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JUNE 2013 NEWSLETTER - ISSUE 113
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In This Issue

The Distribution Center Rocks!

by Cindy Wasserman
The Distribution Center, founded and operated by the Marin Foster Parent Association, is even a greater resource than it first appears to be.  Located at 4280 Redwood Highway, Suite 8 in San Rafael, this unassuming storefront is chock full of brand new items including clothing, toys, diapers, school supplies, books, cribs and other furnishings—all free to families associated with the dependency system.  Because of the Distribution Center, children and youth who arrive at their new foster home with only the clothes on their backs may “shop” for new essentials.  In some instances, the acquisition of a crib enables a relative of limited means to say “Yes” to providing a home to their young family member. 
 
This important resource makes life considerably easier for children, youth and caregivers, and for Marin County Children and Family Services.  The financial burden of outfitting new children in one’s care or preparing a home is eased. “In turn, it stretches our funds,” says Julie Lenhardt, CFS Program Supervisor, “In one instance, a relative went there and acquired supplies and home furnishings so that we were able to apply CFS funds for other basic necessities, such as a water heater – that actually happened.”  Often times a child, foster parent or social worker puts their hands on a hard to find item that is perfect – high quality, button down shirts and a warm jacket in size extra large for a foster teen, for example.  Other times, foster parents (and soon to be foster parents) secure the occasional high chair, bunk bed or even a fire escape ladder that is required for licensure.  In addition, “the Distribution Center makes it helpful to meet other foster families,” says foster parent Barbara Ahern, who appreciates the way it contributes to a sense of community.
 
Even the origins of the program reflect a high level of partnership between different foster parents and the individuals and organizations that eventually agreed to provide donations on a steady basis.  Former Board member Carol Ihlenburg began a distribution program nearly a decade ago by donating half her garage to the cause.  Susan and Josh Roberts, fost-adopt parents and former managers of Empire Mini Storage in Novato, donated one and eventually two storage units.  Carol worked diligently to establish relationships with prospective donors and successfully persuaded Sleep Train to partner with the MFPA as the first and only distributor of that organization’s donations in Marin.  “Sleep Train had several partnerships in Sonoma but they had three stores in Marin; it took a lot of phone calls and emails” but eventually Sleep Train became one of the Distribution Center’s biggest and most consistent donors. 
 
Today, under the leadership of the MFPA Board of Directors, the Distribution Center serves 25 to 40 families each month in its new location.   The association has even launched a new internship program at the center for emancipated foster youth to gain job skills and to receive mentorship.  In these and many other ways, the Distribution Center “makes all the difference in the world,” says CFS Program Manager Debi Moss.  CFS is greatly indebted to the MFPA for providing this valuable resource. 
 
Please call (415) 507-0557 for the Distribution Center’s operating hours or to make an appointment.

TLC Welcomes Alexandra Jacobs

TLC, a Foster Family & Adoption Agency contracted by Marin County to certify our foster-to-adopt families, has hired a new Assistant Program Director at their Sebastopol office.  Alexandra Jacobs has been working as a social worker in various capacities since 1985. She began as a student working with homeless individuals and families in Berkeley, and then completed her Master’s degree in Social Welfare and Public Health at U.C. Berkeley. Her interest in maternal and child health led her to work as a planner at La Clinica de la Raza in Oakland where she later became a Medical Assistant. Alexandra then directed the WIC Program in Lake County and later worked at Burbank Housing as the Community Services Manager in Santa Rosa. 
 
Prior to this new position at TLC she served as the Bilingual Social Worker working with Spanish and English speaking families for TLC for 5 years. Denise Miney, LCSW Foster and Adoption Program Director, who has been with TLC for 12 years, is excited about Alexandra’s  passion, experience and commitment to serving families and children in our communities.
 
Alexandra also brings her personal experience to her work as an adoptive mother of two biracial children, a boy, age 13, and a girl, age 10.
 
Welcome Alexandra!


TLC Child and Family Services offers comprehensive Foster Care and Adoption services in Marin, Sonoma, Solano, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties.
 
If you would like more information please email Alexandra or call (707) 823-7300 ext. 220.
 
TLC also offers Residentially Based Services, Special Education High School, Outpatient Mental Health Services, Transitional Housing and Emergency Shelter Care. For more information call (707) 823-7300 or visit www.tlc4kids.org.
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Attachments

CFS Contact List
S
eneca Groups
C4DP Training Flyer


Calendar

June 25Pre/Newly Adopted Group, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Seneca Center, 3100 Kerner Blvd, San Rafael, dinner/childcare provided with RSVP (required) to 264-0939,  email Seneca (see flyer in Attachment section for description)
June 27:  Interview Process for Child Victims of Sexual Abuse, 10–11:30 AM, presented by Dr. Michael Grogan of Jeannette Prandi Children’s Center, 30 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael, downstairs Conference Room
June 29:  Play Therapy by Dan Craig-Morse, 9 AM to noon, or 1-4 PM, Santa Rosa Junior College, register with 
Nick Lawrence , SRJC Program Manager, Foster and Kinship Care Education 
July 2: Post Adoptive Support Group, 5:30-7:30 PM, Seneca Center, 3100 Kerner Blvd, San Rafael, dinner/childcare provided with RSVP (required) to 264-0939,  email Seneca (see flyer in Attachment section for description)
July 9: Screening and Early Intervention for Teen Dating Violence, 10:30-12:30 PM, presented by Center for Domestic Peace, 30 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael, downstairs Conference Room (see flyer in Attachments section for registration details)
July 9: Kinship Support Group, 5:30-7:30 PM, Seneca Center, 3100 Kerner Blvd, San Rafael, dinner/childcare provided with RSVP (required) to 264-0939,  email Seneca (see flyer in Attachment section for description)
July 16:  Post Adoption Parenting Group, 5:30-7:30 PM, Seneca Center, 3100 Kerner Blvd, San Rafael, dinner/childcare provided with RSVP (required) to 264-0939, email Seneca (see flyer in Attachment section for description)
July 23:  Pre/Newly Adopted Group, 5:30 - 7:30 PM, Seneca Center, 3100 Kerner Blvd, San Rafael, dinner/childcare provided with RSVP (required) to 264-0939,  email Seneca (see flyer in Attachment section for description)
August 29: MFPA Board Meeting, 9 AM - noon, 555 Northgate Drive, San Rafael, all MFPA members welcome!
A First Time Visit to the DC
by Jacie Datnow

For some unknown reason, I hadn't taken the time to check out the Distribution Center (DC) until recently, even though I knew I could get free clothes there for my two foster children.  Maybe I thought there wouldn't be a lot of selection to choose from.  Boy, was I wrong!  Maybe I thought the center was only offering peripheral things that my boys could do without, not the durable items kids need every day.  Wrong again!  Maybe I assumed there wouldn't be high quality items that would endure the rough and tumble play of five and seven year old boys.  I couldn't have been more wrong!

My two boys and I were pleasantly surprised the minute we walked into the neatly organized, yet overflowing room full of everything “real” kids need every day!  I found high quality sports and hiking shoes in both boys’ sizes, the kinds that they would have chosen themselves in any expensive sporting goods store.  There were racks full of high quality pants, shirts, dresses, jackets, casual and formal clothes and shoes, backpacks, purses, wallets, baby clothes, and adult size clothes and shoes for larger children.  There were also shelves full of toys and books.  I thought for sure Linda (Gregory, MFPA President) would be saving those items for Christmas and birthdays.  But, no!  When the boys asked if they could choose one she generously replied, “Help yourselves!”  Letting the boys choose their toys and play with them while I shopped gave me more than enough time to browse around and find everything I was looking for.

Going into the DC was like a dream come true.  Imagine walking into your favorite store and being greeted by friendly salespeople that say, “Help yourselves.  Everything is free today.  Take whatever you need.”  By the time we left I had gathered two pairs of sports shoes, two toothbrushes and toothpaste, four toys, a couple books, and children’s Advil.
 
“I want to say thank you for the shoes you gave us for free.” - Leonardo, 5 years old
 
“Thank you for everything you gave me.  I like the toys I choose.  The magic sponges were so epic!!” -  Martin, 7 years old

/child lisa_tompkins@senecacenter.or
Picnic Rundown!
by Susan Nasca

What’s the best way to kick off summer vacation in Marin?  The MFPA Annual Picnic, of course!  On Friday, June 14th, we gathered for our 11
th annual picnic at McInnis Park.  Once again, we could not have asked for a more beautiful day and the breeze was just perfect.  There was plenty to do for all ages.  Besides the fantastic food, we had a bubble/face painting station, bouncy house, dunk tank, books to kick off summer reading, and cozy stuffed animal give-aways.  Between the families, social workers, attorneys, and CASAs, we  had close to 80 people throughout the day.

All this could not have been done without the volunteers, vendors, and donations.  First off, thanks to our fabulous picnic committee this year:  Susan Nasca, Carol Ihlenburg, Mimi Katz, Barbara Sabido, Annette Venables, Jason Burdge, and Linda Gregory.  Once again, Kim Contreras rallied as our uber energetic social worker – supplying all the beverages, packing/unpacking the van, and setting up a lot of sunshades (with help from Cindy Wasserman & Audrey Zardkoohi too).   

During the picnic, the Kohl’s, Northgate Mall volunteers returned with 5 amazingly hard workers.  Stacy Weltzin (Asst. Store Manager) and her co-workers helped keep the food replenished, game area active, and the bouncy house safe and fun.  Jackie Brown joined from Levi’s and mastered everything from the sunshade set-up to bubble making. 

Many vendors donated items and gave us amazing deals on their services.  Thanks to California Pizza Kitchen, Comforts of San Anselmo, Marin Joe’s, Big Jim’s BBQ, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Trader Joes, Safeway, and Silbermann’s Ice Cream for their amazing food contributions.  First time volunteer, Mary Ann Schmidt, baked enough cookies to last us all year long!


Special thanks to our amazing entertainers:  Buki the Clown, Alana Dill Face Painting, and the Marinwood Fire Department.  The fireman gave tours of their high-tech fire truck and kept us all cool with a fire-hose spray during the 90 degree heat.  Sports Basement donated new Hacky Saks, jump ropes, and hula hoops.  Astro Jumps provided the ever popular dunk tank and bouncy house at a great rate.  Craig’s Warehouse donated tons of balloons to help mark the path to the picnic. 

Our amazing clean-up crew had the site spick and span in no time.  Our clean-up team of Jason Burdge, Ted Erdman, and Linda Gregory were superstars, returning everything to our storage locker.   Our fantastic CASA team of Laurie Good and Suzy Bischalaney rolled up their sleeves and helped pack-up and distribute all that great left-over food. 

Please support the vendors and companies listed above in your future events or purchases!

Opportunities

Have you heard of iFoster? iFoster is here to help raise our most vulnerable children.  Our programs provide life changing resources for at-risk children and youth to put them ont he path to becoming independent successful adults.  Their refurbished computer program in particular is important for foster youth to know about!  iFoster has partnered with Microsoft and LifeSpan to provide low cost, refurbished computers to the iFoster comment.  Dell and IBM desktops are offered for $170-$255 depending on model. Dell, HP and IBM desktops range from $120-135 and flat screen LCD monitors are available as well.  Visit their website for complete information.

Enrichment Funds Available - After School Enrichment Funds specifically for current foster youth are available for extracurricular activities, thanks to donations from Sleep Train.  If your foster youth would like to attend an after-school or weekend activity that promotes health, physical activity or learning please fill out our on-line After School Enrichment Funding Application located on our website’s program page, in the tutoring section.
NOTE OUR NEW MAILING ADDRESS
4280 REDWOOD HIGHWAY, SUITE 8
SAN RAFAEL, CA 94903
415-507-0557

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