National Safe Place Network

Beat the Odds with These Organizational New Year’s Resolutions

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing & Events, National Safe Place Network

Are you one of the 41% of individuals who makes one or more New Year’s resolutions? In 2017, the top 5 New Year’s resolutions included:

  • Lose Weight (21.3%)
  • Life/Self Improvements (12.3%)
  • Better Financial Decisions (8.5%)
  • Do more exciting things (7.1%)
  • Spend more time with family/close friends (6.3%)

According to research, only 9.2% of people felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. The number one reason for failed resolutions is the lack of a clear goal. NSPN is making it easy for you to beat the odds by helping your organization create clear goals for top resolutions.

Lose “Weight”
Stress will make you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You can lose this “weight” with the help of NSPN. Organizational Development members can shed some stress by taking advantage of benefits already available including:

  • Crisis debrief for staff and volunteers
  • Ace the audit tips and consultation
  • Department specific consultation and support

If there’s an area where your organization is struggling and could use some help, let NSPN help lift the weight off of your shoulders.

Maybe you’re thinking of a different type of weight… Does your inbox seem pretty hefty after the holidays? Perhaps you’re deleting emails without reading them? Take some time to go through your inbox and make some updates. Consider updating your profile or preferences.  Many businesses send emails based on interests you have selected or information you have provided in your profile.  For example, occasionally, NSPN may send emails to individuals with a specific job role or to organizations in a specific regions. If your information is not correct in your profile, you may receive an email that isn’t helpful to you. Consider logging in to your NSPN profile and update your information to make sure you’re only receiving information that fits your needs at Your user name is [merge data].

Life/Self Improvements
In the youth and family services field, self-improvements are critical. Not only do individuals want to better themselves for a successful career, the lives of young people depend on continued growth of knowledge and skills. Every year, organizational leaders are making the choice to become a Professional Development member to help enhance the skills and abilities of their staff. If you’re a Professional Development member, you already have access to the following benefits (plus more) at no extra cost:

Better Financial Decisions
Sometimes the best and easiest financial decisions include taking advantage of benefits you already have. If you’re an NSPN member, you can save money by taking advantage of discounts already offered to your organization. Base members receive discounts on NSPN events including:

If you are an Organizational Development, Professional Development, or Training Center member, you have deeper discounts and even FREE access to some events and additional resources.  If you’re not already a member, you can achieve your resolution of making better financial decisions by becoming one. Base membership is only $200 and provides a multitude of benefits to your organization. Join today here.

Do More Exciting Things
If traveling to Louisville, KY for Focus 2018 or having NSPN create a personalized training just for your organization isn’t exciting enough, consider doing something new! NSPN is the only membership association that customizes benefits to fit the needs of its members. If you have a need – or an exciting idea – connect with the membership team to discuss ways we can help.

Spend More Time with Family and Close Friends
All NSPN members have access to NSPN Connect. NSPN Connect is a forum where member of all levels can network, share resources and ideas, and have discussions around impactful topics. Log in to NSPN Connect today and ask a question about how something is done in another organization or share some ideas you find helpful. Feel free to upload documents to share with others.  Licensed Safe Place agencies have access to Safe Place Connect and National Youth Advisory Board Collaboration Committee (YCC) members have access to YCC Connect. If you are part of the Network in more than one way (NSPN member, licensed Safe Place agency, and/or a YCC member), you have access to each forum based on your affiliation.

Ultimately, whatever your resolution is for your organization, NSPN wants to help remind you that you have support. Together we can!


A Holiday Memory

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

It would be difficult for me to think about or discuss the holidays without remembering my paternal grandparents and the influence they had on my life. As my mother’s parents had passed before I was born, my only experiences with grandparents were from a couple who were courageous, hard working, simple and very different from each other.

My grandma can best be described as a gentle soul who wanted to take care of everyone. She spent much of her life in a rocking chair, staring out a window and waiting for one of her children or grandchildren to come through the field to the back door of the kitchen. Regardless of the time of day, there would be something cooking. Chocolate pies (using a recipe that allowed her to stack them 3 high) would be in the pie safe and she would already be taking home grown vegetables from the stove before you could stomp the red clay of Mississippi from your feet and crack the screen door. Her desire was to care for each of her children by meeting very basic needs: food, love and knowledge of the Bible.

My grandpa was at work when he wasn’t waiting for grandma to serve a meal. Although he insisted that I was too young to help in the picking of beans in a field near the farmhouse, my memories were of watching him, my grandma and the other members of my family clearing row after row of vegetables in efforts to complete the task before the sun rose above the magnolia trees at the house. Grandpa was a no nonsense man who collected treasures from the castoffs of others and stories of his neighbors with an equal sense of purpose and passion. Quick to temper, he was also quick to defend and to encourage each of his children to stand up and be accountable for their actions.

My love of my grandparents deepened as I grew older and while we lived many miles apart, there was a strong emotional tie. However, this was not always the case. Love was shadowed by uncertainty and insecurity.

To be clear, as a young child, I felt isolated and different from not only my grandparents but from almost all of my relatives on my father’s side of the family. I don’t recall how I became aware of the differences between us. I just remember incidences of not ‘fitting in” and feeling as if I was living a life filled with broken rules.

I had two first cousins – one 11 months older and one 10 months younger – and we would come together on Sunday afternoons. While the adults conversed about whatever matter was most important that week, grandma would prepare dinner and the children would play outside. I remember attempts to play house that were never quite successful because we could not agree on the contents of our desired home. At the age of 6, it seemed quite important to me that we have a television, a record player and other items that were in my home. My cousins’ views of a proper home were of a stove and table with dishes set for the entire family. While this difference seems trivial now, at the time, I became lost in why there was a difference at all and what the difference meant.

I became increasingly aware that the conversations I attempted to have were challenging and that few commonalities exited between my experience and theirs. Once my older sisters and brothers were able to explain the difference, I understood but was still unsure of myself and how my grandparents could accept me.

My grandparents and the rest of my father’s family were members of a fundamentalist Pentecostal church. In the way they practiced their spiritual beliefs, they could not watch television, they could not listen to popular music, women could not cut their hair, wear pants or make-up, etc.  Because my parents both came from previous marriages, neither were allowed to practice in the Pentecostal church in my home community, and therefore, my siblings and I were raised in a different church with different beliefs. I grew up knowing that the people I loved best in the world did not believe as I did and in my childish imaginings I wondered who was right and if I was “less than” because of these beliefs. I started looking for, and so easily saw, slight differences in the way that our branch of the family was treated. I became sure that these differences were proof of an insurmountable divide. This awareness brought hurt to my inexperienced heart. Was the look that I received from my grandma one of love or tolerance? Was she proud of me for what I knew and for the dreams that I had? Was it o.k. that I knew about Elvis and could do the twist? Would she be disappointed if she knew I wore shorts and played softball every weekend? Was it o.k. to be me?

Christmas was the time when we could all come together and exchange gifts and appreciate that another year had kept us well. My grandma’s care-taking and love of the holiday meant that the stove was always hot and oranges, apples and walnuts could be found on every sideboard. My grandpa’s stubbornness and final authority meant the Christmas “tree” was a small branch cut from a larger tree and decorated with a single string of lights and a star. To him, it was important that the tree be high enough on a table so that he could walk without running into it. So we would gather around the table and open presents. While every child has wishes, I knew that my wishes were different from what my grandparents would see as appropriate gifts. So, I would receive a purse or a scarf or mittens and I was always happy because it was the one time of year when my cousins and I were alike because we would all receive the exact same gift. It was at those times when it felt as though perhaps it was grandma’s way of saying that we were all the same in her eyes.

The year that I turned 10, the gifts yielded an unexpected surprise. We came into the room and as I walked around the large wood stove that covered a substantial part of the floor, I saw three large boxes. I knew immediately they were for my cousins and me and unless there was a pair of mittens for every day of the year, there was something unusual inside. Not knowing what my grandma would select that was so big, it seemed as if I were going to explode as we finished dinner and took turns opening packages. When it came our turn – my cousins and I, with no regard to waste of beautiful bows or paper, ripped into the packages. The room was quiet as I studied the pink on the package and examined the pictures on the outside. I remember feeling across the top of the package for sealing tape because for a split second, a thought crossed my mind that the box may have been one found by my grandpa and put to use by my grandma for the present. However, the box was sealed and as I looked at my cousins, I was pleased at their smiling faces as we realized that we had all received Barbie Dream Campers. Well, even if no one else understood, I knew we had received a mighty gift. Barbie and her large residential road warrior were very much a part of my dream world.

How did Grandma know? Did my parents say something? If so, why would she go along with it? I didn’t state the questions out loud. I just laughed and felt an immediate and lasting joy.

Looking back, the message that I took from the gift was simple. I was o.k. Even if I knew about different things and had different hopes and dreams for my life, I was just as important in my grandma’s eyes as the other members of my family.  What I wanted and hoped for and dreamed about was just as acceptable as what they longed for in their lives. Years later, my grandmother shared with me that she had gotten the gifts because she had been in a store and had heard a woman talking about how the camper would allow little girls to make believe and imagine traveling and seeing what was beyond their own door.

As we celebrate a season that is filled with different beliefs, hopes and expectations for the world, I am reminded it is these differences in points of view and experience that make our world brighter. My life is fulfilling not because I am the same as everyone else but because I am different and because I embrace the differences in others. The truth in giving lies with the acceptance and love that is shared with a greeting or a kind gesture that says my world is better because you are part of it.

My grandma passed away in 1997 and a few weeks later, her husband of more than 60 years followed. I still return to that place and travel through that field, toward her home place and imagine her rocking in her chair, looking out the window and waiting for us to return. Now, I know she was not only waiting for us but she was also imaging those places that existed outside her door, over the hill and just beyond her reach.

Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: The Gift of Giving . . . and Receiving

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Tis the season for giving . . . and receiving. Have you ever thought about why it’s sometimes hard to receive gifts? Most people like to give gifts instead of receive them. There’s something to say about having a giving heart—to be responsible for invoking happiness in another. Happiness is contagious. It feels good to know you helped make someone smile. You experience excitement and glee as you wait for the person to find out what you’ve gotten them. You don’t do it for the “thank you,” you give because you know you’re sharing a positive, uplifting emotion with someone you’re connected to.  What a great feeling, right?

Giving gifts feels good, but if you think about it, receiving gifts offers an opportunity to experience an entirely different emotion. It also “feels good,” but there’s something “deep” that tends to happen.  Sometimes the sense of gratitude can be overwhelming (in a good way). When you receive a gift, you feel warm, peaceful, and sometimes tearful. You don’t become thankful because the gift is useful or fun (although sometimes gifts are AMAZING); you’re thankful because the person who gave you the gift cared about you. They dedicated a moment of their life—just to you. That’s pretty amazing too, right?

Since it’s the season of giving and receiving, take your time during each exchange and focus on the emotions you experience. Feel the sense of bright, joyful glee—and appreciate the warm feeling of gratitude.

As mentioned above, sometimes the gifts you give—or receive—are pretty awesome. We asked your NSPN family, “What is the best gift you ever gave or received?” Here’s how they answered:

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “The most memorable gift for me is a longer story than just an answer. Prior to my coming to Louisville, my family and I would host a Christmas dinner party each year for our friends. Each year there would be a gift exchange. It was a great time and a great event. After several years the decision was made that all of the couples didn’t really need gifts as all of us were blessed in our lives with our families, connections and lifestyles. We all made the decision that our normal routine of “gift giving to each other” would change and we would adopt a family each year instead. As there were six couples and multiple singles we chose larger families with several children. While it was always satisfying, the first year was truly the best as it just felt right and all of the participants truly embraced the decision and the action. There are many stories of how much were we able to give an how much we could stack in the entry way. We truly loved giving and celebrating our friendships in this manner.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “I told my mom that I wanted to take up music again and mentioned that I might like to get a keyboard. My mother passed in November and a week after she was buried, I found the keyboard she had ordered for me for Christmas. I thought it was the last gift I would ever receive from her and so it holds a special place in my heart. Little did I know that she has continued to find ways to send me gifts when I least expect but most need them.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “Music is a pretty core part of my identity, and I have driven a 1991 Volvo without a functional radio for more than 12 years. One Christmas, my partner completely surprised me with an iPod, engraved with the message, ‘Music is where it began. We make the perfect duet.’”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “The best gifts I ever received are life, free will, and faith. The best gifts I have ever given are trust and loyalty.”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “When I was in sixth grade, my younger brother, my sister, and I gathered up all of our allowance money and spare change around the house and planted a flower garden for our mother on Mother’s Day. While we were working, a lot of the other neighborhood kids came over and helped out, so by the time the garden was planted and we showed it to her, there was a crowd of kids watching. She was quite touched and still brings it up to this day!”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “A day off with no obligation.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “The most memorable and biggest gift I received was a Christmas gift from my mother in 1979. It was a Dodge Omni O24.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “I’ll always remember my first car, gifted to me from my parents. I had just come back home from a show choir competition in Branson, Missouri, and the car was waiting for me in the driveway. It was a 1998 Chevy Cavalier.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “I’ve been given a lot of gifts in life that are important to me, but I think the best gift I received was being taught to have faith and to be a good person—no matter how difficult it is.”
  • Autumn Sandlin, Operations Specialist: “There isn’t one particular gift I can pinpoint as the best given or received. I have very creative, thoughtful family and friends who always manage to come up with something amazing during the holiday season. I also love giving gifts to the people I care about, so I’d hope they’d all think that any gift I’ve given them is the best gift at the time.”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “The best gift I ever received was a scroll from my girlfriend on Christmas Day accepting my proposal of marriage four months earlier. My mother read it in front of our family.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at

What’s the best gift you ever gave—or received? Feel free to comment below.


Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: Being Thankful

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network

Each month, we share a little something about your NSPN family as a way to help you get to know us better. Sometimes the posts include fun facts and sometimes the answers are pretty meaningful. This month, we asked the team, “What are you most thankful for?”

The answers are below—but before you take a look, we want to say on behalf of the entire team of National Safe Place Network, we are thankful for you. We are thankful for each and every person who believes in our vision of creating a world where all youth are safe—and supports our mission to ensure an effective system of response for youth in crisis through public and private partnerships at a local, state, and national level. We’re thankful for the time you spend with us, the time you dedicate to teach and learn from us, and all of the times you share us with people you know. Thank you for allowing us to meet your needs and be your network and for working with us—because, together we can.

“What are you most thankful for?”

  • Laurie Jackson, President/Chief Executive Officer: “My family and friends.”
  • Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: “My family and the unique relationship I have with each member.”
  • Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: “My partner in life and love—Kimberly Brooks.”
  • April Carthorn, General Specialist: “I’m most thankful for my life experiences.”
  • Sherry Casey, Operations and Administration Manager: “My family.”
  • Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: “The support of friends and family. I would not be where I am without them.”
  • Autumn Sandlin, Operations Specialist: “I try and be thankful for the good parts of my life. I graduated this year, and I’m thankful for my time interning at NSPN and their willingness to let me make this work my full-time job. My nephew is one of the best parts of my life, and I’m thankful for his curiosity and intuitiveness that he shares with me. My friends who show me support and love I might not know I need, as well as my mom and sister. And cute dog videos. Always cute dog videos.”
  • Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: “My beautiful bear and wonderful family and friends.”
  • Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: “I’m thankful for family and friends.”
  • Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: “My family, my faith, that I am healthy and whole, my dog Buddy.”
  • Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: “My family and my health.”
  • Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: “I’m fortunate and blessed to have a few good family members, but I was born with them. I don’t really know what it’s like without them—or their impact on my life. So, when I think about being thankful for something, I immediately connect it with something that I have personally developed true appreciation for. I’m most thankful for my job. I worked hard to earn the skills I have to do my job; I worked hard to get my job; and I work hard to keep my job. It’s something I have done on my own and I’m proud of what I do and the organization I work for. I continue to be thankful for my job on a daily basis because no one is indispensable. I also know what it’s like to work for a company that doesn’t have NSPN’s standards of ethics and dedication toward its members and mission.”
  • Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: “I’m most thankful for my wife.”

Learn more about your NSPN family at



Receiving RHY Funding News: When Hope Turns to Uncertainty

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

If you applied for RHY funding this year, the staff of NSPN hope you have received good news. The work you do in your community is important and youth depend on your services. If you were successful, congratulations!

Unfortunately, due to increased competition and static funding levels, there isn’t enough money to go around and some of you will be dealing with significant loss. If you did not receive RHY funding, here are a few things you can do to increase awareness and support for your program(s):

  • If your application was not approved, it’s important to note that applications are often very well written and still may not be funded. NSPN members with the Organizational Development package are encouraged to connect with April Carthorn ( to share your reviewer comments. The NSPN team will work to help you understand what may be improved in your response to future funding opportunity announcements.
  • Although you should have well established city, county, and state congressional relationships before you get the notice of the status of your application, it is never too late to reach out to community leaders. Visit your local representatives and share a packet of information to include statistics of service, outcomes of services, and projections of impact on the community if services are discontinued. Gap funding from city and county governments is not unheard of – especially for programs deeply grounded in the community landscape.
  • Reach out to all referral sources to explain what services will or won’t be continuing and ask for assistance from trusted partners in creating responses for youth to meet basic needs.
  • Craft a media release focusing on the impact of the loss of funding and the importance of additional resources for all RHY youth.
  • Create a social media support campaign (consider Go Fund Me) if the loss of funding will mean the discontinuation of all services.

Some of you have built sustainable programs capable of withstanding a loss, especially in the cases where reapplication is possible the next year. Others of you may be faced with closing facilities and laying off staff. There are no words of comfort or encouragement during these times that do not sound trite. All social service organizations face this loss at one time or another. Our best wishes are with you and your team as you make your decisions for what is next for your organization.


Children with Cerebral Palsy at Greater Risk of Bullying

Written by Cerebral Palsy Guidance

Youth and family service organizations serve a multitude of young people, including those with disabilities. Children living with any type of disability are more vulnerable to bullying than their peers. With those disabilities that make a child look different, including Cerebral Palsy, the risk of being a victim of bullying is even higher. The Forum for Equality estimates that nearly 15-25% of students in the United States are victims of bullying. While bullying is a big problem for a lot of children, and the consequences can be serious, there are things that can be done to prevent this victimization and to help victims cope.


Bullies Often Target Children Perceived as Different

Cerebral palsy affects a child’s muscle movements. There are different types of Cerebral Palsy and it affects everyone in different ways. According to Cerebral Palsy Guidance, individuals with the most common type of Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Cerebral Palsy, can experience stiff muscles, difficulty controlling muscles, and/or difficulty moving from one place to another. Some children may struggle to chew and swallow food, which can cause drooling. These kinds of factors cause other children to perceive them as being different or not normal. Statistics show that perceived differences are major factors in bullying, and this means that children with disabilities are at risk.

Children with a disability like cerebral palsy are more likely than their able-bodied peers to be bullied. A child with cerebral palsy may be targeted by a bully because they are perceived as being less able to defend themselves due to their various physical make-ups. Some children with cerebral palsy also have cognitive impairments that can make them vulnerable. These children may have a more difficult time distinguishing between friends, and individuals who are trying to hurt them.


Bullying Has Consequences

Both the victim and the perpetrator of bullying suffer negative consequences. Some are physical; bullying can cause real and serious injuries. A child with disabilities related to cerebral palsy may not be able to defend himself and can really get hurt by bullying. Of course, the psychological consequences are often the longer-lasting effects of bullying. Bullying increases a child’s risk for developing depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence, and could potentially lead to substance abuse issues. These psychological consequences can also affect the perpetrator of bullying.


Prevention and Support for Bullying Victims with Cerebral Palsy

Preventative measures can help put a stop to bullying. Adults, including teachers, parents, and others, must take an active role in teaching children to empathize with others and to stop bullying behaviors as soon as they are witnessed. Awareness and education can also play a big role in prevention. Teaching children about cerebral palsy helps build empathy and prevent bullying behaviors. This can be done at home, or in the classroom.

When a child with cerebral palsy does become a victim of bullying, they need support and guidance from both adults and peers in their life. A strong group of friends, adults who they feel comfortable talking to, and participation in activities of all types can go a long way in helping a child feel more confident and able to avoid some of the worst long-term consequences of bullying.

Living with cerebral palsy presents challenges that others don’t have to face, such as simply being able to walk. These children shouldn’t also have to face bullying and its side effects. Greater awareness, education, and support can help these children avoid bullying and stand up to it if it does occur.


Learn more about helping young people with cerebral palsy at:

cerebral palsy guidance-logo

Sensitivity to the Season

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

Autumn pumpkin background

It’s October and with the season comes such traditions as pumpkins, fall leaves, trick or treat, and brisk mornings. One only needs to look at theater listings or the aisles of your local department store to see signs of Halloween. Who remembers the first time you saw the movie Halloween and heard Jamie Lee Curtis scream? Have you seen any cars named Christine lately? How many hockey masks do you have? Do crows make you shiver? Why is that balloon tied to the storm drain?

If you are one who enjoys the season, frights can be fun and create memories worth sharing. However, for many youth and adults, the signs and sounds of the season can trigger memories of experiences scarier than most of us can imagine. Just like you, Safe Place® is committed to helping youth not only BE safe but FEEL safe. As you think about how to connect with youth during this time of year, consider the following activities:

  • Invite youth to create a collage (on paper or digitally) of the images that remind them of feeling safe. Make sure there are sufficient options to address differences across culture, age, and experience.
  • Have discussions with youth new to your program about any aspect of your organization’s physical layout that is frightening or uncomfortable for them.
  • Host a group discussion of things youth rely on when they’re scared. Be prepared to respond when youth say they are never scared or when they say they have nothing or no one to rely on in those moments.
  • Ensure you are not selecting movies for group viewing or seasonal activities without considering the needs of each youth. Allow for alternative activities without disparagement. Adults working with youth may not recognize specific triggers. Corn mazes may evoke feelings of being lost. Haunted houses may trigger unsuspected reactions. Pumpkins that smile are just wrong.

If the sound of chain saws make you cringe and the idea of summer camp makes you nauseous, you understand the power of images, sounds, and, memories. Work with your staff to create safe memories for the youth you serve. It will be the treat they never forget.


Getting to Know Your NSPN Family: A Little Pick-Me-Up Please

Written by Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events, National Safe Place Network 

 Coffee is the most coveted morning beverage of humanity. Coffee is so popular, people write about how great it is—a lot. The Huffington Post alone has a full web page dedicated to numerous blog posts about coffee, one of which is titled “19 Things You Didn’t Know About Coffee.” The article shares some interesting information. For example, legend says “coffee was discovered by a goat herder,” “a coffee plant can live up to 200 years,” and “coffee beans can vary in color”—not for the strange “cat” reason shared that no one would spend money on. Anyhow, who knew? Someone must really love coffee to dedicate precious time just to write about the goodness these little beans bring to the world. 

 Coffee can be consumed in many ways; however, most people like traditional coffee—black or with cream and/or sugar. But there are also some coffee concoctions that are unique, yet delicious: 

  •  Thai iced coffee 
  • Steaming mocha cocoa 
  • Turkish coffee 
  • Creamy iced vanilla caramel coffee 
  • Iced espresso marvo 
  • Coffee imperial 

Image credit: 

 These flavors are actually easy to make! You can get the recipes here 

Because there are so many different ways to make coffee, we thought the topic might offer a fun way for you to get to know your NSPN family. We asked them, “How do you like your coffee?”  

· Laurie Jackson, President / Chief Executive Officer: Flavored with a little cinnamon and cream

· Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer: In someone else’s cup. I am so not a coffee drinker.

· Shauna Brooks, Principal Investigator: Medium Roast in a large mug with two packs of Splenda and a 4-count pour of real heavy cream.

· April Carthorn, General Specialist: Not at all.

· Sherry Casey, Operations and Administration Manager: Iced vanilla coffee

· Zach Elmore, Operations Specialist: Black. Regular in the morning, decaf after noon.

· Kim Frierson, Training Specialist: Don’t drink coffee anymore. Made me sick while I was pregnant and I never picked it back up. I do enjoy a good cider or lemonade, depending on the season.

· Susan Harmon, Director of Safe Place National Operations: I love strong coffee – but not Starbucks strong – with nothing in it.

· Rachel Hurst, Development Associate: I only like the smell of coffee. Coffee is a lie because it smells amazing but tastes horrible. I don’t even like coffee ice cream.

· Hillary Ladig, Communications Coordinator: It depends on my mood. Somedays, I like it black and other days, I like it with a generous portion of milk. I also enjoy a good cappuccino – it’s great for the soul.

·Autumn Sandlin, Marketing & Communications Intern: ICED! If I drink it hot, I have to have lots and lots of sugar and milk or creamer. I want it as far from black as possible.

· Elizabeth Smith Miller, Director of Marketing and Events: I love coffee! To me, the perfect cup is 10oz of “Golden French Toast” or “Wild Mountain Blueberry” straight from the Keurig with a 3 count pour of “Sweet Cream” creamer. I can drink it all day – everyday. YUM

· Eric Tadatada, Technical Assistance Specialist: I like my coffee with two creams and three sugars.

Learn more about your NSPN family at 

 How do you like your coffee? Feel free to let us know by commenting below. 


Laughter Isn’t Always the Best Medicine

Written by Candace Leilani, Guest Blogger

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin

I remember incidents where laughter got me through different life events. Some of my favorite memories include me laughing. Some people can say that laughing has made their life better. Some people can say that laughter has sometimes made their life unbearable. What is laughter? A feeling? Something we do? The word, “laughter,” is defined as “an expression or appearance of merriment or amusement.”  I have often heard “Laughter is the best medicine.” If this is true, I wonder why and if it is true for everyone? There are many health benefits to laughing, more than I originally knew before writing this blog post. Laughter has been proven to not only be a stress reducer, but a pain reliever too. Laughter causes serotonin and endorphins to increase in the brain and decreases stress hormones. Why are these health benefits important? It can help you get through tough times physically, mentally, and emotionally. As an example, when a child is learning how to ride a bike and falls off, his or her scraped knee may not be as painful if laughter is encouraged by a smiling, joking father. One memory I have where laughter helped me physically is of when I was at my grandma’s farm-house and got a splinter in my finger from the old porch swing she had. I cried my eyes out; but, my loving grandma took a minute to make me smile by pretending to cry hysterically in the hopes of making me laugh. Believe it or not, it worked. My memory ends well with both of us laughing as she wiped away my tears and lead me inside the house for her to doctor up my finger as she did in the hospital some twenty years earlier as a nurse. Not only did laughter help me physically, it also helped me mentally and emotionally. I realized having a splinter was not as big of a deal as I thought it was and the event provided me with a memory of my grandma I will cherish forever.


However, I have also experience times in my laugh when laughter wasn’t uplifting or helpful. I was raised in a sheltered, Christian home where I did not have many friends. As a result almost any attention from guys in my grade seemed like flirting. When a guy even pretended that he liked me, I would freak out and think he did truly like me. One day in middle school, a popular guy acted extra nice to me. I was too shy to make first contact with him in person, so I did what I thought was the next best thing: write him a note asking for clarification of his intentions and for him to meet me to talk after school in the hallway. I put the note somewhere where I knew he would find it and waited for him to read it. The moment I saw his reaction to the note, I immediately regretted it. We were not alone and I was confronted with almost all the popular kids with their phones out to take video or photos of our interaction. I didn’t even get to talk to him due to everyone laughing and all the photos being taken. I went home that day crying, begging for my parents not to make me go to school the next day. During that incident, laughter caused me emotional pain and reminded me kids can be cruel.

Erma Bombeck was correct when she said, “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

I have shared two instances when laughter impacted who I am today as a person. One filled with joy and the other pain. I will always be sensitive to the sound of laughter and will always wonder, at least for a moment, if the laughter is with me or about me. However, the sound of laughter is something I long for in my life. It reminds me of my grandma and it reminds me I am stronger than those who may use their laughter as a weapon. When you laugh at a situation involving others, please take a moment to think about if you are making things better or making things worse.

I know I am the person I am today because of my experiences. I appreciate God for all the events that have happened in my life. I am a stronger person mentally and emotionally because of them. Science has proven that laughter is good for the soul, mind, and body.  And I am ready for a good laugh. How about you?

“Laughter is important, not only because it makes us happy, it also has actual health benefits. And that’s because laughter completely engages the body and releases the mind. It connects us to others and that in itself has a healing effect.” – Marlo Thomas


Self-Care: So Who Takes Care of You?

Written by: Mark W. Wolf, Training Director at National Safe Place Network

This is my first attempt at a blog so bear with me.  I volunteered to do this one because the most significant thing I have learned in my nearly 40 year career in the youth work field is the importance of taking care of yourself.

It has always struck me how so many youth care workers, who are superstars at caring for others, fail so miserably at taking care of themselves. The other thing I know to be true is how those most effective in this field care down to their core. That kind of care takes a toll on you emotionally and physically, and often leads to burnout.  If you want to continue to work in the field and be effective you absolutely must make a plan to take care of yourself. Many of us learn to take care of ourselves the hard way and many drop out of the field, unfortunately, because they do not learn in time. Fortunately, self-care can be learned.  With guidance, support, and good role models I learned some things along the way about work and self-care that helped me in my career and life.

Before you can make a self-care plan, there are some things you need to figure out about your work.  You have to examine why you are doing the work you are doing, and who are you doing this work for. It’s ok that we all meet some of our needs through our work, but our work cannot be the sole provider, or even the primary provider.  Remember that in our work we are there to meet other’s needs, not our own.  We need to meet our own needs in our own way, on our own time. Most importantly, we must be realistic in our expectations of how much we can do at one time, it is indeed a marathon. Understand that at best, we are support agents that facilitate change and growth that must be self directed. In the end, hopefully we know and believe we are worthy and deserve to be cared about by ourselves and others.

Once you figure all this out, and it can be complicated and take some significant time and effort unraveling who we are and what we need, you are ready to make a self-care plan.  First, understand that self-care is a bit of a misnomer. Much of self-care is making sure you have people around you that care about you and for you. The self-care part is allowing these others in.  As for a self-care plan, make a list of things you do for yourself that energize and inspire you, make a schedule, and keep it. Develop a support system outside of your work that includes a variety of people and activities. Give yourself permission to make time to play, have fun, and be totally selfish with your time and what you choose to do with it.

I was fortunate to have lots of support, guidance and great role models along the way to help me figure out how to create and maintain balance in my life.  Go out and find the support and guidance and care you need along the way.  You already know this but it is worth saying again – if you don’t take care of you, you won’t be able to help take care of others.