Thanksgiving at Scio
New Directions Community Based Treatment program at Scio, NY (Allegany County), hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner for the 20 families enrolled in their program. The team whipped up a turkey and all the trimmings while families enjoyed playing indoors and out. Thanksgiving Dinner has become an annual tradition and something the Scio team (Kathy Sample, Jessica Meacham, Abby Grabow, Cass Nolet, Danielle Derock, and Molly Tomsick) looks forward to every year!
Community Based Treatment is an intensive family-centered service helping prevent out-of-home placement and assist families with reunification. Referrals come from the Department of Social Services and Community Based Treatment is currently offered in Allegany, Cattaraugus, and Wyoming Counties.
Meet the Spring Family!
November is National Adoption Month! Take a look at what the Spring family, who recently adopted two boys, had to say!
“Hello, we are the Spring Family. We have three children. Our 14-year-old biological son and the three-year-old twins who we officially adopted on October 5, 2023. We have been married for 15 years and this was our first foster placement. I have worked in the social services field for years and have always wanted to open our home to children. My husband, David, and his family have a history of adoption.
Dave learned so much throughout this process and states that he ‘learned more than he expected.’ We made it a point to involve Calvin (our biological son) who was around 10 years old at the time. We wanted to make sure he understood the process and provided him opportunities to give input.
Lots of things surprised us when we first started this journey! When Aiden and Ezra came home to us, they were leaving the NICU where they had spent the first three months of their lives due to being born prematurely. It was scary being the caretakers of such fragile infants. The extent of the continued support that was available from New Directions was a welcomed surprise.
The most challenging part of fostering and adoption for us was the emotional attachment, the fear of losing the children, and the very slow family court/CPS process. Their smiles always helped us get through those tough times. The best parts of fostering and adoption are the opportunities for growth. We have grown as partners, as a family, as parents, and as people.
We have made it a point to include the twins’ biological family and are very proud of that. Although the twins’ father was not identified, we have connected with their maternal bio family. We spend birthdays, holidays, and have even gone on vacation together. The twins will always know where they came from.
Our advice for anyone who might be interested in fostering or adopting is to be honest with yourself, be honest with the staff, and don’t force anything. Do not hesitate to advocate for the child(ren) or yourself.
Three words we would use to describe the experience that we had with the Foster Care and Adoption Team at New Directions would be: supportive, growth, and humbling. This has been the greatest experience. We wish we had done the classes sooner!”
Hispanic Heritage Month
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we interviewed New Directions employee, Janett Coronado. When asked what Hispanic Heritage Month means to her, Janett had a lot to say.
“It means culture,” she said. Celebrating with traditional recipes is great, but of most importance is remembering where she and her family came from. Janett emphasized the hard work that many families went through to try and get their families to where they are today and expressed the importance of preserving culture for future generations. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month brings back stories that she remembers her mom telling her about when she was younger. “People had to work very hard.” Her mother used to have people come and help the family with crops back in Puerto Rico. Workers often weren’t able to receive much pay other than a small sack with some of the harvested produce to take back home.
“Don’t forget the culture,” said Janett, “Don’t forget the beliefs or where you come from.” Janett tries to pass on the culture to her family throughout the year, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month. “I always try to introduce my grandkids to different foods,” she said, “For holidays, like Easter, I usually make sure that half of the food is American and half is Hispanic.” Her family also celebrates Three Kings Day and she explains to her grandkids that the presents received then are not from Santa, but from the Three Kings instead.
Janett has had to explain some of the differences in culture when it comes to coworkers and others who aren’t privy to some aspects of Hispanic culture. She recalled one time when a child was being scolded and was thought to be disrespectful and defiant because they wouldn’t look up at the person scolding them. She had to explain the difference in culture. “He’s not being disrespectful. It’s respectful to look down when being scolded in our culture,” she explained, “When a child looks down while being scolded, they are showing respect. You don’t look in the eye of your parents or elders when they’re scolding you.”
Although Janett celebrates her culture year-round, Hispanic Heritage Month brings her joy. She likes to see the buses with the Hispanic Heritage banners and all the Hispanic flags. Hearing people cheer and clap during the cultural parades makes her heart throb proudly. Hispanic Heritage Month reminds her to continue moving forward and fighting for what you believe in. “It’s important to work for change while still holding on to the important parts of our history and culture.”
Board Games for Bored Kids
Katy Berner-Wallen is another foster parent with New Directions. Her foster daughter has created a drive for new board games to help out kids in group homes. Here is a bit of their story:
“I always knew that I would be a foster parent. When I was 18, a college professor talked to us about the importance of adoption and I really took it to heart. I knew that if I ever had a child it would happen through foster care.
During Covid, there was a child that I noticed kept missing school. As an assistant principal, this concerned me. I learned that the reason she kept missing school was because she lived in a group home and had to keep quarantining whenever another child became sick. I asked if there was anything that could be done to allow her to continue attending school and was jokingly told that, unless I was willing to take her in, she would likely keep missing school. ‘I’ll go home, talk to my husband, and let you know tomorrow,’ I said. We decided that we would take her in.
I did not realize how much I could love a kid. I work with them all the time, but having one in my home was different. My world is so much fuller now with her in it and I find myself able to make better decisions with other’s kids because of my foster daughter. My husband has changed too. He is more patient and, after seeing how he is with our foster daughter, I have started to love him in a new way.
My favorite part of being a foster parent is having someone to go on little adventures with. Whether we are going to the store, a drive-thru (Taco Bell), or just on a drive, it’s nice to hang out with my new copilot and listen to some music.
Some days are really hard as a foster parent. During tough times, I find strength in seeing how much growth there has been since the beginning. It’s important to know who you are as a person in order to help someone else. When I first became a foster parent, I was surprised at how long it takes to get things done because of how much work there is, but I was also surprised by the amount of support that is available through the system. There are so many resources. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, my advice is to find an organization that will provide you with as much support as New Directions does!
My foster daughter (soon-to-be ours forever) has created a fundraiser in order to give back to the community. At 13, she came up with the idea and created the poster for Board Games for Bored Kids. Many children in group homes don’t have very much to do during the summer to keep them occupied. It’s not uncommon for them to pull out a board game to play and find that some of the most important pieces are missing. The goal of Board Games for Bored Kids is to collect at least 50 new board games to donate to children in group homes by the end of June so they won’t be bored during the summer. Help us show these kids that the world is kind.”
May is Foster Care Month and we would like to recognize and thank all of the amazing foster parents who open up their homes to help children in Western New York, like Holly and Tim Bentley. Check out what she had to say about their experience as foster parents.
“I’ve always wanted to be a foster parent. When I was a kid my mother always used to help out the neighborhood kids. What she did was a lot like fostering, now that I think about it, and it inspired me to want to do the same. So, when my husband and I got to a position in our lives when we could foster – we did.
After deciding we wanted to foster, we searched online for foster care agencies and New Directions was one of the first ones to come up. When we reached out the foster care team was very responsive. They answered all of our questions and were on top of things. The home finders are awesome and I have nothing but positive things to say about the team.
One of the things that has surprised me about being a foster parent is how quickly kids are able to adjust to being in my home. It’s nice to see them become more comfortable.
My favorite thing about fostering, aside from loving on the children, is seeing the impact that we are able to make. Being a foster parent gives you a new perspective on things. You get to see what’s really important and what isn’t. It keeps you grounded and brings you back to earth. You realize, as a foster parent, that it doesn’t take much to impact a kid’s life. I always tell the kids that come to stay with us, ‘If you are able to take one positive thing away from your time with us, then we did a good job.’ I mean, obviously the more positive things the better, but sometimes that one thing can have a big impact.
Being a foster parent has its ups and downs. When going through difficult times, it’s nice to have a community of other foster parents to talk to. Other foster parents get it, they understand, and they can help you be patient when it’s challenging. You have to have patience and compassion for what the kids have been through. You should also have compassion for the parents as well. When being a foster parent, you should go in with an open mind.”
Thank you Holly and Tim for fostering good!
“With deep sorrow, we recognize the first anniversary of the horrific shooting at the Tops market in Buffalo. Words fall short in expressing our thoughts and emotions at unspeakable events. We mourn for the victims and their families and our wider community. Our hearts reach out to them.
When we are left with tragedy we need to keep taking action. We can reach out to those so deeply affected. We can volunteer, educate, and offer up our resources. We can engage with our families, neighbors, and friends in meaningful conversations about promoting inclusion, love, and hope. Each of us can be an agent for change.
At this time we all must redouble our efforts to strive for a community that is just, equitable, and peaceful for all people. We seek a nation where differences in people are not vilified but embraced and celebrated. We long for a world where our diversity does not divide us but unifies us. Let’s make a solemn commitment to honor and raise everyone. We cannot rest until we achieve the possible.”
Carolyne and Jim
A GREAT FRIDAY NIGHT OUT: for 9 youth and 5 staff from Randolph Residential and Agency Operated Boarding Homes
The Banff Center Mountain Film Festival World Tour recently came to Jamestown. This film festival is presented at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts and is sponsored by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. The film festival is shown in only approximately 150 locations in the U.S. and Jamestown is fortunate enough to have cultural centers like the Reg Lenna and the Roger Tory Peterson Center to host this event. This event has grown every year and has now expanded to a two-night event.
Attending an event at the Reg Lenna is a great experience at this historical theater that focuses on an array of cultural events. The film festival tour brings award winning film entries, and shows 6-10 shorts, some a few minutes long, others 20-40 minutes. The films/documentaries are the world’s best mountain culture, sport, adventure, exploration, environmental films, which were entries submitted to this international Film Festival.
Two of our youth Andy and Connor attended and both expressed how interesting the films were and how much fun it was to be at the Reg Lenna. They described the films as ‘Inspiring, Engaging, and Invigorating.’ They selected Wild Waters and Free to Run as two of their favorite films. One was a Swiss film about Nouria Newman, a young female kayaker ranked as one of the most skilled kayakers of her generation, with incredible footage from around the world of her kayaking over waterfalls. The other film was a US film about a UN human rights attorney and mountain runner Stephanie Case as she showcased her Free to Run organization benefiting Afghanistan women, allowing running and the safety to do so. Andy commented that he learned a lot as he did not know how serious the danger was for women in that country to do normal things like exercising and the threat of the Taliban. You can check out a trailer of Wild Waters on You Tube, and you can watch the full video of Free to Run on You Tube. Better yet, check out any of the shorts that are Banff Film Festival on You Tube, and you too will be a Banff Film Festival annual goer. It’s addicting! We are so fortunate to live near Jamestown and have the opportunity to have Theaters like the Reg Lenna host cultural events, along with the National Comedy Center and Chautauqua Institute.
Narda Gatgen LCSW-R
“Annual Banff Film Festival attendee”
Youth Perspective on Transgender Visibility
This year on Transgender Day of Visibility we are highlighting the thoughts and feelings of a transgender youth receiving our services, based on her personal experience and perspective.
When asked about her experience, the youth said that she is just like everyone else. “I just feel like a normal person,” she said. “I’m no different than anyone else.”
“It was hard at first,” she confessed. She felt depressed and only had a few people that she felt she could talk to. She said that her perspective changed after widening her circle and going to a pride parade. “I realized that the group of haters was really small.” Later when she went to a mall, she realized the same thing again. “People were really nice to me. The world may be an ugly place,” she continued, “but it’s just as beautiful as it is ugly.”
She said that in her experience, it’s best to just be you – regardless of how cheesy that sounds. “There are going to be people who don’t accept you,” she said, and that’s okay. “You are entitled to your opinions. I don’t care as long as you don’t hurt anyone,” she further explained. “One person is not meant to be liked by everyone.”
She said that she feels seen as who she is when people respect her and use the correct pronouns when referring to her, but admitted that sometimes people who accidently get her pronouns wrong are too hard on themselves. “I mean, we just met,” she clarified. “How would they know?”
When it comes to finding people who are safe and will support you, she said, “you can’t judge based on looks.” According to the youth, the best way to tell if someone is safe to openly talk to is to watch how they react to things and she gave the example of correcting someone if they use the wrong pronouns. She stated that if she did correct someone on her pronouns and they reacted negatively, she would go on her merry way. Based on their reaction, she would know that person was not the safest for her to be open with.
Her advice is to not push away the people that care about you and to treat people like the human beings that they are. “We are both human beings. Just treat me like a human being and I will treat you like a human being.”
Celebrating Women’s History Month – Bea Lovell
New Directions’ Normative Award for Safety is named in memory of Bea Lovell.
Safety can be the easiest and the most difficult norm to ensure. Locks, fire protection and good supervision all help establish physical safety, but emotional safety is more elusive. Bea Lovell made everyone feel safe, both physically and emotionally.
Bea could anticipate a child’s needs (and on occasion her own co-workers) even before they were aware of what it was they needed. More often than not, the need was for evidence of safety and security. Her deep compassion put even the most troubled youth at ease by listening with her whole heart. Bea knew when a child needed to stay up past bedtime to talk about a worry or concern and when a child was just gaming her to get an extra privilege.
Bea was a peacemaker who was skilled at bridging the differences between people. As the unofficial “mother of the unit,” staff would often stay after hours to talk to her about the challenges they were facing, both professionally and personally. Her cottage reflected her gentle ways and the peace and joy her presence created. Most of all, she created a safe place to learn, make mistakes, and grow.
So, You Want a Horse?
Taking care of an animal is a huge responsibility, and horses are no exception! Here is what the Equestrian Team tells kids at New Directions about the responsibility of owning a horse, when kids say they want their own.
“The first thing to consider is the cost of the horse, and horses can be pretty pricy. But even if you were to get a horse for free there are plenty of other things to keep in mind.
You’ll have to have somewhere for the horse to stay. If you can’t keep them on your own property, you will have to pay for boarding. Boarding a horse can range from $300 to $700 a month, depending on the services provided. At the lower end, you will have to feed and clean the stall of your horse and provide all the feed and hay needed. Plus, you will need sawdust for the horse’s stall too. You will need at least one bag of sawdust for a stall, and it might last a few days depending on how neat they are, or you may have to change out the sawdust everyday if they are messier. It’s roughly $2,555 for sawdust per year.
Approximate cost to board a horse $6,155 – $10,955 per year
After finding a place to stay, you need to feed your horse! The cost of feed for a horse depends on their needs. Grain for a horse can be $35 or more per 50 lb. bag and you’ll likely need two or more bags per month. If the horse needs supplements, it can cost upward of $2,000 a year. An average horse, even if they have access to a pasture in the summer, still needs roughly 250 square bales of hay a year. If they do not have access to a pasture, then they will need at least 100 more bales a year. Bales of hay can range from $4 to $10 each.
Approximate cost to feed a horse $3,840 – $6,340 per year
Horses require medical care and attention. Veterinary care depends on the horse, but they need shots once a year that cost around $150. They should also be visited by an equine dentist twice a year, which can be $200 or more each year. Additionally, you will have to worm a horse at least twice a year and each tube ranges from $10 to $20. Plus, you will need to put aside money for a farrier. It costs roughly $60 for a trim and up to $200 for shoes. This should be happening every six weeks, so it would cost about $480 for trimming and $1,600 for shoes in total per year. All of these costs do not include the possibility of the horse getting sick or hurt. Should that happen, and it does happen, it could cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to get the horse treated.
Approximate cost of general health care $2,450 – $2,470 per year
All of these costs so far are only if you’d like to have a horse. If you’d like to ride it, there are additional costs you have to consider. If the horse you get is untrained, then you will have to pay for the horse to go through training. Having a horse receive training for 30 days can cost upward of $350. If you also have never ridden a horse, you’ll also have to take riding lessons which cost around $35 to $50 an hour and you’ll likely have to take two-hour lessons three times a week to start off. Plus, you need riding gear – helmets, boots, saddles, bits, bridles, lead ropes, etc. – which can cost you around $650 as well as grooming and cleaning supplies that can cost more than $130.
Approximate riding and grooming costs $1,340 – $1,430+
Always remember that a free horse is never really free and in the end you must consider the cost of owning and being able to care for them properly before you take the leap and get a horse.”
It certainly requires a lot of responsibility to own a horse, but our passion for our equine companions and the comfort, experience, and opportunities they provide for the kids at New Directions well outweighs the cost of owning them.
Visit our Equestrian Page to learn more about our horses and the ways they provide enriching experiences for New Directions’ youth!