November is Military Family Appreciation Month

Imagine leaving behind a successful career and a loving family to move 7,000 miles away. The language is new, the culture is vastly different, and the only person you know is your spouse. For Maureen, a military wife born and raised in the Philippines, this is her reality.

For many military spouses, feelings of loneliness and isolation are common, but as someone brand new to the United States, Maureen had to overcome additional challenges. “At home in the Philippines, I was very independent. I provided for my family and looked out for everyone else. Here in the United States, I’ve had to learn to accept help from others.” A critical source of help and support is SAY San Diego’s Healthy Start Military Family Resource Center (MFRC) and First 5 First Steps program.

Maureen learned about SAY’s programs through the Balboa Naval Medical Center when she was pregnant with her daughter, Amelia. She was connected to her case manager Debbie, who became an immediate source of support and guidance. “For the first two years, Debbie visited me at my home every week. She was my only confidant. She checked on Amelia’s development, provided me with resources, and helped me to get to know the area and what was available to me.”

These days you can find Maureen at the MFRC every week. She brings Amelia to playgroup so she can interact with other children, and Maureen participates in yoga classes taught at the center by volunteers. For Maureen, the MFRC is a safe space where she is supported by SAY staff and a community of military wives who she can lean on.

Appreciation for our military extends beyond those in uniform. Military spouses also make sacrifices in service to our country, often parenting children solo and managing frequent moves that keep them far from familiar support networks.

SAY San Diego is proud to support military families through a variety of services and a place to connect with others. The MFRC serves active duty, transitioning, and veteran military personnel and the families. Located in Murphy Canyon, which has one of the largest collections of off-base US military population in the world, the MFRC strengthens families and communities by offering connections to resources such as food, housing, counseling, financial assistance, parenting classes, support groups, and more.

The Rice Family Foundation Supports Two SAY Projects

SAY San Diego is thrilled to announce that The Rice Family Foundation recently awarded a grant to SAY San Diego for two exciting projects – Girls Circle and a Middle School Youth Sports League!

To address the needs of vulnerable students, SAY will launch Girls Circle, an evidence-based program that employs a strengths-based approach rooted in relational-cultural and resiliency theory. The Girls Circle curriculum is comprised of thirteen guides including topics such as friendships, relationships, setting boundaries, coping skills, effects of drug use, reaching goals and self-care. Girls Circle will take place at SAY’s Serra Real Connections (SRC), a thriving family resource center on the Serra High School campus in San Diego that collaborates with community stakeholders to serve over 1,000 youth and their families annually through mentoring, academic support, youth leadership and development programs, workshops, and parent education and engagement. Girls Circle groups will be facilitated by highly qualified female Healthy Start program staff and co-facilitated by social work interns from partnering universities.

In order to provide youth enrolled in our Prime Time after school care with the chance to experience teamwork and fun during the critical “tween” years, SAY San Diego will launch a Middle School Youth Sports League for 150+ students so they can play their peers in team sports such as flag football, soccer, basketball, and more. The majority of youth enrolled are with us from 2:00 – 6:00pm each school day, or 20+ hours per week, while their parents work. We want their significant time with us to be fun and impactful. Unfortunately, intramural sports leagues are simply not an option for most children of low-income, working class, and single-parent families due to the financial- and time-demands that come with securing uniforms, taking off work to drive the youth to games, providing snacks for the team, and so on. Now our youth don’t have to miss out on the transformative experience of joining a formal team!

The Patriots Connection Supports the San Diego Military Family Collaborative

The Patriots Connection, a program of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, recently awarded a grant to SAY San Diego to support the San Diego Military Family Collaborative (SDMFC)!

The SDMFC is a countywide network of 200 service providers dedicated to improving social, economic, and health outcomes for families experiencing unique challenges of military life and transition to civilian life. Since 2010, SAY has convened SDMFC and used data to identify service gaps, map regional resources, and mobilize action teams to address unique military family needs. SDMFC provides a unified platform to share information, educate and train partners, and knit San Diego’s military community together through outreach and informative monthly convenings.

The SDMFC brings attention to serious issues experienced by military families in order to develop solutions and make a positive impact in San Diego. For example, SDMFC launched the “Community Prevention and Safety Alliance” to specifically reach youth and teens from military families struggling with problems such as substance abuse and behavioral challenges at school. Additionally, SDMFC completed an academic study to asset map the military and veteran service organizations across San Diego County. In partnership with the University of San Diego (USD) and the San Diego Veterans Coalition, the SDMFC orchestrated “Community Conversations” to convene service providers and military families in order to inform the report published by USD, “Pathways and Intersections in the Military Lifecycle: How San Diego Supports the Military and Veteran Connected Community.” For the project, 109 agencies and 162 unique individuals informed a map of services and identified gaps in services for military families. The study is here: http://sdmilitaryfamily.org/sdrvfws-report/

PwC Invests in Creating Brighter Futures for Middle School Youth!

A grant from the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc. to SAY San Diego will allow us to equip middle school students with the STEAM education they need to succeed. We are excited to use PwC’s Access Your Potential ™ (AYP) technology curriculum, and engage PwC US volunteers, to reach 450 middle school youth in our after school programs at Bethune, Darnall Charter, Farb Middle, Innovation Middle, Lewis Middle and Standley Middle schools! Additionally, we will hold two community events in the Central and Southeastern regions of San Diego to inspire young people to pursue STEAM careers. The events will include interactive STEAM activities and will feature San Diego tech leaders, and CODE-E, PwC’s AYP robot. We are so grateful to the PwC Charitable Foundation for this opportunity!

About The PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc.
The PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc., is a section 501(c)(3) organization that makes contributions to the people of PwC in times of financial hardship, and to nonprofit organizations that support and promote education and humanitarianism.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

In the minute it takes you to read this, another 20 people in the U.S. will have been subjected to domestic violence. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report having experienced severe violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. At SAY San Diego, we strive to improve health, wellness, and social outcomes for victims of domestic violence by providing counseling and case management that leads to safety planning, refuge, and hopefully an end to the violence.

Additionally, through our partnership with the San Diego Family Justice Center (FJC), SAY San Diego supports mothers seeking to escape domestic violence. SAY San Diego’s child development team staffs an onsite Child Watch program at the FJC to provide a safe, positive, and enriching environment for children while their mothers confidentially receive services including legal assistance and help securing shelter.

Reducing domestic violence is not limited to programs and services. By recognizing domestic violence as a life-threatening issue, we can help stop the cycle of abuse. If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE), direct them to the San Diego Family Justice Center, or SAY’s domestic violence resource page.

The Unique Power of SAY Youth Leaders

“I’ve known kids who you’d never think would use a substance, let alone be addicted, but I see it,” says Jack, a senior at Serra High School in Tierrasanta and a youth leader with SAY’s Club ELEVATED.

Today the products, issues, and hazards related to substance abuse prevention are changing rapidly. Despite an overall decline in youth use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, liquid nicotine, e-cigarettes, vaping, and easy access to marijuana have created a need for increased prevention and awareness.

Club ELEVATED trains and supports youth in substance abuse awareness and peer outreach for prevention. Like many teens, Jack could’ve simply kept his head down, ignoring the actions of those around him. Instead Jack realized he had an opportunity to guide his peers down a positive path. Along with more than 40 other SAY youth leaders, Jack regularly speaks at school assemblies, town halls, and youth leadership conferences, teaching peers, parents, concerned adults, law enforcement, and others about ways to prevent and reduce access to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

Jack knows that attempting to shock a teen with statistics rarely works and that community-wide action is needed, including environmental and policy change. He sees results from helping his peers to consider potential repercussions. “I try to provide little nuggets of knowledge, because as kids we’re always thinking, and there’s going to be a time when a friend thinks about what I’ve said and ultimately makes the right choice,” he reflects.

“A lot of kids just follow the crowd or stand on the sidelines. But taking an active role really gives you a passion and a driving force. It’s cool to see a group of like-minded strong individuals, using our skills for something as great as Club ELEVATED and SAY San Diego,” says Jack.

SAY San Diego partners with youth and communities to empower those most affected to make changes in areas of their greatest concern. SAY has supported youth, like Jack, out in the community, leading prevention education, and informing policy change, for more than 20 years, ahead of what we often see in the news. Because our youth leaders connect with other young people, parents, and elected officials with expertise and firsthand experience, they are uniquely impactful in changing and saving lives.

Early Childhood Center Preview

 

Two SAY families had the opportunity to tour the new Early Childhood Center, set to open this fall. The center offers affordable, nurturing infant care for children 6 weeks to 24 months and preschool for 2 to 5 year-olds. The Early Childhood Center is located on Viewridge Avenue in Kearny Mesa at I-15 and Balboa. If you would like to join the interest list, visit the Early Childhood Center page.

Click here for a sneak peek of the Early Childhood Center and to hear from a SAY program director and mom who can’t wait for the grand opening.

SAY San Diego Provides Vaping Prevention Seminars

With teen vaping on the rise, local schools are calling on SAY San Diego to provide prevention seminars to students. Mary Baum, SAY’s Senior Program Director for Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention, says that in light of recent vaping-related illnesses, far more schools have contacted SAY San Diego this fall to provide trainings and seminars than in past years. Mary spoke with KPBS about the alarming trend of teen nicotine use.

Click here to read KPBS article.

SAY San Diego Partners with County District Attorney

Therapy, Volunteer Hours to Replace Jail for Some Offenders: DASAY is proud to partner with the San Diego County District Attorney on the Community Justice Initiative. Participants who complete 12 hours of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) classes along with four hours of volunteer work, have their cases dismissed and records sealed. The innovative program is already demonstrating strong success rates, and puts participants ranging in age from 18-80 on a positive path. SAY San Diego’s Laura Soto oversees the CBT classes for the initiative in the North, South, and East County regions.

Read NBC 7 Story

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