Friday, August 29, 2014

After six years, Joshua has to find new employment. Thankfully, his Job Coach is there.

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Guest Post by Allysha Sneed

I first met Joshua on October 11, 2012. It was a cool day when Joshua, his mother, and resource coordinator stepped into Catholic Charities’ Supportive Employment program’s Prince Georges County office. We had spoken on the phone before when I called to introduce myself as his new Employment Specialist (or job coach). 

Joshua with his Job Coach Allysha Sneed.
Catholic Charities’ Supportive Employment program is specifically designed to assist adults in the community with a Developmental Disability Administration documented disability secure and maintain meaningful employment. Since then, I’ve come to know Joshua for his amazing sense of humor, motivation, and determination. In his eyes, his intellectual disability and speech impediment made no difference, and I absolutely loved the confidence he showed when he spoke of his love for his family and working with his hands. 

For all of my clients, including Joshua, my job is to help each person by teaching them the skills needed to be successful in the workforce and providing on the job support.

Joshua views himself as successful. He has been a full-time employee of Melwood’s employment contract with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, where he serves as a facility grounds man for the last six years.  In fact, Joshua is our longest employed client in the history of our office! Sadly Joshua will have to leave Goddard this fall as the grounds keeping program moves to seasonal work only. While this is an unfortunate turn of events for Joshua, I am determined to help him find additional employment without missing a beat. 

Mr. Jerome Proctor, Joshua’s immediate supervisor, has always praised for Joshua’s performance and professionalism on the job. He says, “Joshua is an integral part of the team here. If it weren’t for Joshua a lot of projects would not be completed. He is very good at his job, a great employee overall, and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.” 

Over the time I have known Joshua, he has proven his diligence and dedication to his job. He volunteers to do the tedious jobs no one else on his team wants to do, makes it a priority to have near perfect attendance and almost never complains. He is constantly working with his supervisor, Mr. Proctor, to ensure he is using job related equipment correctly and his time efficiently. Joshua simply does not let his intellectual disability hinder him from working, and together we have already taken on the task of seeking out another hands-on position for him.  

Joshua says, “My favorite thing to do at work is clean up after we cut the grass. I get to use the blower and carry it on my back which helps with the cleaning, but isn’t always easy because we have to do all around Goddard.”  Joshua adds, “I will miss Goddard, especially Mr. Proctor because he is always very supportive and always pushes me to give my best.”

Joshua is very proud of the work he’s been able to accomplish. He attributes his success to his support team including his mom, staff at Goddard who trained him for his position and Catholic Charities’ PG Supportive Employment program who secured the position for him. I am honored to be able to serve Joshua as his job coach. He is one of the most confident and driven clients I have had the pleasure to work with, and it is amazing to see his success. His story is truly one of hope and inspiration that says we are not defined by our disabilities, but rather the impact we leave on the communities we serve.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

We need You! Dentist or not, we’re going to need a lot of volunteers to provide $1,000,000 in pro bono dental care September 4 and 5!

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Guest Post by Allysha Sneed

It’s a Tuesday afternoon and Dr. Tris Kruger, a dentist and two-time volunteer for the Mid-MD Mission of Mercy, is picking up his phone for the tenth time today, reaching out to colleagues for assistance in a mission he loves dearly.

“Hello and good afternoon. I am calling to find out if you would be willing to help with a free dental clinic we are hosting on September 5 and 6 at the Comcast Center in College Park, MD,” said Dr. Kruger. “I, along with a host of my colleagues, will be serving patients who are uninsured or are otherwise unable to afford dental services and we would love your help.” 
Volunteers and staff held a phone-a-thon to recruit local dentists to
volunteer at the upcoming free dental clinic.
One by one dental professionals throughout Maryland responded by saying yes to volunteering at this year’s Mid-MD Mission of Mercy (MOM) free dental clinic. Mid-MD MOM is a free two-day dental clinic periodically provided by volunteer dental professionals on a mission to enhance the oral health of adults in need.  The MOM service model first began in Virginia in 2000 and has since spread around the county affecting the lives of patients and dentists alike. 

In order to meet this year’s goal of providing over a million dollars of free dental care, over 800 volunteers are needed. Hundreds of professional and non-professional volunteers will be providing adult patients with services such as cleanings, fillings, root canals, and extractions, using 188 chairs spread across the Comcast Center.  Volunteers are asked to serve during one of two twelve hour shifts from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. September 4-6.

“Without volunteers this event wouldn’t even be possible. For me volunteering is all about giving back to the community, especially for those of us that are able to give back using our professions- it’s so easy and so worth it,” said Dr. Kruger. “There is no better feeling than helping a patient and afterwards having them crying with appreciation because they were taken care of. Honestly, I get more out of it than the patients do.”

Catholic Charities’ Parish and School Program Manager Deacon James Nalls, is in charge of organizing and running the event. 

“Dental care is under supported in our culture and as a result the vast amounts of adults ages 18 to 65 are neglecting their teeth,” said Nalls. “This is why this event is so important. It’s a step toward increasing the overall health of adults throughout Maryland.”

For more information on how you can become one of the 800 volunteers needed to help make the Mid-MD MOM on September 4-6 a success (whether or not you are a dentist) or to donate supplies such as food, beverages, paper products, or printing supplies for the event, please contact volunteer coordinator Maggie O’Neill at / (202) 772-1234. 

The following volunteers are needed:

·       Dentists (students welcome)

·       Hygienists (students welcome)

·       General volunteers (patient and volunteer check in/out, hospitality)

·       Set up and break down (Thursday and Saturday evening)

·       IT support

·       Translators 

If interested in becoming a corporate partner of Mid-MD MOM, please contact Deacon James Nalls at

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pictures of Hope: Children express dreams through a camera lens

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When 10-year-old Kamia's parents separated this past year, she founding herself spending many nights in local shelters along with her mother, sister and brother. With all the uncertainty and changes this past year, Kamia wasn't sure things were ever going to look bright again.

This past Tuesday, however, Kamia and nine other children enrolled in the Tenants Empowerment Network (TEN), had the chance to articulate their hopes and dreams through photography, thanks to the Linda Solomon's and Chevrolet's Pictures of Hope Initiative. 

The Tenant Empowerment Network (TEN)  helps families like Kamia's get back on their feet. A program that includes wraparound services including case management, employment assistance and child care, helps families work towards self-sufficiency.

Linda Solomon, who’s red carpet portfolio includes the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, Justin Bieber and Robert Redford, created Pictures of Hope to teach low-income children that their dreams matter, and how to illustrate them through a camera lens.
The day was a lesson in photography for the youth, but also an exercise in creativity and inspiration.

Pictured: GM CEO Mary Barra mentors Donavan
Here’s how Pictures of Hope worked: 

1. Each child received a mentor to help them throughout the day to help them articulate their dreams. Among the mentors was General Motors CEO Mary Barra (thanks to Chevrolet). Gracious and kind, she took several hours away from her high-powered position and worked with young Donovan.

2. The children then had the assignment of writing down their hopes for the future. Mentors walked them through their hopes as they each wrote down their list. Barra believes that we can transform the world one person--one child--at a time. By spending time with the youth at TEN, jotting down Donovan's dreams as he dictated them to her, was a testament to that.

 3.  Now, the fun part. As a surprise, each received a new digital camera (courtesy of Sport Chevrolet) of his or her very own. Let the snapping begin! Mentors helped with operating the camera, focusing the lens, and suggesting photo opps. 

4. here is where the creative juices flow. Each child was tasked with expressing one dream he or she had written down earlier through a photo. With the help of a mentor, they explored the sights and determined what photo frame would best capture their vision.

 A sampling: 

  • To Grace, an image of vibrant flowers means beauty.
  • To Keonte, an artistic shot of tree leaves signifies health.
  • To Kamia, a snapshot of a book symbolizes education.  

Pictured: Sr. Mary Louise Wessell, Linda Solomon and Grace

This fall, photos and dream statements of the TEN program children will be transformed into greeting cards and then be unveiled at a Meet the Young Artist Reception at Sport Chevrolet. Each card will symbolize the hopes of one child of the TEN program, and how he or she is looking forward to a better tomorrow. Stay tuned for updates!

Check out the media coverage below: