Counseling, crisis and support services available regardless of language barriers

Family Service of Roanoke Valley and community partners recognize the specific challenges faced by refugees and other Limited English Proficiency persons in our community. To better serve this growing population in the Roanoke Valley, they today announced a collaborative project to address the need for qualified, appropriate and culturally sensitive interpreter services for victims of crime—Health and Wellness Interpreters of the Roanoke Valley.

“We are making a commitment to not let any victim of crime feel isolated or hopeless because they are not able to access services in their primary language,” Family Service President and CEO Sharon Thacker said.

The program will serve any victim of crime—physical assault or bullying, financial fraud, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, robbery, or any other type of crime—for whom language is a limitation.

Four primary partners include Family Service of Roanoke Valley,Salvation Army’s Turning Point, TAP Domestic Violence Services and Sexual Assault Response and Awareness (SARA, Inc)

. Health and Wellness Interpreters of the Roanoke Valley will focus on giving people with limited English proficiency access to counseling, support services, advocacy, crisis intervention and more.

Refugees, immigrants and other Limited English Proficiency/deaf persons need affordable and accessible interpreter services, specifically in-person interpreter services by qualified and certified interpreters trained in mental health. Layering interpreter services into existing direct services allows victims of crime to get the help they need without having to deal with the added challenge of not being able to speak the language.

Funding for the program is made available through the Department of Criminal Justice Services Victims of Crime Act. The Roanoke Valley will receive over $280,000 in the next 12 months, with additional funding available in coming years.

City of Roanoke Vice Mayor Anita Price joined Thacker and others to make an announcement about the new program on Tuesday, November 22 during National Family Week.

See the media coverage of the announcement on:

WFIR

The Roanoke Times

WDBJ7

WSLS10

“The City of Roanoke is proud to partner with our local non-profits to give people who live and work in this beautiful Valley the tools they need to succeed,” Price said. “Roanoke is a refugee resettlement community with a diverse population, and there are growing numbers of people whose primary language is not English. These neighbors will be better able to live, work and play in our Valley if they can deal with the trauma and hopelessness associated with extremely difficult life circumstances.”

As a refugee resettlement community, the Roanoke Valley is a melting pot of various cultures and nationalities, representing over 100 spoken languages. This diversity is an incredible asset to our community, and understandably, also represents challenges for health and human services providers responding to the needs of clients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Over 3,800 people were identified as not being proficient in English in the 2016 County Health Rankings.  The current system relies on expensive language lines, and live interpreters provided by insurance companies which can’t be accessed in a timely fashion, and don’t adequately meet the needs of clients. These resources become virtually non-existent for those that are uninsured or lack behavioral healthcare coverage.

Health and Wellness Interpreters of the Roanoke Valley will make these services available to LEP/deaf victims of crime at no cost, and in the most appropriate and culturally sensitive manner possible.

The City of Roanoke is partnering to identify and refer victims of crime with language limitations to the new centralized resource. Many organizations have also lined up to help bring no-cost interpreter services to people who need it—the Mental Health Refugee Council, United Way of Roanoke Valley, Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke City Department of Social Services, Blue Ridge Literacy, Commonwealth’s Attorney Victim/Witness, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital Emergency Department and Mental Health America.

Funds are included for each primary partner agency to provide interpreter services at no cost to the crime victim. There are also funds to give victims of crime access to interpreter services so they may get connected with other needed services not provided by the four primary partners.

Health and Wellness Interpreters of the Roanoke Valley will also conduct community outreach events and trauma-informed trainings. The purpose of these events will be to educate service providers, refugee and immigrant communities, limited English proficiency or deaf persons, and the greater community on how to identify and access services.

For more information, please call 540-563-5316 x3014

Holidays Can Be Hard!

Holidays can be hard! Our expectations are based on movies and media where we see perfect families having the most wonderful meals, wearing the most wonderful clothes, playing football on the lawn and we think this year… this year that’s my family!

I was interviewed on WFXR this week to talk about this very topic! Check it out here.

Basically…if Aunt Mabel is still asking whether you are engaged or not, or Grandpa believes the last good President was Herbert Hoover…it’s time to prepare yourself!!

In some 12 step programs, they use the acronym: HALT, which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.  If you are any of these, Aunt Mabel might just be too much to bear. So, take time to stop, breathe, and take care of yourself — and you will be better able to handle your relatives and manage yourself!

Other suggestions:

1) You probably know your relatives and which ones will be the most challenging for you to handle. We can’t change them but we can change what we expect. We can adjust and adapt and remember that when the holiday is over, our real life is waiting and whatever happens around the Thanksgiving table won’t change that.

S

peaking of adjusting, we can adjust our physical position, keep moving… if Auntie is irritating, note that you haven’t seen Cousin Tom in a long time and you really must catch up with him and get moving away from your irritating Auntie. When Cousin starts in on politics, move on to someone else…

Don’t personalize it: your family probably cares about you but that doesn’t mean they get you. Whatever is most offensive to you is probably coming from their own issues or they are just being careless with their words and not noticing how offended you are.

Be realistic if you know this is going to be a chore, prepare yourself. Think of it as business, not pleasure. (If you are wrong-YAY) but if you are right you won’t be let down!

Plan a Friendsgiving or personal reward like a hike in order to get your own needs met!

Let it be… you can do lots of things but until you walked a mile in their shoes, you just don’t know why people act the way they do. So let it be, laugh it off, change the subject…

Be generous of spirit and plan to spread cheer (even if they don’t act they deserve it!) and maybe my friend was right, and you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! Just don’t expect to have this cheer returned!

Set the stage: Say, “I know we are all tired of the election and what is going on in the media so I propose we choose to talk about something else. I want to put a collection together of everyone’s favorite holiday memories, so when we talk that’s what I’ll be asking.” Or say, “I know we all want to share our opinions of the latest election. I am going to put on the timer for 15 minutes… when it buzzes, we can move to the table (or to the next stage of the holiday) but let’s promise we won’t talk about politics. Instead, maybe we can share what we hope to be thankful for next year.”

Focus on what you share-football teams, reading, movies, music, etc…

Get active: go hiking, play touch football, take a bike ride…

Mind your manners as my grandmother would say…be polite, be kind, be quiet!!!

Practice self-care: whatever this means to you. My introverted daughter takes time outs and disappears to her room every couple of hours. Take a book, practice yoga, journal, take a bath, run, bike, walk, go to the mall.

Don’t overeat or drink too much.

If all else fails… have a get-away plan. Transportation and an excuse for taking a moment (or more) to yourself.

Holiday suggestions with kids:

If you are traveling-buy something new to do in the car or on the plane… new book, new game, new movie etc…

Try to keep as close to your normal routine as possible

Advocate for your kids… this is not the time to force them to eat all of their brussel sprouts if they normally live on chicken nuggets… (or is that just my kid?) Speak up to other family members about your rules and expectations if they are different from your other family members.

Plan activities but don’t overdo; plan downtime; provide outdoor time and physical activity; do something with just your own nuclear family (hike, movie, mall, etc.)

Give your children an assignment: ask them to find out everyone’s first Thanksgiving memory or favorite Thanksgiving food; let them make the placemats, name cards, napkin rings, center piece or help make the pies… so they feel a part of this whole festivity!

Remember kids are kids… they will melt down at inconvenient times. They will punch their sister in from of everyone. Deal with it all as privately as possible! Don’t give in to embarrassment because everyone’s kids have done it even if your sister in law pretends hers didn’t. Don’t shame your kids but also don’t let them off the hook. Think about what happened and remember that sometimes kids need consequences but sometimes they need to sleep or eat or play or to be hugged!!!

Play Therapy Institute: Learning by Healing

Getting to know Alex Matthews

Alex Matthews, a Play Therapy graduate intern at Family Service of Roanoke Valley, earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Tech. She is now participating in the Play Therapy Institute at Family Service to complete the Masters of Counseling program at Virginia Tech. She joined Family Service in August 2016, and her supervisor is Jennifer Nolley.

Matthews has experience working as a research assistant for child study center for a professor known worldwide for his research in oppositional defiance disorder and phobias. She also worked as a preschool teacher and feels like there were kids who fell through the cracks.

"I have always been interested in psychology-related field. I was drawn to counseling because as a counselor we look at the whole person rather than seeing them as a diagnosis," she said.

The Counseling intern said she got to choose between a school placement or a community-based placement for her internship. She chose a community-based placement because she wanted the one-on-one therapeutic time with children and she really felt like she could make a difference.

She said she is pursuing social work because she thinks there is a great deal of impact she can have on families in need.

"The whole experience I am gaining at Family Service is very new, because it’s younger kids than I’ve worked with. I like the idea of Play Therapy. It’s very non-directive, and I like that aspect of it–just letting them be who they are in that space," she said.

The children who seek Play Therapy services at Family Service have often suffered the most extreme life circumstances–poverty, abuse, neglect, and violence in their home.

Matthews said she became interested in Play Therapy in Theories and Techniques class.

"I know kids can’t always verbally express themselves," she said.

Seeing how her supervisor Nolley and other therapists at Family Service work with the kids lets Matthews feels like Family Service is the right place for her to learn more in her field and make a difference for kids in our community.

A Closer Look at Play Therapy Institute 

Play Therapy Counseling at Family Service is a robust program. Seven full-time and part-time counselors focus specifically on treating the youngest children in our community. With three rooms dedicated to Play Therapy, and a reputation for excellence, Family Service wanted to establish the Play Therapy Institute. The institute allows the agency to increase the counseling services available for traumatized children in our community, and address the waiting list for Play Therapy–which is consistently over 20 for children ages 2-12.

With the support of the Virginia Department of Social Services through the Victims of Crime Act funding, Family Service was able to see this dream come true. Matthews joins Family Service along with two other Masters level interns–Malvona Ross-Sohland Ashley Carr–to enhance the services available and reduce the number of children on the waiting list for Play Therapy,

Specifically for children who have suffered abuse or neglect,

Family Service is able to offer counseling free of charge. 

Click  for more information.

Play Therapy Institute: Learning by Healing

Getting to know Malvona Ross-Sohl

Malvona Ross-Sohl, a Play Therapy graduate intern at Family Service of Roanoke Valley, earned a Bachelor of Social Work from Radford University. She is now participating in the Play Therapy Institute at Family Service to complete the Masters in Social Work program at Virginia Commonwealth University. She joined Family Service in August 2016, and her supervisor is The Rev. Melissa Hays-Smith, LCSW, RPT-S.

Ross-Sohl grew up in a home where she witnessed domestic violence and tragically lost her mother at a young age. Now a wife and mother herself, Ross-Sohl has made a career of helping others and learning more about the cycle of domestic violence and how it impacts communities and families.

The Counseling intern has worked at TAP’s Sabrina’s Place and as a case manager at Blue Ridge Behavioral Health. She is currently working as Lead Case Manager for the TAP YALE (Young Adult Life Enhancement) program for youth 14-19 years old in addition to going to school.

She said she is pursuing social work because she thinks there is a great deal of impact she can have on families in need.

"The whole experience I am gaining at Family Service is very new, because it’s younger kids than I’ve worked with. I like the idea of Play Therapy. It’s very non-directive, and I like that aspect of it–just letting them be who they are in that space," she said.

The children who seek Play Therapy services at Family Service have often suffered the most extreme life circumstances–poverty, abuse, neglect, and violence in their home. Seeing how her supervisor Hays-Smith and other therapists at Family Service work with the kids lets Ross-Sohl know she’s made the right choice.

She said the ongoing therapeutic relationship developed through counseling provides an opportunity to intervene in a child’s life early and hopefully stop the cycle of abuse.

Ross-Sohl is grateful she was able to do that for herself and is hopeful her career in social work will allow her to help other kids escape from a lifetime of abuse and emotional wounds.

"I want to get a very diverse experience and I think I’m doing that," she said. "I also want to make the most impact that I can. I don’t want to just be comfortable. I want to make an impact on the people I work with."

A Closer Look at Play Therapy Institute 

Play Therapy Counseling at Family Service is a robust program. Seven full-time and part-time counselors focus specifically on treating the youngest children in our community. With three rooms dedicated to Play Therapy, and a reputation for excellence, Family Service wanted to establish the Play Therapy Institute. The institute allows the agency to increase the counseling services available for traumatized children in our community, and address the waiting list for Play Therapy–which is consistently over 20 for children ages 2-12.

With the support of the Virginia Department of Social Services through the Victims of Crime Act funding, Family Service was able to see this dream come true. Ross-Sohl joins Family Service along with two other Masters level interns–Alex Matthews and Ashley Carr–to enhance the services available and reduce the number of children on the waiting list for Play Therapy,

Specifically for children who have suffered abuse or neglect,

Family Service is able to offer counseling free of charge. 

Click  for more information.

Play Therapy Institute: Learning by Healing

Getting to know Ashley Carr

Ashley Carr, a Play Therapy graduate intern at Family Service of Roanoke Valley, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Hollins University. She is now participating in the Play Therapy Institute at Family Service to complete the Masters in Counseling program at Virginia Tech. She joined Family Service in August 2016, and her supervisor is Robin Wiley, LPC.

Carr has two children of her own–a 2-year-old and six-year-old–and has worked with children for several years. She didn’t know much about Play Therapy before beginning her internship at Family Service, but she said her passion is for working with at-risk kids.

The Counseling intern originally thought she wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but after starting a Masters in Education program she realized it wasn’t a good fit. While working in a local elementary school as an English Language Learner Instructional Aide, she developed the desire to work with children with the most dire situations.

“Right before I went back to school the second time,

I was working in an elementary school

and there were a lot of kids falling through the cracks.

The school just didn’t have the resources they needed.

The school counselor was awesome. It was watching him and his work with the kids that made me want to go into Counseling.”

The children who seek Play Therapy services at Family Service have often suffered the most extreme life circumstances–poverty, abuse, neglect, and violence in their home. Seeing how her supervisor Wiley and other therapists at Family Service work with the kids makes Carr feel like she’s found the right line of work.

A Closer Look at Play Therapy Institute 

Play Therapy

Counseling at Family Service is a robust program. Seven full-time and part-time counselors focus specifically on treating the youngest children in our community. With three rooms dedicated to Play Therapy, and a reputation for excellence, Family Service wanted to establish the Play Therapy Institute. The institute allows the agency to increase the counseling services available for traumatized children in our community, and address the waiting list for Play Therapy–which is consistently over 20 for children ages 2-12.

With the support of the Virginia Department of Social Services through the Victims of Crime Act funding, Family Service was able to see this dream come true. Carr joins Family Service along with two other Masters level interns–Alex Matthews and Malvona Ross-Sohl–to enhance the services available and reduce the number of children on the waiting list for Play Therapy,

Specifically for children who have suffered abuse or neglect,

Family Service is able to offer counseling free of charge. 

 for more information.

Spotlight on Guardianship

“We strive to make sure individuals who cannot help themselves have the best life possible.”

Catching up with Ruth Givens

Case Manager for the Public Guardianship Program

Ruth Givens has worked at Family Service of Roanoke Valley for nearly 10 years. Previously, she worked as a Social Worker in nursing homes for seven years and as a teacher before that.  She said she’s always had a passion for helping those who cannot help themselves. At Family Service, she serves as a case manager in the Public Guardianship Program and in her role works to make sure people are well cared for, living in a safe and supportive environment to help them grow and thrive and having the support they need.

A Closer Look at Guardianship

Guardianship allows Givens to do what she enjoys, helping others live with dignity and stability. "Our program is appointed guardian over individuals who have no family member or friend willing and able to be their guardian. We work to make sure these individuals are living in safe environments that provides for their welfare in every aspect of their lives," she said. Most referrals for Guardianship come from the Department of Social Services, Community Service Boards, and some hospitals and doctors.

“We strive to help them attain goals that are important to them. We try to help them be as happy and healthy as possible.”

Givens worked with a man who is 40 years old and lived with his grandparents until he was 33. They were unable to continue caring for him and he was sent to Central Virginia Training Center and had a very difficult time adjusting to that environment. He would usually refuse to even leave the building he resided in. It was challenging finding community placement for him because he would not ride in vehicles and exhibited aggressive behavior towards others. He also would try to harm himself. Due to the work of Givens, he was accepted by a group home where he lives with three other individuals that he now views as his family. He was loved and treated with kindness and patience. 

“He now attends a day support program, goes out frequently on community outings, and his self abusive behavior has stopped. He is growing and thriving in this nurturing environment.”

Spotlight on Intensive In-Home

“80-90 percent of kids we see, don’t have a ‘problem,’ they are just responding to the environment that they are in.”

 Sitting Down with Ennis Fonder

Works with Community Counseling, Intensive In Home Counseling, prevention with TOP, and wherever help is needed.

QMHP-C, bachelor in psychology

Ennis Fonder grew up in Baltimore, exposed to violence and misconduct within the circle of teenagers his age. Instead of associating with these kids, Ennis sought peace. He surrounded himself with friends who, like him, understood that they didn’t need to be getting in trouble in order to have fun and enjoy themselves. Because of his background, Ennis was inclined to work with children and teenagers to help break these bad habits and dig to the root of such issues. Fonder worked as a counselor in Baltimore, then in residential treatment center for teenagers in Charlotte. Two years ago, he came to Family Service, in efforts to work with kids and teenagers on prevention and spread positive reinforcement within the lives of clients.

A Closer Look at In-Home Counseling 

Intensive In-Home Counseling is where Ennis feels he can do the most good– working inside of a client’s own home and community, analyzing each piece of the puzzle. In-Home counseling works with kids and families, in efforts to help solve behavioral and emotional issues at the core. Ennis explains that, 

“The home is where the source of the behavior is and where the source of the problem is, usually by the second session, I sort of have an idea of why the kid is doing what they’re doing.”

“We just want to prevent removal from the home if at all possible.”

Ennis worked with a young, hyperactive, energetic boy, living in a very under stimulating environment. Although he was surrounded by intelligent parents who wanted to understand and solve his behavioral issues, he received the minimum amount of attention and care in his home. As Ennis started working with the boy one on one, he noticed that this child was much calmer and respondent. The issue resided in the mother and his difficult relationship with her. Ennis slowly started to work with the anger within the mother, and the need for attention and love within the child. After some improvement, the family is moving out of town, to be supported by and more connected to external family members, which Ennis believes will be beneficial to both parties.

“Working directly in the home can lead to a happier life.”

Aramark Building Community Day

For Aramark Building Community Day, Family Service was once again the beneficiary of this generous day of volunteerism and a grant from the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities!

Volunteers worked throughout the day:

Freshen up the mural in the Children’s Courtyard Create two canvases for Art Therapy in our outdoor areaCover some ugly graffiti

Donate and Organize supplies and materials for the Grief and Loss Center and

Donate supplies for Play Therapy

Conduct a Healthy Eating Demonstration at two of our TOP(R) community sites–Boys and Girls Club of Roanoke Valley and Indian Rock Village

What an exciting day! Our Children’s Courtyard looks as good as new, and we are so excited for the continued partnership with Aramark.

#aramarkvolunteer

Soul Survivors launches as community resource

A new children’s grief group, supported by Carilion Clinic and hosted by Family Service of Roanoke Valley meets every other Tuesday from 6-7:30 p.m. at Family Service. It is a much needed resource in our community and is made possible thanks so volunteers throughout the area and those with the Community Grief and Loss Center.

Soul Survivors is a bereavement support group for youth and their caregivers, guardians or parents. The program provides a caring, safe environment where participants are free to explore their feelings and concerns.

Participants will learn that grief is not a process of forgetting, but remembering with less pain.

Soul Survivors provides an opportunity for participants to meet others their age who know what it’s like to have experienced a death of someone they love.

Participants will: • Share memories, explore feelings and remember loved ones through creative activities • Focus on the needs of mourning, with activities such as coloring books for younger participants and private journals for older youths • Share a light meal with other participating families

Soul Survivors is a free service of Carilion Clinic Hospice. Priority is given to first-time participants.

Space is limited! Register or refer a child in need by calling 540-563-5316, ext. 3014.

Read more about Soul Survivors in The Roanoke Times.