During a recent tour of Family & Children’s Place offices in Kentucky and Indiana, board member Gary Thompson noted that people focus so intently on the mission and work of the agency’s child advocacy centers – which specialize in serving child victims of sexual abuse – that they often overlook other important work, such as programs that help students and young people, homeless families, supervise visitations and children witness to or affected by domestic violence.
“We need to do a better job of connecting people to everything Family & Children’s Place does, to everyone we help,” he said, following a recent visit to Meyzeek Middle School to visit with students in the Collaborative Learning After School Program (CLASP), managed by the agency’s Family & School Services (FSS) team.
Thompson said he came away moved by the students and by how impactful the middle school-based program was.
“These are at-risk kids,” he said, “but I was so moved by how respectful they were – to us as guests and to one another. I was touched by how engaged they were, how participatory in their own progress.”
Thompson said he was most moved by the sense of pride and purpose the students had. “These students acted like they were under the impression that they had applied for or been accepted into this program,” though the truth was that most were referred to CLASP by teachers or administrators.
“They (the students) didn’t see themselves at risk, or troubled or challenged. They approached everything with resolve, determined to succeed. And that’s just the FSS team and doesn’t consider or count the impact of our other programs. All make important differences in the lives of children and families and the quality of our communities every day,” he said.
On his visit to the Indiana offices, Thompson said he was moved by the passion, compassion and competence of the staff. “There’s a special place in Heaven for the teams at Family & Children’s Place,” he said. “I couldn’t do what they do, so thank God there are people who do.”