On December 22, 2014 kids could be seen leaving the Mead Building hugging cuddly teddy bears thanks to a generous donation of over nearly 170 stuffed animals from the Portland Winterhawks. These kids were coming from the Annual Winter Holiday Party for clients of the Family Services Unit (FSU). For the past six years, this event allows parents who might otherwise be unable to afford gifts to pick out new gifts for their children. Wrapping paper, ribbons and tape were provided so parents could not only pick out the gifts, but also wrap the gifts and label them for their children.
In addition to gifts, clients could get their photo taken with Santa Claus, and perhaps more exciting, Rojo the Therapy Llama. Rachel Harris and Thane King were on hand to take pictures and share with the families. Parole/Probation Officer (PPO) Brian Holt dressed up as Santa and PPOs Barb Fletcher and Daryn Peters helped the families get ready for the photos. Other staff, including Lonnie Nettles, Charles Adler, Ashley Pruen, Monika Rystwej, Jocelyn Kline-Johnson, Denisa Menn, Keyunna Baker, Brenda Hair, Molly Dorney, Marilu Semph and Byron Brown read stories, applied face paint, crafts, games, helped families pick out gifts, and wrap them for their children.
The entire FSU staff contributed time, energy and love to make this event happen. Each PPO referred up to five families from his or her caseload and, during the event, actively spent time connecting with clients and their families.
Community Justice Manager, Lonnie Nettles, shared that this is one of her favorite events of year. “Connecting with families, interacting with the children, and yielding the fruits of the past years labor is quite a joy. “ FSU sponsors 4 events a year as incentives for families that are reaching their identified goals. Other events include Back to School, Harvest Party, and Turkey dinner give away.
All in all, approximately 45 parents and 75 children celebrated the season at our Winter Holiday Party.
FSU would like to thank DCJ District Manager Jay Scroggin, for coordinating efforts with the Portland Winterhawks. The donated stuffed animals are also used throughout the year for children in need. Thanks also to the Mead Central Building 6th floor, Multnomah Building 2nd floor, the Londer Learning Center, the Day Reporting Center staff, Volunteer and Intern Coordinator, Stephanie Bolson, for contributing time and toys for our families. Our sincere gratitude goes out to those folks who donated anonymous gifts.