At the end of the year, Linda Schneider, longtime executive director of WGAP retired. Community members, friends, family, and WGAP employees came together to celebrate Linda and her 29 years of work in our communities.
Debi Van Camp, longtime WGAP board member welcomes everyone
Roger Gadway, 2016 board president and longest serving board member gave a speech about Linda's work in Klickitat and Skamania counties.
Lori Call, WGAP housing director, couldn't pass up a chance to embarrass Linda one last time by outfitting her in her very own Wonder Woman outfit.
Thanks to some very generous donors, Youth Center kids were able to go out and cut down their own tree this year.
This week, our entire staff participated in a training for our agency to become Trauma Informed. Being trauma informed means that we understand that many of our clients have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives. People who have experienced trauma deal with their everyday experiences in a different way than those who have not; they need to know that they are cared for and supported. It is our goal as a trauma informed agency to be able to help people without re-traumatizing them. You can find out more about trauma informed care here.
This past Friday, interns from Insitu came together to build and install a fence along the back of the property at our Community Youth Center.
This year we were able to serve a young man affected by domestic violence in his home. This young man’s father had recently returned from military service in Iraq. The effects of war caused his father to suffer from severe PTSD, which often presented as “black- out” rage episodes where his father would physically and verbally abuse him and his mother.
The mother contacted our office searching for help for the whole family. We were able to offer therapy services for the young man through our United Way funding. This young man connected very well with our therapist, and has over time been able to better understand the effects of PTSD on people. More importantly, he learned the skills necessary to move forward and heal from the devastating effects of violence perpetrated by a parent. This young man responded very favorably to therapy and continues to exhibit resiliency.
Additionally, we were able to refer the father to Veteran’s services and get the mother connected to supportive services. We are thankful that we were able to have a positive effect on the whole family.
Often when people think of our services they assume that we only serve women. We serve anyone who is affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, or victims of crime.
A mature 8th grade boy who has been attending the Community Youth Center for 3 years now has recently taken the initiative to start getting other youth outside to play. Soccer, football, kickball, hide and seek; any activity to get them outside and moving. It is often the case that members want to stay indoors and play on the computers or on their phone, thereby missing out on the opportunity for positive human interactions.
This young man brings his excitement and positive attitude and has no problem getting youth to go outside and play.
He is a wonderful gift to the Youth Center, and has become an integral part of the team. He is a fantastic mentor for our younger members. They look up to him and he has a special connection to them that most adults would not. He has proven to be a fair and caring person and he inspires younger members to treat each other with respect.
When someone gets their feelings hurt or feels left out, he is right there to offer his encouragement and cheer them on. We appreciate his positive influence and know that our other members appreciate him as well.
It is our hope that all of our members can find their way like this young man and go on to make a difference wherever they land. We know that with positive role models and a caring community they can.
We received an application for Transitional Housing from a mother who came to Skamania County with her son. They were escaping from a domestic violence situation and they had been staying at a domestic violence shelter. They were both looking for an opportunity to truly start over. The Transitional Housing program was exactly the fresh start that they needed.
The mother was very determined to create a better life for herself and her son. Her goal was to find work and make sure her son finished school and graduated. Shortly after they entered the Transitional Housing Program, the mother became employed and her son enrolled in the local school.
A little over a year later, the mother found permanent housing for herself and her son. She was very excited because the new home was within walking distance of her job. Her son was on track to graduate and go to college.
We’ve recently heard from her and she is still working for the same employer. She is hoping to become a property manager and be able to live on the job site. Her son has graduated and is going to college.
With the help of our programs and her own strength and determination, this woman was able to turn her and her son’s lives around.
A young pregnant mother of four, came into our office seeking a place to live. She was living in a campground in a tent with her children ages, 9, 6, 2, and 1.
At the time we did not have any openings in our Transitional Housing program but we did have an opening coming up. We asked her if she felt safe living in her tent, she replied that since it was Summer and the kids were out of school it was an adventure for them. She was hoping to be settled in a place before school started.
As Summer moved into Fall we still did not have an opening so we offered to move her into one of our shelters but she had already enrolled her two school age children into Goldendale schools and did not want to move out of town. During this time she was attending church and had met a woman who offered to let her and her children stay in her small mobile home. It was tight quarters for everyone but it was the best solution for her at the time. At this point, the client was five months pregnant, so getting off the ground to sleep was a much appreciated luxury.
This client was very motivated; she was going to school to become a mid-wife and she continued her clinic hours even during this stressful time. The local midwifery office agreed to let her intern with them and they also offered her a job contingent upon her finishing school.
After a long wait, the transitional home finally became available. With a secure roof over their heads, the kids were able to get settled in school and things progressed as planned.
With the right help, this woman was able to remain stable during a time when things could have gone very wrong. She is still meeting all her goals and we are so happy to see her continue to create a better life for herself and her children.
If you've been by our building lately, perhaps you've noticed our new garden area located at the West end of our building. It is currently a work in progress, but it's coming along nicely. The greenhouse is up and planter boxes are being built. We expect to have an operational garden in the next couple of weeks.
We started the garden as a way to educate clients on how to grow their own food and create sustainability in their daily lives. We hope to do this by offering gardening tips and classes, starter plants, recipes, cooking classes, and gardening classes for children. Gardening is not just a way to grow your own food, it can help with over all health. Getting outside and playing in the dirt has multiple health benefits.
We have settled on the name Tom's Learning Garden in honor of Tom Rutherford. Tom passed away unexpectedly a few months ago. For many years Tom volunteered in our Food Bank, driving the truck and helping out in any way he could. It was Tom's belief that no child should go hungry and so he volunteered countless hours over the years to make sure that people in our community have access to food.
If you would like to help out we could use garden starts: tomatoes, peppers, herbs, etc., small pots to distribute plants in, and gardening tools, or, you could come and play in the garden!