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Aspire Counseling — 40 Years of Mental Health!

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For forty years, Aspire Counseling, a mental health non-profit based in Gaithersburg, has been helping Montgomery County residents grow, change, and thrive.

It began in 1978 with Maryrose Rogolsky and a small, rented office in the Rockville Seventh-day Adventist Church. Rogolsky, lovingly known as “Posey,” set out with a vision to start an agency specializing in low cost, high-quality mental health care, to children in need. From that room, Posey and her three staff members founded what was then known as the Child Center and began their legacy and transformed access to affordable mental health care in Montgomery County.

Posey was a true visionary. She served children during a time when there was little recognition of children’s mental health needs. She bravely did battle with insurance companies that questioned how a child of six years could be experiencing emotional problems. Fast forward 40 years and it can be very difficult to find an appointment with a child therapist, especially if you are uninsured and face financial and cultural barriers.

“With a firm foundation based on the belief that all individuals, regardless of race, age and income, deserve access to affordable, evidence-based, excellent mental health care she built an organization that has helped thousands overcome personal mental health challenges,” said Carrie Zilcoski, Aspire’s Executive Director.

Over its 40 years, the Child Center evolved, expanding to become Child Center and Adult Services, and now Aspire Counseling, but it continues to be guided by Posey’s vision. “What would Posey have done?” has become a mantra as Aspire’s staff continue to adapt to Montgomery County’s, and society’s, ever-changing needs.

In 2018, Aspire Counseling’s Main Clinic is on pace to set a record of 1,400 unique patient encounters and nearly the same volume of patients in the community. Aspire’s newest program has brought services back into schools, training hundreds of educators and school employees on becoming a Trauma-Informed School with a goal of placing therapists in each school who specialize in trauma and helping students who have experienced Adverse Childhood Events.

Aspire Counseling also offers programs dedicated to new mothers who are suffering from or at risk for postpartum depression. The Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program connects families to community services and provides a therapist who will make 12, no-cost, home therapy visits.

Committed to transforming lives and building resilience regardless of ability to pay, Aspire has found its place in Montgomery County’s growing and diverse community. To learn more visit we-aspire.org or call (301) 978-9750. Regardless of the challenges, you’re facing or your ability to pay, Aspire is here for you.

 

The Friends of Guest House Family

Volunteer at PlayStacey Picard has been a volunteer with Friends of Guest House since 2016. Her experience:

I first connected with Friends of Guest House when it kept coming up in conversation with various people not related to each other, and I thought maybe I should pay attention. That was just over a year ago. In the time since, I’ve taught several classes, coached a few of the women one-on-one for job interviews and speaking events, and most recently, I became a mentor.

To walk in the front door at Guest House is to be welcomed into the family, by both the women and the staff. In spite of all that is happening at any given moment in a residential program that houses more than two dozen women, in spite of the myriad details of coordinating meetings, classes, appointments, a stream of volunteers, and an occasional crisis response, there is never a hint of the “transactional” business that is taking place. Instead, it feels like stopping by an old friend’s house.

I once read that “healing” is not to be “cured” of something, but rather to be welcomed fully back into the community. This is the business and the blessing of Guest House. At Guest House, each woman who walks in the door is treated with the same warmth and respect we all hope to receive when we are at our lowest moment.

For many of them, it’s the first time they’ve encountered this simple act of kindness and respect that many of us might easily take for granted. It’s the first time they’ve been seen as fully human, with all the gifts and flaws, and pain and joy, and achievements and mistakes that everyone has.

The challenge at Guest House is not to see the women as worthy of every good thing life has to offer, it’s to help them see it in themselves. And that’s not easy when someone’s sense of self-worth has been shaped by trauma or addiction or experiencing first-hand the for-profit business of prisons in America today. It takes time, and it’s messy, but this is the essential work.

So in my experience, the role of mentoring is not so much about imparting some life lesson or wisdom, or about coaching a specific skill or making progress toward some defined goal or life plan. Those things will happen. It’s really more about meeting them where they are at any given moment. It’s about sitting with them, being fully present and authentic, generously listening without judgement, and gently reminding them, over time, that they are just in the middle of their story, that their conviction is only one event in one point in time, not the defining ending, that they are so much more than their worst mistake and that they are worthy and deserving of a full life.

Because they are.

-Stacey Picard, Friend of Guest House

Join Britepaths and the Financial Empowerment Center at South County in offering a warm welcome to our very first cohort of students in our Healthcare Pre-Apprenticeship Training Pilot Program!

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The Program offers the necessary foundation for Fairfax County residents to pursue better-paying jobs in the healthcare fields where there is a great need for skilled workers. It is a pilot program formed in partnership between Britepaths/Financial Empowerment Center at South County (FECSoCo) and Fairfax County’s Department of Housing and Community Development and is funded through the Fairfax County Community Funding Pool. Initial client recruitment is focused on Department of Housing clients in the South County area.

Britepaths’ FEC Workforce Development Coordinator Sally Meyer and Housing Services Specialist III Lura Bratcher hosted information sessions in June and July at the Westford Community Center in Alexandria, and our first students were recruited from these sessions. Future offerings may include training in other fields, such as construction and information technology.

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The first cohort began their 12-week session on September 10. The 10 students attend classes Monday through Friday. Britepaths’?Adult Basic Education Instructor Kristie Kleha provides their primary instruction, incorporating job readiness skills with the enrichment of math, reading, and writing that are contextualized for healthcare.

The students also have sessions each week in Financial Literacy with volunteers from FECSoCo and in computer skills training with our partners from Computer C.O.R.E. Other enrichment opportunities include a visit to Northern Virginia Community College’s Clinical Simulation Lab, an overview of medical certifications that NVCC offers, guidance in applying for grants to fund their future training, and guest speakers who present professional options in healthcare. The students also use this time to research and take an interest assessment to help them determine whether to pursue work with patients or in administration.

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After the 12-week session, students will enroll in a medical training course of their choice at a healthcare provider site. This class will also prepare them to take a certification exam.

Throughout the experience, and up to a year after completion, students are matched with a volunteer success mentor who will support them, provide resources, refer them to community supports if needed, and work with them to find and stay in a job.

We are excited for our students and wish them much success in their journey toward new careers!

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We would like to thank Fairfax County, the Department of Housing, Computer C.O.R.E., Northern Virginia Community College, and all the community partners, guest speakers, and volunteers who are supporting the launch of this pilot.

We are also reminded of our dear friend and long-time volunteer Diane Jenkins, who helped inspire and inform our initial proposal for this program. Diane was a retired Department of Housing Specialist who worked throughout her career to help her clients improve their lives. She passed away in July 2018, and it is heartening that her memory will live on through the success of students in this Program.

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Catalogue for Philanthropy Expands Resources to All Nonprofits With Online Learning Commons

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Washington — Nov. 8, 2018 — The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, which is beginning its 16th year as the only locally-focused guide to giving, is growing its efforts to help the entire nonprofit community, no matter the size or location of the organization.

The Catalogue is launching the online Learning Commons to further its belief in the power of nonprofits and the need to invest in effective and efficient management in order to increase their impact.

The online Learning Commons builds on the Catalogue’s existing in-person training sessions for nonprofit leaders. The web-enabled version is a capacity building and professional development program that covers five core topics important to nonprofit management: Board Development, Communications, Development, Program Evaluation, and Volunteer Management.

The Learning Commons, created by nonprofit professionals, offers a whole set of services, ranging from a thank you letter template and a short video refresher on the key elements of a thank you letter, to an entire workshop about how to steward donors. It’s free to nonprofits vetted and featured in the Catalogue and offered at minimal cost to other nonprofits.

Bob Wittig, executive director, Catalogue for Philanthropy, says, “Our number one goal is that our content and support is realistic given the other demands and resource limitations nonprofit leaders are facing. The online Learning Commons is action-oriented and designed to drive real change.”

The Catalogue seeks to create visibility for its network of charities, fuel their growth with philanthropic dollars, and create a movement for social good in the region. The Catalogue has raised over $40 million for its network of small, community-based charities in the Washington region and provides capacity building programs to support the mission and growth of the nonprofit community.

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Catalogue for Philanthropy Highlights Washington-Area Nonprofits That Support Vets and Their Families

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WASHINGTON — Nov. 7, 2017 — Veterans Day is an important time to thank those who’ve served their country; many nonprofits in the greater Washington area find ways to keep this gratitude going throughout the year for vets and military families.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy, Washington’s trusted “go to” source for finding organizations with meaningful impact, has compiled a list of charities serving local veterans and their families.

The Catalogue, a nonprofit that has raised over $40 million for small nonprofits in the D.C. region at no cost to those organizations, has vetted these charities in a thorough process that involves a program review, financial review and site visit. This means donors can feel confident that they are supporting organizations that make the Washington region a better place to live for everyone.

All Catalogue nonprofits are locally based which enables donors to give where they live. To initially apply to the Catalogue, an organization must have a budget of between $100,000 and $4 million.

The full Veterans Day list is at http://bit.ly/2CZEaYE. Many of the nonprofits include volunteer opportunities in their descriptions.

  • Our Military Kids (www.cfp-dc.org/militarykids) provides small grants to help families pay for extracurricular activities when a parent is overseas and supports children of wounded warriors from all military branches.
  • Operation Renewed Hope Foundation (www.cfp-dc.org/orhf) helps homeless and at-risk veterans secure safe, permanent homes and overcome the root causes of homelessness and instability in their lives.
  • Operation Second Chance (www.cfp-dc.org/osc) provides direct support to those in financial crisis due to combat injury or illness, usually during the gap between active duty pay and the initiation of veterans’ benefits. The nonprofit also will be sending care packages to 50 deployed service members and will be part of a fundraiser Nov. 10.
  • ThanksUSA (www.cfp-dc.org/thanksusa) empowers military families — children and spouses of military personnel — through its scholarship program to expand their education and skills through college, technical school or vocational training programs.
  • The Veterans Consortium (http://cfp-dc.org/vet) provides free legal services to over 400 veterans and their families each year, ensuring equal access to justice in court and achieving favorable outcomes in 80 percent of its cases. The organization will be holding a discharge upgrade clinic Nov. 9, at the Washington Convention Center.
  • Yellow Ribbon Fund (http://cfp-dc.org/Yellow-Ribbon) provides practical high-touch support to wounded, ill, and injured service members, their caregivers and families in the D.C. area at Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir as they transition back to their homes and communities. The nonprofit is connected to a number of upcoming events that support its mission.

 

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“Community Leaders Share Their Stories”

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Story Tapestries will present a unique invitation-only event, called Threads of Change: Supporting Our Stories, to present the first annual Community Voices Awards and to launch their presence in The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington. The event will be hosted at the appointment-only Dennis and Phillip Ratner Museum in Bethesda, Maryland on November 13, 2018, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

During this visually and emotionally stimulating event, Story Tapestries will also recognize the following honorees for their dedication to unity through the arts:

Carol Trawick, Founder of the Trawick Foundation Fred Brown, Civil Rights Activist Mimi Hassanein, Office of Community Partnerships and Activist Regie Cabico, Award-winning Poet, Performing and Teaching Artist Willkie Farr & Gallagher, LLP

In addition, two local students will be recognized for their contributions and involvement in Amplify US! Initiative. Amplify US! is a community-driven initiative designed to use the arts to build cultural bridges.

Story Tapestries, headquartered in Germantown, Maryland, was founded in 2010 by international performing and teaching artist, Arianna Ross. “Story Tapestries truly believes in the power of the arts to empower, educate and engage. This year is our first annual presentation of the Community Voices Awards to honor community members and leaders who represent the three core values of Story Tapestries: Empower, Educate, Engage. The moment arrived for Story Tapestries to create a time and space for these unique voices to be heard and to shine light on their incredible impact.”

The Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington has selected Story Tapestries, Inc. to be part of the Class of 2018-19. The Catalogue has recognized how Story Tapestries uses the power of the Arts woven with STEM, Literacy, Social Development, and other strategies to educate and empower communities to develop blueprints for success. This year the Catalogue celebrates its 16th anniversary: since its inception, it has raised $40 million for nonprofits in the region. It also offers trainings, neighborhood-based opportunities for collaboration, and a speakers series for individuals who want to learn about and engage with the needs, challenges, and accomplishments of our shared community. “People want to know where to give and they need trusted information. Based on our in-depth review, we believe that Story Tapestries, Inc. is one of the best community-based nonprofits in the region,” says Bob Wittig, Executive-Director of the Catalogue for Philanthropy. You can visit the Catalogue at: https://www.cfp- dc.org/nonprofits/1723/Story-Tapestries-Inc/

About Story Tapestries:

Story Tapestries promotes the power of storytelling to introduce positive change in the community, and empowers educators across the globe to creatively weave music, dance and other art forms into language arts, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. These practices are used to help individuals overcome economic, cultural and emotional barriers. For more information, listen to the radio show, “A Kind Voice,” which recently interviewed Arianna where she discussed Story Tapestries’ initiative on Global Giving to use arts-based methods to approach STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education. You can hear to the full interview here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/akindvoice/2018/10/25/a-kind-voice-radio–arianna-ross). Learn more by visiting: www.storytapestries.org.

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For more information, contact: Lorienne Beals, Development Director development@storytapestries.org

Educational Theatre Company celebrates 20 years of Changing Lives Through the Arts!

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Educational Theatre Company (ETC) invites the community to its 20th birthday fundraiser to celebrate 20 years as a vital part of the Arlington Arts community. Since its founding in 1998, ETC has been committed to the mission of unlocking the potential of children and adults, ages 3 – 103, through immersion in theatre arts. ETC places a focus on student written, process-driven work with programs that foster creativity, teach collaboration and community, and give students a sense of confidence in their own story.

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Community members are invited to attend ETC‘s birthday party fundraiser on Saturday, November 17. This fundraiser, featuring live performances, music, refreshments, and a silent auction will allow ETC to continue its long tradition of bringing theatre arts to underserved members of the community, ensuring location and economic status are not barriers to participation. The birthday party is from 2:00 – 5:00 pm, in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) building at 4301 Wilson Blvd. Tickets are $10 per child, $20 per adult, and $40 for a family, and are available at www.educationaltheatrecompany.org.

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Community members are also invited to see ETC in action by attending the original musical Two Ways to Count to Ten, the McKinley Elementary Main Stage Residency production. Under the guidance of ETC‘s teaching artists, 2nd through 5th-grade students develop an original script and lyrics, create their costumes, set, and props. This will be the 30th McKinley Main Stage show, continuing the longest running arts partnership with Arlington Public Schools. The free performances are Thursday, November 15 and Friday, November 16 at 7:00 pm at McKinley Elementary School, 1030 North McKinley Road, in Arlington.

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Shop for a Cause: Shop Suited!

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Every week, Suited for Change changes women’s lives. We prepare women to meet the professional appearance expectations of employers and help them to enter interviews and their jobs with the self-confidence to succeed. At Suited for Change, individualized suiting sessions provide women with a one-on-one mentoring experience to help them develop their professional style and receive two complete outfits of professional clothing. Once they get the job, which they often do, women can return for three more outfits to complete a full work-week’s wardrobe. But to fulfill our mission, we need your help. Here are a few ways you can help.

If you are looking for great deals or to build a wardrobe inexpensively, once a month Suited holds a Boutique Sale in our offices at 1010 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 450, Washington. Here you can find the perfect holiday dress or the shoes you need to match a new outfit at the lowest prices in DC. These sales allow us to sell off our excess inventory while bringing in needed funds to buy items and sizes that are in short supply for our clients. Suits, jackets and dresses are $15 each. All separates, jewelry, shoes, and handbags are only $5 each. It is a great way to shop for a cause and get a great deal.
The next Boutique Sale is Wednesday, November 7, 4-7 pm, followed by the December sale on Wednesday, December 5, 4-7 pm. We hope to see you there. You can find more information here.
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And another way to help: To stock our beautiful and well-organized boutique, we accept donations of new or gently worn, seasonally appropriate professional clothing at our offices at 1010 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 450. We always need work-ready handbags, earrings, shoes, particularly larger sizes, and plus-sized clothing. Donations are accepted on a drop-in basis at our offices on Thursdays and by appointment one Saturday per month at curbside pick up. More information can be found here.
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By empowering local low-income women to achieve their employment potential, you help eradicate poverty in our community. Join us at our Boutique Sales or donate clothing.

Join Friendship Place for the annual Friendship Walk on Saturday, November 3rd!

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Registration and fun starts at 9:30! Friendship Walks is a 1.5 mile fun walk around the National Mall focused on ending homelessness in the Washington D.C. region. All proceeds benefit Friendship Place, a nonprofit organization that offers the most effective model for addressing homelessness, with innovative programs that empower participants to rebuild their lives, find homes, get jobs, and reconnect with friends, family, and the community, permanently!

Visit http://support.friendshipwalks.org for more details!

Celebrating 95 Dream Project Scholars This Academic Year

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“When I received the Dream Project Scholarship…I sat in silence for a good 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. I was overcome with happiness. I felt as if it was a sign from the Universe telling me that I was headed in the right direction…” — Olvin V., 2018 Dream Project Scholar

This back-to-school season, 95 Dream Project Scholars began the 2018-2019 academic year at colleges and universities across the United States. Dream Project awarded a $1,500 renewable college scholarship to these students to ensure that their immigration status – be it TPS, DACA or undocumented – does not block their access to higher education.

Not all undocumented students are so lucky. Nationally, only 5-10% of Dreamers, out of 65,000 high school grads, start college each year.

But the Dream Project, an organization that empowers students whose immigration status creates barriers to education, is making strides in changing this statistic for Dreamers in Virginia. 90% of Dream Project Scholars stay in college.

And among those students that are in college,?97% say that the Dream Project has played a significant role in their acceptance to college and the success they have found while attending college.

The Dream Project provides the necessary tools to empower low-income immigrant students. Over the past 8 years, through scholarships, mentoring, community engagement and advocacy, the Dream Project has aided over 150 immigrant families. Although several new attacks exist to these families – such as President Trump’s decision to end DACA, and the ongoing lawsuits disputing the fate of DACA – The Dream Project is committed to continuing to provide local Virginia Dreamers the support that they need to succeed in college.

Everyone can take a step to help the Dream Project distribute more “…signs from the Universe” to Dreamers all around by getting involved.

Written by — Lizzette Arias, Executive Director, Dream Project