Gratitude

“Why I am Thankful for Huck House” by Jessica Barwell

On April 20, I participated in the first annual “Sleep Out Columbus” in which 70 people slept outside to raise money for and awareness about youth homelessness in central Ohio. All of these people were doing this for one night. I cannot imagine doing this every night. I especially cannot imagine being a child or a teenager doing this every night. As I prepare to begin my fundraising for the 2019 Sleep Out and educating my family and friends about youth homelessness, I have been reflecting on my gratitude for Huck House.

I am thankful for Huck House being there for our at-risk youth, for providing a safe place to sleep, for providing the tools, resources, and services that a family and a community should provide.

I am thankful for Huck House staff who meet with at-risk youth daily who have lost so much in their life, including their self-esteem.  Many who come to Huck House have been experiencing loss, violence, abuse, neglect, and other forms of trauma. I am thankful that Huck House staff is there to acknowledge their struggle, respond holistically, and find ways to highlight their resilience and survival.  I am thankful that Huck House is consistent in meeting their needs and proving that Huck House is worthy of their trust. I am grateful that the Huck House Crisis Program makes family reunification a priority whenever possible while providing alternatives when that cannot be an option.

I am thankful for the Huck House Transitional Living Program, for providing safe homes for homeless transition-age youth, ages 18-22, and their children and at the same time teaching life skills from conflict resolution, to effective communication, from anger management, to coping. Huck House creates the space for these individuals to feel accepted and helps support them so that they can stay healthy and hopeful to learn how to make better decisions.

I am thankful for the Huck House counselor’s hard work helping teens and families develop skills they can use to tackle their issues. The counselors then connect them with community resources for housing, employment, education, and government assistance.

I am thankful for the Huck House Youth Outreach Program. The staff at YOP go to our at-risk youth who won’t come to Huck House on their own.  They meet kids on their own turf, and provide a safe place for them to go to obtain services and resources.

This is the time of year many start to think about donating to certain causes and want to help those in our community who are less fortunate.  I find myself often wondering “What would it be like to be grateful for the kindness of others every single day in order to survive?”  Being on the Board of Huckleberry House since 2015, I have come to understand the true meaning of gratitude.  I am grateful to be a part of an organization that is making lasting change in the lives of young people.

 

-Jessica Barwell, Huckleberry House Board Member

 

Sonya's family created a gratitude scrapbook in November 2011 when her sons were 10 and 11 years old.

Gratitude – Sonya Thesing

Most people think that my job at Huck House, as development director, is about asking. Asking for money, asking for things, asking for support, asking for volunteers.

I look at my role differently.

Sonya's family created a gratitude scrapbook in November 2011 when her sons were 10 and 11 years old.

Sonya’s family created a gratitude scrapbook in November 2011 when her sons were 10 and 11 years old.

I see it as inviting. I invite people to participate in the great work of Huck House. I invite them to be a part of solving youth homelessness. I invite them to help families find their strengths to fix what is wrong. I invite them to support young people who are working to create better lives for themselves.

The best part of my week is when I pause to say thank you to those of you who have supported Huck House. Development directors write letters, send emails, and make phone calls to let donors know how much their contributions mean to the mission of an organization.

Saying “thank you” is obviously an outward expression. For me, though, saying “thank you” inspires deep gratitude. I am struck by an awareness of incredible kindness, hope for our future, and goodness in our community. When I say “Thank you for your gift of money,” there is a deeper meaning. It would be more accurate to say “Thank you for not giving up on our youth. Your donation represents hope and compassion. The youth of our community are blessed to have people like you rooting for them.”

I have a co-worker who comes to my office regularly to say “I love my job” or “I woke up so happy to come to work today.” I feel the same way. I am thankful every day that I get to see the kindness of our supporters and the difference their compassion makes for the youth we serve.

When my sons were in fourth and fifth grade, our family created a thankfulness scrapbook during the month of November. I remember great conversations while we thought about what we were thankful for.

If you and I were to share a cup of tea this month and talk about what makes us grateful, at some point, you would hear me say I am thankful for the generosity —-of treasure and spirit —- that I get to experience every day.

 

Written by: Sonya Thesing, Development Director

Ohio Made Holiday Market

November 9 and 10, 2018: Ohio Made Holiday Market

Ohio Made Holiday Market

Ohio Made Holiday Market

Saturday and Sunday, November 9 and 10, 2018

Hollywood Casino – 200 Georgesville Rd, Columbus, OH 43228

During the Ohio Made Holiday Market, Ohio Made Market will be selling raffle tickets where you have a chance to win HUGE prizes. Winners must pick up prizes by 7PM on November 10th. Every dollar from your ticket purchases will be donated to a Huckleberry House. Huckleberry House works with Central Ohio’s youth and families who are dealing with some of the most difficult problems imaginable. Issues like abuse, violence, neglect, poverty, and homelessness. No matter how hopeless the situation may seem, we offer proven programs and committed people who know how to help young people and families take control of their lives. So they can move past the circumstances they’re in, and move toward the future they want. 

Tickets available here.

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November 15, 2018: Battle of the Breweries at Atlas Tavern

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Battle of the Breweries

Thursday, November 15, 2018 from  4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Atlas Tavern – 8944 Lyra Drive, Columbus, OH 43240

A portion of proceeds on the night of Atlas Tavern’s Battle of the Breweries will benefit Huckleberry House! We hope you will come out for a fun night and support Huck House.

Huck House Holiday Logo

December 2, 2018: Very Merry Huckleberry House Lighting

Huck House Holiday Logo

Very Merry Huckleberry House Lighting, efficiently powered by AEP Ohio.

Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Huckleberry House 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201

Join us as we kick off a Very Merry Huckleberry Holiday and light up the house at 1421 Hamlet Street! Cookies and cocoa will be served on the Carriage House porch from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. The Ohio State University Women’s Glee Club will be singing carols.

The event is free and open to the public. If you would like to support the Huck House holiday gift drive, please consider bringing a $25 WalMart or Kroger gift card to donate. We will also accept holiday adoption donations at the event. Please visit the Holiday Gift Form for more information about holiday adoption opportunities.

Follow us on Facebook for updates about the house lighting event.

Huck House Holiday Logo

December 14, 2018: Holiday Gift Drop-Off

Huck House Holiday LogoHoliday Gift Drop-Off

Friday, December 14, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Huckleberry House Carriage House – 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201

Last year, with the support and generosity of our community, we delivered gift packages to 166 youth.

In order to deliver gifts in time for Christmas, we ask that our friends deliver holiday gift donations to the Huck House administration building on December 14. Larger deliveries should be arranged with Development Associate, Victoria Alesi at (614) 298-4105 or valesi@huck-house.org.

This year, we hope to be thoughtful and deliberate about the gifts we give to the youth we serve. Please check out the Holiday Gift Form for information about donating.

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December 17, 2018: Cookie Drop-Off

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Cookie Drop-Off

Monday, December 17, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Huckleberry House Carriage House – 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201

Huck House will hold its second annual cookie walk for Transitional Living Program youth and families. Last year, our friends donated over 100 dozen cookies. Drop-off will take place on December 17 at the Huckleberry House Carriage House, 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201.

We appreciate friends signing up as the date gets close so we can know what to expect. Sign-up details to come soon, follow us on Facebook for updates.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Healthy Me Healthy weOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a somber month recognizing violence that plagues more than 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in our society. At Huck House, we also spend October honoring survivors of Domestic Violence living in our Transitional Living Program. In this month’s blog, I thought it would be most fitting to hear directly from a survivor, one of our Transitional Living Program graduates, and a strong, hard-working, kind and funny woman, mom, daughter and friend, who will remain anonymous here. Listen to her words below that she delivered in a courtroom after her children’s father violated a court protective order:

To be honest, I do not want to be here. I would rather be in school than standing in front of a courtroom opening up old wounds. Unfortunately, standing in front of you is my best shot at a normal life. I met Joe* when I was 17. I was a loving, optimistic girl starting her senior year without a care in the world. Unfortunately, I am no longer anything like that girl. Over the past three years, I have experienced enough trauma to alter my perspective on life. Domestic Violence is something that I never understood until I was the girl behind the fist. The first fight was the scariest. Joe beat me up and down his apartment complex. Being choked against a brick wall with a 240-pound man screaming in my face than later getting dragged through the mud was the cause of the first part of the old me dying. The next few weeks were crucial for the cycle to begin. I was manipulated to believe the famous line “it will never happen again” but of course it did. The abuse continued and every attempt to break away from him was instantly crushed. I block him, he calls private. I change my number, he shows up unannounced. Joe has threatened anyone who tried to come between us. One night he walked around my house and refused to leave. Another, he waited at my car early in the morning to catch me before I left for school. Joe attacked me in front of my entire university, leaving me to be carried and locked in the admission building until the police were able to detain him. I was later taken to the hospital with a concussion that took me out of school for the rest of the semester. Months later, Joe threatened me as I was in the delivery room about the name of my son. He insisted that if I didn’t name him Joe the 3rd “not even god’s going to know what I’m going to do to you.”

I had to find the strength to leave that toxic relationship for the sake of my children. I refuse for my son to treat a female that way or for my daughter to think it’s ok to be abused in any way. Since the birth of my kids, I have gotten a restraining order, and even went as far as switching cars and moved into a secured place for Domestic Violence survivors. I have decreased interactions with mutual friends. I have been working with a counselor and Domestic Violence advocate in attempts to recover from my trauma. I have struggled greatly with depression and anxiety. The stress of being a full-time parent, student and athlete is enough for one person. It is not fair for me to have to continue to deal with his unstable behavior that forces me in and out of a courtroom.

*Names changed for anonymity

This amazing young woman has advocated for herself and her children and is excelling as a mother, a student, and a collegiate athlete. The Domestic Violence Program team at Huckleberry House was honored to stand by her side as she read this statement in the courtroom and as she walked through the day-to-day life of surviving and healing.

At Huckleberry House, we believe survivors, we advocate for them, and we support them in working towards their goals. While in the Transitional Living Program, they are surrounded by support. In addition to all of the professional supports, we encourage a sense of community among these young people who have survived violence. Twice a month, we have a dinner for the entire Domestic Violence Program, homemade by staff or by our gracious volunteers. These dinners are about more than just food. We discuss topics like developing healthy relationships, healing from abuse, and growing self-esteem, among other topics. The most amazing part is watching these young people understand and support each other.

We are honored to stand with survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout every day of the year.

 

 

Stephanie Smith

Domestic Violence Program Supervisor, Transitional Living Program

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The Graham School and Huckleberry House Partnership

The Graham School (TGS) is a public high school with a charter granted by the State of Ohio. Located in Northern Columbus but open to all students in Ohio, the school’s focus is experiential education in a small-school setting where all students are known by all staff. TGS serves approximately 250 students annually.  The school has a mission to urban students in Central Ohio preparing them for lifelong learning and informed citizenship through real-world experiences and rigorous academics.

Rachel Widmer has been a school counselor at TGS for three years. Rachel’s role covers social, emotional, academic and college preparatory topics. Knowing there is a greater need for counseling, TGS partnered with Huckleberry House. The partnership includes sending  licensed therapists from the Huckleberry House Family Support Program to work with students weekly. The collaboration has allowed for more trained hands on deck to run group sessions, work with parents and guardians to get involved, and to ensure staff are equipped with resources in and out of the classroom.

Students at the Graham School who work with the therapists from Huckleberry House are learning how to advocate for themselves. TGS staff have heard more students ask for counseling and approach the sessions with positivity. These students are gaining access to services in the community such as COTA bus passes. Additional benefits for students have been programs like the 24-hour crisis shelter and transitional living program at Huckleberry House.

In an interview with Rachel she shared that she would love to see the partnership between The Graham School and Huckleberry House grow. Rachel is the only counselor at TGS and both she and the school benefit from the partnership with Huckleberry House. Rachel also remarked on how she would love to see more after school programs for mental health and support, as well as resources for parents.

 

The Graham School also partners with the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Signs of Suicide Prevention Program. The program’s goal is to reduce youth suicides by teaching students and staff to recognize the signs and symptoms of suicide and depression in themselves and others and to follow the ACT message:

  • Acknowledge there is a serious concern
  • Care: Show the person you care
  • Tell a trusted adult

 

The Graham School benefits significantly from its community partners and is very thankful for the support and assistance they receive. Learn more about the SOS Prevention Program and Huckleberry House Family Support services below.

Huckleberry House Family Support Program – http://huckhouse.org/programs/family-support-program

Nationwide Children’s Hospital SOS Prevention Program – SOS Prevention Program