Ending generational dysfunction and giving recovery tools to children

Posted by Barbara Comito, Marketing Director Jul 22, 2014 10:08:00 AM

MEET LORI BRADLEY

Children's Program Coordinator at Anna Ogden Hall

Who is “Lori Bradley” outside of her job?Lori-Bradley_sm

Much the same as Lori Bradley in her job. We have two foster children living with us right now, they are 6 and 8. I spend time doing Mom stuff. I also love spending time with our four children and the two we’ve added to the mix! Family has always been so important to me. The best “job” I’ve ever had is being a mom. We’ve fostered 6 different kids in the last 6 years, and we have 6 kids so I tell people we have an even dozen. And in August, I get to officially add the title “Grandma.” Our first grandson, Hudson, is due on August 28. I am so looking forward to that!

Lori Bradley portrait by Cami Bradley

How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to read. When I was a kid I would stay up all night reading a good book. That doesn’t happen now. I usually fall asleep after a few pages. I am reading to our girls every night before bed. Right now we are reading through the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I also like to be creative. I’ve written some poetry and am working on a children’s book. I scrapbook or just do crafting projects. And I LOVE to spend time on the Oregon coast. A perfect day: walking the beach on a sunny day with someone I love. I could spend hours and hours walking on the beach, collecting shells, playing in the water, searching out tide pools. I would love to live one year of my life at the beach. AND I also LOVE to laugh!!  So edit my perfect day and add in lots of laughter.

You have a famous relative. Tell us a little about Cami.

Cami Bradley with family and Taylor WilliamsonPeople always ask about Cami. She is an amazing young woman. Just a few months after we met her, we went to her birthday party.  As part of the celebration we went around the room and different people talked about the qualities Cami has that we love. I said that one of her most endearing qualities was her humility.  Here is this girl with amazing talent - not just singing by the way. She is a brilliant photographer and writes her own music, so she is creative in many ways.  She used to cut and color my hair and did a better job than anyone else had ever done. And she is beautiful. By the world’s standards, she had it all and could have been so proud. But she is truly a humble person. She has a huge heart. Her beauty really comes from the inside out. That said, I have a daughter, Amy, who, though not famous, is another amazing young woman. She has many of the same qualities as Cami. Both of them LOVE Jesus. I stand amazed at their maturity in Christ, their wisdom, their hearts of service. And I haven’t even told you about my boys…

How did you end up at UGM?

I started attending Life Center Church in 2002. Pastor Joe kept talking about Find, Tell, Bring.  Find someone you know who doesn’t know Jesus, tell them your faith story and bring them to church with you.  I realized that my circle of people had become very ingrown, I really didn’t know anyone far from Jesus.  I knew it couldn’t stay that way so I began looking for volunteer opportunities.  It eventually led me to Anna Ogden Hall. I taught a Bible study at the Classy Rack (now UGM Thrift Store) for three years. Some of the ladies from the first phase of Women's Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall would come by bus to the Classy Rack so I could teach them along with the women from work release who were working at the thrift store. A few years later I needed to find full time work. While I was looking, I came back to AOH to volunteer at the front desk. During that time, a job opened in the nursery. I applied, and as they say, the rest is history.

Resident Becca taking a walk with her sonWhat does a “typical” workday look like? 

One of the things I love about working here is that there really is not a “typical” day in my job. I teach 2-3 classes each semester. I also host a mom support group each semester. I have one-on-one meetings with the moms in the house as my schedule allows. Those meetings consist of working on parenting skills, problem solving, a listening ear for a mom who might be overwhelmed. On top of that, my assistant and I are working on a new program for the children here. (More about that a couple questions down.) 

Then there are several volunteers to manage.  We need anywhere from 25-35 volunteers each week to meet the needs at Anna Ogden.  That takes quite a bit of communication, organization, etc. And whenever/whereever there's a hole in the schedule, I am working with our kids. Finally, I’m working on organizing activities for all our children.

What is something people might never guess is a part of your normal workday?

I think people probably envision that I spend all my time with kids and I do get to do that! But there is also a fair amount of time working at a computer keeping things organized, making contact with volunteers and organizations that will be part of our kids’ lives, spending time in the classroom & my office with our adult residents. But the part most people might be jealous of...time in the water, in the sun playing with our kids!!

Lori playing with kids in recovery

What do you want people to know about what you do?

It is NOT babysitting.  We do provide childcare but it is so much more than that. We want to give the children their own set of tools to deal with the problems life has already handed them. We want to create healthy families so we are working with the moms to give them skills. We want to do some re-writing.  Having fun is so important to that. Getting out and about going to parks, museums, swimming pools, etc.  helps our kids learn to be kids again. The biggest challenge and the biggest potential in my job is to help STOP generational sins/addictions/dysfunction. 

Kids-Picking-Strawberries

You’re doing some new things with the children at Anna Ogden Hall. Tell us a little about that. What needs did you see and how are you working to address those?

This is so exciting!! The women have a dedicated program that we tinker with now and then to improve it, but the children have not had this before. Our children have always been well cared for, but the program has changed with each person who has been in charge. We are trying to create something that will stand the test of time and changes in personnel. We want to give the kids who come into Anna Ogden Hall a toolbox full of tools to help them with setting healthy boundaries, anger management, conflict resolution, understanding and dealing with their emotions, building empathy, making wise friendships, etc. I think the biggest need in this area is time. It would be great to have a large block of time to sit down and work on creating the material we need. When you have 15 children to take care of and limited volunteer hours, you get caught up in the true NEED of caring for our children and their day-to-day needs. But we're trying to balance everyday needs with planning for the future, as well. 

What parts of your personality come in handy in your job?

I think I am a pretty even-keeled person. That comes in handy. We sometimes have kids who are really struggling with their anger.  That might mean I get hit, or kicked or _______ . You can fill in the blank. It is not easy to keep your own emotions in check when that is happening. I also have a great deal of compassion for our kids and their moms. Many of them have been through so much. I want to be a part of the re-write they are doing for their families.

Tell us about one of your most moving experiences at UGM. 

I had a real bond with one of our moms. I helped her through some big things in her life and was able to serve on her transition team when she moved out. When graduation rolled around she needed to give her speech. She was nervous and is also a very emotive person. We had worked out a deal that if she got started and couldn’t finish I would go up and read the rest of her speech. (Not sure why I was assigned this task because I cry at the drop of a hat.) She started her speech and it was amazing and very moving, and I did go up and help her finish. It was very rewarding to be a part of that change in her life. To work in this place where I can give God all that I am and let Him use me to do His work, what can I say? And yet we all know what that is like. 

What is one key word you’d use to describe UGM?

When I first looked at this question I was going to say AMAZING but then I thought no, the key word is GRACE. So forgive me but I’m going to use two words to describe UGM:  AMAZING GRACE!!!

Any last thoughts?

I feel like God looked down from heaven and said, “Lori, I am going to take all of your life languages, all of your life experiences, all of the education and work experience you have and put you in the perfect place to use them. That place is AOH.”

 

Childcare workers are always needed in our women's recovery programs. Do you like to work with kids? Learn more about volunteering by clicking on the link below.

Click here to sign up for a volunteer orientation. >

You might also be interested in these posts featuring UGM staff:

 

Topics: homeless women and children

 

Share on Facebook Tweet Email a Friend