A couple months ago, a staff member at the Crisis Shelter wrote a blog on what it’s like living at a homeless shelter as a kid. In response to that post, someone presented us with the question: “What’s being done at UGM to help kids at our shelters?” That’s a great question.
As the Children’s Coordinator for Women’s Recovery at Anna Ogden Hall, Lori Bradley has worked with hundreds of kids and has created a system for helping the children at Anna Ogden Hall by reaching their moms. Not all our shelters for women and children use the same methods, but UGM believes the best way to care for kids is to help their moms and teach them how to become better parents – which happens at all our shelters. However, UGM does hope to someday provide children a recovery program that allows them to deal with past trauma.
For now, Lori describes some of the programs they currently use at Anna Ogden Hall to help the children who have been through so much.
I think the main thing we offer our kiddos is the hope of Jesus. That can sound somewhat trite, but it is so true. They have a Father that loves them unconditionally at all times. When they come from homes where they have not known that kind of love, it is that hope that is the anchor for their little souls.
One of the ways we show that is by being there consistently. I LOVE my volunteers. I’ve had some volunteers who have been working in the Children’s Department longer than I have. When those kids see those volunteers show up week after week to spend time with them and to love them, it is truly a picture of God’s love, and they need that so much.
Some other things we are doing in the Children’s Department at Anna Ogden Hall:
- I have one-on-one meetings with all the moms who have children living with them while they are going through the program. We are working specifically on finding ways that they can improve their parenting. I bring up things that we as staff have seen need improvement, and we brainstorm together to find solutions. I also encourage them in the things they are doing well. My biggest qualification for doing this with our moms is that I’m a mom myself and I’m older, so I’ve seen quite a bit in my own work with kids that can be helpful to them.
- We have several different parenting classes we teach at Anna Ogden Hall. Three of them are written by Tim Kimmel: Grace Based Parenting, Raising Kids Who Turn Out Right, and Raising Kids for True Greatness. His philosophy in writing the books is that God is our Father and He parents us. We can look at the things He does in His parenting and do the same for our children. It dovetails perfectly with our grace-based program approach. We also teach Circle of Security which is a class about teaching attachment to our moms, delighting in their children. It is great material and is used widely around Spokane by people working with parents and children. We also use Love and Logic principles with our moms. I have a seminar that I teach featuring Love and Logic, and I will often use those principles in our one-on-one meetings.
- For children who need more counseling than we can provide, we work with moms to find resources outside of Anna Ogden Hall to get the children counseling. We recently had a mom who was taking her child to Partners with Families and Children to see a counselor there. In the past, we’ve also worked with Catholic Charities and Lutheran Services to find counseling. And on a few occasions, we have had a volunteer counselor at Anna Ogden Hall that specialized in family counseling, and our children and/or families have been able to work with them.
- Lastly, my former assistant and I developed our Toolbox program for school-age kids. As part of that program, we our working with kids on two pieces, one of which is what we call Blueprints. We go over developing boundaries, creating a quality world and learning how to develop safe friendships. Many of these are things their mothers are learning in their classes. By teaching both the children and the mothers tools for a better life, we are hoping and praying that generational changes will take place in their homes.
If you’d like to help care for kids at Anna Ogden Hall or one of our other shelters for women and children, Lori suggests a couple options.
- Volunteer to spend time with the kids. Be that person who shows the them unconditional love.
- Counsel. If you have a background in child or family counseling, consider donating some time to counsel kids at our shelters.
To get started volunteering, click below.