happen without you.

A truly communal effort made the success of this program possible. We are grateful to be part of a community that embraces its children and brings joy to those who live under difficult circumstances, especially during the holidays. All wishes granted, all because of you!

FCCS Insider: Festive Holiday Visits

    Making their holidays a little bit brighter, hundreds of FCCS-involved children and their birth families attended Franklin County Children Services’ Holiday Visitation this past December. This ninth annual event allows youth in out-of-home placement such as foster care, an opportunity to visit with their families in a relaxed, festive atmosphere.

The 2018 event hosted more than 900 people and transformed the agency’s 855 W. Mound St. building into a welcoming holiday setting, creating an inviting space in which families could engage and interact. During the visitation, families shared a meal, made a craft project, had their faces painted, visited with friendly therapy dogs and posed for photos with Santa. Mrs. Claus also made an appearance, spreading good cheer and handing out candy canes.  

A three-day event that’s 27 hours long, the Holiday Visitation relies on hundreds of individuals to help it run smoothly and safely. In addition to dedicated FCCS staff and committed community volunteers, much-needed support came from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office therapy dog program, Franklin County Children and Family First Council, State Teachers Retirement System Ohio, Ohio State University College of Social Work and CME Federal Credit Union. In addition, more than 300 dozen homemade cookies, cupcakes and brownies were generously provided by staff and community donors for the families to enjoy during their time together.

Upcoming Events

January 31 - Make a Difference Night
5:30 - 7 p.m.
855 W. Mound Street

Join us at this casual event to learn about opportunities for making a difference by helping children and families served by Franklin County Children Services. Enjoy refreshments and inspirational stories. For more information, call (614) 275-2690.