Update: As of 2017 we only have 8 because we gave two to Goodwill, to make room for my granny's stuff when she passed.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Update: As of 2017 we only have 8 because we gave two to Goodwill, to make room for my granny's stuff when she passed.
- Being male (both youth and volunteers)
- Volunteers with higher incomes
- Unmarried volunteers
- Younger youth
- Youth without risk behaviors and/or emotional problems
- Girls living with single parent fathers
Since that is never going to happen, :) we took a deeper look into what the research says about why matches close and how to mitigate the reasons in our own programming.
When trying to avoid premature closure, it is helpful to know the predictors:
- Expectations: matches are more likely to close when the expectations for any one of the participants are not being met. Understanding expectations for volunteers, youth and parents is important, but using training to continually check in on and shape expectations can be very effective. Change happens slowly, and the results of youth mentoring don't happen overnight. Many outcomes are not even identifiable until mentees grow up. Expectations need to reflect this.
- Long waits: the longer a child waits, the more likely he/she is to persist. Typically boys wait longer and their matches last longer. This is not to say we should make kids wait, but to understand that the wait creates a deeper appreciation for the reward.
- Adaptability: the more adaptable match participants are, the more likely they are to overcome match life cycle challenges. Training is also useful to emphasize the need to be flexible in the face of change, and when things aren't working the way a parent, youth or volunteer thought they would. Adaptability is closely tied to good problem solving skills.
- Commitment: obviously, it helps if everyone has the same commitment level, in any relationship. A process where match participants participate in an intentional and deliberate oral and written statement of their commitment to the rules of the program, like the length of the initial commitment, (typically 12 months), and the frequency of outings (varies), is significantly important. The specific commitments for each participant in the relationship should be clarified in the beginning, including parents. This should also be repeated annually, or if there are problems with anyone not following through on the commitment.
- Socioeconomic differences: Match participants often have very different backgrounds and come from very different cultures. Training is essential in helping volunteers understand the effects of poverty and trauma on families.
- Understanding of child development: The level of knowledge a volunteer has about the ages and stages of child development is a predictor of match longevity, which is why this is a critical training topic. Training should include information about how trauma can stunt growth and development, preventing kids from being on track.
- Communication: Some people are natural communicators, but most of us don't do it very well - especially with people we barely know. Frequent and thorough communication is essential and critically important in the beginning of the match, or during major life changes, in order for the relationship to continue to grow and thrive.
- Perceived need: Whether a volunteer feels like a Little needs him/her too much or too little, it can cause problems. This is clearly also tied to expectations. Volunteers should always know exactly why his/her child was referred and/or accepted in the program, and what the volunteer is expected to accomplish in the course of the mentoring relationship.
• The Bigs' expectations for what will happen,
• The Parents' commitment to making it happen, and
• The Kids desire for it to happen at all.
If you have all of that under control, you're good to go.
The following is an outline of the training we developed for match participants that is heavily informed by our attendance at the Institute.
When a Match Closes
Closure, the process of transitioning or ending relationships, is a natural part of the mentoring life cycle. From an ethical standpoint, we know careful management of mentoring relationship closures is critical to ensuring positive outcomes for youth.
Youth mentoring research suggests that improper closure can be damaging for mentees. Both premature (early) match closure and failing to provide some sort of resolution or closure process at the end of a relationship both can have negative consequences. These include:
• Becoming vulnerable to negative feelings resulting from poor relationship endings
• Internalizing negative feelings like abandonment, fear, or confusion
• Showing decreases in self-worth, self-confidence and academic self-efficacy
• Even for mentoring relationships characterized as weak, closure may contribute to negative emotional outcomes for the mentees such as feelings of disappointment or anger.
However, with agency support and proper notice of the timing of and reasons for closure, mentees and other members of the match may fare better in coping with the loss of the mentoring relationship.
Steps for Closure
Healthy closure provides mentees with an opportunity to reflect on their experience. You and your mentee don’t want to miss an opportunity to thank each other for your time together. If for some reason you think your match may have to close, look at the training schedule to see when the next Closure Training will be: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. At this training, you will develop a plan that ensures your little has the best end result. As often as possible, mentors and mentees should discuss memories of fun times they have had together and participate in a positive celebration that formally marks the transition in the relationship. Moreover, staff may gather information from matches that could be used to improve agency practices or guide future recommendations for match members.
I'm a student of history. In early-modern times, child mortality was very high:
- In 18th century Sweden every third child died, and in 19th century Germany every second child died.
- Before the middle of the last century, diseases like whooping cough, polio, measles, the flu and rubella struck hundreds of thousands of infants, children and adults in the U.S.. Thousands died every year from them. As vaccines were developed and became widely used, rates of these diseases declined until today most of them are nearly gone from our country.
- Nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine, and hundreds died from it each year. Today, most doctors have never seen a case of measles.
- More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921, before there was a vaccine. Only one case of diphtheria has been reported to CDC since 2004.
- An epidemic of rubella (German measles) in 1964-65 infected 12½ million Americans, killed 2,000 babies, and caused 11,000 miscarriages. In 2012, 9 cases of rubella were reported to CDC.*
- An English physician named Hugh Smith, cognizant of the staggeringly high mortality rates among children, showed that from 1762 to 1771 about two-thirds of children born in London died before the age of five years, and that about 75% of the deaths occurred before two years of age.**
|The correlation between vaccines and measles is clear|
I would re-print this poem I read called "I Am Autistic. So What?" but I probably need permission so I am just linking to it. It beautifully articulates how we unnecessarily stigmatize individuals with autism. If that doesn't convince you, try this post on reddit about how much better it is to be autistic than to be an asshole. #IJS
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
**Still GF 1931 The History of Paediatrics. Oxford University Press, London and Colón AR, Colón PA 1999 Nurturing Children, a History of Pediatrics. Greenwood Press, Westport.
Friday, June 9, 2017
Monday, May 15, 2017
Sunday, April 23, 2017
|I frequently tweet about how my life is a musical|
For those of you not familiar with the music, here are the lyrics to "I'd Be Surprisingly Good For You," the song that 3 year old Lacey introduced to her nursing staff:
"I'm not talking of a hurried night
A frantic tumble then a shy goodbye
Creeping home before it gets too light
That's not the reason that I caught your eye
Which has to imply, I'd be good for you
I'd be surprisingly good for you."
You can imagine that a 3 year old's diction is often not very clear, so it was a little difficult to understand what she was singing at times. Here's how that hospital scene went down in 1997:
Lacey: <sings over and over>
Nurse: "What's that about tumbling in the night?"
Lacey's Father: "Denise, please make Lacey stop singing that."
Me, to Nurse: "It's okay; it's a musical. Music is art. She's very advanced for her age."
Nurse: <looks worried>
Me, to myself: <So I let my kids sing about whores and dictators. What's it to you?>*
Since 1997, our collective love of musicals has resulted in the evolution of a family that thinks nothing of belting out the lyrics to any musical song, like Light My Candle from Rent while grocery shopping in HEB, or singing about Agony from Into the Woods while eating hamburgers** at Willies, or trying to hit the high notes in Phantom of the Opera on a family vacation.
I started writing this blog post in 2016 when all the attention to "Hamilton" was in full swing, but it took me this long to get it done. We thought the collective excitement about Hamilton was a great opportunity to make recommendations of all of our favorite musicals over the years. We've been fan-girling for 20 plus years and we have a lot of opinions, so here they are:
Lacey, the theater major, has a more extensive list. She currently works as a theater lighting designer in California at the Pacific Conservatory of the Arts. When I told her I was writing a blog post and asked her her favorite musicals she sent this comment, and list: "Just to name a few off the top of my head:"
- Hamilton. As you know.
- Was raised on "RENT" and "Evita."
- Love Anything Goes
- Hate Kiss Me Kate. (Same guy wrote both of those.)
- Love: Wild Party, the new one, not the old one.
- In The Heights
- Into The Woods
- Next to Normal
- Spring Awakening
- Little Shop of Horrors
- Rocky Horror
- Moulin Rouge
- Forever Plaid
- The Last Five Years
- Les Mis
- The Producers
- Legally Blonde
- The Fantastiks
For what it's worth, my favorite musicals are from a different era. When I think about the musicals that made a difference in my life as a kid, my list is:
It was well after these that came the Rent and Evita and Mamma Mia shows that became the fodder for my kids' fervent affinity for the musical. The kids have since made me a big fan of these classics:
- Anything Goes
- Into the Woods
|A typical tweet|
*Lacey graduated from college with a theater degree about 20 years later.
**It was actually just me eating hamburgers, my kids are both vegetarians and aliens who don't like hamburgers
***no haters, says Zoe
This post was edited by Zoe for "readability"
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
That was a low point in my nonprofit career. I felt helpless and hopeless. I came closer to quitting than at any other time I had had to deal with this kind of self defeating situation (which actually happens all the time in the nonprofit world, unfortunately). So, I read some books, sought out mentors, and signed up to chair the Advocacy Committee for The Nonprofit Council.
I hear more than ever now about how we need to improve outcomes, and it always makes me think of that RFP. No one cared about the outcomes in that situation and it became a microcosmic illustration of the problem for me. It was particularly frustrating because there didn't really seem to be any real solution on the horizon.
And then I heard about Pay For Success: an innovative approach for addressing persistent social problems.
- The funder invests in the organizations with the most effective models.
- The organizations with the most effective models implement their programs and services, with results.
- The government pays the funder back with revenue that was saved as a result of effective programs.
This is scary for a lot of people. As you can imagine, it's a hard sell to ask organizations to spend money and risk not getting reimbursed for it. This post is a really simple explanation for a very complex program, but that's the gist of if. We cant' afford to spend billion of dollars every year in the social sector and not solve any problems. Pay for Success is the wave of the future and I for one am thrilled! You can read more about the pay of pay for success here.
I'll be writing more about this in 2017 since the annual Issue in Profile event put on by the Nonprofit Council in October will feature a keynote on this topic. Stay tuned.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Having written 2 blog posts about granny over the last couple of years and then recently, her obituary, I thought it was going to be difficult for me to write about her again for her funeral. What else would I say? But it wasn't difficult at all. I guess that's because a lot can happen over 93 long years, so there's volumes of material. I could write a book. But for now I'll just have to share a few remembrances and anecdotes. Please forgive me if these memories are a bit disjointed at this point. The book is only just starting to take shape.
If there was ever a life and a death to be celebrated, it's this one. We should all be so lucky to live such long, full, happy lives, blessed with love, family and good fortune. Blessed with relatively good health and all of our faculties. Granny was pretty healthy and pretty dang sharp all the way to the end.
I remember a family reunion in St Pete Beach a few years ago when Granny fainted by the pool. She was probably just dehydrated but they ran every test in the book on her at the hospital trying to find something wrong with her. The last doctor to release her was a cardiologist and he basically came in and told her that his diagnosis was that she was just plain old. With all due respect, ma'am. The same thing happened in San Antonio this summer. She was trying to get cleared for an eye surgery but her echocardiogram kept showing abnormalities. The echo tech told her that her 92 year old heart looked better than most 50-60 year old hearts she saw every day. "Beautiful arteries, Mrs Wechsler," she said. And then another cardiologist said he could keep testing to try to find something wrong but basically her heart was 92 and probably a little tired. Were I more eloquent I could come up with a way to express how appropriate it is that Granny ultimately passed away because her well used heart wore out from being in use so much and so often.
Many of you know that she survived a fire a couple years ago. She told us afterwards about how she was crawling in the hallway of her apt bldg and the smoke was so thick that she didn't know which way was her apartment or which way was the elevator. So she just sat back and looked up to the heavens and said "Lord this must be it, go ahead and take me," but then a fireman appeared and picked her up and carried her to safety. Rescued by a fireman. How many people can say that?
I'm grateful that she was so present up til the very end. About three weeks ago my dad and sister and I were over at her place playing rummy and poker with her and drinking wine -she always seemed to win the first game whenever we played - and her fair share of others- more games than I won for sure.
One of my most treasured childhood memories was of a night I spent in a hotel room with Granny and Grandpa and Granny's sister, Aunt Lula. We were on a road trip- no idea where to or from, but the hotel room was absolutely infested with mosquitoes. For some reason it just cracked granny and aunt Lula up to watch grandpa and I running around the room trying to kill all those mosquitoes with rolled up newspapers. I'm really not sure why it was so funny. I think it was just the joyousness of a good life. Granny was fortunate and she knew it. To be on a trip, with family members she loved, with hardly a care in the world --so much so that she could just enjoy life, and sit back and watch her crazy husband and grand daughter clowning around swatting at mosquitoes, leaving a trail of squishy mosquito smears all over the walls of your hotel room. Life is funny. Life is good. If all life throws at you are a few pesky mosquitoes then you are a fortunate being indeed. Granny could hardly tell the story afterwards , and she told it again and again, without dissolving into uncontrollable giggling.
Her laugh -another sign of her joy in life- Her laugh was wonderful. I recently watched a tape of her and grandpas 50th wedding anniversary and there's this part where she and grandpa are cutting the cake, and someone off camera says something to her - apparently funny- you can't tell what- but granny turns and cackles at them. I played it over like 5 times to hear her laugh again.
No one was more instrumental in my early developmental years than granny. My career as a youth development professional has taught me that there is no time more critical in a child's life than birth to three. Once I was old enough to understand that, I loved her all the more for being there. I hope she knew it. And while I don't remember any of that time, from birth to 3, I've heard the stories and seen the pictures and felt the love that followed me after that, from age 3 to age 50 and I know how it shaped me and made me into the person I am today. And I was only the first of 9 grandchildren, 23 great grandchildren and 4 great great grandchildren. I know that those who came after me felt as cherished by granny as I did. I know there are a lot of people in this room who have memories of Granny as vivid as mine are.
Granny was not only a loving family matriarch but she was also a career woman - priding herself on her membership in ABWA -the American Business Women's Association and also on her membership in the order of the Eastern Star - an entity which was founded on teachings from the Bible and committed to charitable work for Alzheimer's and juvenile diabetes research as well as funding scholarships for students of theology and music. To this day I'm still so proud of her for this civic mindedness. She was quite the role model of how someone fortunate chooses to give back.
A tiny part of me kind of felt like she just might live forever. She's always been there and it was too hard to imagine her not being there. But 4 years ago when I visited her at Christmas time in Ohio, I could see that she was fading. When we moved her to Texas a year after that I watched her start to fade even more right before my eyes. And a few months ago she started dropping hints about being ready to go. Again, we should all be so lucky to go this way.
I can tell you that she was hilarious to the end. I spent a good amount of time with her at hospitals and doctors offices. There was the time she tried to hook me up with her cardiologist -"isn't he good looking?" Granny asked. "Do you think he's single," she wondered? "He isn't wearing a ring." "I don't know, Granny. He's a doctor - it's common that they don't wear wedding rings." I had to practically restrain her from grilling him on his marital status when he came back into the room. He was pretty cute though- she was totally right. But probably married.
And then there was the time she complained about all the viagra commercials on the hospital tv. The nurses were dying over that one.
My last moment with her will always be a sweet memory. She was asleep when I got to her room but woke up when I sat next to her on the bed. She told me that she was so sleepy and wasn't being rude, she just couldn't keep her eyes open. I played her video messages from the birthday party she was too sick to attend and opened her presents for her. Her nephew had brought her a tin of baked goodies and as soon as I popped open the lid her eyes popped open at the smell of sugar that came wafting out. She propped herself up on her elbow and started rooting around in the tin, settling on this ball of sugar - and she ate the whole thing. Just relishing the sweet taste of it. And then she laid back down and fell back asleep. I told her I'd see her later, but then 2 days later she was gone.
I like to think of her with grandpa now. They were apart for 13 years, but now they are together. I will miss her dearly but always cherish her memory. Granny, Marie, Ree Ree- you rocked your life - and by association so many others lives too. Well done. Now Rest In Peace.