Jane Powell has a conversation with Heather Raines, Associate Project Director, BridgeValley. They discuss the GRID project. GRID is Grow, Renew, Innovate and Design.
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Jane Powell has a conversation with Lynne Fruth, President and Board Chairman of Fruth Pharmacy about Bridge of Hope Scholarship opportunities for those in recovery.
Music followed Steven every time he moved. The first time Steven was removed from his mom’s custody at age four, his foster mom, a keyboardist in a band, taught him how to play the piano and guitar.
The second time he was removed from his mom, at seven, his foster parents entered him into the strings program at his school. He later started playing cello after he moved to Buckhannon with his biological mom. And by the time he entered middle school in Clarksburg, he decided to pick up the trombone.
Although he moved so often (six times in elementary school, three in middle, and three in high school), Steven said, music always helped him find friends, a common language he could speak. It was a chance to help escape his troubles at home, a tiny, temporary raft of stability. Since becoming a resident at Turning Point last year, a residential home for youth ages 15–21 in the custody of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Steven’s found what feels like the first real form of stability he’s ever known. He’s found a therapist who’s helping him address and process the physical, mental, and emotional abuse he experienced throughout his childhood. He’s found a case worker, Lynda, who has helped him fill out college applications and who was in the stands cheering at his recent high school graduation.
Turning Point is one of the direct-assistance programs by Daymark, a nonprofit based in Charleston working to help meet the individual needs of youth living in crisis through safe shelter, guidance, and education. In addition to Turning Point, Daymark runs a homeless shelter for youth, as well as an independent-living program designed to give young adults the tools they need to be independent. Daymark also offers educational programs to help prepare students to take the TASC exam in order to transition to a four-year or community and technical college.
Thanks to support from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Daymark is able to continue its work helping kids like Steven realize their potential.
“After entering Turning Point, you get the realization that there’s always somebody there to help you,” Steven said. “… They treat me with respect, and that’s just something I’ve never had.”
Until Steven entered Turning Point, he didn’t think college was in his future. He wasn’t even sure he was going to finish high school. He was too busy taking care of his younger siblings. He’d just find a job in the service industry, maybe work in fast food, he guessed.
But Daymark employees helped him see his potential. They helped him narrow down his college search. They connected him to programs to help fund his education. They drove him to Marshall University when he auditioned on the trombone for the music program.
In August, when Steven moves again, it will be to start his first semester as a music-education major at Marshall. He’s excited he already has something stable to look forward to — marching band.
Since moving to Charleston in 1970 to work as a cardiologist, Dr. Bill Carter has attended his share of live performances in the capital city. Plays, symphony concerts, ballets — Bill’s been a common fixture at them all.
And in recent years, he began noticing a trend — empty seats. Attending shows at places like the Clay Center, Bill noticed that large chunks of the balcony were often lacking in folks. And he started thinking about how he could change that.
Bill was already involved on Charleston’s West Side. He helped to establish a tennis program in the summer months to serve children in the neighborhood. So he reached out to community organizations, like the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club and the Partnership of African American Churches, to help get live performance tickets into the hands of children growing up on Charleston’s West Side. Almost half of the kids in Charleston’s West Side live below the poverty line, the highest rate of any Charleston neighborhood.
From 2016 to 2017, Bill organized the cultural program all on his own, meeting with performance groups like the Charleston Ballet and the Light Opera Guild to secure tickets at a discounted price. He then worked with community groups to figure out how they could get kids to performances.
But that’s a lot of work for one person to try to manage. In late 2017, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF) stepped in to support Bill’s work. TGKVF helped Bill create a private, donoradvised fund to financially support the program, known as Ticket Town. Ticket Town is being facilitated by FestivALL, which oversees Charleston’s 10-day arts festival in addition to working throughout the year to create, produce and present vibrant arts experiences and entertainment opportunities.
This year for the first time, Ticket Town will help to enable kids throughout Charleston’s West Side to be able to attend some of FestivALL’s major events, like the Mayor’s Concert or Dance FestivALL. And because FestivALL already has partnerships with the live, performance arts groups throughout the city, they’re working to expose kids to even more cultural events.
“FestivALL has always been meant for everybody,” Brittany Javins, Executive Director of FestivALL, said. “… Building this community feeling through the arts has been a really important part of FestivALL.”
FestivALL and Ticket Town have been able to combine their community partnerships, adding schools on the West Side like Mary C. Snow Elementary and Stonewall Jackson Middle, to ensure they reach as many children as possible.
Now, in addition to paying for discounted tickets for kids to attend live performance events, Ticket Town offers mini-grants to community organizations to help them cover the costs of getting kids to and from events, like paying for extra gas or treating kids to a meal before a show.
“It’s been a twofold benefit,” Brittany said, “Both people from the community are getting to go to shows they might not go to, but also the arts groups aren’t completely giving them away for free.”
Bill isn’t hoping this program will change the world, he said. If it opens the eyes of a few kids, maybe inspires some to learn how to play music or try out ballet, he said, that will be enough.
Even in Craig Hudson’s early days of working in healthcare in West Virginia, Type 2 diabetes was a concern.
In the late 60s and 70s, as he worked to help active and disabled coal miners seek black-lung justice, diabetes was around. Later, as he began to establish primary care centers in mining communities in West Virginia, diabetes rates were continuing to grow.
But it wasn’t until the last 30 years while Craig has led Cabin Creek Health that he’s seen West Virginia’s battle with Type 2 diabetes go from a growing problem to a serious public health epidemic. As of 2015, more than 1 in 7 adults in West Virginia have diabetes, the second highest occurrence in the nation according to the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources.
Today, out of the 17,000 patients that visit one of Cabin Creek’s six healthcare centers every year, 3,000 are considered diabetic. Of that number, 30 percent, or 900, are high risk, meaning they have an A1C of 9 or higher, which reflects their average blood sugar level over the last two to three months. And those figures don’t even include prediabetic patients.
“When I started in this area, we had diabetes of course in our health centers, but it was nothing like 3,000 out of 17,000 people,” Craig said. “It was a relatively modest part of what we do; now it’s a huge part of what we do in primary care.”
For a long time, the only opportunities Craig’s staff at Cabin Creek’s six centers, located throughout Kanawha County, had for intervening were patient visits every couple of months. But as Craig and his staff know too well, battling diabetes is a day-to-day fight that requires a change in behavior over a long period of time.
Now, thanks to a 2017 grant from The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation (TGKVF), Cabin Creek is getting a chance to make a greater impact on high-risk diabetes patients by expanding care from their clinics into patients’ homes.
Because of direct financial support from TGKVF, Cabin Creek was able to hire a care coordinator, who is solely focused on helping high-risk diabetes patients set goals to improve their lives and reduce their A1C level. Using a care-coordination model developed by Marshall University, Cabin Creek’s care coordinator makes regular, weekly home visits to the 32 patients currently in the program. By identifying the challenges patients face — whether socioeconomic or physical — the coordinator is able to help patients build a realistic plan for managing and improving their overall health.
“We plan to build on what we learn from this in order to take care of our broader population of patients with diabetes and prediabetes,” Craig said.
Since all three of their sons were diagnosed with autism starting in 2010, John and Christal Barton have done all they can to connect themselves and their children with the best resources and care West Virginia has to offer.
But after years of research and doctor’s visits, the couple started noticing a hole.
Although there were many specific therapies available — occupational, speech, physical therapy — there wasn’t much available for the parents, like nearby support groups for families raising children with autism in Putnam County, where the Bartons live. And frankly, John said, they need support just as much as their kids.
Raising one child with autism can be lonely and isolating, John said. Imagine multiplying that number by three.
“When you’re talking about autism and disabilities that specifically affect social skills and connections with other people … you’re talking about something that creates an isolated existence,” John said.
Thanks to a $2,000 mini-grant the Bartons received from Families Leading Change, the couple has created a group to help address the isolation and loneliness that autism can cause for both parents and their kids. Families Leading Change (FLC) is a statewide organization working to give families a voice in schools to create a system change that will improve education. One way FLC works to support greater parent engagement in schools is through their mini-grant program, which helps family-led teams start sustainable programs and projects
in their local schools or through after-school programs.
Starting in December 2017, John and Christal launched the Gaming Social Skills Group in Putnam County in partnership with Winfield Middle and Winfield High School to support families with autism in the region. Families like the Bartons meet once a month in Teays Valley. Around 10 to 20 people attend. The kids play collaborative, multi-player video games, which John oversees. They chose video games as a way to help initiate socialization, John said, because it’s a form of play many children on the spectrum, including his own, feel comfortable doing. But instead of playing at home in isolation, kids play in the same room with others. They talk to one another about the game, and offer ideas.
As for the parents, while their children are playing games, they spend the group time talking, sharing stories and frustrations, hearing from other parents going through what they’re going through. The group meetings have been known to go over on time because the kids were having fun and, well, the parents just wanted to keep talking. “We have been raising these boys for over a decade, and we know how isolating it is,” Christal said. “We have to create that community so that people know they are not alone.”
The FLC mini-grant the Bartons received helped them pay for televisions, gaming systems and controllers. FLC started its mini-grant program in 2017. The Bartons were one of 53 parent-led groups throughout the state to receive the first wave of funding. In 2017, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation funded the 11 FLC mini-grants awarded to family teams, including the Bartons, in the Kanawha Valley.
When Kristina started teaching construction pre-apprenticeship classes for West Virginia Women Work, she wasn’t sure she had what it took. She was only in her early 20s and fresh out of college.
Most of the women in her class were mothers, at least 10 years older. And most had so much riding on this class.
They were coming to WV Women Work, showing up to Kristina’s tuition-free classes, to learn how to rewire a house or lay shingles or run plumbing. They were learning basic skills in the world of
construction, hoping it would put them on more equal ground to others applying for jobs or registered professional apprenticeships in trades like plumbing, electrical and so on.
They were seeking a nontraditional career in construction because they needed more than what their current life could provide. They needed financial independence to be able to care for their families and, in many cases, to be able to move on with their lives.
One of Kristina’s first students came in with very high goals. She was a mom of two who hadn’t worked in years. And she wanted a divorce from her husband, but before she could do that, she needed to make sure she would be financially stable on her own.
After completing WV Women Work’s 11-week pre-apprenticeship training program, Kristina’s student returned as a speaker to talk with her next class.
Within six months of completing the program, “She had already finalized her divorce. She had her own apartment. She took the class outside to look at her new car,” Kristina said. “She was way better off at this point than I was.”
And that’s when she realized, Kristina said, what WV Women Work could do. West Virginia Women Work’s (WVWW) training programs located throughout the state are focused in the fields of construction and manufacturing, both considered nontraditional careers for women, because they can quickly help women transition into stable, wellpaying careers without going further into debt.
“It’s not about girl power or proving women can do what men can do,” Kristina said.
When WVWW was established in 2000, the wording of the mission statement didn’t say anything about nontraditional occupations. Its focus is solely dedicated to enabling women to become economically self-sufficient.
“We know that women are often times responsible for their dependents, for their children, for supporting their families,” Kristina said. “And so it’s important not just for the women now, but for the next generation and for our state and our country and our society in general that women are able to support their families.”
To help support women and families, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation has provided grant funding to support WVWW’s work in Charleston, which offers the Step Up for Women Construction PreApprenticeship program. The program helps women in the greater Kanawha Valley improve their construction skills to help improve their lives.
The Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist (ACDS) is a statewide training program that builds a competent, sustained workforce to provide quality care and education to West Virginia children. The program is a collaborative effort of the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, the US Department of Education, the WV Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families, the Division of Early Care and Education, River Valley Child Development Services, the WV Early Childhood Training Connections and Resources, WVU Extension Services, and multiple vocational schools.
In April 1989, the director of the West Virginia Department of Labor approached River Valley Child Development Services to develop and provide an apprenticeship training opportunity for individuals working in the childcare sector. The collaborative partners united with local and state programs to secure funds and create a curriculum. The first four-semester course was successfully implemented as a pilot in the fall of 1989 with seventeen apprentices. As the first early childhood apprenticeship model in the United States, the program has received national recognition.
Since its inception, the program has continued to evolve. ACDS trains staff currently employed in childcare centers, Head Starts, preschools, school-age care programs, and public schools. Based on the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship model, the ACDS program requires a total of 300 hours of course work and 4,000 hours of on the job experience. It also requires the commitment of the apprentice’s employer to provide supervision and support of the apprentice’s laboratory work and an increase in wages upon successful completion of the training. Graduates
receive national certification through the US Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship and, upon completion of the program, often matriculate to colleges and
universities to obtain an associate’s degree in early childhood education. The collaborative partners and early childhood development experts recognized a need to revise the ACDS training curricula in April of 2015. Based on this need, they redeveloped the curriculum to reflect current research and to meet the state requirements of those employed in the field of early education. This curriculum, which incorporates best practices, offers early childcare centers a comprehensive, competency-based program that trains childcare staff to provide quality care for
In 2016, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation supported the ACDS Curriculum Revision Project because, in addition to collaborating with multiple partners across sectors, the program aligned with the Foundation’s interest in increasing the number of qualified educators working in out-of-school time settings. ACDS also Apprenticeship for Child Development Specialist promotes the pursuit of post-secondary certification, which is also one of TGKVF’s education priorities. The Foundation’s funding supported the ACDS curricula’s redesign and allowed for the purchase of resource boxes to supplement the newly revised lessons. These materials have helped instructors make positive connections with their apprentices through hands-on activities that support weekly modules. The resources have greatly strengthened the learning experience for approximately 70 apprentices within TGKVF’s region by providing them current, research-based information to
implement goals and objectives in their early childhood classroom. In addition to assisting apprentices, the grant has also built the capacity of ACDS instructors as it enables them to receive updates and training on the newly designed curricula.
The ACDS program has had much success in producing knowledgeable early childhood professionals because of its “hands-on” approach. According to one childcare center director, “staff who have completed the ACDS program have gained knowledge and understanding of child development and implemented it in the classroom. Being in a classroom setting with other teachers from different centers is a great resource for sharing knowledge with one another. Teachers who have completed the ACDS program have gone on to continue their education and obtain a degree in
early childhood education. They feel a sense of pride and passion in their careers and they no longer look at what they do as just a job.” Apprentices put into practice the knowledge gained from their weekly instruction into their classrooms with children. This type of training offers apprentices professional growth and enhances the quality of care for children in the state of West Virginia.
KEYS for HealthyKids is a partnership of community stakeholders that implements healthy eating and active living policy and environmental change to support healthier communities for children
and families. One way that KEYS works to promote healthy habits and behaviors is by helping childcare centers create Natural Learning Environments. These environments are spaces that
provide enriching outdoor learning opportunities that contribute to healthy development. These natural learning opportunities often include gardening. Research shows that children are more
likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they have planted and cared for them. Ultimately, outdoor play in well-designed spaces helps children develop good nutrition and physical activity habits that can last a lifetime.
Creating natural learning environments in childcare centers grew out of children’s need for consistent and early nature exposure. In our technology-fueled environment, children spend more time indoors playing video games, watching television, and on computers and less time being physically active with their peers outside. Children are at their most vulnerable from birth-5 years old; this is also the time in which children are rapidly developing their cognitive, social and emotional skills. For these reasons, KEYS focuses on the places where many children, especially those with working parents, spend the majority of their time—within the childcare setting.
The Natural Learning Environment initiative is a part of the quality improvement project, Key 2 a Healthy Start, in which childcare centers work on changing policies and environments to meet best practices for nutrition and physical activity. With The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation’s support, KEYS 4 HealthyKids provided technical assistance to 13 natural learning environments (3 playgrounds and 10 gardens) at childcare centers located throughout the Greater Kanawha Valley. Here are some snapshots of the program’s benefits:
Employee Daycare in Charleston, WV Natural environments support physical, emotional, social, and cognitive development.
Increasing Team Capacity: Teams are able to work together on bigger projects by learning steps to take their projects from inception to completion.
Community partners build their own natural learning environments with assistance from KEYS 4 HealthyKids. The community consists of parents, local businesses, and other community
members. By working together on this project, community members may continue to engage in other community projects.