For The Seventh Generation launches two new programs at open house event

On Friday, Oct. 19, approximately more than fifty foster care-related social service professionals congregated at the Samaritan Center (http://www.samaritan-center.net/) to learn about new programs being offered by an organization that supports foster children and families during a special open house event.

The open house was organized as the public launch of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation's For The Seventh Generation's (www.fortheseventhgeneration.org) Help Closet and Play It Forward! programs.

The new Help Closet is a For The Seventh Generation service that allows donors to drop off, and foster care professionals to pick up, donations of new and gently-used clothing, furniture, and other items for foster children, families, and youth who are "aging out" of the foster care system in metro Detroit. Space for the Closet has been donated by the Samaritan Center of Detroit.

Play It Forward! is an FTSG program that will provide free instruments and music lessons for foster children. Sonya Mastick, chair of the Play It Forward! committee and owner of the Lesson Rooms in Royal Oak, said that she hopes to serve up to twenty children during the program's first year. Donated instruments for Play It Forward! are also being stored at the Help Closet prior to being given out to the program's first students.

Professionals from the Department of Human Services, Holy Cross Children's Services, Safe Haven for Youth of Metro Detroit and other organizations attended the event, during which they were guided in setting up online accounts with FTSG, connected with music teachers from Play It Forward!, and made good use of the Help Closet's donated clothing, shoes, and other necessities to help their young clients.

Many who attended, like Janice Flynt of the Department of Human Services, came to see the work of For The Seventh Generation for the first time.

"This is a much-needed resource for foster care specialists," said Flynt, who serves DHS as a family team leading supervisor.

Patricia Williams of the State of Michigan's Foster Care Department said she was very impressed with FTSG's work matching children in foster care with goods and services ranging from orthodontic care to the music instruments and lessons offered by the new Play It Forward! program.

"We will most definitely be working with For The Seventh Generation," she said, to serve the needs of her department's young clients.

Heather Steele-Hill, a foster care worker with the Department of Human Services, said she was particularly excited about the launch of the Help Closet.

"It's hard to find resources other than the thrift stores, and then the foster families have to pay," she said. "A lot of my kids don't have clothes, or their clothing doesn't fit right. I think this is a great resource, and I'm looking forward to using it."

For their part, Play It Forward! musicians who attended the event expressed their anticipation at the prospect of being able to introduce music to children who might not otherwise be able to have lessons.

Musician and recording studio owner Jacob Vailliencourt said he signed up to provide guitar lessons to a foster child through Play It Forward! because "It's a great opportunity to help a child in foster care--everyone should have the chance to learn how to play music."

For The Seventh Generation Executive Director Lorraine Weber said she was very happy with the turnout for the event--and grateful to the people at Holy Cross Children's Services and the Samaritan Center who helped make it possible.

"Everyone at Holy Cross the Samaritan Center, particularly Mark Owens, John Mazeros and Mike Alm, have been fantastic," Weber said. "I can't overstate the importance of these kinds of community partnerships in serving the most vulnerable young people among us--our area's foster children--and helping them not just survive, but thrive. Professionals like those at Holy Cross, the DHS, and other agencies are truly on the front lines and doing heroic work for foster children. The role of For The Seventh Generation is to make it possible for them to connect to services and goods that our state's foster care budget simply can't afford."

Live music for the three-hour event was provided by Behind The Times with refreshments donated by Panera Bread in Grosse Pointe and Ferndale's Dino's Restaurant and Lounge.

For The Seventh Generation is a project of the Detroit Metropolitan Bar Association Foundation in cooperation with the 3rd Judicial Circuit of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Human Services. For more information visit the organization's website at: http://www.fortheseventhgeneration.org.

For The Seventh Generation's Help Closet is accepting donations and is open to foster care professionals to pick up donated items. The Help Closet accepts donations on Mondays from 10 a.m.--2 p.m. and is open to foster care professionals and their clients on Tuesdays from 1-4 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m.--1 p.m. The Closet is located at the Samaritan Center Warehouse, 11475 Shoemaker St. in Detroit. For more information call Shirley Roseman at (313) 529-1813

Play It Forward is enrolling students for its first year of providing music lessons and instruments to metro-Detroit area foster children. For more information or to donate an instrument call Sonya Mastick at (248) 990-5652.

Published: Wed, Nov 7, 2012

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