Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Young Mothers need Yoga supplies for class

It is no secret that mothers rarely get the opportunity to take time for themselves – to charge their ever drained batteries. Yet, women are consistently reminded of how important it is to our health and relationships to take time for themselves and reduce stress. Articles are written about it in our favorite magazines and local newspapers; there are featured stories about it on our favorite talk shows and news programs. And everyone serves up their own tips and suggestions for busy moms to squeeze in that sacred personal time. Some mothers heed the warnings and sign up for an exercise class or women’s club while their child stays home with the child’s father or babysitter. But a low income single mother cannot afford the extra childcare costs outside of her work hours any more than she can pay for a fitness class. What can be done?

This is the question that Assisting Young Mothers (AYM) staff have been challenged with as they assist young mothers move towards independence. Staff focused their attention toward exercise related activities in early 2011 and explored realistic opportunities for the residents. While AYM staff searched for a long-term solution, they personally volunteered to exercise with residents while volunteers provided childcare. In mid April, Alternative House was approached by a yoga enthusiast who wished to share her passion with teenagers. AYM staff welcomed this opportunity. AYM will host monthly yoga sessions for their residents which will focus on stretching, poses, mediation, and stress relief. AYM residents who are pregnant will also be able to participate, doing modified positions and poses.

The first yoga class is scheduled for May 23, 2011. Before we begin, AYM needs to obtain 6 yoga mats to provide the grip and stickiness needed for the exercises. Residents would also benefit from 6 yoga straps and 6 yoga blocks, which help users build flexibility and assist with challenging poses. AYM will be happy to accept any new or used mats, straps, or blocks.
The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of yoga are well documented. AYM hopes that our residents will experience increased patience and model positive coping mechanisms for their children as a direct result of participating in the yoga program.

Autumn Grigg

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shelter Intern works on the Hotline

As a senior Psychology major at George Mason University, I enrolled in a service-learning course, a class that combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. As a student in a service-learning course, the experience is intended to focus organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing my academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community. After graduation in May, I plan to pursue a graduate program in Clinical Psychology. With this goal in mind, hands-on, relevant internships are a difficult find, but working here at Alternative House has given me more learning opportunities and experiences than I could have imagined!
I chose the Alternative House for a multitude of reasons, including the chance to work with a different population of youth than I had previously. In addition to simply observing the on-goings at a residential facility, this internship has allowed me to assist the primary counselors run group education discussions. One of my favorite experiences, facilitating “Group” ties directly to my course work at school in my Therapeutic Communication, Group Psychotherapy, and Counseling Psychology classes.
A unique aspect of working at AH has been the Hotline process- both training for and documenting. The 24-hour crisis line is not a service that all facilities provide, therefore it has been an added beneficial experience to learn and become comfortable with. Not only does it enhance my skills that can be used in the future for one-on-one counseling, but it exposes me to one more aspect of this extensive field.
The hands-on training and experience has helped me to begin narrowing down my desired career concentration. Furthermore, I have learned a great deal from simply interacting with both the youth and the staff. The opportunity to ask practiced-staff questions about their jobs, practices, and experiences has been invaluable and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. In fact, since my internship course ended in early December, I have continued to volunteer twice a week!

Teal Dye
George Mason University

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Shelter Intern Shares

As a senior Social Work major at George Mason University, interning at the Alternative House as fulfilled my graduation requirement of a 450 hour field-placement. More importantly than allowing me to graduate it has provided me with knowledge and insight into working with adolescents. Prior to this experience I wasn’t sure of the population I wanted to begin my career working with. After being given the opportunity to learn and grow at Alternative House I have cemented that this is a population I want to continue working with. In my 8 months here so far, I have had the opportunity to work on specific field-competencies, including: practice in ethics, diversity, and values research and application. I work closely with the residents, which enables me to also work on my communication and assertiveness skills. Besides the knowledge I have gained from the interactions with residents I have also learned great amounts from the wonderful staff here. They were all very willing to help, patient with me from the start, and overall a positive part of my experience thus far. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity here at Alternative House and the opportunities it has given me to broaden my horizons and pave a path for my future career goals.

Lindsay Schwartz
Alternative House Intern

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

HYI Clients help Young Mothers with babies

Last night, our Assisting Young Mothers (AYM) program was without volunteers to provide childcare while the mom's are in Life Skills group; so three residents and a staff member from the Homeless Youth Initiative (HYI) program came to AYM during the group to help out. At first, the three HYI residents were hesitant, but by the end of the evening, they were all interacting with the babies and having a great time.

If you would be interested in volunteering to help provide childcare for infants and toddlers in our facility on Monday or Tuesday nights we have some openings. This is open to adult volunteers who are willing to make a six-month or longer commitment. We do a background check on all volunteers working with children. Please contact our volunteer coordinator for more information.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month

As we take the month of April for Volunteer Appreciation, we reflect back on how important our volunteers have been to us and the contribution they make. We could not function as we do and do the things we do if it were not for the dedication, motivation and passion each volunteer brings Alternative House. You will never know how many lives you have touched in so many ways. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!