Judges table: Dan Heit, Robert McGee, and Angel Ramos
Winners: 3rd place- Samantha Gerdeman, 2nd place – Kaitlyn Miller, 1st place – Vince Troutman.
While the rest of Pennsylvania enjoys the frigid temperatures of March, the Schuylkill County team opted to warm things up. On March 18th, JusticeWorks Schuylkill hosted their first annual Chili Cookoff! Dan Heit, our President & CEO, surprised the staff as a celebrity judge! Ten delicious pots of chili were entered and faced off against each other in a bracket-style match-up. Our 2019 winner was Vince Troutman. Congrats Vince! We are confident that you will have hungry competitors from other counties who will want to participate next year!
JusticeWorks has always had a passion for supporting its staff. Our staff engagement strategies have produced a culture of team spirit and accomplishment. We are proud that our environment let’s staff feel a part of something greater than themselves and leads to emotional gratification in their work. Research shows that staff with high job satisfaction produce positive outcomes.
Hello JusticeWorks Team,
I just wanted to send a quick email to acknowledge Dalton White, he is currently working with a family for one of my cases and they cannot speak any higher of him. This family was not the easiest to deal with and yet he completely turned their home around for the better. The mother explained to me (the caseworker) that “ Dalton doesn’t choose a side and will tell both myself and my daughter when we are wrong, now we work together and I don’t wait for her when I drive her to places, I know I was mean to my daughter and I have to stop. Dalton showed me that I need to give my daughter more freedom and he showed her that she needs to listen to her mother.” The mother feels Dalton really helped their family in such a positive way and I just wanted to share that with you guys. You have a great team over there.
Monroe County Children and Youth Services
Kimberly, thank you for recognizing the amazing work of Dalton. Dalton, we value and appreciate the high standard of care you offer to the families we serve. People like you make an incredible impact on the community we serve.
Staci Barnes, Schuylkill County FRS, Receives Commendation from Schuylkill County Children & Youth Services!
(Email from County Caseworker):
Just want to thank everyone involved in the Dixon* case. Not every day do we receive praise from a parent for our support in their success! During my unannounced visit yesterday, Ms. Dixon* and I reflected on how far she has come since our initial visits. We did not elaborate too much on anything negative. However, Ms. Dixon* mentioned how much she truly appreciates us. She specifically elaborated about Staci Barnes and her support. Staci was definitely a huge asset to our team. I will personally attest to Staci’s respect and expertise with drug and alcohol clients. Staci motivated parents to complete a Relapse Prevention Plan; something which Ms. Dixon* and her son, David,* took much pride in. Staci diligently addressed and worked through many hurdles with this family. Ms. Dixon* also mentioned how much easier it has become to open up to her new supportive worker, Jamie.
Here is an update on progress: David* was just successfully discharged from Drug & Alcohol and Anger Management treatment. Since December, Ms. Dixon* has been transitioned to a lower level of care. She is also close to being discharged. Ms. Dixon* is ready to start seeking employment opportunities. Also, she stated she would like to know more about becoming a Peer Support Specialist. On multiple occasions, Ms. Dixon* shared with us how she enjoys telling her story and encouraging others. She realized how important it is to be honest and open with us. She reminds other parents she comes in contact with how important it is to connect with CYS caseworkers. Ms. Dixon* is thankful for us being involved with her family at such a time. She knows that we helped them overcome extremely tough challenges and connect in ways they seriously needed. Her relationship with David* and her other sons keeps getting better.
Aimee Thompson, Case Worker
Schuylkill Co. Children & Youth Services
Thank you, Ms. Thompson, in sharing your thoughts on Staci’s excellent teamwork abilities. We agree – she is an asset to JusticeWorks! We look forward to hearing more about the exciting future in front of Ms. Dixon and her entire family.
ERICKA BRUNNER, ADAMS COUNTY FRS, RECEIVES WELL-DESERVED PRAISE FROM A VERY BRAVE AND DETERMINED MOTHER
I’m sure I am somewhere in your files, but my name is Christine. I have two daughters, one age 12, and the other, age 9. In February 2017, my husband of 10 years poured gasoline on me and tried to light me on fire in front of my children. He was arrested and went to jail accordingly. Unfortunately, even though we were married, I lost everything, having no access to bank accounts, vehicles, or even my own driver’s license. Of course, he was allowed no contact with the girls and me, but his parents tried to sue me for full custody of the girls, citing the trauma I had gone through, as well as the fact that I was homeless, jobless, etc. They even went so far as to take my vehicle, because it was in my husband’s name, knowing a divorce settlement would take years due to his incarceration and unwillingness to sign. Inside the vehicle was the entire year of my children’s homeschool work, which they admitted to destroying. We, in simple terms, we’re screwed.
Then came Justice Works, represented by Ericka Brunner. She began by simply giving me a ride to the DMV to get a new copy of my license. We then moved on to health insurance, food assistance, and educational materials to allow the girls to bypass their homeschool review and test out for the year. By the end of her time with my family, I managed to retain full custody, (they were forced to drop the suit entirely) find therapy services for my children, who now have PTSD, and encourage me to shoot for the stars and apply for my dream job.
I now work from home, full time, as a legal marketing strategist. The girls can remain homeschooled, and I make enough to support us. This year I was even able to swing a lovely Christmas.
The girls and I are eternally grateful for the help we received. Being an adult, I realize how close I came to losing my precious children, through no fault of my own. I wanted to take the opportunity to let you know Justice Works… WORKS.
A year later I am able to support my family with no form of public assistance, I have a great job, and I learned it is ok to do things MY way and be successful. Without Ericka to encourage me, I would have given up. I was at the end of my patience, and frankly, my will to try.
Please keep doing what you do. You truly are SAVING LIVES and families. I wanted to go beyond the paperwork and give you my personal thanks and support you as much as you supported us. If you EVER need any form of testimony, please contact me. I will never forget you, or Ericka, and my girls and I are living proof that you guys are truly needed and truly successful.
Christine, you are not only in our files but also in our hearts. Thank you, for providing wonderful feedback on FRS, Ericka Brunner. Thank you, Ericka, for supporting and partnering with Christine in the spirit of the JusticeWorks’ Mission. It is through the power of positive relationships that true healing begins!
And we’re off! Tryouts were held in October to create our 2018-2019 Compass Academy Lycoming basketball team! Each week we have been preparing for our 7-game schedule through practices onsite at our new school building and at the Williamsport YMCA. But we aren’t just practicing for basketball – we are preparing for life! Included in these practices are leadership development exercises and honest conversations about the challenges our youth face daily. Each week, our team grows stronger. The individual strengths of our participants support the foundation of cohesive teamwork! We would love for our JusticeWorks squad to come out and cheer us on at one of our games, starting on 11/29 in Hazelton at Immanuel Christian! Wish us luck!
On October 26, the staff in Schuylkill County ran a Clothing Drive for the ‘Schuylkill County Make a Difference Day’! Over the last few weeks, JusticeWorks has been accepting donations, bringing in donations, and organizing clothes. JusticeWorks opened the office to the public today so that families could come in and shop for free clothing! In addition, staff provided homemade refreshments for all to enjoy! Students from Compass, Mt. Carmel, volunteered their time and assisted with keeping the clothing rooms organized. Many families and community members benefited from this event. Pictured: From top left, Nate Keys (Student from Compass Mt. Carmel), Kaylee Kerstetter (assisting a client), Laurie McGee, Patty Gilgore, Janet Ramos, Trista Renninger, Vince Troutman, Samantha Gerdeman, Kaitlyn Miller, Renee Warner, & Jesselyn Heaps.