This past weekend we spent our beautiful Saturday painting the inside of a local house that will be dedicated to housing AmeriCorps members. We are thankful for the volunteers who gave up their time to give this house some much needed TLC. They are still searching for the team that will become the Greater Bridgeton Area AmeriCorps Mentoring and STEAM Program, interested? Learn more about the position and how to apply below.
United Advocacy Group and the Greater Bridgeton Area AmeriCorps Mentoring and STEAM Program seeks highly motivated individuals to serve children and families of the Greater Bridgeton Area. The program will seek to assist students who live in the part of New Jersey with the lowest education attainment rates in the state. AmeriCorps Members will be integral in mentoring and tutoring children, assisting families with college planning and financial decisions, and facilitating family and student action plans to help achieve educational attainment. Members will work alongside the AmeriCorps Program Director as well as community leaders to achieve the goals of the program. Members serve in various initiative of the United Advocacy Group, as well as partner schools, to provide direct service to the children and families seeking assistance with educational attainment.
This AmeriCorps position does not duplicate or displace staff of agency or service site.
Service will be full-time for one year (minimum of 1700 hours)
Minimum Requirements: 18 years old or older, High School Diploma or HSE, pass background check
Service Responsibilities Will Include Parts of the Following:
SUBMIT RESUME TO EMAIL LINWOOD@UNITEDADVOCACYGROUP.ORG WITH THE COVER LETTER ADDRESSED TO LINWOOD.
While almost any man can father a child, there is so much more to the important role of being dad in a child’s life.
The Greater Bridgeton Success Center and Stronger Families held a Father and Son day at the Alm's Center in Bridgeton for boys ages 6 through 18, including their dad and/or mentor. They had a great afternoon with guest speakers, food, and a "learn how to tie a tie" lesson. Knowing how to tie a tie is great for job interviews, work and special occasions. We were able to bring in 123 ties from our community to help their mentoring program. Thank you to everyone who helped us by donating ties!
Interested in donating ties and business attire for local men and women in need? Donate to a clothing closet or contact Greater Bridgeton Women's Club or Bethany Grace Community Church.
Many South Jersey's counties rank low or in last place in different topics, such as child welfare and families living in poverty. Education is key for success, not only for individuals but also for the community as a whole. We wanted to help the kids, teens, and parents in need with school supplies. Our kids should feel excited about school and shouldn't have to worry about having the essentials for daily learning. This drive will ultimately help teachers too. Teachers can be put into situations where they must buy supplies for their class, using their personal money. Looking for a way to give back? Donate school supplies to schools! Here are some ideas of items to donate: book bags, lunch boxes, pencils, crayons, notebooks, rulers, calculators, erasers, glue sticks, etc. All items must be new.
Here are 10 surprising facts you may not know about poverty and its impact on children in our schools:
1. Disadvantaged even before birth.
Cognitive capacity is not just a matter of genetics, but can be strongly influenced by external factors like prenatal drug use, environmental toxins, poor nutrition, and exposure to stress and violence. All of these are more prevalent in low-income households, and affect cognitive development from the prenatal stage through adulthood.
2. Less verbal exposure.
A famous 1995 study by Hart and Risley demonstrated that by the age of four, children from poor households hear 32 million fewer spoken words than their better-off peers. More recent research has shown that quality of conversation differs as well. Parents with higher education and income are more likely to engage children with questions and dialogue that invite creative responses, while parents in poverty often lack the time and energy for anything more than simple and goal-oriented commands.
3. Poor sense of agency.
Children growing up in poverty often experience life as a series of volatile situations over which neither they nor their caregivers have any control. Thus they fail to develop a conception of themselves as free individuals capable of making choices and acting on them to shape their lives, instead reacting to crises that are only magnified by their poor ability to plan ahead or reflect. This doesn’t just affect educational success – studies have shown that a low sense of control over one’s life has major health impacts in all areas, regardless of finances or access to healthcare.
4. Low executive function.
Executive function skills such as impulse control, emotional regulation, attention management, prioritization of tasks, and working memory draw on a limited supply of mental energy. But the day-to-day insecurities of life in poverty interfere with these functions by releasing stress hormones that direct energy away from them towards more basic survival mechanisms. Regular exposure to these stresses in childhood can inhibit early development of the neural connections that enable executive function, leaving children with both academic and behavioral problems.
5. More demanding environment.
In past decades, the availability of well-paid unskilled jobs created a virtual cycle that allowed families to enter the middle class within a generation as uneducated factory workers raised stable families and sent their children to college. But in today’s knowledge-based economy, moving out of poverty is far more complex. With more competition for unskilled work and a minimum wage that has not kept up with inflation, attaining economic independence requires more education, planning, and interpersonal skills – precisely the areas in which low-income individuals are disadvantaged to begin with.
6. Comparisons are misleading.
Education reformers often point to the disparity in test scores and grades between the US and other industrialized countries as a sign that differences in educational approaches are the deciding factor. Yet when the data is broken down, it turns out that American children of affluent families do as well as their foreign peers. What drags down the US average is the fact that its poverty rate is higher than in many other wealthy nations, and more firmly entrenched.
7. It’s getting worse.
Today, low-income students are four and a half times more likely to drop out of high school, and even those who are academically proficient are far less likely to complete college. The gap in SAT scores between wealthy and poor students has grown by 42% in the last two decades. And financial stability has become less attainable even for college graduates, with only one-third of adults under 35 forming independent households.
Looking at the above factors paints a dire picture. The reality for many families in poverty is an intergenerational pattern where unstable and stressful early childhood environments lead to poor academic readiness and behavioral issues, culminating in higher dropout rates, crime convictions, and teen pregnancies. Yet the situation is not hopeless if certain sensible recommendations can be implemented.
8. Targeted intervention.
Instead of pushing nationwide testing and higher standards across the board, education reform should focus on school districts in poor neighborhoods with targeted investments designed to counteract the effects of poverty on educational achievement. In addition to preschool and extended school hours, their scope can be broadened to include health care and nutrition support, as well as parental training and mentoring programs to improve household stability.
9. Brain plasticity works both ways.
Just as inhibited neural development in early childhood can have a negative cumulative effect in later stages of life, the trend can be reversed with neural interventions that simultaneously build up multiple elements of executive functioning, allowing them to reinforce each other. By training memory, attention, processing, and sequencing abilities, computer programs like Fast ForWord have successfully improved reading and math results at multiple elementary schools with high poverty rates. In addition, programs like Reading Assistant can boost student’s print exposure, which helps compensate for reduced exposure to verbal language and print at home. And though some critical windows for intervention occur in childhood, the brain continues to develop long after, with many adults showing significant improvement in executive function after completing brief regimens of logic games and reading exercises.
10. Smart design.
Whether they target children or parents, programs must be implemented in a way that takes into account the difficulties their intended beneficiaries face with executive function. Flexible scheduling, simple instructions, more incremental steps, reduced paperwork, and minimal penalties for participation lapses can go a long way towards increasing engagement and successful completion.
Source Scientific Learning
Operation South Jersey teamed up with Family Strengthening Network to help bring in socks for our local homeless population and for families in need. Our sock drive officially ended March 31st but don't let that stop you from donating to your local shelters! Socks are something we all take for granted. They are necessary for warmth and for important foot health.
"Socks are an important aspect of foot health. Your feet are the only part of your body that is in constant contact with the ground. Your feet endure tremendous stresses throughout the day. For this reason, your feet need extra attention and care. Socks can provide a vital part of protection as they are the primary interface between your foot and the ground. Socks provide padding, moisture absorption, and a reduction in friction. Socks also provide warmth in cold, and in some cases anti-microbial protection (socks that resist bacteria). Due to the significant stresses that your feet undergo throughout the day a good pair of socks can mean the difference between feet that function well and feet that encounter multiple problems. There are many different types of socks from cotton to polyester to anti-microbial. Socks are improving with technology and the point is clear, socks are important not only to foot health, but your health. The homeless often times will go without socks, or wear socks that are old and damaged. This lack of protection can cause problems in many ways. It can lead to bacterial and/or fungal infections, blisters, and in cold weather, frostbite. The simple use of a cotton sock can prevent multiple problems and is inexpensive to provide." -Bryan C. Satterwhite DPM, FACFAS Atlantic Foot Specialists, pllc
I always believed that teaching empathy and compassion to our kids is as important as teaching them good manners. It is our job as parents to explain the meaning and importance of both, empathy is the ability to experience for yourself some of the pain that the other person may be experiencing and compassion is to translate that feeling into action. So how do you teach that?
Here are 6 tips to start raising a compassionate child.
Set an Example. Children hear everything you say but they mimic everything you do. I remind myself of this constantly. I can't teach my child empathy and compassion without BEING an example myself. One way you can do this is to make an effort to help those in need whenever you are capable, whether it's helping a friend out with babysitting or giving a homeless man a meal. Creating a culture of giving in your family unit helps promote compassion.
Volunteer. Whether you volunteer once a month or a couple times a year, get out and volunteer as a family. Take turns picking a project or cause to volunteer with, do research, have family meetings on why it's important to be apart of a community. It doesn't hurt that volunteering as a family has been proven over and over again to strengthen families as a whole too.
Celebrate Differences. Not everyone looks the same or acts the same, and that is OK! God made us all different for a reason and we must celebrate that. Pay compliments often and treat everyone the same, you will be surprised how far that will go.
Donate your birthday to a local charity. Commit as a family to donate each one of your birthdays to a local charity or cause of your choice. It may not be a favorable quest, especially for the kids but I promise the reward is great. My son recently donated his 7th birthday to "helping the doggies" at our local S.P.C.A. He wasn't too happy when we decided to do it but once we collected all the items and donated them, he surprisingly expressed how good it felt to do something so kind. He even did a happy dance!
Be Consistent. This is so important. Consistency is key to many things and this is one of them. Just like with any parenting obligation, when you are consistent, behaviors change.
Communication. Explaining the whos, whats and whys, in an age appropriate manner, for each of the suggestion above is just as important as consistency. Why are we volunteering? Why is everyone special in their own way? Why do the doggies at the SPCA need help? Why did mommy buy that man a meal? These are examples of how to start conversations that can lead to other questions and create opportunities to learn and grow as a person.
Good luck and thank you for making the world a kinder place!
This past Christmas, we had a few families referred to us, who needed help with buying presents. Each family received presents for their children's wish list, from the kind hearted community members in South Jersey, and we appreciate every single one of you! This one particular family of three, in Millville, was blessed with 15 strangers who make up the Italian Kitchen at Wilmington University. They acted on our call to action in the South Jersey Times, started fundraising immediately and raised money from within their group and from their friends and family. They began shopping that same night and within a week had the shopping done.
They donated everything on the two girl's wish lists, including bikes, child friendly sewing machine, tablet, clothes and tons more! They also stocked their refrigerator and cabinets with tons of fresh produce, canned, and boxed food. We personally saw the mom's reaction to the overwhelming support by this group and she cried from joy as she sat in disbelief. The family in need rushed to put their tree up, feeling the Christmas spirit for the first time, when they found out they would have a Christmas. The little girls eyes gleamed with excitement with the thought of wrapped boxes under the tree. They decorated the tree, smiling from ear to ear. I wish it was possible to bottle up the emotion of seeing such a site to inspire others to give those in need. A little bit really does go a long way.
Trudy, from the Italian Kitchen told us, "Did we learn or gain anything from this? We learned how lucky we truly are and a little bit goes a long way. We all believe in karma. We stumbled across a saying the other day that said "The things you take for granted someone else is praying for." This is so true."
We want to send out a special thank you to The Italian Kitchen at Wilmington University family for your kindness and thoughtfulness this holiday. You helped revive the "spirit" of Christmas for this family and I personally believe that was the best gift anyone could give. Thank you!
dThe average foster care child moves 7 times before the age of 18. Most of the time, these children are moving place to place carrying only a garbage bag. Operation South Jersey teamed up with Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties, CASA of CGS trains and supports community volunteers to speak up for abused and/or neglected children in court. CASA kids are also kids of the foster care system, learn more about them , since they were removed from their home due to safety precautions. We wanted to give back some dignity to these kids by gifting them duffel bags filled with hygiene products, blanket, a new stuffed toy, and more. We have created nearly 100 bags so far and the donations are still coming in. We wanted to give a special thank you to everyone who helped donate and promoted this campaign. Take a look at some of the project highlights in the slide show below.
DID YOU KNOW...The average foster care child moves 7 times before the age of 18. Most of the time, these children are moving place to place carrying only a garbage bag. My goal is to eliminate trash bags as an acceptable form of luggage for foster children in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties. Most times when children are taken from their home, they don't have necessities such as a toothbrush or change of clothes. They are alone and in need of a friend in their stuffed animal pal.
Operation South Jersey has teamed up with Family Strengthening Network and Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties for our most current project "Duffel Bags for Foster Kids". May is National Foster Care Month and also holds Family Strengthening Network's 2nd Annual Family Day of Service event. The money we raise will go towards these new duffel bags that will include but not limited too: hygiene products, a new blanket, stuffed animal or book (depending on the age of the child). Then will be donated to Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem County (CASA of CGS), a non profit that recruits and trains community volunteers to be a "voice in court" for children removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and placed into foster care. These advocates "speak up" for these children, helping them get the services they need and ensuring that they find safe, permanent homes. The advocates will hand off our duffel bags to the children they speak up for.
My goal is to eliminate trash bags as an acceptable form of luggage for the 170 children that CASA of CGS currently serves in their 3 counties! Sponsor a child for only $25! http://www.gofundme.com/duffelbagsforkids
Each Duffel Bag/Items = $25.00
Goal = $25 per bag x 170 bags = $4,250