Catholic Charities Connections

Summer 2015

Welcome to Catholic Charities Connections, sharing stories of how you have Provided Help and Created Hope for All People. Spend just a few minutes today and learnhow we work to empower individuals with the capacity and desire to improve their quality of life. We know your time is valuable and with our quarterly e-news our aim is to provide you with succinct updates and links to the work of Catholic Charities made possible by your support.

Program Profiles
JCCAC logo

It’s All About the Children

The Jackson County Child Advocacy Center (JCCAC) provides services for children, who have been sexually and/or severely physically abused. Prior to the opening of the JCCAC, in spite of best efforts, these children were often further traumatized by being processed through an adult oriented system. The essence of the JCCAC is a single forensic interview in a child-friendly environment, reducing the trauma a child may experience when he/she talks about the abuse. This protects them from further harm or re-victimization that results from multiple interviews by various professionals (protective service workers, police, prosecutors, etc).

The Forensic Interviewer’s work is at the heart of program. Retelling the story, can be made easier for the child. A forensic interview is a neutral, non-leading, developmentally-appropriate, and child-friendly information-gathering process. As illustrated by the middle-school aged boy who came into the Center to be interviewed regarding an allegation of sexual assault. His parents told the forensic interviewer that they didn’t think he would say anything. Although nervous at first, the boy made a full disclosure to the forensic interviewer. At the end of his interview, he told the interviewer that he felt so much better to finally talk about what happened.

The Child Advocacy Center also provides safety, healing, and justice for the children and their non-offending family members. A teenage girl was interviewed at the JCCAC due to concerns of sexual abuse by her father. Many people had accused her of lying. During her interview, she said that she was so happy someone believed her. After her interview, several other victims came forward thanks to her courage in sharing her story.

The JCCAC serves as the central meeting place where Multi-disciplinary Team members gather to begin the investigative process. While the child is interviewed, the entire team works behind the scenes, meeting with the non-offending family members and caregivers, and collaborating to determine a course of action to take on behalf of each child, as can be told with this story of a 3 year old girl who was brought to the Center. The child came in that morning very anxious. The waiting room with soft colors, books, and toys offered a welcoming environment and made her feel more comfortable. During her interview she made a few brief disclosures of severe abuse by her mother and father. Because the entire Multi-disciplinary Team was present, the two detectives on the case were able to use the child’s statements during suspect interviews of the mother and father. Based on the child’s statements, the two suspects both made full confessions. The 3 year old was placed in a safe foster home with her brother, and was later adopted by a loving family. Team members will continue to work with her new family connecting them to appropriate therapeutic services.

While assisting with Investigations and prosecutions, addressing child abuse in Jackson County, the Child Advocacy Center is focused on the needs of these vulnerable children and making remarkable strides in helping them to heal.


New Therapies in Treating Trauma

For children, suffering the effects of neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse, physical and emotional damage can be significant. This is why Catholic Charities features innovative therapies that greatly enhance the quality of care for our clients. These services offer the rare opportunity for children with painful memories a way to tell their story without being afraid in a place where they can be free to create and express when talking to adults does not feel safe.

horse kissEquine-Assisted Therapy One of the most powerful effects of trauma is isolation-from loved ones, from the environment, and from one’s self.  Horses at a local rescue farm offer children a first step in reintegration and recovery through a pure, nonjudgmental relationship that is a safe environment in which to heal.

Child playing with toy house & therapist



Play therapy and Expressive Arts therapy Play therapy involves several techniques.  Through miniature play and puppet play, children direct in a world they can control.  Through storytelling and fantasy play, children retell a story to create a safe and positive ending.  The therapist identifies conflict in each technique and helps the child safely work through and resolve it.  Expressive Arts therapy consists of opportunities to engage in and learn through an array of creative arts experiences, including music, movement, drama and visual arts programs at Siena Heights University.

Leo on beanbag chairPet therapy Our therapy dogs Leo and Takoda are available for this learning and healing experience that leads to lower stress, anxiety, and tension while building trust, patience, and a sense of empowerment.







10 Tips to Reduce Stress

by Adrienne Rowland, LMSW, ACSW, CCSOTS 
Clinical Director 
Leo & Takoda by flowering bush

Therapy dogs Leo (left) and Takoda relaxing by the flowers

Ten ways of living to reduce stress and improve quality of life. The following tips are things that have been found to be very helpful to a lot of people. The key is to find what works for you. There is no right or wrong answer to what relieves stress. Enjoy!

 1. Breathe. Regardless of what you are doing or where you are, breathing deeply can improve concentration, decrease anxiety, relieve stress and provide an often much needed burst of energy. The idea is to breathe from the diaphragm. To make sure you are doing this, place your hands on the sides of your ribs and feel them expand as you breathe deeply. In through your mouth, out through your nose. And make sure that your exhale is slightly longer than your inhale.

2. Laugh. There is nothing better than a laugh that not only reaches your eyes but comes from your belly at the same time. Laughter releases endorphins which makes us feel better. I recommend laughing as often as possible. The best kind of laughing is the kind of laughing that is at ourselves when we don’t take life too seriously.
3. Drink lots of water. Everyone knows that you are supposed to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. That can be tough to do without some help. Try to spruce up water with a flavoring or simply with a wedge of lemon. You may also find that you drink more if it is not super ice cold. Reusable bottles are great to help you get as much water as you should and it’s good for the environment.

4. Sleep. Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. The number of hours of sleep needed varies for everyone. Some function well on 5 hours while others need 9 to feel refreshed. Regardless of how many hours you need, try to have at least one day a week where you turn off your alarm and wake up naturally, whenever that might be. Did you know that human beings are wired for sleep? Our bodies expend constant effort to stay awake so restorative sleep is imperative for optimum functioning.

5. Sunshine. I think everyone can agree that we tend to feel better when the sun is shining. Sunshine provides our bodies with vitamin D which is very important. Excessive sun exposure or tanning can be dangerous so sunscreen is very important. Full spectrum light bulbs or sun lamps that can give the vitamin D that is needed are good on gloomy days or in the winter. Need a quick pick me up? Sit outside for a few minutes in the middle of the day to just soak in the rays. Combine this with deep breathing, which feels so good.

6. Massage. Touch is an incredibly important part of stress relief, healing and soothing. We get more physical touch when we are babies than at any other time in our lives so as adults, it is very important to be purposeful in this area. A friend once advised that all single people should treat themselves to a monthly massage to get that human contact we need as social beings. Massages can be expensive so an alternative may be to trade foot or back massages with a partner or close friend. Quid pro quo can work well.

7. Stretching and muscle tension/relaxation. Ever spend a long time in one spot only to suddenly realize how tense your muscles have been? Try to consciously relax the muscles in your face, neck, shoulders etc. several times a day. Many people hold tension in their shoulders so when they start hurting you know it is time to take a break, walk around, stretch and again, breathe. Notice when you are laying in bed at night, do you have to consciously unclench your fists to relax? Progressive muscle relaxation exercises can help release stress and create a sense of calm.

8. Have fun. Life is short so why not enjoy it? Balancing your life between the “have to’s” and the “get to’s” can help to keep things in perspective. Doing things you love and that make you happy can help you stay grounded and balanced. Having something to look forward to and creating a “count down” to that event can help keep you moving forward. Many people find that donating their time or working with their favorite charity gives them a sense of purpose and renewal.

9. Owning a pet. Studies have shown that owning a dog significantly decreases the risk of heart attack and dramatically improves the ability to heal in patients who have suffered a heart attack. Petting a dog decreases the stress hormone cortisol, lowers blood pressure, lowers heart rate and increases the pleasure hormone oxytocin. It is good for the person AND the dog. Research shows that the dog gets just as many benefits as the person when being petted. Did you know that the purr of a cat has healing properties because of its vibration? So the next time you get a headache, try putting a cat on your head. J

10. The 3 M’s: Move: Meditate: Motivate. Move: One minute of mindfulness or focused attention on something other than electronics is equivalent to a 40 minute nap! Mediation or mindfulness meditation is not for everyone however, just taking a moment to clear your mind and look at something pleasing to the eye can be the energy boost you need. Motivation is so incredibly important when trying to accomplish tasks. Positive affirmations can be a huge help. Place your favorite motivational sayings or quotes in key areas where you will see them often. Say your goals out loud as if they have already happened and see what the power of suggestion can do for you. Staying active is key to being healthy. Do little things that keep you moving like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking a little further away from the store entrance in a parking lot or using commercial breaks to walk around your house. Every little bit helps so no matter your fitness level, keep moving.

Volunteer Corner

Thank you to the 20+ volunteers from the Chrysler Proving Grounds

It is truly a blessing for all of us at Catholic Charities to have the help of the wonderful volunteers from Advanced Emission Team at Chrysler Proving Grounds. For three days, the 20 plus volunteers patched and painted the exterior of our Mechanic St facility and several interior rooms including our Group Therapy room at the Joy Avenue facility in Jackson.

Dawn Foods donation
Dawn Foods employees run drive for children

Many thanks to Pat Miller and the Dawn Foods employees who ran a drive to collect toys, snacks, and supplies for our Jackson County Child Advocacy Center. These donations are just what we needed to enhance the welcoming atmosphere of the Center, showing abused children that someone really cares.