July 2021 Connects E News

Community Advocates Make a Difference

(From left) Teri Polzin and Lynn JohnsonDo you know the thrill of purchasing 200 socks on sale for $20? This is the sort of thing that volunteers Teri Polzin and Lynn Johnson thrive on. For several years, the duo has been shopping, donating and volunteering for FCCS’s Holiday Wish program. “It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference,” said Polzin. “We shop the clearance aisles to find great deals on things like blankets, hats, gloves, bath sets and more that kids in care need.” “We shop all year long,” added Johnson. In thanks for their continued generosity, Polzin and Johnson received the Community Advocate Award during Children Services’ 2021 Child Abuse Prevention event.

For Johnson, who is a financial services advisor, volunteering has been part of her entire life. “My parents instilled it in me, and my dad volunteered with Faith Mission for a long time,” she said. Several years ago, Johnson was asked by a former employee if she could dedicate just a few hours to working with FCCS. “It just kind of snowballed from there,” she said. Now, Johnson is a fixture at volunteer activities at FCCS. 

A mother of two who works with a financial services company, Polzin decided to focus on volunteering, once her children left home and she had extra time. “I made a resolution years ago to try to volunteer or make a donation every month,” she said. She decided to team up with her high school friend, Johnson. In addition to working with Holiday Wish, they have helped at graduation events, put together bikes with The Bike Lady Inc. and donated school supplies. They are also involved with the nonprofits Special Spaces and A Kid Again.

These ladies really enjoy giving back and want to encourage others to do the same. “I want people to know that it doesn’t take a lot to make a difference,” said Polzin. Johnson agrees. “I hope other people see how supporting kids and families in small ways really makes an impact,” she said.

Learn about volunteering with Children Services

FCCS Caseworker is MVP for Diversity

Joshua HatchJoshua Hatch, a Wendy's Wonderful Kids recruiter in the Adoptions Department at Franklin County Children Services, believes in achieving excellence and he shares his life lessons to inspire the children with whom he works. A foster care alumnus, who was involved with FCCS as a child, Hatch is eager to keep achieving and provide a good example for youth. Last month, he showed them how to be an MVP for diversity at the Be the Solution program, where he and a small group of young professionals gathered to create a marketing plan for the Cleveland Browns.

Hatch got involved with the Be the Solution program through his fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. The workshop collaborated with the Marcus Graham Project, which helps provide equal opportunities for minorities in the sports industry and Black Sports Professionals of Cleveland. Twenty young professionals had a chance to expand diversity in the sports industry. "There's a huge disparity in terms of the diversity of employees of color in sports positions," said Larry Yarrell, chief development officer at the Marcus Graham Project. The young professionals provided a diverse perspective in creating marketing plans for the Be the Solution and social justice campaign for the Browns.

Each team of professionals created their marketing pitches and presented them to a group of Browns reps who picked a winner. After recognizing the winning team's work, an MVP was selected and awarded a trip to Dallas, Texas, to participate in the exclusive Marcus Graham Project's Summer Boot Camp. That winner and MVP was FCCS's own Joshua Hatch!

A graduate of Wright State University with a degree in psychology, Hatch is dedicated to helping and inspiring young people, who have experienced challenges similar to his own, while he continues to make achievements. "No one knows what their purpose is until they find it, and I am certainly still on the search," he said. "One thing I do know is that every year that goes by, I will continue to advocate for the youth of our future with a mindset that no barrier is too large to overcome." 

Learn more about the Be the Solution program.

Keep Kids Safe This Summer

   School’s out and summer has finally arrived. But this season of sun and fun is not without its risks. To ensure a healthy, happy summer for everyone, here are some key ways to help keep your kids safe.

Water safety: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three children die every day as a result of drowning. Thankfully, there are many ways to keep kids safe around water. Learning life-saving skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and swimming basics (floating, moving through water) are a must. Backyard pools should be thoroughly fenced off and life jackets are essential when kids are in or around bodies of water such as rivers, lakes or the ocean. Life jackets are also a wise idea for weaker swimmers when they’re at the pool. Close parental supervision is the most important thing when it comes to kids and water safety. Per the CDC, “Because drowning happens quickly and quietly, adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, being on the phone, and using alcohol or drugs.”

Hot car safety: Never leave a child in a parked car. Leaving a window open is not enough. According to the CDC, the temperature inside a hot car can rise almost 20 degrees within ten minutes, quickly leading to heat stroke and possibly death for a child left inside. For busy parents who are often distracted, the CDC suggests leaving a stuffed animal in your child’s car seat. When the child is buckled in, keep the stuffed animal up front with you as a reminder. When leaving a car, always do a routine check to make sure that everyone is out.

Fireworks safety: While they are a festive way to celebrate the Fourth of July, fireworks can be dangerous, especially to children. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH), youth younger than 15 account for one out of four fireworks-related injuries. Boys are twice as likely as girls to be injured by fireworks. To safely enjoy fireworks, NCH recommends never keeping them at home and attending a public display by trained professionals instead. Children injured by fireworks are often bystanders, according to NCH, so educating them about the risks of being near them is important. Lastly, parents should be especially wary of sparklers, which are often considered “safe” for kids. These can reach dangerously high temperatures and set clothing on fire. 

FCCS Insider: Celebrating Graduates

FCCS caseworkers and mentors used donated funds and items to reward and encourage more than 72 graduating high school seniors this year. Many of the youth are moving into their own living spaces. Volunteers and the Youth Transition Services department partnered to put together gift bags which included:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Toothbrushes
  • Dryer sheets
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Hand lotion
  • Sewing kits
  • First aid kits
  • Pop up laundry bag
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Cleaning spray
  • Pens
  • Notepads
  • Candy
  • Ramen noodles
  • Laundry hamper

Each youth also received a $60 gift card courtesy of CME Federal Credit Union. Additionally, the Citizens Advisory Committee provided funds to purchase individual tool boxes for each of the graduates and Class of 2021 keychains and lanyards.

Upcoming Events

August 15 - Children's Day at COSI
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
333 W. Broad Street

Youth and families served by Children Services will spend the day exploring science and technology at COSI. Call (614) 275-2780 for more information.

September - Kinship Care Month

September is a time to recognize the family members and friends who take on the care of youth served by child welfare agencies, who can no longer remain in their own homes. Kinship care providers offer familiar loving homes to youth in need.