Community Free Clinic
Did you know that in 2016 Washington County had the fourth highest teen pregnancy rate in the state of Maryland at 39 per 1,000 between the ages of 15-19 according to the County Health Rankings? The Community Free Clinic created the SWAG program (Services We All Get) to specifically target teenagers in hopes of having a positive impact on this statistic. Through SWAG, the Clinic provides free and confidential reproductive health services, including birth control, pregnancy testing, STD treatment and education on implementing a healthier lifestyle. Because of the success of this program and the county-wide need for it, the Clinic will use their Responsive Grant of $5,000 to expand this service to young adults between the ages of 20-24.
Teen Liaison & Outreach Officer Major Warren is crucial to the success of the SWAG program, meeting with each and every teen when they visit the Clinic. He is honest and direct when speaking to them, covering all topics including alcohol and drug use, STDs, pregnancy, unhealthy diets and lifestyle. He communicates on their level, asking questions, such as “All good in the hood?” Major creates a safe environment, getting the teenagers to open up about why they came to the clinic. He helps them realize on their own what mistakes they have made and how to develop healthier habits and implement lifestyle changes in order to rectify or avoid risky situations. This consistent relationship between client and care provider is key in building trust in the youth population.
At the end of their visit, Major makes sure the kids have received the right services and supplies, as well as a “SWAG” tote bag with candy. “Even though they think they are all grown up and know everything, they are still kids after all,” he said. “I want them to leave here smiling, so they want to come back or tell their friends.” Most teens who visit the Clinic for this program are referred by word of mouth from their peers. “I know they wouldn’t come in otherwise,” said Major. “And it’s so important that they do.”
By offering these services to help prevent both teen pregnancies and unplanned pregnancies in young adults, the Clinic hopes to create a healthier adult population in Washington County.
Ladders to Leaders
Ladders to Leaders is not in the business of treating addiction; they are in the business of recovery and restoration of lives through stable employment, sober housing and personal responsibility. On any given day, two dozen people in recovery are learning a trade, earning a salary, paying rent and moving forward thanks to the efforts of founder, David Lidz. Lidz, himself in recovery for over two decades, runs a for profit company that trains and employs many of Ladders to Leaders clients. In many cases, participants come to Ladders to Leaders with no skill set, but learn a trade that will take them through their lifetime.
Ladders to Leaders used their $5,000 Responsive Grant to hire an administrative person to collect and correlate data that will provide outcomes to assist with future funding. The position will also help develop and deepen partnerships with organizations serving a similar population and match participants with appropriate apprenticeships. Ladders to Leaders found Eva Kelley, who is in recovery herself, to fill this new role. Eva was referred to the program by the Day Reporting Center, bringing with her a valuable skill set and a background in social services as well as an understanding of what it takes to overcome addiction and related struggles.
When possible, apprentice opportunities are established with participant’s gifts and interests in mind. Jeremy Clay has always loved history and working with his hands. These things have come together for him as he apprentices through Ladders to Leaders with George Gibney. George teaches Jeremy masonry, stone pointing and other related skills. They are working on an historic property undergoing renovation and preservation. Jeremy is not only learning a life-long trade, but earning money and living sober. Other Ladders to Leaders workers are also onsite training in several trades and studying archeology.
Ladders to Leaders does not have a clinical or therapeutic component. The program is open to recovering addicts that have detoxed and want to move forward. Peer support, social enterprise and accountability encourage participants to invest in themselves. Ladders for Leaders is not a safe place to fall. It is a safe place to move forward.