Nine Charles Co Graduate Program for Healthy Families

On the afternoon of Friday, September 24, nine children from Charles County graduated from the Healthy Families Southern Maryland program at an awards ceremony at Gilbert Run Park in Charlotte Hall where guest speaker, the Maryland State Senator Arthur Ellis, 28eLegislative District, presented the organization with a citation from the Senate of Maryland for its family support program in Charles and Saint Mary’s counties.

Guest speaker Maryland State Senator Arthur Ellis, second from left, presents a quote from the Maryland General Assembly to Healthy Families Southern Maryland at the 2020-21 Friday graduation ceremony for nine children preschoolers from Charles County who have completed the organization’s program. Receiving the proclamation on behalf of Healthy Families Southern Maryland are, from left to right, Andrea Sanford, Board member of the Center for Children, Senator Ellis, Jennifer Fiechtner, Manager of the Healthy Families Southern Maryland program and Samantha Stratchkom, member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Children.

Jennifer Fiechtner, program manager for the nationally accredited program, said they currently have 48 families in Charles and St. Mary’s counties enrolled in their program which provides free support to families in the area of ​​pregnancy. the age of three to five when children enter pre-school or Head Start programs.

Senator Ellis said the quote noted the “immeasurable work your organization has done to lead the development of children and families in Charles County. Since 1999, Healthy Families Charles County has offered free programs aimed at empowering our community.

Valentina Gomez, left, and Alexander Kaufman proudly sport the new school backpacks presented to them on Friday as well as certificates, a catered dinner and other goodies during the 2020-21 graduation ceremonies at the Gilbert Run Park at Charlotte Hall. Gomez and Kaufman were among nine children in Charles County who graduated from the Healthy Families Southern Maryland program, which offers free home visits, basic necessities, information and connection programs to families in counties of Charles and Saint Mary. The organization was founded in 1999 in Charles County. Maria and Douglas Gomez are the parents of Valentina and Lauren Kaufman is the mother of Alexander. Guest speaker, Maryland State Senator Arthur Ellis, 28th Legislative District, also presented a quote from the Maryland General Assembly to Healthy Families Southern Maryland during the ceremony.

Graduates received certificates and a school backpack, as well as a catered dinner and dessert.

Fiechtner said their program is funded by the Maryland Department of Education and St. Mary’s Department of Health. She added that the organization offers families home visits to teach them about child development, links to community resources for housing and employment supports, educational opportunities and how-to articles. such as diapers.

Fiechtner noted that their program “…partners with the Maryland Diaper Bank to distribute over 2,000 diapers per month to our attendees, and we run a small donation closet with clothes, toys, books and other baby items for our families.

Elizabeth Garcia, family support specialist for healthy families in southern Maryland, left, presents Valentina Gomez of Charles County with her certificate and backpack during the 2020-21 graduation ceremonies at Gilbert Run Park at Charlotte Hall on Friday September 24. In the background is Addie Leonard, also a family support specialist for the program, while Valentina’s mother, Maria Gomez, on the far right, gives moral support to her daughter. Guest speaker, Maryland State Senator Arthur Ellis, 28th Legislative District, also presented a quote from the Maryland General Assembly to Healthy Families Southern Maryland during the ceremony.

Healthy Families Southern Maryland normally has a staff of seven, although it is currently looking to fill two vacant Family Support Specialist positions.

Fiechtner added: “We normally graduate every year, but we couldn’t do it in 2020 due to the pandemic. This graduation ceremony celebrated all the families who have completed our program since June 2019.

“We had nine graduating children this year from eight families (a set of twins)…. All of the graduating families were from Charles County.”

Healthy Families Southern Maryland was started at the Center for Children in 1999, serving Charles County, and expanded to St. Mary’s County in 2014.



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