by Maren Schober
Each year United Community & Family Services, Inc (UCFS) honors a board member and staff worker who are especially dedicated to supporting children and families. This year the 2012 Family Champion Awards are being given to Abby Dolliver of Norwich and Lisa Coleman of Brooklyn.
Abby Dolliver receives the Family Champion award as a UCFS board member. Abby started out as a school social worker and then moved on to direct special education programming in Southeastern Connecticut for LEARN. Now, she serves as the Superintendent of Norwich Public Schools.
Supporting children and their families is a crucial task.
“I believe that our children are our future—and as a community we must work together to open doors for our students, with our families and community as partners,” acknowledges Abby.
”It is critical that we provide as many opportunities as possible to include parents in our work. They are the key to their student’s success. It is together that we make the difference. My personal involvement that links our district with community agencies such as UCFS and others, helps build better resources for our students and their families.”
Lisa Coleman receives her Champion award as a staff member of UCFS. She is dedicated and committed to making the Reconnecting Families Program (RCFP) a success and continually volunteers to assist with training new staff in this program.
“RCFP is a six-month program in home service designed to engage and support family members following the removal of a child in order to facilitate a successful reunion,” explains Lisa.
She outlines a few of her interactions:
”In a typical workday I work with the families assigned to my case load, identifying goals for each family. For example these goals might be maintaining sobriety, seeking employment, finding appropriate housing and role-modeling parenting skills in order to create a safe and nurturing home environment for the children.
“I assist clients in meeting their basic needs. I locate affordable furniture for their apartments including dining room tables, beds and kitchen items. I also help clients with basic housekeeping skills and with recognizing their children’s developmental milestones. My job also includes writing reports and meeting with DCF and other providers.”
Lisa finds her work meaningful and rewarding.
“I like working as a member of a team. When you see a family learning and thriving as they complete their goals and see the love that they have for their children, it is a great feeling. Our success as a program and individual workers affects the community in which which we live.
“Strengthening families breaks the cycle of dysfunction for our clients and increases healthy relationships creating more productive lives. I am happy to be a part of the UCFS experience.”