June 2019 Connects E-News

Agency Seeks African-American Male Mentors

Simba mentors are looking for African-American men to join their ranks. FCCS’s Simba Mentoring Program is hoping to have 50 new African-American male mentors in the near future who are committed to sharing their time, wisdom and guidance with African-American boys who are served by the agency. The agency initiated a campaign to recruit new mentors, as the need for positive role models for young men continues to increase.

“Simba has been around for more than 30 years,” says program director Daryle Cobb. “We’ve touched many lives and changed many homes and we have the opportunity to continue to impact our community. We need men to step up to provide opportunities and to help teach and guide these young men.”

Simba mentor Kendall Lee was drawn to the program because of its positive impact on the lives of young men. “Manhood is not defined in our society and this program gives the opportunity for young people to be matched with someone who has an insight, an expertise and more importantly some experience to share with them about how life is,” he said. “Whatever you bring to the table, someone can utilize that, and that’s what becomes so important about what we do."(From left) FCCS Simba Program Director Daryle Cobb, Columbus City Schools Superintendent Talisa Dixon and Simba co-founder Kwesi Kambon

The Simba Mentoring Program was created through a partnership with the agency and the community. The late Clifford Tyree and Kwesi Kambon, along with a former FCCS employee, the late Karen Bell played instrumental roles in the creation of the program.

If you are interested in becoming a Simba mentor, call (614) 275-2690 or click here to submit an inquiry form. FCCS is also seeking volunteers for the Friendship, Malaika and College-Bound Mentoring Programs. Click here to learn more.

Little Bottoms Free Store Helps New Families

    Offering free baby clothes, diapers and wipes in a welcoming setting, Franklinton’s Little Bottoms Free Store aims to be a gathering place for new parents on Columbus’ west side. “We want to build the village it takes to raise a child,” says Allyssa Graves, co-pastor at Central City Church. Graves and her husband and co-pastor Joe opened the store in early 2019 as a component of the Grandview-based church’s outreach efforts. The focus of their ministry is to “build bridges,” Graves says, so starting a baby-oriented free store in a community without one was a perfect fit for their mission.

New parents can often feel isolated, so Graves wants the store to function as a community hub where moms and dads can connect and get to know each other. Graves adds that she recently met a mother of newborn twins from the Hilltop who had just moved to Columbus and didn’t know anyone. Little Bottoms is for parents just like her, Graves says.

More than just a free store meeting the needs of infants and toddlers, Little Bottoms is on a mission to educate parents about safe sleep. Part of Celebrate One’s west side neighborhood coalition, the store intends to raise awareness about safe sleep practices and infant mortality overall. Little Bottoms also has an on-site community health worker able to assess a family’s overall needs and link them to necessary resources.

Little Bottoms is currently open every Thursday from 6:30-8 p.m. and serves anyone in need—there are no income or ZIP Code restrictions. The store is located at the West Park United Methodist Church at 89 West Park Avenue in Franklinton. New or gently-used donations are always accepted. Toddler-size clothing in sizes 3T-5T and strollers are especially needed. For more information, visit www.littlebottoms.org.

Partying with the Grads

Seth (left) celebrated his graduation with his Simba mentor Claude Russell III.FCCS was proud to celebrate the achievements of youth involved with the agency with a graduation party that was held on May 22. Seventy-six youth were recognized for graduating from high school or earning their GEDs. They enjoyed an evening of music, dancing and door prizes with their friends and families. Columbus City Councilmember Emmanuel Remy and FCCS Executive Director Chip Spinning were also on hand to commend the youth and those who supported them.

The young people were also accompanied by caseworkers, other staff members, volunteers and mentors who developed strong relationships with them and their families to help them reach their goals. They benefited from life skills planning from the youth transition services team, and support from the adoptions team and volunteer services department (particularly through the college-bound mentoring program).

The party was a great success thanks to the help of the Volunteer Services Advisory Committee, Simba Advisory Committee, Malaika Advisory Committee, the Citizens Advisory Committee and others, as well as donations from many. FCCS is particularly grateful for the help of New Hope Church, whose members decorated the party space and contributed more than $12,000 in decorations and gifts and CME Federal Credit Union for donating gift bags.

Click here to view photos from the party.

Tips for Today: Summer Fun and Safety!

Summer is a great time for indoor and outdoor activities and taking a few precautions can keep children safe and healthy while having fun. Keep these suggestions from the Huffington Post and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in mind:

Playing Outside

Children should be encouraged to play outside during good weather. Following these safety tips will help ensure they have fun:

  • Supervise children during play.

  • Make sure children remain hydrated while outside for extended periods.

  • Avoid sunburns by applying at least an SPF 15 sunscreen to exposed skin 30 minutes before exposure. Also encourage children to spend some time in the shade.

  • Consider using insect repellent with 10-20% DEET for children ages 2 months and older.

  • Children should wear helmets, knee and elbow pads when skating, bicycling, or using a skateboard or scooter.

Water Safety

There is nothing better than taking a dip in the pool on a hot summer day to cool off, but before you and your children swim, be aware:

  • Do not allow anyone to swim alone.

  • A responsible adult should ALWAYS be present, while a child swims.

  • Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water.

  • Adults should consider learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to be prepared for an emergency.

  • Teach children to always ask permission to go near water.

  • If your child has swallowed water while struggling in the pool, secondary drowning and dry drowning is possible. Be aware of the warning signs.

Consider having fun inside on days when the temperatures are above normal. Connect with your local library for summer reading programs and search for summer camps focused on fun adventures and academics to maintain skill development during school vacations.

Visit our website for a printable parenting tip flyer on this subject.

Upcoming Events

June 15 - Fishing with Dad

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Schiller Park
1069 Jager Street

Sponsored by the Columbus Urban League's African-American Male Initiative and FCCS, the event offers dads and their children the opportunity to spend the day together having fun. Free fishing gear is available while supplies last. Visit www.cul.org for more information.

August 17 - FCCS and Mayor Andrew Ginther's FamJam

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Columbus Commons
160 S. High Street

Franklin County Children Services and the City of Columbus invite you to a free, family enrichment festival at the Columbus Commons. FamJam will bring families together with community resources, vendors and information tables, as well as tons of fun and entertainment. Rain or shine! For more information, call (614) 341-6085.