Spindrift March 31, 2022

President Mike began with George Lesley leading us in an invocation oriented towards peace in the Ukraine, and Fran Murphy led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.


Richard Swinney, our Secretary, and also involved in the Priority Center, introduced our speaker, Laura Henkels, who was rather recently hired on the staff of the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center. She is now the Director of Corporate and Foundation relations at the Priority Center. She’s got over 25 years of marketing and sales management and has made deals with some of the largest companies including ACE Hardware, Costco, Taco Bell, Target, Microsoft. She developed the event calendar for the LA Times.

Laura Henkels

Laura said she was here just to talk to you about the Pinwheel Garden campaign. (A signup sheet is going around next week as well, and you will be billed.) Richard thought it would be good if she could give an overview of what we’re doing at the Priority Center.

Laura has been there about two months, but the Priority Center has been around for 39 years, formerly known as the Child Abuse Prevention Center. This is our mission: “...to end the generational cycle of trauma.” Preventing child abuse through intervention, prevention, and advocacy. In the last 15 years Orange County’s suicide rate has raised 140%. In the United States, child abuse is reported every 10 seconds. So, obviously there is a need for a procedure that will successfully protect children from abuse with excellent service, which is what we do. Our approach is intervention, and what we really try to focus on is prevention.

So we have at the Priority Center, NINE programs for Orange County.

The first one is called CAST: Child Abuse Services Team opened in 1989 to “reduce the trauma for child victims during the investigation of their abuse.” Most of CAST’s clients are victims of sexual abuse, have observed serious crimes, such as domestic violence, homicide, kidnapping and human trafficking. The child goes to one place and tells the story one time. In other counties the children have to go through seven or eight different interviews.

Children's In-Home Crisis Stabilization Program. The next is our anti-suicide. We focus on children who have suicidal ideation. They’re not to the point where they need to be hospitalized. We in- tervene and what we do is we actually go to the homes of our clients.

Adult In-Home Crisis Stabilization Program. And the adult suicidal ideation program does the same thing for adults who are experiencing suicidal ideation.

Our Basic Needs program provides critically needed household items to Orange County families. They may not be able to buy their kids food, clothing, car seats, diapers, hygiene supplies, beds.

The Infant-Toddler Home Visitation Program provides up to two years of services for families with children 0-3 years of age. A lot of them struggle with post-partum depression. We provide basically what they need. Again, we always visit them at the home.

This program is called HVP, Home Visiting Program provides resilient parenting and early learning connection services. It’s the same as the previous one but we’ll go to homes where the kids are older. Some of these families have parents that do not speak English, but the kids are going to school and they are learning English, and their parents can’t help them, so that’s one of the things we offer in home visits.

Outreach and Engagement. Thinking feeling, being well. Each of these programs has its own staff. There are days when the case managers don’t go out into the community so people don’t know about our service, especially when you’re in that crisis, you don’t know where to turn.

School Readiness is a three-month program for families with young children from age 8, and so we help assess if the child is ready to go to school. A lot of these parents are just struggling to pay rent, buy food, get diapers, so this is another one of our programs that we go into the homes to help.

Connected Care is our newest program and this program was born from the other program where people are receiving suicidal ideation. So, this program is funded. We do have a Government contract, but three weeks is a big risk of having that extra crisis in their life. So, the Connect Care program was developed to help those people. So right now we have ONE case worker at the Connected Care facility. Usually it would be people who are in that suicide ideation or homicidal ideation.

An example. The case manager had a client who wasn’t suicidal or homicidal but she was having early onset Alzheimer’s, so she wasn’t remembering to pay her rent,
and she was also starting to exhibit signs of schizophrenia and lost her job. She had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, and nobody to help her. She was referred to the Priority Center and we put her in to the Connected Care program. Our lab did everything for her. Pumped her gas, helped her find an apartment, she connected her with health care. So she would make an appointment and not remember. We took her in, helped her with everything. She didn’t have any family around, and finally, after about a year, she got into a nice facility that is a non-profit nursing home...it’s a nice one... so she’s in there and she’s all taken care of.

So, those are our nine programs. Each one runs independently, funded independently. One of the things that we do is called Families Helping Families. It’s our Christmas program. So, community members adopt a family and family puts together a Santa Clause list and the community member buys the presents for the kids. For most of them, they only get what their children are going to get. If you’d like to come and help it gives you really a good feeling to see this happening. So, that’s one of our biggest advocacy programs.

Our second one is Ready, Set, Learn campaign. I remember making a list...it’s sad that that is a luxury, so what we do is to get backpacks, fill them with school supplies and then we have a big drawing. The Priority Center goes out and gives these backpacks to the kids. We try to remove that transportation barrier.

If you want to participate in our annual Gala event, it is Saturday, April 23, Balboa Bay club. “A Night in Havana”. There will be a signup sheet.

NEXT WEEK  is Guest Day. Bring a guest.



Mar 31  -  Guest Day! Surprise program.

Pres. Mike Gertner

Apr 7  -  TBD

Apr 14  -  Evin Planto of American Legion Post 291, “Changes in Military Communications”

This week we will be at the BCYC. Lunch will be served at 12:15 pm. You will be emailed an invitation two days before the meeting. Please notify Richard Swinney by this Wed 2 PM if you are planning on attending.