Yoga Reaches Out

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Yoga Reaches Out Yogathons throughout the U.S. benefit the empowerment and well-being of the world’s children.

Yoga Reaches Out South Carolina is hosting a yogathon on Sunday, October 11 at the Columbia Convention Center. All proceeds from the event are being donated to Palmetto Place and Achieve Columbia. We are hopoing to have about 500 people doing yoga with us on 10-11-15.

Every Saturday morning from 8-12, we are setting up a table at Soda City right at the corner of Main and Hampton (in front of the museum fountain) to promote the event and drive registrations. We have YRO representatives and Palmetto Place volunteers at the table. Come by to learn more about YRO, Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter and Achieve Columbia!

Join us on 10.11.15 for Yoga Reaches Out South Carolina Featuring Rolf Gates benefitting Achieve Columbia and Palmetto Place Children’s Shelter at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

CLICK HERE to get the latest #YROSC2015 NEWS FOR YOUR CITY DELIVERED to your INBOX >> http://eepurl.com/bq_4RX

Join the Facebook event here! 

Register as an individual or as a team, and find out all the exciting details here!

 

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Yoga Reaches Out South Carolina will host a meditation on the South Carolina State House grounds on Friday, September 11 at 7:00 a.m. The free Unity Through Yoga event is designed to promote unity and share the benefits of meditation with the public. Local yoga instructor Pamela Meriwether will lead the session, and hot “uni-tea” will be available to attendees following the meditation. The event will conclude by 7:30 a.m.

Sharing Samantha’s Story

One of our volunteers put together a video about one of our former residents, Samantha, and her journey from homelessness to success. We are so proud of Samantha and all of her hard work!

Samantha came to us during her senior year in high school. She had been living with her family in a church’s Sunday School classroom. After Samantha’s graduation, the church notified her family that the classroom was no longer available for them to sleep in. They had to move out immediately. That’s when Samantha found Palmetto Place.

When she started college in fall 2013, Samantha’s Palmetto Place family took her shopping for dorm supplies. They took her to lunch on her first day and then said teary goodbyes. They were like any normal family – just a bit more unconventional.

Today, Samantha still comes “home” on the weekends. She plays with the younger children and tutors the older ones. We taught her how to drive and helped her buy her first car.

We asked Samantha to tell us what happened to some of her homeless friends. She replied, “All of the homeless teens I’ve met were from Palmetto Place and they’re all doing well for themselves.”

Samantha knows many, however, who weren’t so lucky. “Some kids from my old neighborhoods haven’t gotten the support I did at Palmetto Place. They are in prison, on their third child, or doing illegal things to get money.”

“Palmetto Place gives a chance to kids like me to make something of ourselves.” Samantha will always remember her time here fondly, as it led her to realize that “there are people out there who care about us and want us to succeed. Thank you!”

“I can’t believe we moved to Disney World!”

I’d spent weeks planning a beach trip for our kids – everything from our accommodations and sleeping arrangements to packing towels and toys. I had never been to Hilton Head myself and thought I may have been more excited than the kids (I mean after all, we were staying at the Disney Beach Resort)! The morning finally came, and I woke up early to arrive at the shelter, tired yet excited. As I walked into the house, I expected the kids to be just as tired as I was. Boy was I wrong. There was nothing but excitement throughout the house, and it was evident in the huge smiles plastered across each of their faces. We loaded into the cars and were off!

 

Every time we changed interstates or turned on to yet another back road we heard an excited chorus of “Are we close?” and “Are we there yet?” And every time the response was, “Not yet.” As we drove over the last bridge, landing us on the island, their questions were finally answered. From the backseat, a little girl spotted the “Welcome to Hilton Head” sign and let out a shriek of excitement. “We’re here!”

 

We walked up to the gate at the pool, and the kids got their first glimpse of the water slide. More shrieks of excitement from our crowd (including the staff, of course). The boys barely got their shirts off before they jumped in, each one making a bigger splash than the last. As they came up out of the water they were smiling from ear to ear. At last they were just kids, untroubled and carefree, playing in the pool with their friends.

 

The boys are great swimmers. They loved to show off how long they could float and how far they could swim underwater. Our littlest guy – age 6 – swam like a fish for hours in the pool, determined to do everything the other boys were doing. By the end of the day, he was utterly exhausted, but just as thrilled as he was at the beginning. One of the older boys, Neil, even helped teach some of the younger kids how to swim! “Just take a deep breath and you’ll float,” he instructed. “The most important part is to always kick your feet.”

 

One little girl, Ivy, determined that the water slide was by far the greatest thing in the world, and she proceeded to spend the next several hours going down that slide, keeping count each time. When the day was coming to a close she said proudly, “I did the slide 65 times!” Another little girl wasn’t tall enough to ride the slide, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying “the bubbles” at the bottom. She would ask to be taken to the middle, where the current was strongest, and would float back to the wall on her own.

 

I really thought the day couldn’t get any better. The kids were totally exhausted, but never let their smiles fade. Little did I know that dinner was going to be an adventure of its own. We arrived at the restaurant and the kids picked their tables. The older teens, who had been helping the younger kids at the pool all day, got to sit by themselves. I am continually surprised by the respect and manners our kids show: “Hello, my name is T and I’d like to have a cheeseburger and fries for dinner, please.” Entrees started coming out of the kitchen and eyes grew wide. “What’s that? Can I try some? That hamburger has avocado on it!”

 

Two young men chatted with our hosts and said “Thank you.” The same two young men got to meet golf pros and even shook hands with one of them. The golf pro commented, “Wow, that’s a great handshake!” as they chatted all about his golf game. Our houseparents deserve so much credit for teaching our kids how to introduce themselves, to say “please” and “thank you,” and to shake hands.

 

The day was coming to an end, but when we got back to the resort they had a special treat waiting for us – Mickey Mouse ice cream! We finished our ice cream and walked down the channel, looking at boats and picking sea shells out of the sidewalk; a perfect end to a perfect day. As we were getting into bed one little girl whispered that she couldn’t believe we had moved to Disney World!

 

The next morning the kids were ready for the beach! For one special girl, this was the first time at the beach. After carefully setting foot on beach sand and playing in the salty water, she asked what else one does at the beach. She wanted to make sure she did EVERYTHING. So that’s what we did – everything. We picked up shells along the beach, we played in the tidal pools, we flew kites, and we covered her in sand, temporarily turning her into a mermaid.

 

Our littlest one wore her swim wings the entire time, regardless of how close she was to the water. She helped build a sand castle, gave one of our new friends a “sand manicure,” and hosted a boat race in the tidal pool.

 

It had been a great trip. We were all kissed by the sun and covered in sand. All the film was used on their disposable cameras, leaving memories that will last a lifetime. We packed back into the cars and headed back to the shelter. The ride back was quiet; the kids were asleep in the back dreaming of their adventures. A small voice broke the silence “I miss the shelter, it feels like we’ve been gone forever.”

Grace Bennett, Project Coordinator 

 

My Favorite Firecracker

Kayleigh Medina was a volunteer at Palmetto Place in the spring of 2015. These are her reflections on her time with our kids:

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For the past semester, I’ve been volunteering at a local children’s shelter. At first, I was only going with the intentions of getting my 15 community service hours for one of my classes. The first time I went, I was terrified. I love kids, but I found every reason to complain about taking time out of my week to hang out with kids that might not even like me. Boy, was I wrong. Here I am, in tears at the end of the semester because I won’t get to see any of them for 3 months, and I might not see some of them ever again.

The first time I went to Palmetto Place, I was scared, skeptical, and hesitant. I thought the kids were going to make fun of me, distrust me, and want nothing to do with me. I quickly realized that this was not true at all. Yes, they were sassy and defensive – but can you blame them? Many of them have already had to fend for themselves considerably during their relatively short lives.

Out of all of the children I have met here, one special three year-old girl has impacted me the most. She is an absolute firecracker. I met her the second time I volunteered here. She latched right on to me, and we became buddies. Later that day, she fell into a bad mood, and decided that she didn’t want to share with any of us. I held her still for a minute and asked, “Do you know why I am here?” She shook her head, “No.” I replied, “I am here to play with you and to be your friend. Do you want to be my friend?” She nodded her head with an excited “Yes!” I prompted her, “Well, friends share with each other, love each other, and are kind to each other – think you can handle that?” I watched her consider my request for approximately thirty seconds, and then I watched her completely refute my advice (three year-olds and logic don’t always mesh well). I left that day, knowing that I learned something big, and hoping that this little girl did too.

I returned the next week, and immediately felt someone tugging at my shirt (and, of course, my heart). I looked down and (who would have guessed it?) it was that same little girl. She excitedly declared “I’m not going to do what I did last time because I want to be your friend.” This was huge, coming from a three year-old. It took me only that moment to realize that I wasn’t here just to sign off on a few service hours and leave. I was there for children like her. I was there because I am passionate about these special children and this special place. I wasn’t assigned to Palmetto Place. I went there, and I continued to go, because I felt like I was able to make an impact on these children.

I now go to Palmetto Place every Thursday, and it is honestly the highlight of my week. I get excited just walking into that door and hanging out with these kids once a week. They break my heart and mend it back together all at the same time. Thinking about what these kids have already gone through in their lives tears me apart. Why should innocent children have to suffer from situations that aren’t in their control whatsoever? When I think about the home that these children and youth might be coming from, and the home that they might have to return to, I am so thankful for their temporary home at Palmetto Place. Without non-profit homes and shelters like Palmetto Place, these children could have ended up in mass orphanages, or in unsteady, and often unsafe, home environments.

My time serving at the shelter this past semester is something that I will never forget. These kids will remain in my heart and my prayers for a long time. The hope that I see in their eyes, despite everything they have been through, is beautiful to me. These children have every right to feel disparaged by, and distrustful of, the world, yet they placed their trust right in the palm of my hand. Here at Palmetto Place, I get to help kids realize their full potential in life, and teach them that they aren’t defined by their starting points in life, but by how far they come.

May is National Foster Care Month

May is National Foster Care Month, a month set aside to acknowledge foster parents, family members, volunteers, mentors, policymakers, child welfare professionals and other members of the community who help children and youth in foster care find permanent homes and connections. During National Foster Care Month, we renew our commitment to ensuring a bright future for the nearly 400,000 children and youth in foster care, and we celebrate all those who make a meaningful difference in their lives.

Visit online for more information.

–From The Children’s Bureau, within the US Dept. of Health & Human Services

Midlands Gives – Thank you!

Thank you Midlands! With your help, we raised more than $9,600 on Midlands Gives Day!

Midlands Gives is Central Carolina Community Foundation’s online resource that connects donors with nonprofit organizations like us. Midlands Gives is 24 hours of unprecedented giving and a way to join with thousands of others to stand together for the Midlands.

Your donation goes a long way in helping our kids. From age 3 to age 19, we help kids of all ages find comfort, encouragement and success. Our kids come from homes of abuse and neglect as well as homelessness. Palmetto Place helps to heal and provide love for each and every kid who comes to live with us. This year, we are very excited to have a young lady graduating from high school this year and going on to college. Your gift of $20 or more can help other kids find that same success.

Thanks for helping to Magnify the Midlands!

Thunder Riders Poker Run Results

Thank you Thunder Riders HOG!!! Together, $4,000 was raised to help Palmetto Place! We are so excited to have partnered with you!

Thanks to our volunteers who came out and helped that day too.

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The Thunder Riders HOG is sponsoring a Poker Run to benefit Palmetto Place’s children! The event will be held Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Thunder Tower Harley Davidson. Registration for the Poker Run is from 10 to 11:30 am.

                                 Feb 2015 Team Card (1)

First bike out is at 11 am. Last bike in is at 3 pm. The Harley Davidson demo truck will be at Thunder Tower Harley Davidson during and after the Poker Run. The day will feature door prizes, a silent auction, music and food. $300 for best hand, $200 for second best hand and $100 for worst hand. $25 for rider and $15 for passenger includes food at the end of the run.

Thunder Tower Location:  190 Pontiac Business Center Drive, Elgin, SC.

For more information visit: http://www.thundertowerharley.com/harley-motorcycles-events–xcalendar

  
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Learning New Names

I learn so much more from Palmetto Place than I will ever be able to teach. This proves itself to me time and time again, particularly when I need a reminder of what’s important (and thank you, God, for those reminders).

This week’s lesson was about learning names. We have wonderful houseparents and other staff caring for our children, but I think it must be overwhelming and challenging for a new kiddo to learn all of our names and learn — quickly — that we are all going to keep this child safe and provide love. A new little girl arrived on Sunday, scared and in pain inside and out. We have surrounded her with love. Our houseparents have served the role of aunt, sister, cousin, friend, teacher and, maybe most importantly, nurse. As we’ve cared for this child each day – just Sunday, Monday and Tuesday so far – we have all turned 100% of our focus and concern and prayers to her.

Yesterday afternoon, the kids were coloring Easter eggs from coloring books. Each egg had an initial on and the kids were picking out a J for Mrs. Jackie and Ms. Jenny, a V for Mrs. Vera, a G for Mrs. Gloria, a T for Mrs. Thelma, etc. And then this quiet little voice spoke up and said “and an M for Ms. Matilda and an E for Mrs. Erin.” And she kept going with names. My heart sang! In the midst of her pain and trauma, she knew our names! She had learned so quickly who was taking care of her! We’d earned her trust!

Easter eggs

And then I knew, she was going to be ok. Sweat the small things. It’s always the small things that our kids remember. One day she’ll remember that Palmetto Place was a happy place and that an amazing group of houseparents with hearts as big as the whole wide world loved her and took care of her when she needed it.

~~ Erin Hall, Executive Director

When the phone rings…

When the phone rings at Palmetto Place, there is a good  chance that it’s a placement call, a DSS caseworker from Columbia or somewhere around the state trying to find a place for a child who has been abused or neglected. I dread those calls because, so often, we are full. I dread having to say, “No, I’m sorry, we can’t take this child.” I know that caseworker is calling every children’s home and children’s emergency shelter around the state, desperate for an available bed for a child in need.

This week has been one with many of those calls. Five kids from one county 2 hours away. Five more kids from another county an hour away. Two teenagers, one pregnant and one with a baby, from 2 hours away. Four from right here in the Midlands and three homeless teenagers here in Columbia. Add it up. That’s 19 in one week. 19 kids who needed Palmetto Place.

We were able to take four. Just four out of 19. It is heartbreaking. It weighs heavily on the hearts and souls of our houseparents. It requires an immense amount of trust, prayer and faith.

teens with heart

Sometimes the calls come in at the same time and our team has to come together and decide which kids to take in – which kids we can help the most; which kids will fit in at Palmetto Place and be able to thrive and be loved. That was yesterday. We chose to take two kids from this area so that they could be close to their family and so that siblings could stay together and not be in different children’s homes.

I pray we made the right decision. I pray for the other kids for whom we didn’t have room.

The two new kids who arrived earlier this week have settled in to life at Palmetto Place – a home full of brothers and sisters! They seem happy. There are smiles and hugs. One little girl is not quite up to hugging yet but she’s definitely up for having her hair brushed. I think today just might be the day we warm up to a hug.

Our new kids are about to experience a Palmetto Place weekend – visits from our F3 friends and our friends from Junior Woman’s Club of Columbia, a trip to see a play, a new mentor and much more. Everyone will be safe, protected and loved this weekend and all of our kids will get to be kids! It’s just another weekend at Palmetto Place, doing what we do best. Thanks to everyone who is a part of this Palmetto Place family!

~From Erin Hall, Executive Director