Goshen hosts 7th annual Cherokee Child Welfare Luncheon presented by Northside Hospital Cherokee

Goshen hosts the 7th annual Cherokee Child Welfare Luncheon presented by Northside Hospital Cherokee.

On Thursday Sept 19, over 275 community leaders in child welfare came together for the 7th annual Cherokee Child Welfare Luncheon, presented by Northside Hospital-Cherokee. This year’s event was headlined by Tom Rawlings, state director of DFCS, and we were also joined by Miss Georgia 2019 Victoria Hill.

Ike Reighard of Must Ministries opened the day with a prayer and an update on Must’s recent State of Hope grant. They were awarded these funds in an effort to service families preventatively, with the aim of fewer youth entering in to foster care.

Victoria Hill, Miss Georgia 2019, shared her passion for assisting girls in foster care, and told those in attendance how she plans to use her platform this year to help foster youth. Victoria then sang “A Horse with Wings,” a song she says could have been written from the perspective of a child in foster care. Victoria will be competing in the Miss America pageant on December 19th.

Zach Blend, CEO of Goshen Valley, then shared an update on Goshen Valley. He shared that Goshen has launched our fourth agency; Goshen Therapeutic Services. This agency is designed to strengthen and restore families through licensed, comprehensive therapeutic services. The aim of this program is to provide services both to families who have already lost their children to foster care, and also strengthen those at risk of losing their children. Zach also gave an update on the Goshen Community Wellness Center, set to open in November on site at Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, and shared the story of the 9 high school graduates from Goshen Valley in May 2019.

Brooke Ford, Director of Cherokee County DFCS, provided an update on our local DFCS office. Brooke shared that their after hours team is fully staffed, they have hired 18 new case managers this year, and that employee retention is an important focus for their team. Brooke also shared a video of their employees sharing stories of why they choose to live, work, and play in Cherokee County.

Tom Rawlings, State Director of the Division of Family and Children Services, shared about his work and priorities as the head of DFCS. He said his main goal in office is to improve the support of the frontline workers. He wants frontline DFCS workers to be seen as heroes in the same light as nurses, firefighters, teachers, and other professions are in the eyes of the community. He stated that this change will reduce turnover and improve safety and outcomes for the youth served by DFCS.

This year, 2 Goshen Spirit Awards were given to community leaders who have gone above and beyond to serve the vulnerable children of our community. The first was given to Deidre Hollands, former leader of Cherokee County CASA. Deidre served for 19 years and founded CASA in Cherokee County. She led the campaign to build the Children’s Haven visitation center across from Cherokee High School that serves to reunite and restore families. The second award went to Ronnie Reece who this year retired from a full career working security in the Cherokee County Court. Ronnie is a much-beloved member of our community who is highly deserving of this award.

The program concluded with all in attendance reciting Our Cherokee Commitment, a pledge recited at the event each year. Goshen Valley would like to thank all who attended and made this event such a success. More pictures from the event can be found on Goshen Valley’s Facebook page.


Georgia Teenworks at Goshen Valley

Georgia TeenWorks program giving Georgia's foster youth at Goshen a boost for success.

 

TeenWorks is a program run by the state where foster youth age 16-18 get to gain valuable work experience. While these teens are supervised and trained by a local employer, they are paid by Georgia. This allows foster youth to gain work experience and build both their resumes and their potential career pathways. 

We interviewed two of these Goshen youth who spent this summer working at the Boys & Girls Club and R&D Mechanical Services

Edward had the opportunity to work for the Malon D. Mims Boys & Girls Cub this summer.  Edward, says, “They provide an introduction to the workforce. It has helped me prepare and save for college, while also learning several new skills. I learned how to interact with my boss and be respectful. It bettered my relationships and made me more efficient in helping me save for college.”

Tyler says the best part of Teenworks this year for him was, “getting to work with R&D Mechanical. I got to learn a lot and had new options open up for my future that I never would have known about.” He says to R&D, “Thank you for letting me work with you this summer, and giving me the opportunity to create a new life goal… I know I’ve got the knowledge and skill set to start a career in HVAC.”

It’s this kind of forward-thinking and education that will help foster youth at Goshen grow to be successful young adults as they grow out of our care. We are not only looking to better these kid’s present situation, but also their future. 

Both boys had parting messages for their employers and for the TeenWorks program. Edward says, “TeenWorks taught me to save my money for the things I want, and the things I will soon be held responsible for as an adult. Learning how to save and manage my money will be crucial when going through the medical school process and managing finances for the rest of my life.” Tyler Woody said “Thank you for letting me work with you this summer, and giving me the opportunity to create a new life goal.”

We are so proud of our youth and thankful for our employment partners who set our teenage youth up for lifelong thriving success!