Recently MSBPL’s Teen Advisory Board decided that they wanted to do more than just plan craft activities and talk about books; they wanted to reach out and help others. Since TAB’s aim is to promote teens and literacy, they decided to give books to underprivileged youth populations. Their first donation was recently made to the Somerset Children’s Aid Home.
To show her appreciation for TAB’s generosity Executive Director Lynne Horne invited TAB members and their families to come tour the Somerset Aid Home facility. So last Wednesday, when the rain was coming down in buckets, 13 of us visited the facility. We all came away impressed with the size and scope of the facility, and were very happy to see that our donations were going to a very worthy organization.
The facility was much larger than we realized having the ability to house up to 24 residents. In addition to bedrooms and bathrooms it had a large recreational room, various classrooms including an art room, therapy rooms, a cafeteria, a gym, family visitation areas, and offices for staff. The Wheeler campus, as it is called, sits on 55 acres on which there is a garden, volleyball court, and basketball court as well as plenty of room for bike riding and picnics in the summer.
The Aid Home “offers specialized care for children and youth who have experienced physical and sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment, and physical and emotional trauma.” Among the programs that are implemented from this location are:
- Residential Care
- Campus-Based Partial Hospitalization
- School-Based Partial Hospitalization
- Foster Care
- Summer Therapeutic Activities Program
Their adoption program is connected with the State Wide Adoption Network; the goal of this program is to place children who have special needs with adoptive families. These special needs may include “profound retardation, mildly to severe emotionally stressed conditions, and physically handicapping conditions,” Mrs. Horne also noted that it could include older children and sibling groups. Seeing the Adoption photograph wall in their offices was probably one of the most moving parts of the tour for me. To see the joy on the faces of children who finally have a family to call their own is indescribable.
Though there is probably some disappointment and sadness associated with this line of work, it also seems like there must be quite a bit of joy and satisfaction that comes with helping children and teens who are in need. If you are a prospective college students considering a career with special needs children Mrs. Horne suggests majoring in Social Services. She also pointed out that for some residential support positions all you need is a high school diploma and a love of children.
If you would like to know more about the Somerset Children’s Aid Home check out their website at http://www.cahprogram.org.