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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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Schedule a Visit with your Government Officials

Schedule a visit with your government officials!

As you think about the year ahead, what do you plan? What do you include on your calendar? You probably include financial deadlines: when year-end documents are due, when grants begin and end. You probably have a grants calendar with alerts about when new RFPs will be released. You may have an events calendar and training calendar. What about an advocacy calendar?

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Senators Leahy and Collins Introduce the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA)

Earlier this week, Senators Leahy and Collins introduced the bipartisan Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (read more about the bill and track its progress here: http://1.usa.gov/1JTW89Q). Although there is no bipartisan bill yet in the House, National Network for Youth and partners are working hard to make sure that happens.

This legislation serves homeless youth through the following programs:

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Congressman John Yarmuth Urges Colleagues to Reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

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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Grant Writing Resolutions

January – a time of reflection, new beginnings, resolutions, and preparing for grant-writing season. We are busy preparing for an upcoming webinar for NSPN members on grant writing resolutions. For a preview of the webinar, check out these two grant-writing tips.

Resolution 1: Lose the weight.

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Knowing the Difference Between RHYTTAC and National Safe Place Network

National Safe Place Network (NSPN) operates the FYSB-funded Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC). NSPN also offers a unique set of packages designed to meet your needs in ways that make sense for your organization and community that differs from the technical assistance and training provided by RHYTTAC. Do you know how to tell the difference between NSPN and RHYTTAC services?

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What do New Year’s Resolutions mean to you?

What is a resolution?  I asked this very question to a couple people and received the same initial response from all.  I received a “look”, a look that implied “I know the answer to this but I have to think about how to verbalize it.”  They had to think about what a New Year’s Resolution really was.  After thinking for a moment, they shared replies such as “it’s something new someone wants to do for themselves”, “a new beginning”, and “putting something into motion”. What if I told you a resolution is as simple as a promise.  A resolution is a promise that you make to yourself (and work hard at keeping)!

Year after year, resolutions are made; yet, you find many are broken.  Why is it so difficult for people to follow through with their resolutions?  Perhaps the reason that they are so easily broken is because they are not thought to be actual promises, but instead ideas.  People like the idea of something, but it is expected that not all ideas come to fruition.

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Tips for Dealing with Holiday Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time for people of all ages, at home and at work. Families are juggling additional obligations, travel plans, and financial commitments. This stress can be compounded by the fact that many agencies face end-of-year deadlines and financial requirements and youth service workers are helping young people also facing stress and possibly dealing with loss and grief. December’s tip sheet (available to National Safe Place Network members) highlights the ways you can support your employees and colleagues during this time of year, and how you can support the youth you serve.

Express gratitude. Simply saying “thank you” to staff and colleagues and offering words of encouragement can go a long way to increase morale during the holidays. It may also help to highlight achievements of colleagues and staff during the previous year since some may be facing anxiety about finances and person accomplishments heading into the new year.

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Tips for Becoming an Authentic Speaker

Authenticity has become a bit of a buzz word in recent years. From “authentic leadership” to “authentic communication,” you may have noticed the word being used more and more. We have created a tip sheet that describes authenticity, outlines why it’s important in training and presenting, and provides some tips for achieving authentic communication. Here’s a tip from the document:

  • Speak confidently. Avoid getting softer at the end of sentences. Try to start and end strongly. Also avoid raising your pitch at the end of sentences, turning it into a question.

National Safe Place Network members with Training Center access can read the entire document, “Tips for Becoming an Authentic Speaker,” by logging into your membership account at www.nspnetwork.org and accessing the NSPN resource center.

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And The NSPN Awards Go To…

Year in and year out, youth service professionals, dedicated volunteers and community organizations work diligently to strengthen youth and families in communities across the country. National Safe Place Network is honored to recognize the following individuals, organizations and companies who have and continue to make a difference in the lives of youth:

We’re excited to share our new NSPN Communications Vlog!

We are excited to announce our new NSPN Communications Vlog!  Want us to share something specific?  Let us know!

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Monthly Tip: Surviving an Audit

Audits can cause anxiety among staff and executive leadership. Here are two tips from our member tip sheet – “15 Tips for Surviving an Audit.” To see all 15 tips, you must be an NSPN member with the organizational development package. If you have this package, check out the full tip sheet by logging into your membership account at www.nspnetwork.org and accessing the NSPN Resource Center!

  1. Know the users of your external audited financial statements and why your organization requires an audit. Your audited financial statements could be required by your organization’s by-laws and be used exclusively for internal purposes. They could also be intended for external use by contributors, for securing loans or collateral agreements with banks, or they may be fulfilling certain regulatory filing requirements as a result of annuity programs, federal fund resources, or state solicitations, etc. Knowing the intended use will help you target your auditing activities.
  2. Do your homework: Choose the right auditor for your organization’s needs. Nonprofit organizations come in all shapes and sizes, with different accounting and reporting needs. Some organizations have simple structures operating only one or two programs, small staffs, and predictable transaction streams. Others can be extremely complex with multiple needs and issues. Auditors are not a “one size fits all” market, hence the variance in their pricing. Organizations would benefit from doing a little research and selecting from a pool of auditors that uniquely fits their needs. You may even save some money.

If you’re interested in becoming an NSPN member, please contact the NSPN Membership team at [email protected] 

Miley Cyrus Advocates for Homeless Youth

Miley Cyrus is a household name. She’s a pop superstar who has made a living performing on television shows and on stage in front of large crowds. She’s had many experiences in her young life but perhaps one of the most eye-opening experiences she’s had thus far was during a recent visit to My Friend’s Place, a homeless youth shelter in Los Angeles.

Cyrus is now lending her voice to advocate on behalf of homeless youth in America. During the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night, Cyrus won the award for Video of the Year. Instead of accepting the trophy herself, Cyrus sent a young man named Jesse to accept the award and raise awareness for homeless youth.

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It’s time for a Brain Break!

On NSPNsights, we are excited to provide you with a “Brain Break” from time to time. Brain Breaks can be fun tips, trivia questions, games, recipes, or the like. Today, we have a recipe from our new Director of Research, Education and Public Policy – Katie Carter. We look forward to “serving” you lots more Brain Breaks!

 Any Fruit, Easy Summer Cake Recipe Card

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Using Twitter to Promote Your Organization

Why is Twitter important for your organization?

Twitter is a great way to promote your organization and connect to a network of people doing similar work. It is designed with simplicity in mind – where short and sweet messages come across better than complex communication.

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