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IMG_0627.JPGWe were thrilled to hear about Lainie Morgan’s experiences during her first volunteer experience with SCAN. Enjoy her story — we hope it inspires you to volunteer, too!

As someone who used to teach children and families in Baltimore but now supports educators from a national office and misses being in the classroom, I sought out the opportunity to work directly with my new community through www.volunteermatch.org. SCAN’s mission and activities seemed to align well with what I’d learned supporting family resiliency strengthening for 15 years, so I signed up after attending one of SCAN’s monthly volunteer orientations.

Paired with the class of children five years and older, I assumed that the kids would come begrudgingly, antsy after a day of school, and be completely uninterested in the curriculum. Instead, students asked if they could come more than once a week, ran to the door each evening excited to start, greeted me with a big smile and stories of their week, and for the most part, engaged fully with our class. I was truly taken aback by how much the kids opened up and shared their talents and enthusiasms. From computer coding, patiently helping younger students and balancing with closed eyes to reading eagerly during snack, inventing new ways to explain an idea and really witty humor, these students have a ton to offer and build upon.

One week, our lone second grader gave me a card she’d made to celebrate her graduation from ESOL. I felt so special after she’d thought about me at school and wrote this beautiful note that I decided to write all the kids individual cards for the next class so they could enjoy that same feeling. During the volunteer debriefing that same evening, a parent educator asked if I’d share my observation about how well one of the kids was doing with her parent the following week. It can be hard for parents to recognize all the gifts children have when they spend a lot of time with them while managing the frustrations and annoyances of everyday life, so I was happy to reflect back what I was experiencing with the kids.

The next week each student got a letter describing what I’d noticed them doing especially well and how their presence in class specifically contributed to what we were all getting out of it. I also made a copy for each family, so that parents and caregivers could see how their kids were thriving. Parents and students alike were more excited than I expected; families talked about how grateful they were to hear such a glowing report and kids were surprised they’d achieved so much. One student gave me a big hug, another recited back to me one of the talents I’d mentioned in a later class, and a third made his own thank you card for me.

Strong self-esteem and consistent connections with a supportive adult greatly impact a child’s development. I feel extremely privileged to get to contribute even a tiny bit to that by working with the children touched by SCAN’s Parent Education Program. I would strongly encourage others to get involved as well; matching your talents with SCAN’s various needs ultimately puts you in a place to serve the needs of children and parents right here in our community.

– Lainie Morgan, SCAN Volunteer

p.s. SCAN’s next Volunteer Orientations this summer will be held on July 14 and August 6. Register here.

Lots of people at SCAN often work behind the scenes, including our Council of Young Professionals. The CYP is relatively new, and people often ask us about this group of 20- and 30-something supporters. CYP President Elect, Christine Chambers, had a great idea – instead of talking about members, she decided to tally some numbers and give us this quick snapshot of today’s CYP:

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Still have more questions about the Council, or know someone interested in joining? You can learn more on our website here, or download the application here.

Don’t forget – you can post your questions below as well. We’d love to tell you more about the CYP!

We simply can’t say enough about the incredible volunteers at SCAN. Every day, our amazing volunteers are in local courtrooms advocating for children, empowering parents at classes and support groups, and educating our community about why child abuse prevention is so important. They’re helping SCAN’s office run smoothly, attending board meetings, appearing on radio shows, managing our website and making sure our events are successful. And it’s because of those more than 260 people that we were able to change the lives of more than a thousand children and families last year.

Last month we celebrated our volunteers at a recognition party (including a pictionary-down-the-lane type game that had us all laughing…see the last photo below!)

But to be honest–we celebrate our volunteers every day we make a difference at SCAN.

We’d love to celebrate you! Ready to volunteer? Learn more here.

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Wondering what our new Croquet Day on May 18th will be all about? We have to keep some of the fun a surprise, but we can share a few photos of the preparations in full swing for this family-friendly event. Enjoy this sneak peek of the FUN, then contact us to VOLUNTEER (info@scanva.org) or REGISTER TODAY (it’s the final day to register!)…Family Teams are only $75 and Spectator Tickets (for other lawn games and treats) are only $15 per person! Otherwise, stop by to see the fun, buy a snack and play a lawn game or two. See you on the 18th!

And now, for the official Sneak Peek:

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Today’s guest blogger is Kim Fiske, a longtime supporter and current Board Member of SCAN. Kim’s perspective on SCAN’s change and growth over the years is valuable, but it’s her personal connections and networking that we find especially uplifting. She is an individual who has put her heart into her commitment to SCAN on many levels, and we’re so glad she’s sharing a plea to make SCAN “personal” with our readers today:

blogblock_kimfiskeApril2013This is an exciting year for SCAN – we are celebrating 25 years of helping vulnerable children and educating our community. During this year we are taking some time to review our accomplishments and growth (see a timeline of our history here) while looking forward to new ways to engage with the community (see information about our upcoming 1st Croquet Day here).

One accomplishment I am particularly proud of is the Allies in Prevention Luncheon.  Eleven years ago, SCAN launched this event to thank and celebrate those who work every day to protect children and support families in Northern Virginia. Many contribute to make the event special, including hosts like ABC7’s Leon Harris, keynote speakers (learn more about past speakers here) and our long time Campaign Sponsor Verizon, often represented at the luncheon by our friend Doug Brammer.

Each year, we honor five individuals who have gone above and beyond to prevent child abuse and neglect in their communities, but everyone in that room is a hero.  The work they do is emotionally difficult; I often wonder how they can keep on going day after day. This year we asked past award winners what inspires them to continue their work in prevention.  Some shared stories of a single child’s success making it all worth it. Others noted that sincere gratitude from families they serve proved motivational. And several respondents said they were inspired by the work of others – their colleagues and members of their community.

That last response made me think about the many people who have told me they volunteered with or donated to SCAN because of a single person. Because of Dave Cleary, our founder.  Or because of Jason Osser, a board member. Or Sonia Quiñónez, our executive director.  People are inspired by the works and actions of people they know and respect.  Members of my book club, friends, employees and even clients have become involved with SCAN in one way or another because they have heard me talking about my personal involvement with the organization over the years.

Think about that as April – Child Abuse Prevention Month – draws to a close.  Someone might be inspired by YOU and YOUR actions this month.

So I challenge you to get personal with SCAN today. Share a volunteer experience. Tell someone that you made a donation. The impact you have will be very personal for the children and families in our programs. I can promise you that.

– Kim

Kim Fiske, SCAN Board Member

Today’s guest blog post comes from SCAN’s Council of Young Professionals, an energetic group of 20- and 30-something-year-old volunteers getting ready to make a big impact in April for National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thanks to Meghan Tuttle and Angela Walter for contributing to this special post!

Blog1April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and, it goes without saying, is also a special time of year here at SCAN! The Council of Young Professionals put their creative juices to work last week decorating boxes for our new Book and Stuffed Animal Drive. SCAN’s CYP is hosting this drive throughout the month of April to provide books and stuffed animals for the children served by SCAN’s Alexandria/Arlington CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Program.

The Alexandria/Arlington CASA Program provides trained volunteers appointed by the court to serve as a direct voice for children in the juvenile court system. Our hope is that the stuffed animals may provide some comfort to children who are involved in court proceedings as well as other difficult times throughout the process. Many times children served by the CASA Program have to wait for long periods of time in court for their individual proceedings to begin. The books will provide them with a good, constructive way to pass the time.

The most important thing about this drive is being able to provide a little comfort and entertainment to children in need. We all have old childhood books on our shelves that we can donate to this cause.  Nemo, giant zebras, and cuddly teddy bears can bring a smile to a child’s face when they need it most. Let’s celebrate this special month of awareness by bringing a little joy into the hearts of CASA children.

Blog2It’s just one way CYP is giving back during the month of April, and you can be a part of this effort too! Drop off a new book or stuffed animal at local businesses like Whole Foods in Alexandria and Los Toltecos restaurants in the area. More details regarding additional drop-box locations will be announced soon (be sure to follow SCAN on Facebook for updates!) – in the meantime, feel free to bring your donations to SCAN.

Thank you for your support! We’ll build hope for children one book and one stuffed animal at a time.

– Meghan and Angela, CYP Members

Our guest blogger today is Ana Lucia Lico, a member of SCAN’s Board whose story with SCAN actually begins in a parenting class more than five years ago, as a mother searching for support and resources to raise her young children. In addition to her role on the Board, Ana is a member of SCAN’s 25th Anniversary Planning Committee. This post is the first in a year-long series celebrating SCAN and its quarter century of work to prevent child abuse and support parents.

ana with boysSCAN is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013. While that’s certainly a celebratory reminder of a history full of accomplishments, it also presents us with an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve impacted the lives of children and families over a quarter century! There isn’t a sufficient way to quantify or measure all that SCAN has done, so we’d like to invite you to take a different look at this milestone for SCAN:

What would you wish for a 25-year old?

Since its launch, SCAN has worked to ensure children have the nurturing, safety and permanency they need to grow into healthy, happy adults. As we celebrate our own first 25 years, we’ve compiled a list of 25 wishes for every child in Northern Virginia to have by their own 25th birthdays. By 25, we hope every child will:

1. Know unconditional love from parents and caregivers
2. Recognize and honor the importance of family and friends
3. Have self-confidence and self-awareness
4. Feel a desire to live well and happily
5. Have solid self-esteem
6. Be courageous enough to learn from mistakes and limitations
7. Show respect
8. Experience self-sufficiency
9. Be empathetic
10. Show kindness and caring to all
11. Feel purposeful in pursuing life goals and dreams
12. Be responsible
13. Be ethical
14. Feel a connection to the community and the world around them
15. Hope for their future and their children’s future
16. Have a sense of safety
17. Care for their own emotional and physical well being
18. Feel secure
19. Be positive and optimistic
20. Make and maintain healthy relationships with healthy people
21. Be a risk-taker
22. Picture moving towards a career or a plan to use their talents
23. Understand the power to make choices and recognize that those choices have consequences, but can be changed and re-framed
24. Have faith in the community’s ability to meet their needs and not be afraid to ask for help
25. Wish to make a difference in the world

That’s SCAN’s vision. What’s YOUR vision for the future of the children around you? What will YOU do to help children today so they can achieve as much of that as possible by the time they turn 25?

I hope you’ll share your own wishes in the comments section below.

– Ana Lucia Lico, SCAN Board of Directors

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Today’s guest blog comes from SCAN’s Council of Young Professionals (CYP), a group of volunteers working together to support SCAN’s mission and engage new members of the community in SCAN’s work.  To learn more about the CYP and how you can get involved, email SCAN’s Development Director Karen Price at kprice@scanva.org.

SCAN CYP Gift Sorting 2012There’s no underestimating the power of volunteerism to support SCAN’s critical work protecting and advocating for children in our community. The Council of Young Professionals (CYP), formed this past summer, provides an excellent opportunity for professionals under age 40 to support SCAN’s mission while building their personal and professional networks.

The CYP harnesses the diverse expertise of its members – hailing from fields like politics, marketing, public health, education, retail, advocacy and others– to extend SCAN’s reach in the community. With 15 members and growing, the CYP is able to enrich all areas of SCAN’s work through three core committees:

  • Program Services Committee: This committee focuses on assisting SCAN in implementing its community-based activities. This month, CYP members are helping to collect, label, organize and deliver gifts donated through BJ’s Angel Tree program (pictured above).
  • Fundraising Committee: Because financial support is critical to sustaining SCAN’s impact, the CYP has an entire committee devoted to development, including planning and implementing an annual fundraising event. In May 2013, the CYP will host SCAN’s inaugural Croquet Day. Stay tuned for more details and start practicing now!
  • Outreach Committee: The outreach committee works to identify and retain CYP members through traditional and social media as well as through social events like happy hours and group outings.  Over the coming months, SCAN supporters can expect to see Facebook and blog posts courtesy of CYP members sharing new ways to get involved and our passion for SCAN’s work.

The CYP has hit the ground running in its first few months, and we continue to grow!  We are reviewing applications from creative, enthusiastic individuals under age 40 from a variety of professional backgrounds. The current commitment is a few hours a month, including attendance at a bimonthly meeting, and members are expected to serve a term of at least one year.  If you’ve been thinking about getting more involved in SCAN’s work, or know friends and family members looking to give back to our community, please connect with the CYP today. For more information, please email SCAN’s Development Director Karen Price at kprice@scanva.org.

– CYP Members Christine Chambers, Paul Davis, Chelsey Ney, Lauren Sogor & Megan Tuttle

Just a year ago, Kiesha Boney stepped into her very first volunteer opportunity with SCAN’s Parent Education Program. Since then she’s volunteered 40+ hours, working alongside SCAN’s Children’s Program Coordinator and helping children learn and grow in a structured children’s program while their parents participate in weekly educational support group sessions. We asked Kiesha to share how her first year has gone at SCAN, and we’re delighted to share her thoughts with you this week:

BuildingBlocks: How long have you volunteered with SCAN, and what have you done as a volunteer?
Kiesha: I have been volunteering with SCAN since November 2011. I provide support, care and structured activities for children while their parents participate in SCAN’s Parent Education programs.

BB: Why did you decide to join SCAN as a volunteer?
Kiesha: While pursuing my dream to be a social worker, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with all different types of children and their families. Because of these experiences, I wanted to get involved with SCAN because I whole-heartedly believe in the importance and necessity of its mission to promote the well-being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect.

BB: Describe your favorite SCAN memory.
Kiesha: My favorite SCAN memory was  completing an artistic activity with the children at a parent support group one evening. They were asked to draw an illustration of what they would like to be when they grow up. The children were very excited and used their imaginations to the fullest. It was great to watch them and be a part of their dreaming.

BB: Why have you continued volunteering with SCAN?
Kiesha: I have continued to volunteer with SCAN because the organization is dedicated to supporting, educating and appreciating children, parents AND volunteers.

BB: Has anything about being a SCAN volunteer surprised you?
Kiesha: I was surprised by how supportive the families are to one another.

BB: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? What do you do now?
Kiesha: When I was a child I wanted to be involved in fashion when I grew up. Now I am pursuing a career in the field of social work.

BB: What was your favorite book/movie/activity when you were a child?
Kiesha: My favorite activities as a child were dance and karate.

BB: Who was a positive influence in your childhood?
Kiesha: My mother was a positive influence in my childhood and throughout my whole life.

BB:  What are your current interests/jobs/hobbies?
Kiesha: Traveling around the world.

BB: What is something most people don’t know about you?
Kiesha: I enjoy relaxing and listening to books on tape.

BB: What would you tell someone thinking about volunteering with SCAN?
Kiesha: Volunteering with SCAN is a great idea! SCAN is a strong organization truly dedicated to their mission. I’m proud to be a part of their cause.

In our blog post last week we promised to let you know how we’d manage without our amazing volunteer Beth Donnelly (owner of The Regal Fig Food Co. and weekly creator of healthy meals for our Parenting Class families) while she’s out of the country for a couple of weeks. Well, we think this picture is worth a thousand words. Or perhaps worth 24 volunteers:

The generous crew from Virginia Commerce Bank24 VOLUNTEERS in total – came to our ABCs of Parenting Class on Tuesday night ready to do anything they could to help.

The moral of this 2-week story? EVERY person can make an impact. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gourmet chef or a bank employee. A high school student or a retiree. A bilingual child advocate or a yoga instructor. We’ve seen every volunteer (all 200+ over the last year alone) make a real difference for the children, parents and families touched by our programs. They’re all helping us prevent child abuse and neglect in our community.

So when do YOU want to start making a difference?

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SCAN works to build hope for children and families in Northern Virginia. This blog brings child welfare professionals the current trends and valuable resources that will support their work to prevent child abuse and strengthen families in Northern Virginia and beyond.

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