From “Beatrice,” age 15
I think CALM has changed me into the person I never thought I’d be, happy. A year ago, I was so depressed I wouldn’t even leave my bed. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying. I never went to school. I’d hurt myself everyday. Now, after a year I can look in the mirror and smile. I started going back to school. I graduated. I stopped hurting myself. I can’t act like I don’t have my bad days, because we all do. But now when I feel down, I know how to cope with it. I just grab a piece of paper and pen and write it all down. I used to hide my feeling and never open up. Now I can talk about anything. This past year I really got to know and understand myself, I realized so much about myself. I really am a strong person. I can do anything I set my mind to. I honestly don’t think I’d be alive today without CALM. I regret every thought about suicide. CALM has helped me and my family in so many ways. I haven’t been hospitalized or arrested in a year, since I started CALM. I don’t know how I could ever repay CALM for everything. They have gotten donations for my family on Christmas, for school supplies and soccer. I’m thankful for everything they have done for me.
From Jennifer – a CALM supervisor
In supervision last week with Veronica Uribe, I heard a story that touched me and reminded me of how great work with clients transpires at CALM. Veronica had received a referral through Front Porch, because two parents were reported to CWS for child abuse. At the initial meeting, Veronica reports that the mother was guarded, resistant, and insisted that the family did NOT need services.
The father was placed in Sal Vargas’s parenting group. The mother showed up to her second meeting with Veronica with a completely different attitude. She reported that her husband enjoyed Sal’s group and remarked, “Though the people at CALM are educated they do not talk down to us. They don’t treat us differently. They are no different than us.” Veronica reflected this sentiment back to the mother and reminded her that we were here to help and support their family. At that meeting the mother disclosed a history of serious physical and sexual abuse. Veronica is almost certain that the mother has likely never shared this information with any outside helper before. The mother told Veronica that the family did in fact want CALM’s help and that they think it could benefit their family.
From “Ida” – grandmother of 4 year old “Rosie”
My granddaughter, “Rosie”, has been seen by Amelia over the past 1-1/2 years through your organization. She was referred to us through the County Social Services office for counseling. My husband, Henry, and I have had physical custody of “Rosie” for the past 2-1/2 years on the joint agreement with her father, our son, and ourselves. “Rosie” came to us very disturbed, physically combative, with serious behavior problems which her father and his wife could no longer handle as they had other children in the home. She was suspended from kindergarten several times and finally came to live with us with the hopes that the change of environment would help her to feel secure enough to grow and succeed in school and in life. It was no easy undertaking for my husband and myself. “Rosie” was abused, neglected and finally abandoned by her mother in her early years until her father became her lone guardian at just shy of 3 years of age.
We went through a couple of different counselors during the first year until we were introduced to Amelia from CALM. During the time that Amelia has seen “Rosie”, she has become a special part of our family. She has presented herself as an informed professional in her field, an advocate for “Rosie” in getting her the treatment she has needed in counseling, medically, as well, as in her education. She has been a wonderful support, always going the extra mile in helping educate us when we were not sure of the next step. She was always available to us, in walking through times of difficulty with “Rosie”’s behaviors and affirming us as grandparents in our efforts to help her during this time. She became a special friend for “Rosie”, always patient, encouraging her, being her personal cheerleader in times when “Rosie”, herself, felt overwhelmed with her situation.
We have seen great measures of success in “Rosie” which are so evident to all those that know and love her. She has become the loving, friendly little girl that was always there inside her just waiting to blossom. She is doing so well in school, with support, and has made sweet friends in her classmates and teachers. She is quite the social butterfly wherever she goes.
“Rosie” has now, again with Amelia’s help, been transitioned back into her father’s family home. Even though she has only been there a week, she is happy to be back with her family and is enjoying her new school, teachers and already making friends. While it has been difficult for my husband and I to release her, we are blessed to know that this is the outcome that was meant for her and that she will continue to get support in her new environment, again because of Amelia’s help.
We are so thankful that Amelia came into our lives; she will always be remembered by us as the angel we needed to guide us during this time. Words fail us to describe all that Amelia has meant to us and how appreciative we are that she came to us during a time when we did not have all the abilities we needed to help raise and guide our beautiful girl. She will always remain in our hearts and thank CALM for providing her with the resources to better serve your organization and other families in the community. Please feel free to use us as a referral source or reference for Amelia Smith.
Lydia’s* earliest memories were of violent fights between her parents that ended when she was 7 years old when her father left the family. Her mother suffered from severe depression and was often unable to provide the consistent care and attention that Lydia needed. As a teenager, Lydia suffered from low self-esteem and got involved with alcohol and boys who tended to mistreat her.
At age 17 Lydia gave birth to a baby boy. When he was one month old Lydia was referred to CALM’s Infant-Parent Program by her family doctor. The young mother was distraught, resenting the baby’s constant demands and complaining that the baby was “selfish” and “greedy” for waking her up at night.
“She was so overwhelmed and angry at her baby,” said the CALM therapist. “I helped to normalize her feelings and provide education about postpartum adjustment and the mood swings that many mothers experience.” Lydia was distrustful at first but the caring, non-judgmental attitude of the CALM worker helped her to open up and talk about her new role as a parent. Like many parents who seek help at CALM, Lydia had unresolved issues from her own childhood that made it difficult for her to provide nurturing environment for her baby.
After a few months of home visiting Lydia was confident enough to join one of CALM’s infant-parent support groups. As Lydia became more accepting of herself and more confident as a parent she was able to respond to her baby’s emotional needs and develop more empathy for him, which in turn, created mutual joy in their relationship. “It is amazing to see how bonded they are now,” said the CALM therapist, “the protective factors are beginning to outweigh the risk factors for this young single mother and her baby.”
Alana* came to CALM’s treatment office at the Family Resource Center in Carpinteria looking for help renewing Medi-Cal coverage for her two children. The CALM staff walked her across the hall to Health Linkages, who worked successfully with her to complete a medical application. While speaking with CALM’s Great Beginnings staff, Alana divulged that she had had a troubled childhood: the oldest of 11 children, she quit school in third grade to help take care of her younger siblings. In order to escape her family, she married the first man who proposed to her and became pregnant at 21. Her partner was physically abusive and insisted she have an abortion; she refused to comply and he left her.
The daughter is now 3 years old and Alana is in a new relationship and has a new baby. She was very concerned about her new baby, who was constipated and cried after each feeding. When the home visitor inquired about the feeding history, he discovered that Alana had stopped breast feeding at 3 weeks because she feared her negative feelings towards the baby were coming through the breast milk and harming him. She had also mixed the formula incorrectly, adding too much powdered milk due to her anxiety about his lack of weight gain. The home visitor strongly recommended an immediate consultation with the pediatrician and gently told her that mixing the formula in this way could be the cause of the constipation.
Alana was encouraged by Great Beginnings staff to join the parents’ group “Abrienda Puertas” (“Opening Doors”). At the first meeting, staff observed that Alana had a flat affect and was not connecting with her baby, making very little eye contact. As Alana listened in the group meeting about developmental stages, she shared that her 3 year old did not like to sit quietly and was very active, always running and jumping, and that she thought her daughter was stupid and a trouble-maker. Staff performed the ASQ and saw that the child’s physical behavior was in the normal range for her age and that her problem-solving and communication were above normal.
This was very encouraging to Alana, who stated that her own father had always dismissed her, telling her that she was stupid and a trouble-maker. Now she realized that she was following the same pattern. Alana said she was very happy to learn that she could change her behavior and feels very motivated to do so. Now when Alana comes to the group, the facilitators notice a change – her affect is no longer flat, she makes eye contact with her baby and kisses him and laughs with him. Alana says she wishes she had learned earlier what she learned from Abrienda Puertas and is resolved to change her ways of treating her children to become less negative, and more supportive.
During assessment sessions, the mother revealed that the pregnancy was unwanted and unplanned and that her marriage was in crisis at the time. The pregnancy was normal but the mother struggled emotionally and experienced high levels of depression, post-partum stress and inability to with her son. Chris was a hyper-active, difficult baby, constantly crying, which compounded the mother’s attachment issues and caused her to be angry with him. Since then, the marriage has stabilized, but Chris’ mother continued to punish him physically, and made emotionally abusive threats such as “When you do that, it makes me hate you.”
During the intake process at CALM, the child presented angry, defiant behavior and depression. He made statements such as, “I want to die. My mom doesn’t love me.” To address these behavioral and attachment issues PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy ) was recommended to this family.
The child clearly suffered from low self esteem and anger as a result of his mother’s inability to attach, as well as her lack of skills in managing her child’s behavioral issues. PCIT treatment helped the child feel more secure in his relationship with his mother and taught him to be more compliant with her directives. Mother was taught PRIDE skills and how to give commands and ask him to obey without violence.
After 9 months, Chris’ behavior has improved; he no longer suffers from depression, is less aggressive and has learned to obey his mother. Mother is very happy and proud to feel that she has learned positive parenting tools and is confident she can raise her son in a safe and supportive environment.
* Client names changed for confidentiality