A Success Story: Meet Tommy

The children and youth we serve through our therapeutic residential programs have oftentimes experienced a severe amount of trauma in their lives. Pain, fear, discouragement and a sense of failure have unfortunately been themes weaved throughout their young lives.Success Story Meet Tommy

Tommy came to the Center with a history of trauma and neglect, and unfortunately, without the support from his parents. As a trusted partner of the County of San Diego Health & Human Services Agency, Tommy was referred to the Center given our ability to treat and care for the most impacted youth. Tommy was unsafe to live in a traditional home setting and needed the highest level of therapeutic treatment on a 24/7 basis.

One factor that contributed to Tommy’s growth was his engagement in the community, an important component of our therapeutic Residential Programs. Our community engagement efforts connect children and youth with a structured activity in the community where they can learn new skills, feel successful in the community, and continue their passion for their chosen activity once they complete their therapeutic treatment.

Tommy was very athletic and expressed an interest of being involved in a community sport. He met with Nancy Adams, the Center’s Community Engagement Manager for Residential Programs to identify activities that he would be passionate about.

Nancy shares, “Tommy was a great athlete, but being coachable was a skill that he had to work on. By being involved in weekly practices and games, he had another setting to practice and work on skills he was learning in our therapeutic setting. This involved Tommy learning how to follow direction from his coach, improving on his social skills and anger management when he didn’t score a goal, and learning how to be a teammate rather than controlling the ball all the time.”

Tommy continued in other sports, which improved his ability to release anger while also developing self-regulation skills. Sports were Tommy’s outlet and through his positive changes, he became a role model to other children living at the Center. Not only were Tommy’s changes in his behavior recognized by his peers and his therapeutic team at the Center, but also by the father of a fellow teammate. This father learned that Tommy’s parents weren’t in his life by seeing Tommy’s CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) at games as he was in the foster care system. Inspired by his passion to help children, this father decided to adopt Tommy in order to provide him with a loving family and expose him to experiences that he was gifted as a child.

Nancy ensured that Tommy received a successful transition, as she does with every child discharged from the Center, to provide the resources necessary for continued success. Tommy received a backpack with soccer items and Nancy helped Tommy’s father enroll him in the Spring 2016 sports season. This current summer season, Tommy’s father was able to register him on his own, which is the goal of our community engagement efforts to create sustainability in activities after a child’s discharge.

Today, Tommy and his father are traveling across the country exploring new cities. Although Tommy has a new home and a new family, one thing remains constant which is his passion for sports and staying connected to the Center.Success Story Meet Tommy - Soccer Ball

After the last soccer game of the spring season, Tommy huddled with his former Center peers to share something important from his heart.

“You guys need to work your program (meet treatment goals) and let them help you and listen to them, so you can get a great family like I have.”

Not only were Tommy’s peers inspired by his words, but also Nancy and other adults who were at the game. Mental illness is a topic that can be shunned and stigmatized by many. Though to see a young child, like Tommy, be proud of who he is, where he came from, and acknowledge the Center as something positive is quite powerful.

An important lesson can be learned from Tommy…we can find happiness in our lives if we’re willing to change and be open to receiving help.

To learn more about our Residential Programs, please click here.

*The child’s name has been replaced in order to protect their identity.

Thank You Farrell Family Foundation & ResMed Foundation!

You Make Success Possible!

The Farrell Family Foundation & ResMed Foundation have been valuable partners in our efforts to help bring hope and healing to San Diego children and families.Thank You

We’re fortunate to have been awarded by the Farrell Family Foundation a 3-year grant for $105,000 to support our Academy’s Intensive Reading Improvement Program. Additionally, the ResMed Foundation has approved a $10,000 grant for our school’s Intensive Math Improvement Program.

Both of these programs give highly-focused, individualized instruction to a student who is struggling in either subject, helping them reach the academic skills at their appropriate grade level. Oftentimes, the needs of students struggling with mental or emotional health challenges aren’t able to be addressed entirely in a traditional school classroom and many come to the Center’s Academy multiple grade levels below in critical subject areas. This can have a devastating impact in their academic success – and beyond.

Because of the generosity of our donors, we are able to provide the excellent level of therapeutic care and special education that is truly changing the lives for these extraordinary young people. Each gift made to the Center allows the resources to ensure each child’s individual needs are skillfully and fully addressed… with the goal to set each on a solid trajectory for a lifetime of success.

Meet Nancy Adams

Community Engagement Manager for Residential Programs
Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist & Recreation TherapistNancy Adams

When you enter Nancy Adams’ office, you are welcomed into a soothing environment adorned with photos, woodworking pieces and artwork of children served by the Center. Behind every beautiful creation and every photo capturing a stage of accomplishment, there is a story that Nancy can share.

Just like her office, there is an astounding amount of stories and history that Nancy embodies now going into her 28th year of working for the Center. Here is a slice of Nancy’s amazing passion and contributions to the Center…enjoy meeting Nancy Adams!

Why did you decide to work at the Center?

I had heard feedback from another student where I attended college, University of Iowa. She had interned at the Center and enjoyed her experience. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation and a minor in Psychology and wanted to complete my internship in a city where it was more manageable to lead recreational activities. I’m from Chicago and was living there at the time. I knew I could enjoy the weather in San Diego much better while connecting to my passion of working with children. After my internship, I was offered a position by the Center as a Child Development Counselor and then worked my way to become the Recreational Manager. I’m now the Community Engagement Manager and will celebrate 28 years at the Center on December 18.Nancy Adams Early Years

What do you do in your role as Community Manager?

I work with children and teens living in our residential treatment programs to help them identify areas of interest that will help them feel successful and engaged in the community. This can include joining a sports league, attending art classes, doing community service, interacting with animals, visiting local libraries for activities, horseback riding and much more. The goal is to ultimately have them choose an activity on their own that has structure, brings them passion, and allows them to learn a new skill that can be continued on after they’ve stepped down from treatment at the Center.

I’m currently working with over 50 children and teens who live at the Center. I meet 1-on-1 with each child to assess their interests and then provide my recommendation to program managers for their approval. After approval is received, I continue to work with each child and engage them throughout the process. For example, they’re with me while I’m on the computer ordering recreation materials or sports equipment they will need to decide a certain color or style they want. They need to feel in control in order to have a sense of ownership of knowing why they’re doing this and what it’s for. This is also important as they’re not provided many opportunities to make decisions for themselves as their level of care has been chosen by other people. This helps them feel a part of their treatment plan.

Once I enroll each child in their community engagement activity, I’m assessing them throughout their therapeutic treatment process. This can involve going to their meetings and games, taking pictures, having conversations with their coaches and treatment team, whatever is needed to ensure I support them in their success.

Building rapport with each child from beginning to end is important. Before a kid is discharged from the Center, I prepare a backpack as a gift to them. These backpacks help kids feel excited and hopeful of a successful transition, and they also promote sustainability for them to continue their community engagement. Each backpack is unique and personalized to each child’s needs. For example, it can include a football with cleats and pre-paid registration for a football league. Or additional resources such as a list of theaters that cater to the autism community or support groups for the LGBTQ community. The children love these backpacks and it motivates them to continue their success and know they have people who support their growth.

Why are the Center’s community engagement services important to the children and youth served?

I believe these services expose them to new opportunities and allow them to learn new skills they might not have been able to do without the Center. They’re able to practice what they’re learning in their therapeutic setting outside in the community, such as improving their social skills and attention span, managing frustration, handling impulse control, how to follow direction and much more.

Very often, the children we serve have experienced significant trauma in their lives. Community engagement activities allow them to understand that there are good people in the world and community members who are rooting for them. They’re then able to build bonds with adults and other children. This helps ease the transition when they’re discharged because they know that they can feel safe in their community due to their positive experiences. This also goes to the families of the children we serve. We don’t disclose any private information about the children and families we serve within their community engagement activities. This helps a child’s family feel like no one is judging them for what they’re going through or the struggles of their child. They can have fun and see their children in more positive situations.

Why are the Center’s community engagement services important to the community?

Through this program, the kids we serve are learning how to be productive community members in our society. We are reaching them at a young age which will help them as they get older. Not only are the children benefiting, but also the adults they’re interacting with. Coaches have come up to me to share of how our kids made them a better person. They see that mental illness is real and affecting many lives. They have learned to adapt their instruction and coaching skills, which in the end allows them to be more compassionate and understanding toward the kids we serve. On both ends, seeds are being planted that allow for individual growth and a better society.

What would you consider your major accomplishments?

This is a hard question because there are so many success stories of children and also fun events and activities I’ve created in my many years of working here!

The first accomplishment that comes to mind is knowing that I’ve helped children realize their potential and feel successful through community engagement. The coolest thing is not only hearing from current children and youth of how much they enjoy being in the community, but also receiving calls from alumni who share with me that they’re doing well based on what they learned at the Center. We have the capability of changing a child’s life. And, at times, they might not see it until later, but it’s rewarding to know that our efforts are appreciated. The kids are what motivate me to continue my passion and dedication of working for the Center.

The second would be receiving the Mark Shipman Award in 2007, which was in honor of a former medical director of the Center. This award was given Nancy Adams Mark Shipman Award 2007in the past by the Center and recognized outstanding clinical service by a Center employee. It meant a lot to me to be nominated and acknowledged by the Center through this award. It was a validation that the Center believed in my work of developing and implementing the recreational therapy program and saw it as a clinical piece that contributed to a child’s therapeutic treatment. Additionally, receiving this award was special on a personal level since I knew Mark Shipman and we were a part of the running group I started at the Center for employees and also children in our care.

The last accomplishment would be starting various sports leagues for children living at the Center. I started a basketball team with former Padres player, Jerald Clark, who was interested in volunteering. This then grew to creating more sports teams and competing in the community, working with our Academy’s PE teacher on developing other activities, and planning an awards banquet for the kids. I was then approached about the Center joining the CAPSES Sports League, which is geared for children with special needs. Our Academy school is still involved with CAPSES and our teams have won championships throughout the years.

What are a few words that describe you?

Dedicated, kind, compassionate and nurturing.

What’s your favorite song?

My favorite song is Lean on Me. This song touches me not only because of its lyrics, but also for my experience with singing the song. I have sung with our children’s choir for many of the Center’s Anniversary Celebrations as a way to show my support for the kids. One celebration we had Michael Bolton performing and he sang Lean on Me with the choir. I like to be behind the scenes and usually stand in the back, but Michael Bolton stood by me. It was a bit terrifying, but a fun experience, because it was all about the kids and for the kids.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I enjoy reading, being outside, playing sports (including my water aerobics class) and watching my son play sports. I lived in Jamaica too, so I like listening to reggae music.

Sullivan Solar Power selects Center as its 2016 Charitable Partner

This month, a surprising and wonderful partnership was announced.Sullivan Solar Power Partnership

Locally headquartered Sullivan Solar Power selected the Center as its charitable partner for 2016.  Sullivan Solar Power will not only donate a solar power installation on our main campus in Kearny Mesa, but will also contribute $500 for every installation they complete between now and the end of the year. The savings from solar and the donations will help the Center further its mission and support a brighter future for San Diego (View commercial currently airing on NBC 7 San Diego).

“We’re very grateful to Sullivan Solar Power for this partnership and their generous contribution,” says Dr. Moisés Barón, Center President & CEO. “The San Diego Center for Children is celebrating 130 years of caring for children who are struggling with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges, and strengthening families. Because of support like this, we can provide the effective level of treatment, care and education our next generation deserves, to more families in need in our community.”Sullivan Solar Power

For information about solar power installation, please visit Sullivan Solar Power.

Iris Auxiliary Annual Meeting

Iris Auxiliary Donation Presentation

We are very thankful for the Iris Auxiliary’s continued support over the past 35 years! This amazing group of ladies presented us with a $28,000 check at their Annual Meeting. Their generosity will help fund our therapeutic and educational services that directly benefit the children and youth we serve. Thank you Iris Auxiliary for bringing hope and joy to the children in many different ways!

Grant Thornton Employees Volunteer their Time, Treasure & Talents

28 employees from Grant Thornton volunteered their time to add some vibrancy to our main campus in Kearny Mesa. These wonderful volunteers added mulch to the landscaping around our lobby area and stirred up wood chips for our two playground areas. They also donated $1,000 to purchase more wood chips.

Alison Beck, Director of Philanthropy and Community Engagement for the Center shares, “We’re very grateful to be the local non-profit that Grant Grant Thornton EmployeesThornton has chosen to support so generously for the past five years. Their extraordinary contribution – inclusive of time, treasure and talent – is a truly-valued partnership.”

Thank you Grant Thornton!

Meet Stan Herivaux, Parent Partner of WrapWorks

Stan Herivaux recently celebrated 6 years of service at the Center! Stan plays an instrumental role in our WrapWorks program, in addition to his previous contributions in our FFAST program that provides therapeutic treatment for children living in Foster Family Agency (treatment-level) foster homes.Meet Stan Herivaux, Parent Partner of WrapWorks

Most notably, Stan was part of our team that competed and successfully won an $18 million contract from the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency to provide our WrapWorks services to over 100 children and families each month who need 24/7 intensive therapeutic services in their home community.

Before joining the Center, Stan honorably served our country for 13 years in the United States Marine Corps.

Why did you decide to work at the Center?

I decided to work at the Center because I wanted to help kids. As I was driving to the Kearny Mesa Dog Park, I saw the San Diego Center for Children sign directing to its main campus, which is located on the other side of the dog park. I became curious and Googled the Center and was impressed by its history and commitment to serving children and families.

I’ve worked in the community since I was 18 years-old doing what we do in WrapWorks. I just had no idea it was WrapWorks. I inherently connected people and families to community resources on my own personal time. When I first visited the Center’s website I immediately applied for a position. I was going to take any opportunity to work for a professional organization where I could apply my passion and fortunately I was given the chance.

What do you do in your role as a Parent Partner?

I provide various services to the parental figure of a child who is in the foster or probation system. A parental figure could be their biological mother, father, foster parent, uncle or even a family friend. Every family is different and we serve families from all walks of life.

I assist the parent by providing psychoeducation and parent management training, which in essence involves them developing more awareness and skills about their child’s diagnosis and behaviors. Parents are then able to better connect with their children and support them through their struggles. By providing parents this breakdown of skills and techniques, they are also learning how to become more effective parents. I also connect parents with community resources and support them in the transition process to ensure their family unit is smooth and intact.

Why is the Center’s WrapWorks program important to the community?

We are the hub, we are the lens to helping San Diego families. We come in and help them navigate the system, whether it’s Child Welfare Services, Child Protective Services, or Juvenile Probation. We are providing them with hope, encouragement, intervention, love, affection, and validation to let them know they’re not alone and that we care.

When a child is removed from their home for whatever reason, we divide and conquer through our small teams of experts to provide education, intervention, connection to the world, and help the child make a smooth transition back home. Our goal is to work toward permanent placement of a child back in their home.  Each family is unique and therefore involves individualized and sometimes unconventional “outside of the box” methods to be explored in order for a child and family to succeed.

How did the Center’s monthly Men’s Workshop start and what is it all about?

When I worked with families receiving services from the Center’s FFAST program, I noticed there was limited mention and involvement from a father figure. I became curious of why this was and came across an advertisement for a seminar in Los Angeles that focused on creating father-friendly practices in the workplace.

After the presentation, I came back inspired and prepared to implement a similar program for the Center that would encourage involvement from a child’s father figure. It will be 3 years since the Center began its monthly Men’s Workshop, which is available for all father figures of children served by the Center.

Our monthly Men’s Workshop is a male friendly environment where male caregivers can come and receive a fresh perspective, validation, education and skills, and encouragement to improve their parent-child relationship. It’s an open forum and support system that is led by male staff involving myself, a therapist, and program staff once a month during the evening.

We come in with a planned topic, but at times we will move in a different direction and customize the workshop to the fathers who come. It’s all about meeting their needs and making them feel empowered when they leave each workshop. I’m proud of what we have and what it can continue to be.

Why do you continue to work at the Center?

I come to work every day because I want to make a difference, and the Center is an organization as a whole that is committed to doing that. I will do whatever I can to ensure that no child goes through what I experienced. Whatever I can do to ensure a man can turn a life around and save his son or be his daughter’s superhero, I’m going to do it.

What are a few words that describe you?
Strong, passionate and committed.

Do you have a favorite quote?

My favorite quote is from Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

BB&T Employees Volunteer their Time, Treasure & Talents

A big “Thank You” to BB&T – John Burnham Insurance for being one of our generous Corporate ComMISSIONers!BB&T - Corporate ComMISSIOner

Today, 33 BB&T – John Burnham Insurance employees volunteered their time to paint two of our Academy school classrooms. They also donated new desks and chairs, study-tools, iPad mini’s, books and games.

Thank you BB&T – John Burnham Insurance for your continued support over the years! Students are going to love their new classrooms!

Interested in becoming a Center volunteer?  View our volunteer opportunities. 

19th Annual Student Promotion Graduation & Award Ceremony

On June 13, our Academy school celebrated the individual accomplishments of 100 students who have experienced difficulties in their short lifetime, yet through the support of Academy faculty,
have learned to develop resiliency and courage to overcome their challenges. Graduation & Award Ceremony

Each student was individually recognized in front of 200 guests with a special award, specifically chosen by their teacher that celebrated their unique talents and strengths. Such awards included perseverance, improved reading, good citizenship, musical artistry and sportsmanship to name a few. In addition to distributing awards and diplomas, family and friends were treated by the musical talents of the Academy’s choir and drumming circle.Graduation & Award Ceremony

It was a special moment for guests to see 9 middle and 8 high school graduates walk across the stage and be recognized for their academic excellence, including those part of the National Honor Society. Our 8 high school graduates successfully completed all requirements set by the state of California, as well as their school districts to be awarded a high school diploma. We are proud of our graduates who have aspirations of exploring various careers and furthering their education.

Center President & CEO, Dr. Moisés Barón, shared so eloquently with our graduates, “The fact that despite difficult odds and many challenges, you succeeded. You are graduating high school and you do have what it takes!”

Congratulations to the Class of 2016 and all Academy students!

Thank you to our generous donors, community partners, volunteers and Academy team for contributing to our students’ success this past school year.

Click here to view photos

Recognizing our Joy Makers: Iris Auxiliary

The Iris Auxiliary has been part of the Center family for over 35 years, and we are fortunate for their many contributions of time, talent and treasure!  Iris Auxiliary - Meet the Author LuncheonOn April 30, they held a wonderful luncheon where 125 guests were charmed to hear famed author, Lisa See, speak about her family and books.

Susan Rosenberg was event chair, aided by Julie Brown and Louise Guarnotta. Iris member Cheryl Gaidmore’s succulent centerpieces were a big hit and sold quickly. Helen Allison put together a successful silent auction, and with the collective efforts of all Iris Auxiliary member, these amazing ladies netted $4,300 to support children served by the Center. Additionally, they are hosting their Spring Celebration & Annual Donation Presentation on June 25, where they will award $28,000 to support Center program services.

Thank you Iris Auxiliary for being Joy Makers of the Center!Iris Auxiliary - Meet the Author Luncheon

Interested in sharing your time, talent or treasures?
Click here to become a Joy Maker and make a difference today!