“In every neighborhood, all across our country, there are good people insisting on a good start for the young, and doing something about it,” Mr. Fred Rogers.
Mr. Roger’s words ring true in the town that he grew up in. Community support and insistence on a good start for the youth in Adelphoi’s programs has been incredible from its beginning fifty years ago and is manifested in the transformative work done today.
Recently, the members of Charter Oak Church embodied this spirit of giving through their involvement with Adelphoi. They felt a calling to reach out to children who were in placement in Adelphoi’s group homes in December. In the spirit of Christmas, families baked festive Christmas cookies and delivered the trays of assorted cookies to each group home. The carefully decorated cookies were a welcome home-baked treat for the youth who spent Christmas away from home.
Charter Oak Church members furthered their support of Adelphoi youth by “adopting” Vincent Home and purchasing a gift for each youth at Christmas. The thoughtful gifts were purchased specifically for each youth and a note of encouragement was included with the gift.
According to Beth Latuch, Unit Director of Vincent Home, “The youth at Vincent Home are extremely grateful for the interactions, gifts, and prayers from the members of Charter Oak Church. The youth have expressed how much they appreciate their support during a time in their lives when they are unable to be close to their families and home communities. They are looking forward to building positive connections to the church members who have been very gracious to them.”
The recent partnership between Adelphoi and Charter Oak started when church member Melissa Lesko reached out to see how they could serve Adelphoi. “Charter Oak is a church on mission and as a local mission leader, I seek out people who need extra love for our church family to come around. As Jesus said, ‘love one another as I have loved you’ so we are doing as much of that as we can,” said Melissa.
In 2022, members of Charter Oak Church are continuing their support of Adelphoi youth by meeting with the youth, reaching out to the boys at Vincent Home on their birthdays, and starting a care bag project for each boy who enters the program. As a teenager entering care at Adelphoi, fear of the unknown and being away from home can be distressing, especially when a teen enters one of Adelphoi’s residential programs. Youth often arrive at a program with little or no belongings, feeling alone and unsure of what the future holds for them. A similar program for the girls who enter Adelphoi, called the “Helpful Hangers Care Bags,” has been in existence for several years, run by volunteers Claudia Narcisi and Donna Molito. But the resources have not been there to provide the bags for the boys, until now.
Volunteers will fill black duffle bags with items donated by our community such as shampoo, body wash, deodorant, socks, underwear, and sometimes a new sweatshirt. Each bag will also include a note of encouragement from the volunteers who have put the bags together. The bags are for the boys to keep and will be provided to the youth as they begin the intake process at Adelphoi.
Throughout Adelphoi’s fifty years of existence, generous community support and encouragement has continued to grow. With programs such as the care bag program, youth know that they are supported not only with their own family, but also within their community.