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Financial Help Desperately Needed!

No one can escape noticing that everything is becoming more expensive. Rising inflation means that the caregivers of children with incarcerated parents are experiencing increased difficulty meeting basic needs for food, clothing, hygiene products, diapers, gas, etc. 
During the past year, Ambassadors for Hope has provided over $500 in funds to purchase such things as diapers, wipes, glasses, gas, headphones needed for virtual schooling, and sneakers for children with parents in prison.  Local grocery stores have also contributed gift cards to help defer these costs.
However, as needs have recently increased, our resources are clearly insufficient.  Are you able to help? Your support will help caregivers meet essential needs of a child whose parent has been incarcerated.
Any amount you can contribute is greatly appreciated and will directly benefit a child with an incarcerated parent. To donate:
  • send a grocery store gift card or a check made out to Ambassadors for Hope to Ambassadors for Hope, c/o Glazier, 269 Chestnut Grove Road, Conestoga, PA 17516, or
  • visit the Ambassadors for Hope webpage to donate online: http://www.ambassadorsforhope.com/donate.php
Thank you for helping Ambassadors for Hope meet the needs of children with parents in prison.
 
Tracy Rennecker Community Liaison Update
Over the past few months, I have been busy getting acclimated to my new role as the Community Liaison for Ambassadors for Hope. Since I stepped into this role in late May I have been busy soliciting gift cards from stores around Lancaster County, I recently was able to secure gift cards from two local Weis grocery stores and one from a local Giant store. The gift cards have been used by Karlee the Family Services advocate to purchase food, diapers and other necessary items so desperately needed by the families she works with. During this stressful time with rising costs to the families we support it is even more important that I continue to follow-up with other stores while also seeking out new prospects for donations.
In the coming weeks and months, I will begin attending Back to School nights and other events as we start gearing up towards the new school year! The first event will be on August 16 at Burrowes Elementary school. I will be reaching out to the Community School Directors in the county to identify other events. And of course, stay tuned in the coming months for information building towards the ExtraGive!
I have also been busy catching up with the book project by reviewing all the books in the elementary level collection and reading the middle school level collection being considered for distribution. I hope to have a list of recommended books to be considered in the coming weeks. In addition, I visited the Lancaster Public Library and left a collection of the elementary level books with the librarian in the children’s section to be considered for their library, so a larger audience of children can access books on this important topic.

 
Photo: Ashley Coblentz pictured with staff from Lancaster Rec after she picked up book donations from the organization’s drop-off location
Family Services Advocate Update
The Family Services Advocate Program has been quite busy the last few months. Parents in Lancaster County Prison have been consistently signing up to meet with Karlee, the Family Services Advocate. Since May, over 25 Ambassadors for Hope bears have been given out to children who have a parent in prison. These children reside all throughout Lancaster County. Every time a child receives a bear with a recorded message from their parent that is in prison, you can see the absolute joy on their faces.

The program has seen an increase in families needing more support in different areas. Karlee continues to build relationships with community organizations to help link families with the best resources to address their needs. She also continues to participate in the Lancaster County Reentry Coalition: Family Services and Reunification Impact Group.

The Family Services Advocate Program finished the second cohort of EMPOWER, a community-based peer support group for children of incarcerated parents, who are in grades 6-8.
Photo: Ambassadors for Hope bear given to children with a parent in prison. 
Highlighting Advocate Partner - Joining 
Forces for Children (LGHealth)

By: Melanie Avila
Have you ever felt like you’re talking and no one is listening?  Or have you come up short when you try to put into words what you are feeling in your heart?  It can be lonely and sometimes terrifying.  Children in families impacted by incarceration and substance use are often in this space, feeling unseen and unheard.  Both Ambassadors for Hope and Joining Forces for Children (LGHealth) seek to serve these children and their families, which often begins with advocacy.
Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others.  Joining Forces for Children listens, speaks up and, until their own voice is found, speaks for children impacted by a loved one’s substance use.  We encourage, teach and empower children to build hope; the belief that tomorrow can be better than today and that I have an active role to play in building it.  The Family Advocate of Joining Forces for Children comes alongside children and caregivers to provide a listening ear, an empathetic posture, education and skill building and educational tools to foster emotional and relational health in families impacted by substance use.  We take time to listen and give vocabulary and validity to unexpressed feelings, thoughts, memories and dreams.  Sometimes this looks like helping a caretaker share his/her story of recovery for the first time, or helping a child identify and express his/her feelings towards a parent who drinks too much, or talking about fears and wishes as a loved one prepares to reunite with family after a time of separation.  Our aim in all of this is to help children recover from the impact of substance use and prevent the development of their own substance use disorder in the future. 
Ambassadors for Hope and Joining Forces for Children notice and give voice to hundreds of children in Lancaster County who are often unseen and unheard.  It is what unites and strengthens us as we stand up, speak up and listen up to children impacted by the incarceration of a parent, and children impacted by a loved one’s substance use. 

 
Suggested Resources
Joining Forces for Children "is a collaborative effort to systematically address the needs of children affected by substance use through training and education, systems and policy changes, and direct support for children and families."
Learn more...
 
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