Adopt America Network
Joshua was 9 years old when he became eligible for adoption. He had been in the foster care since he was 3 or 4 years old. At the time Joshua was in foster care, Josh indicated that he "would love to have older siblings that he can look up to for a role model or to be an older child."
Joshua was diagnosed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and was placed in a Severe Emotionally Impaired (SEI) class. Impulsiveness with bad choices was an obstacle that he and many foster children face. We were confused with his SEI class because when we were with him that just didn't seem predominant in him. It only took us a few days to realize that sugar was a huge addiction for him and influenced his behavior tremendously.
After being with us 6 months, and five of that without sugar, he is doing great. He is in general education with only assistance in reading, spelling, and math and after receiving glasses is catching up in leaps and bounds. He is on a lower dose of his ADHD meds and learning and experiencing so much. It is so much fun to watch him see and do things for the first time, just like Christmas morning.
Joshua has shocked us good and bad, but the good outweighs the bad by far and he is real eager to work hard and learn. He is very proud of himself now and when we first met him he was pretty shy and had low self-confidence. Because of his past, he is easy to please - things we take for granted are exciting to him.
We wanted to adopt to give a child or children a chance at a good life and to show them and teach them unconditional love. Adopting Josh has shown us a perspective to life that we never would have seen. I won't lie, there are days we wonder what were we thinking, but then God always shows a light that we are on the right path with him. And it's easy to love Josh. The patience we work on is with ourselves.
Josh is happy he has gotten this chance to a whole new world and we are happy that we are the ones giving it to him.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
As part of a statewide initiative to address college student mental health, all 10 University of California campuses are beginning to implement AFSP's novel Interactive Screening Program, an anonymous, online screening tool to identify troubled students and engage them in seeking help.
This innovative, anonymous method of outreach links students directly to a campus counselor should their responses to a brief questionnaire suggest significant mental health concerns. In addition to providing personalized feedback, counselors invite students to "talk" with them online as a prelude to an in-person meeting. The ISP has been shown to be effective in reaching troubled but resistant students and encouraging them to obtain treatment services through the campus counseling center.
"By allowing students to remain anonymous while they communicate with the counselor online, the program encourages open discussion of fears and concerns about treatment," said Dr. Ann Haas, senior project specialist for AFSP. "Surveys have shown that at least 80 percent of students who die by suicide had not sought services from their campus counseling centers. So getting these students to seek help is vital to reducing suicide risk."
"The Interactive Screening Program, together with our counseling centers' outreach efforts, allows us connect with students who might otherwise not seek help," said Jerlena Griffin-Desta, UC's director of student affairs. "Student culture is very tech driven, and the screening program is an innovative approach for improving student access to mental health services."
Since 2009, the ISP has been used at UC San Diego's Medical School. Results published in an article in the March 2012 issue of Academic Medicine show that in the program's first year, 27 percent of all those who completed the online questionnaire showed signs of significant depression or suicide risk, and about half of this group received referrals for mental health evaluation and treatment.
"Preventing suicide is complicated and challenging," said Dr. Christine Moutier, a psychiatrist and student affairs dean who was instrumental in bringing the ISP to the UCSD Medical School. "It is estimated that between 300 to 400 medical students and physicians take their own lives each year in the United States. So, engaging half of those identified as at-risk and linking them to treatment is a significant outcome. Now in our third year of the program, we have made 90 referrals, most of whom say they would not have otherwise sought treatment at this time. We are encouraged by these results."
The ISP is being used in over 50 campuses across the country, and plans are underway to double that number during the 2012-13 school year. "This is the first time we've partnered with a state to implement the ISP throughout an entire university system. This has broad implications that we hope we can replicate in states across the U.S.," said Haas.
Funding for the initiative was provided by a voter-approved grant (Proposition 63 -- Mental Health Services Act). The UC system decided to implement the ISP in each of its 10 university campuses after an initial conversation with the Greater San Francisco Bay Area chapter of AFSP. The Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco chapters of AFSP are providing supplemental funding to support the online screening component in each area.
When the village of Cojobal, Guatemala, partnered with Child Aid this year, it became the 50th community to take up the torch of literacy through our Reading for Life program. Cojobal's tiny school has 12 teachers and 245 students. That may seem like a drop in the bucket when it comes to tackling a nationwide illiteracy problem, but with more villages joining our effort than ever before, that bucket is beginning to fill.
"Over the past three years," says Child Aid cofounder Rick Carroll, "our program has grown dramatically in Guatemala. We had 26 community partners in 2009, and this year we are working with more than 50."
Child Aid's Reading for Life program is transformative for remote indigenous villages that lack educational resources and have nowhere else to turn for support. In these places, teachers are often young and have limited training. For most of them, teaching children to read is an ongoing struggle, especially when they lack books and teaching materials. In places like Cojobal, indigenous children drop out early, and most fail to learn to read beyond the simplest of sentences. When village teachers hear about our work, many are quick to contact Child Aid.
"More communities than ever are coming to us and asking that we work with them," says Sam Hendricks, Child Aid's Executive Director."It's exciting. But it's tough. Our challenge is finding the funding to meet the growing demand for our work. Currently, the only real limit on the number of kids we can help is just that - funding."
Next year, Child Aid expects to work in 55 communities. It's difficult but rewarding work that requires long-term commitment on our part. But it's paying off.
"We're creating real educational opportunity in these places," says Carroll. "And we'll keep on doing it, village by village, until we feel the work is done."
Breast Cancer Charities of America
I was diagnosed in December of 2009 when I was 27 years old. I received treatments at Dekalb in Georgia. I have had 28 surgeries along with chemotherapy and radiation. Thankfully, I heard about the Help Now Fund through my cancer specialist. I was going through so much and I was unable to work. Everything crashed down on me. I did a 360 after my first chemo treatments. I was sick, weak, and unable to do much of anything.
The Help Now Fund helped me so much. I was literally almost kicked out of my apartment. The Breast Cancer Charities of America made phone calls to Georgia Power for my bills on behalf and got extensions. They send a check in the mail to pay for my bills and provided council. What a wonderful help!
A lot of cancer patients encounter financial hardships. That was my case and I am so thankful that The Breast Cancer Charities of America helped me. It was a month more that I had a place to live. While going through cancer, not losing my home was one less thing to worry about. Even one dollar can help someone's life. People need support of others.
Recently, a lump was found under my arm but, I still live life the best I can. I have to for my children. That is the way I see it and I appreciate my life so much more.