Spring 2020 Agency Newsletter

Director's Letter

Dear Friends,

Trauma. Chances are very good that each of us has had at least one traumatic experience in our lives. In its simplest form, trauma is defined as exposure to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. Trauma is very personal to each of us and can have significant long term effects on every aspect of our life. Without help developing the adequate coping skills necessary to manage trauma, we risk our ability to deal with even the most simple of activities or, in some extreme cases, the ability to live and thrive.

Some of the most at risk for trauma are those who serve on the front lines of our military, law enforcement and emergency response members. These brave women and men are often in a direct path of extreme potential for harm. Their training involves some of the most cutting edge technology because life depends on it. What it also includes is a mentoring model that creates better relationships around trust and love.

For more than 4 years we have hosted a trauma informed mentoring program, TIME for Me, through Ryves Youth Center. We provide mentor and mentee instruction as well as training that provides a realistic understanding of what mentoring is and is not. It also defines boundaries and clear expectations. This program can provide children who may have been seriously impacted by trauma hope for a better future.

When children (mentees) meet adult mentors it is not uncommon for them to ask questions including “Why are you a mentor?” A typical response is “Because I want to help make a difference in my community and this sounded like something I could do.”

Over a one year period, mentors are asked to commit to spending at least 2 hours each week with their mentee. These scheduled meetings are supervised at our facility for the safety and protection of everyone. Activities might include playing cards, working on a homework issue, talking about how their day was going, playing basketball or eating a snack. Whatever the activity, it is a chance for time together and an opportunity to build a healthy relationship.

Mentors receive on-going training to learn new strategies and techniques. These fresh and new ideas help to keep the TIME for Me program positive and proactive. Children respond well to a mentor that is trained to look at the situation through the “lens” of the one most affected. Providing a response that says “What is right with you,” lets our children know they have something to offer.

We see a different form of mentoring at Bethany House Emergency Shelter. Through a process referred to as case management, staff guide residents through a complicated maze of referrals; applications for employment, housing or programs like SNAP or WIC; or provide the basics of nutrition, good hygiene and other life skills. As a result, families and adults find their path to self-sufficiency.

No matter the services provided through programs at Catholic Charities, one thing is constant – each individual who walks through our doors is treated with compassion and dignity. If you have a desire to make a difference is someone’s life, please consider reaching out to Rachel at info@ccthin.org or (812)232-1447, Option 3, to learn more about volunteering with us.

John C. Etling
Agency Director

Peer-to-Peer Mentoring

Bethany House, the emergency shelter of Catholic Charities, serves women, married couples and families in their time of need. Contrary to its name, this help doesn’t always come in the form of shelter, in reality they do much, much more.

One day at Bethany House is never the same as another. It is clients showing up on our doorstep seeking refuge, fielding calls from people needing clothing, food, diapers or financial assistance and helping individuals who need advice and direction when they feel they have nowhere to turn. It is often during that time of uncertainty that we are able to make the biggest impact on our clients with our extensive case management practices. This peer-to-peer mentoring relationship consists of advocating for the individual in a variety of different ways: possibly going to court on their behalf, providing support during a meeting with DCS, helping them with benefit, disability or housing applications, getting them into recovery programs, helping secure accredited childcare, encouraging them to enroll in school or find employment and even teaching good hygiene habits and life skills.

Under the management of Danielle Elkins, Program Director, and Julie Green, Assistant Director, residents of Bethany House are mentored down a path to selfsufficiency by informing them on pertinent services and meeting regularly to discuss progress and compliance with case plan goals. The staff of Bethany House wear many hats, but always act with compassion and understanding along with an attitude of “put yourself in their shoes” and all of this helps to better serve the clients and the community.

Nikki Trevarthan, A Trauma Informed Mentor at Ryves Youth Center since 2018

Mentoring Our Youth

PhotosRyves Youth Center is many different things to many different people. For our children, it is first and foremost a safe haven, where they can come and eat a meal, do their homework and interact with their peers through different activities. Our goal is for the youth to feel welcome and to maintain an atmosphere that promotes a well-rounded, positive life style.

Many of the children who attend the Center have experienced trauma, they may be or have been homeless, live in abusive households or have been placed in other situations that force them to grow up too fast. While with us, we see these children grow and thrive in different ways through various programs. For some, it is through participation in sports, others may focus on their academics, for others it may be as simple as having a person there who will listen to them talk about their day. One of the most impactful programs at Ryves Youth Center is TIME for Me. A Trauma Informed Mentoring Program, TIME for Me, is an opportunity for girls and boys, ages 9-17, to be matched with approved Catholic Charities volunteer mentors. For at least two hours each week, these children meet with their mentors for a minimum of one year.

The TIME for Me program is full of success stories and the experience of one of our children, Susie, is no exception. Susie first attended Ryves when she, her siblings, and her father were staying at Bethany House. Quickly, she became one of the youth that we see on a daily basis. Susie was a sweet little girl, bright and always sharing a smile. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she was not allowed to have any contact with her mother and lacked a strong female figure in her life. Like many of the children at the Center, the weight and worry of her family situation added immense stress to her life. It was clear to see that Susie had a lot of potential but equally clear to see that she lacked direction and motivation.

That’s when Juhi Beri, Mentor Coordinator for the TIME for Me program, stepped into Susie’s life. The two worked together to find an appropriate mentor and after meeting “T”, an instant bond was formed! A perfect match for Susie, “T” is a hardworking professional with a large heart. The relationship that they share has visibly improved Susie’s self-confidence and will continue to impact her positively throughout the rest of her life.

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