Advocacy group day of healing in Hyattsville
Offers resources to residents for a variety of problems
You can't hide emotional pain forever, says Georgianna Carrington, a part-time case manager for Community Advocates for Family and Youth. Sooner or later, you must stop and deal with the past hurts, trauma or other challenges that you have tried to avoid.
"People get busy doing things, but they don't resolve the real issues," said Carrington, who lives in Upper Marlboro. "Unless you make an effort to heal, the wound is still there."
To help Prince George's County residents resolve problems with their finances, safety, relationships or health, CAFY sponsored its first National Day of Healing and Reconciliation Community Fair in Hyattsville on Sunday. About 100 people attended the four-hour event. This event, sponsored by Sistas United and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, featured information and advice from service providers, health agencies and law enforcement. Representatives from the HEW Credit Union also offered money management tips.
Arleen Joell, CAFY's executive director, created this event and spent three months planning it to address multiple community concerns, including questions about safety, finances and conflict resolution strategies for teens.
"We decided to combine all of these community needs and get information out to people at one event," Joell said.
CAFY staff and volunteers said they were pleased with the turnout and plan to hold next year's event at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park. No date has been set.
With face painting as well as an appearance from McGruff the Crime Dog, the community fair was a perfect fit for CAFY's 2010 theme of "Putting Children First."
CAFY volunteers and staff support victims of crime and connect them with community resources. This year they have received 434 referrals, and of those 165 have received client services.
Victims of rape or sexual assault get referrals to the crisis center at Prince George's Hospital Center. CAFY also can recommend area counselors or other types of social services.
Carrington, who has served as a community outreach coordinator and has educated clients about the courtroom process, got her start about five years ago as a volunteer.
"The idea of advocacy struck a chord with me," she said. "When you talk to people, they're distressed and traumatized, but you help them through their challenges."
A relationship with a client begins with an incident report and can continue all the way until a case is resolved in court.
"You get a great feeling when you assist someone through the judicial system," Carrington said.
Now as a case manager, Carrington supports clients as they seek resolution and helps them develop a strategy for moving forward in life. A resident who has lost a spouse or close relative to homicide, for instance, must navigate through a traumatic experience while making funeral arrangements and caring for children.
"Someone who has experienced assault might need a counselor, new housing or a job," she said. CAFY clients often feel a greater sense of control once they implement a game plan for their recovery, she added.
"We want to make the community fair an annual event that includes and informs the public," Carrington said. "No matter what you're a victim of, there is healing and resources to help."
How she makes a difference: Carrington is a case manager for Community Advocates for Family and Youth. To learn about CAFY's services and volunteer opportunities, go to www.cafyonline.org or call 301-390-4092.