U.P. KIDS, Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine Annual Donation Recipient: Caring for Children, Building Brighter Futures

UP foster parenting, UP parenting support, UP adoption services, UP wellness publication

Families at Play at U.P. KIDS Fall Pumpkin Patch Event

U.P. KIDS is an organization supporting children and families in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It began in the Copper Country in 1899 as Good Will Farm, providing a home and school to children from the UP. In 2012, its name changed to U.P. KIDS, but its mission has remained the same: Caring for children and building brighter futures. Its foster care, adoption, and in-home service programs provide caring temporary and permanent homes where children are protected and nurtured.

Families become foster families for a multitude of reasons–they may want to help children in need, they may be struggling with infertility and see foster care and adoption as a way to have the family they’ve always dreamt of, or they may be caring for relatives who are children. Foster families are needed throughout the entire Upper Peninsula, particularly homes willing to take sibling groups and adolescents.

The primary goal of foster care is reunification.

Foster families work with the child’s case worker and their biological family to ensure the concerns which originally brought the child into care are rectified. Foster families provide a safe, loving, temporary home during the reunification process.

Sometimes reunification is not possible. U.P. Kids then turns to foster families to provide permanence (adoption) for the children in their care. There are over ten thousand children in foster care in Michigan, and currently there are 246 children available for adoption without an identified adoptive home.

There is no charge to become a foster family, and licensing workers are happy to work with your family throughout the foster care licensing process. There is no charge to adopt a foster child in Michigan, and many children are waiting for their forever home. Most families receive a financial subsidy for adoptive children, along with health insurance and other supportive benefits.

Adoptive families are offered supportive services through U.P. Kids’ Post-Adoptive Resource Center (PARC). Adoption comes with its own obstacles, and Post-Adoption Specialists are there to help families thrive together. Post-Adoption Specialists partner with adoptive families to connect them to resources, and offer training, support, and advocacy. PARC is available for all adoptive families throughout the adoptee’s childhood, whether they adopted through foster care or a privatel adoption, and is free for families to utilize.

Families UPWARD is an innovative new program at U.P. KIDS.

The program takes a look at problems families may be experiencing and helps break the generational cycle of trauma. Caseworkers collaborate with families to strengthen them using evidence-based models and professional training, as well as family input to come up with a plan to best serve it. Each family is unique. Families UPWARD focuses on and helps build upon each family’s strengths while helping the family to overcome its challenges.

U.P. KIDS’ Big Brothers Big Sisters programs inspire children to realize their full potential and build brighter futures by providing strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships. This opens up new perspectives for children by offering friendship, guidance, and opportunities for enriching activities with caring volunteers.

While your family may not require U.P. Kids’ services, any family can work to become stronger a stronger unit.

Here are four tips for parenting from U.P. Kids:

1) Boost your child’s self-esteem throughout their childhood. Set a goal to praise your child for being (i.e. “You are so wonderful!”) and praise for doing (i.e. “Thank you so much for doing that!”). While it may seem a little strange at first, praising your child can be a step in the right direction for developing good self-esteem. Low self-esteem, low self-worth, and negative self-talk is developed during childhood and can lead to many negative consequences as your child grows. Children thrive when caregivers focus on the positive things they do and not just the things we are trying to correct.

2) Ensure quality time with your children. In today’s busy world, it is more important than ever to provide your child your undivided attention. Set time each day to be fully present for your child(ren). Some fun ways to engage can be asking questions to get a conversation going–“Can you share the best part of your day? What do you think your life will be like in the future? Would you rather eat pickles and peanut butter, or pickles and chocolate?” Opening the door to conversations and showing interest in your child(ren) will keep communication open throughout their lives.

3) Be flexible with discipline techniques and allow yourself grace. No child comes with a manual on how to parent them. Each child has their own love language, personality, and their own uniqueness. There is no parenting style that is going to work for all children just like we adults are not the same. (And how boring a world it would be if we were!)

There is no shame in tweaking your parenting as you learn and as your child grows. Nothing in life works rigidly; we need to learn to roll with the punches gracefully. And no parent is perfect. What makes a good parent is the willingness to learn and grow. Apologize when you mess up—this is a great moment for modeling that we are all human and capable of making mistakes.

4) Practice being empathetic and teach your child(ren) empathy. Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes does not come automatically. It’s a skill that needs to be constantly practiced and modeled. Looking at things from a child’s perspective will help you be empathetic.

When a child is having a meltdown, being mindful of how difficult it can be when feeling many emotions is important. Instead of getting flustered, try to empathize. Children and adolescents are not hard-wired with the skills to emotionally regulate themselves, nor to be aware of how others perceive them. When they feel big emotions, those emotions are huge for them even when their reasons may seem absurd to us adults due to our much bigger foundation of experiences, for example, not getting their way, wanting to have a toy at the store, getting hurt, etc.

If you’re willing and able to make room in your heart and your life to help more children in the UP, here are some ways you can do so:

  1. Become a foster or adoptive family. To find out more about becoming a licensed foster or a pre-approved adoptive family, please contact Dolores Kilpela at dolores@upkids.com.
  2. Support UP foster families by providing respite care, donating to your local foster closet, or lending a hand to a foster family with a new child placement.
  3. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister and mentor a child who needs a positive role model. If you’re interested in applying for Big Brother Big Sister of the Western Upper Peninsula, please contact Maggie Munch at bbs@upkids.com.

*See the businesses that supported Health & Happiness’s 2022 donation to U.P. Kids in our upcoming post.

Article by Alysa Cherubini-Sutinen, PARC Supervisor & Families UPWARD, Dolores Kilpela, Foster Care, Adoption, & Licensing Supervisor, Sarah Codere, Executive Director

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Health & Happiness 2020 Donation Winner: Camp New Day, Akasha Khalsa

For youths who have a parent incarcerated in the prison system, it can be difficult to have fun childhood experiences without being weighed down by the burdens of their complex family lives. One organization in the U.P. set out nearly two decades ago to provide such youths a place where they could let go of their burdens for a week and enjoy the outdoors while in community with other young people in similar life situations.

Camp New Day is the Upper Peninsula’s only summer camp that serves youths with parents or caregivers who are incarcerated, and it is this year’s recipient of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine’s annual donation for 2020. (See p.9 for more info.)
The camp lasts for one week each July and includes activities such as archery, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and nighttime campfires. Although the camp’s target population is children of incarcerated parents, the camp’s goal is to be a typical summer camp experience where kids only talk about their experiences with caregiver incarceration if they wish to.
“A lot of our kids have a lot of burdens and things that they have to tend to at home and it just lets them have a hopefully carefree week being kids,” Board President and Camp Director Gene Champagne said. “We’re perfectly willing to talk about [incarceration] if the camper wants to talk about it, but usually the counselors hear it at night in stories, and when the kids are talking in their cabins.” 

To serve the camp’s target population, camp staff receives two days of in-depth training before the week begins. 

“We have pretty rigorous training, not only what the state requires us to teach and educate our staff about, but also things that might be unique to children who have an incarcerated parent or caregiver,” explains Champagne. “Some of them might be, not all, but some of them, might have more examples of anxiety or [feelings of] worthlessness or guilt or who knows what else that might be associated with the incarceration.”
Oftentimes, Champagne said, the campers may come in unsure of themselves and unsure of the camp experience, but by the middle of the week they acclimate to the carefree atmosphere.
“Sometimes the smiles don’t come out until Wednesday; I call it Miracle Wednesday. You know, some kids might come in never having been to a summer camp before. I know the first time I went, I was probably nervous and scared. And some of them might come in with a real defensive attitude, (having) never been to camp before,” Champagne said. “But I call it Miracle Wednesday because by Wednesday they’ve had a day and a half at camp, and they realize, Hey, this is a fun, safe place to be. I’m getting three square meals a day and we’re doing all this cool stuff. And you see the smiles really start to come out.”
The organization, which hosted its first camp in 2002, drew the idea for its mission from a social outreach project at St. Paul’s church in Marquette inspired by a camp with the same premise in Denver.
The camp currently accepts U.P. youths aged nine to fourteen, and provides any necessities to the campers to ensure they are able to attend, according to Champagne.

“We provide everything free of charge to the campers, whether they need a toothbrush, bedding, or transportation,” Champagne said.

Camp New Day U.P. usually accommodates about twenty-five to thirty campers each summer. The campers are housed in four cabins by age range and gender, with about six campers and two counselors per cabin.
Unfortunately, Champagne said, the organization was unable to host a camp this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so instead board members traveled to see some of the campers and give them care packages of items that would usually have been distributed at camp, including beach towels, blankets, sunscreen, glasses, games, and other camping supplies.
In the future, Champagne said, the camp hopes to expand to accommodate children who age out of the current program. Although the target population is often quite mobile due to the foster care system and family financial burdens, making it difficult to keep in touch with campers through the years, Camp New Day U.P. hopes to host small regional camps throughout the year for high school students. 

The camp survives on the generosity of organizations and individuals, Champagne said.

People donate time, money and goods to the program. Counselors for the camp are always in demand, especially male counselors for the boys’ cabins, added Champagne. The camp also looks for volunteers who can share fun skills with the campers.
“There’s groups of individuals around the UP that make blankets for these kids all year and donate to the camp, and the kids are just amazed,” Champagne said.
“I didn’t know there were so many people who cared about us… and who don’t even know us,” an anonymous camper said.
Akasha Khalsa is a student at Northern Michigan University, where she studies English literature and French. She is currently employed as a desk editor for the North Wind Independent Student Newspaper.

Excerpted with permission from the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

New Issue Out!

The Winter 2016 – 2017 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine is out and bursting with helpful information on Sleep, Self-Care, Holiday Gift-Giving, Green Living, Positive Parenting, Services for Elders, Pet Safety and much more!

We are also excited to announced the recipient of our 2016 donation – Partridge Creek Farm’s Children’s Programming! You can learn all about this non-profit organization in our leading article and previous post!

To find out where you can pick up a copy of this latest issue, click here.

Announcing Health & Happiness’s 2013 Donation!

As part of Year Two of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine’s 5-year commitment to increased support for a different area of community life each year, we’ve increased our coverage of youth and parenting issues and have chosen two local children’s programs to receive our annual donation – Start the Cycle, and Music 4 All Kids.

We’d like to thank those advertisers who have generously added to this donation  – Moonstone Gallery, Coco’s Restaurant, Panara Imports, Hempy’s Company, Huron Earth Deli, Alicia Smith Dambeck, LAc, CH, Aurelia Holistic Health & Healing, Wendi Greer, CSW, Natural Connections, Serendipity Salon, Intuitive Learning Creations, Elements of Consignment, Intentional Healing, Joy Center, and Northstar Employee Assistance Program.

Click here for more on Music 4 All Kids, including MFAK Director Shane Murray’s response to receiving our donation.

We look forward to including a special feature on Start the Cycle in an upcoming issue.

And please comment here to let us know what you’d like to see added to our youth and parenting content, or on our Facebook page.

Our special Season for Giving & Living Health & Happiness issue goes to press today! It will be delivered to over 250 Marquette & Alger County locations over the next week. I hope it will inspire you to do just that, for an extra wonderful holiday, and beyond!

With best wishes,

Roslyn Elena McGrath, Publisher

Health & Happiness’s 2012 Donation

We’re thrilled to announce the recipient of Health & Happiness’s 2012 donation, as part of year one of our five-year commitment to supporting a different area of community life each year, beginning with Elder Care this year.

Our recipient private, non-profit organization is in its twenty-fifth year of providing quality, caring assistance to a growing need of local elders and their families, regardless of their ability to pay.

Specially trained staff at Marquette Adult Day Services, located in Marquette’s First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Front and Bluff Streets, provide those with memory impairment, Alzheimer’s Disease or other related dementias, as well as elders who would otherwise be isolated and lonely, with meaningful social and recreational activities in a safe and supportive environment.

Puzzles, music, singing, arts and crafts, exercise, bingo, Game Day, birthday and holiday parties, reminiscence group, creative storytelling, sensory stimulation, bingo, even table volley ball, are just some of the creative, helpful activities offered.

Local resident Jane Van Evera appreciates that “The staff are intelligent, optimistic, and caring people who bring education, common sense and community mindedness to our area.”

For those wishing to participate, an intake and assessment interview with the caregiver and/or participant is scheduled. Staff members then work with the family to determine a successful experience for their loved one, and caregivers can attend with their loved one until they feel comfortable leaving him or her in MADS expert hands. Fees are  on a sliding scale basis, and no one is ever turned away for inability to pay.

Free transportation is also available from the Marq-Tran bus service, with Marquette Adult Day Services staff assisting with pick-up and drop-off, and riding on the bus with participants.

Approximately half of Marquette Adult Day Services funds come from UPCAP/the Area Agency on Aging, one-fourth from caregiver fees, and the remainder from small local grants, (11%), individual donations, (6%), and the Marquette County senior millage, (5%).  Additional forms of assistance are also provided by the First Presbyterian Church, Pathways, Marquette General Hospital’s Neuroscience Center, Marquette County Aging Services, and the Great Michigan Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Marquette Adult Day Services programs run Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 am to 4 pm, and can include up to thirteen participants a day; however the agency is currently seeking a larger space to rent or possibly own that would allow it to be open five days a week and serve more of this growing portion of our population.

If you have a special talent to share with participating seniors, you would be welcome to do so. For example, various musicians have come in, as well as a tai chi expert and a massage therapist providing foot massages monthly. among others. Local jewelry-maker Beth Millner has recently designed a pendant she is selling with 50% of the proceeds going to support Marquette Adult Day Services. Direct financial donations are also greatly appreciated to assist with rising costs and needs.

And a big congratulations and thank you to Marquette Adult Day Services for all it does!

For more information on Marquette Adult Day Services, or to schedule a visit, contact (906) 226-2142, or go to their website, http://www.marquetteadultdayservices.com.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Winter 2012 – 2013 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2012. All rights reserved.

Where Should the Money Go?

In honor of our 5th Aniversary, Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine has made a 5-year commitment to additional support for a particular area of community life each year, beginning this year with Elder Care. As part of this commitment, we will be contributing money to a local Elder Care non-profit agency or project. There are many worthy candidates to choose from, so we need your help! Please tell us where you think the money should go and why by using the comment box below or emailing hhupmag@charter.net by November 1st, 2012. And please ask your friends and neighbors to weigh in too!

With thanks & best wishes,

Roslyn Elena McGrath, Publisher