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Earth Day

Written By: Susan Harmon, Director of National Safe Place Operations

April 22, 2019, is Earth Day.  You’ve probably heard of it, but do you know what it is, and how it came about?  Earth Day began in 1970 at a time of great citizen engagement and call to action.  Individuals were very concerned about the use and misuse of natural resources and the effects on the environment. Gas-guzzling vehicles were the norm, and gas shortages were beginning to become commonplace.  Air and water pollution were in the spotlight, and litter on the roadways was a national eye sore.  Earth Day was one response to this growing crisis.  To learn more about the history of Earth Day, visit https://www.earthday.org/about/the-history-of-earth-day/

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Employee Appreciation

Written by Mark Wolf, Director of Training and Technical Assistance

I was recently made aware “Employee Appreciation Day” is the first Friday of every March.  I was also recently a part of a discussion with runaway and homeless youth (RHY) grantees on staff recruitment and retention challenges. The two, employee appreciation and staff recruitment/retention, are certainly related. We are in a very competitive job market, and RHY programs are not always able to offer comparable wages for staff. This makes it very difficult to recruit and retain good staff.  In addition, youth care work is one of the most demanding fields. Youth care workers are required to have a special set of skills, knowledge, and abilities they need to be able to recognize and assist with challenges youth face.

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Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Ways to Combat Boredom

Written by: Eric Peterson, Communications Intern, National Safe Place Network

With how hectic and complex our lives can be on a regular basis, even the basic idea of “free time” can get left behind and covered up as we deal with the various tasks and obligations that take up our waking moments. That said, when we do get time to ourselves, it can sometimes be hard to know what to do with it, and when boredom sets in, it can be hard to free yourself from it.

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Less Than

Written by: Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network

Have you ever felt “less than”? It is difficult to explain the feeling but there are times when you can be in a room by yourself and feel “less than”. Your life isn’t what you wanted. You didn’t meet the expectations of others and worse, you didn’t meet the ones you set for yourself. Sometimes you can be on crowded public transportation, face focused outward because looking at the walls of a tunnel are more comforting than looking into the eyes of fellow passengers. The thoughts are persistent – am I “less than” these other passengers because of how I dress, the way I look, the amount of money I have with me, where I am going? Sometimes you can be in a classroom or office and feel secure in who you are and what you know and still feel “less than” your peers or colleagues. Why do they get the interesting opportunities, or feedback, or acceptance?

“Less than” makes people do strange, hurtful, and, sometimes dangerous things. The bully feels “less than” and so will reach out in anger to ensure some sense of control and superiority. The driver with road rage reaches a boiling point and is committed to saying no –  you are in my way, you are slowing me down, you are not better than me – I am not “less than.” The shooter who enters a building and takes the lives of others may even feel that any life, especially his or her own, is not worth living. They may believe there is no value placed on life because lives lived in fear, anger, poverty, mental health crisis, abuse, substance addiction  -  may be perceived as lives of value “less than” others.

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Earth Day: Observations from an Amateur Environmentalist

Written by: Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations for National Safe Place Network

I’m an environmentalist, a lover of nature and someone that wants to see our planet beautiful and appropriately protected.  I'm on my patio in an older neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky as I write these words, keenly aware of nature around me. The senses of touch, sight, hearing and smell are stirred as I sit, think, and write.

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November is National Runaway Prevention Month

Written by: Hillary Ladig & Elizabeth Smith Miller, NSPN Communications Team


Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year. If all of these young people lived in one city, it would be the fifth largest city in the U.S. These numbers are simply unacceptable, especially when you consider that many of these youth will end up on the streets. They are not bad kids; they are good kids caught up in bad situations. By supporting National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM), you're showing America's runaway and homeless youth that they are not invisible and they are not alone.

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Then and Now: The Reality of New Beginnings

Then and Now: The Reality of New Beginnings
By: Shauna Stubbs, RHYTTAC Principal Investigator for National Safe Place Network 

Human beings tote baggage around everywhere we go.  Sometimes we hold that heaviness inside and struggle to let it go.  Experiences of disappointment, pain and loss teach us to survive by limiting expectations, eliminating vulnerability, and disconnecting from others.  Other times that baggage gets stuck in the environment around us.  Failing an assignment at school colors a teacher’s perception of a student’s potential.  A mistake at work results in colleagues or supervisors doubting a young person’s reliability.  A common but destructive error in judgment breaks a parent’s trust and makes it difficult for a youth to restore it.

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Being a Veteran in the RHY Field

By: TC Cassidy, MPA, M.Div., CYC-P, Director of Technical Assistance / HTR3 Project Director, RHYTTAC / National Safe Place Network

When I was asked to write this blog as a veteran of the United States military and the RHY field, I struggled to find a balance between recognizing military veterans and recognizing veterans of the RHY field.

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November is National Runaway Prevention Month

As we begin gearing up for the holiday season in November, many of us are prompted to reflect on all the things for which we are thankful. Unfortunately, while many of us will be counting our blessings, an overwhelming number of young people across the country will be trying to figure out where they will be sleeping that night or where they can get their next meal.

To raise the visibility of these young people - runaway, throwaway, homeless, at-risk, or otherwise unstably housed - National Safe Place Network is participating in National Runaway Prevention Month (NRPM) 2015. NRPM is spearheaded each year by the National Runaway Safeline (NRS) and National Network for Youth (NN4Y). The goals of NRPM are two-fold:

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Helpful Resources from Polaris Project

Polaris Project, an organization leading the global fight to end modern slavery and restore freedom to survivors, posted an article on their website intended to help enhance services provided for LGBTQ human trafficking victims.

Breaking Barriers: Improving Services for LGBTQ Human Trafficking Victims

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National Prevention Week: May 17-23

Dear Colleagues,

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Earth Day: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

I have been recycling for a long time and around our office I’m affectionately known as the “Recycling Queen.” I’m not ashamed to say I occasionally rummage through the garbage when I see recyclable materials in the can. This all started because my neighborhood was part of a pilot recycling project in Louisville and we became fanatics about how to reduce, reuse and repurpose. At home, my husband and I produce less than one bag of trash each week and we even purchased a larger recycling can from the city to pick up each week. We would have even less to throw away if we had a way to easily dispose of or compost organic trash – coffee grounds, old flowers, egg shells and other kitchen garbage.

If you’re not quite into recycling yet, it’s OK – it’s not too late to start! Here are a few recycling and reusing tips I’ve picked up over the years:

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National Child Abuse Prevention Month

It is officially spring and as we look for the familiar colors of yellows, pinks, reds and greens, my mind can’t help but think of other colors. These colors aren’t prevalent during any particular season. They can be seen on any day of the year – no matter where you are in our world. These colors do not bring smiles or joy to hearts looking for something warm after cold winters. These colors do not adorn new outfits worn to church or school or community picnics. These colors aren’t the desired focal points for pictures taken at family gatherings to celebrate the time spent in laughter and love. These colors are black, blue, purple, red – bruises, welts scars – different colors at different stages of healing, disappearing from the surface but only to go deeper into the soul.

As April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, NSPN joins our other local, state and national partners in calling attention to the ongoing need for all of us to protect children and to work toward addressing the short and long-term consequences of child abuse.

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Don’t be Fooled, NSPN has you Covered

Whether your RHY-funded staff members are attending RHYTTAC conferences and trainings, you are a Safe Place agency getting help locating and recruiting sites, or you are a NSPN member during this hectic grant season, your team at NSPN is here to help – really! This is not a joke.

RHYTTAC Support

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Women’s History Month Recognition: Celebrating Strength, Courage and Positive Self-Esteem

On Thursday, March 12, 2015, the NSPN Communications Team (Elizabeth Smith Miller and Hillary Ladig) hosted RHYTTAC’s weekly-scheduled Talk it Out Thursday call. This week’s topic was, “Women’s History Month Recognition: Celebrating Strength, Courage and Positive Self-Esteem.” Many girls (and boys, for that matter) will enter your program having survived events that can tear anyone’s esteem down. It’s important to recognize low self-esteem and identify what factors that may be causing it. There are many types of issues and many reasons that cause them. There are also many ways to help boost esteem, build courage, and encourage strength.

We have compiled a list of resources related to this topic that we hope you find to be helpful.

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March is Women's History Month

Last year, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation sayingduring Women’s History Month, we recognize the victories, struggles, and stories of the women who have made our country what it is today.'”  Earlier this week, the NSPN team took a moment to reflect on some historical or encouraging women who have made a difference.  Here’s a few of the inspirational quotes shared by the team:

Hillary Ladig shared a Maya Angelou quote:  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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What’s for Dinner? Group Meal Planning for Youth in Your Programs

On Thursday, February 26, 2015, the NSPN Communications Team (Elizabeth Smith Miller and Hillary Ladig) hosted RHYTTAC’s weekly Talk it Out Thursday discussion based conference call.  The topic… FOOD!  It’s cold outside and many folks are thinking ‪about and eating a lot of it! Why not talk about it? The goal of the topic was to share and hear what others are cooking, ‪life-hacks for the kitchen, recipes, tips and tricks of saving money at the store, and other stomach worthy ideas. We have some resources we put together from the call including some great ideas from RHY Grantees. We hope you find the following information useful. We invite you to join us every Thursday at 1pm ET. No need to sign up!  Just call us at 1-605-475-5950 and enter passcode 4560151# when prompted. Be sure to check your weekly TIOT email for the topic. Check out rhyttac.net to learn more about Talk It Out Thursday. Feel free to connect with us at [email protected] to share your ideas or learn more about NSPN, Safe Place, RHYTTAC, and HTR3!

What’s for Dinner? Group Meal Planning for Youth in Your Programs

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Dear Valentine – Beware the Love Bug’s Sting!

It’s February – that magical time of year when love is in the air, or at least on every commercial and greeting card. With the onslaught of hearts and flowers come the not-often talked about negative consequences of love: heartbreak, mistrust, despair, and no one’s favorite, emergency clinic appointments. As we think about how love, sex, romance, and intimacy permeate the minds of our youth during Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, here are some strategies to support our young people as they navigate the waters of interpersonal relationships:

  • Model what you want to see. One of the first ways in which we all learn is by observing and mimicking what we see. Young people pay attention to how the adults in their lives handle relationship stress, conflict, and communication in difficult situations. Be mindful of what you project that your young people can see/hear.
  • Building the all-importance self-esteem. We ask our youth to be brave in many situations, and to advocate for themselves in difficult situations. What we must not forget is to instill in our young people the skills and confidence it takes to be your own advocate, stand up for yourself, and know that your voice – in ANY relationship – is important.
  • Expertise is not necessaryAre you stumped as to which STIs are bacterial and which are viral? Not well versed in the four steps of decision-making? Don’t be discouraged. You don’t have to be an expert in sex & healthy relationships to be a caring, trusted, and genuine support to a young person. Unconditional positive regard goes a long way. Still nervous about finding information? You’re in luck; there’s this thing called the internet. See some of the resources below.
  • Teach what love isn’t – Love = respect. Relationships are not easy. They take commitment, patience, conflict skills, and trust. Youth – and adults for that matter – often struggle to identify the difference between love, desire, and affection. What does a healthy relationship look like? Should you be happy all the time? Is it a good relationship if you argue all the time or if you never argue? What does respect look and feel like? How do you know when you’re ready for sex? How do you communicate that you’re not ready? Young people are eager to seek the answers to these questions. However, they’re often not readily available or found in a textbook. Be open to having honest, meaningful conversation about the realities of relationships which, in this lady’s opinion, can be the best Valentine’s Day gift you could give a young person.

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Truly. Even if you don’t like chocolate, it is hard to bypass a Valentine’s heart filled with a variety of choices. If it is your box, and you are patient, you look at the candy chart and based on the descriptions, you prioritize and dive deep. If you do not have a chart and you are forced to guess, you rely first on the touch test (to see if pink or white comes out) and then the taste test (a little nibble is enough). Though you might be left with a package that looks as if it has been ravaged by hungry squirrels, you are satisfied that you have made the most of your chocolate gift. Your tummy is happy. Your brain is happy. Life is good. Note – if it is not your box of chocolate, your temptation may get the best of you and anyone who left the box lying around, well – consequences.

Our work is like a box of chocolates. The youth may or may not come to us with a chart. When we see the description, it is far too easy to compare those words in search of those youth we know are easiest to help. Or, the ones “I like best.” Although we know all youth are different and wonderful and filled with goodness, these characteristics are often hidden underneath a shell that is difficult to crack with squeezing a bit. Metaphorically, we squeeze youth with our intake processes, our rules, our assessments and our interviews. Sometimes, we see a youth start to crack open – and much too late – we may realize we didn’t need to squeeze so hard and once cracked, no one else may be willing to give helping this youth a try. Why? Because sometimes it is only when we can see the inside of a youth that we are willing to make a commitment.

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National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month

How do we talk about Human trafficking in 440 words? We admit the topic cannot be fully covered in this limited space AND we encourage you to conduct further research and participate in trainings to further your knowledge and understanding of the topic.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery, which includes both sex and labor trafficking, where traffickers profit from the control and exploitation of people. Human trafficking exists throughout the US and around the globe. The use of force, fraud, or coercion is utilized to control people and thereby cause the person(s) to engage in commercial sex or provide labor services against their will. Sex trafficking occurs online, on the street and in places of business. Labor trafficking occurs in private residences, agriculture, sales crews, restaurants, etc.

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