‘You Can Do This!’ Trinity Staff Empower New Foster Parents with Tools, Encouragement

teen-foster-mom

Laura Kassem

Laura Abujudeh-Kassem

“You never know what you’ll be good at until you try,” is Laura Abujudeh-Kassem’s motto. It’s one she lives by as a passionate Intake and Foster Care Office Director for Trinity Youth Services. Laura’s personal and professional mission is helping youth find safe, supportive families who can nurture their growth and help them thrive.

Teen moms, medically-fragile babies, and children with special needs can be more difficult to place due to the negative stereotypes that persist about their perceived challenges. To increase the interest in these special populations, Laura goes the extra mile to help ease the fears of foster parents by educating them about the needs of the youth, acknowledging the youth’s strengths, and helping the parent adopt a positive outlook on fostering. Providing honest dialogue about expectations as well as discussing the type of assistance they will receive has proved to be beneficial.

“I encourage foster parents to take older youth because it’s our biggest need. I ask them to be willing to accept calls for children of all ages,” Laura said. Laura’s ultimate goal is making them feel confident enough to take in youth who are seemingly high-risk. She lets them know that they are never alone and always have access to resources, guidance and support.

“I want foster parents to think, ‘If I give a child my all, and have the support of the agency, I think I can do it,'” Laura said. Encouraging a foster parent to extend their comfort zone isn’t always easy, but Laura is determined and never gives up if she believes a foster parent and child are a good fit.

“A parent said she didn’t want to work with teens. She had already raised her daughter and only wanted to foster babies. I received a call one day about a college-bound teen mom who had an infant son, and the county needed a home for them. I thought, ‘I’ll call this mom. I felt like she could work with her.’

“When I called, I said, ‘I have your baby that you’ve been waiting for, but he has a teen mom with him.’ The foster parent said, ‘No, I can’t do that.’ I said, ‘I will tell you about her. She’s a college-bound, responsible teen mom. She just needs your guidance the same way you’ve raised your daughter to be successful. Help her transition in her life. I believe you can do this.’ I empowered her. She told me she’d give it a try.”

After opening-up her heart and her home to the teen mom, something amazing took place. According to Laura, “The foster parent had a positive experience and was able to help her transition to college and helped her get an apartment. Then, she became our ‘Foster Mom for Teens’ in San Diego County. She talked to potential families about her fostering experience. She was able to succeed due to the support and encouragement she received from our staff. She also made a point to reach out to us when she needed resources or support.”

Going above and beyond to help youth in crisis, as well as helping foster parents succeed, is what makes people like Laura and the Trinity Youth Services staff stand out above the rest.

“I believe in our families,” Laura said. “We help guide them and let them know that they are part of a team. They can always reach out to us for support.”

Laura Abujudeh-Kassem is the Trinity Youth Services foster care director in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. If you are in the area and are interested in becoming a resource parent under her supportive team, contact her office at 888.346.9645.


florence-1Florence EdwardsFoster Care Marketing Specialist
Florence has a strong commitment to helping foster youth and their families thrive and live successful lives. A former foster youth, Florence obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and is a certified Holistic Life Coach, motivational writer, self-help author and celebrity interviewer. Beyond the Trinity Youth Services blog, Florence’s articles can be found in numerous platforms including Foster Focus Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, BET Centric and Huffington Post. A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, Florence continues to educate, support and mentor foster youth throughout Southern California. Email: fedwards@trinityys.org | Phone: 888.346-9645

Thyme to Turnip

Thyme to TurnipBioindividuality

I was asked to speak at a local Women With Autism Meet-Up Group this week. I had a few topics to cover, but I love to lead discussions more than I like to talk at people. The foundation of my nutritional philosophy is bioindividuality, meaning that each client has unique nutritional needs, and I work with them to uncover those needs and develop a plan to address them. Obviously, there are things we can all be doing to improve our well being (drinking more water, listening to our body, sitting down to eat and chewing our food thoroughly).

Thyme to TurnipWhile we were talking, I mentioned that I made my own sourdough bread. It was an offhand comment for me, but it was a conversation stopper. “Wow! That sounds intense.” Three weeks earlier, I would have whole-heartedly agreed. I had tried to make it once before and after a full day of measuring, kneading, proofing, slapping and baking I was rewarded with a flat brick of sorry bread that we had to use for croutons. Fast forward to January when I took a class from Biodynamic Wellness in Solano Beach. The secrets of soft, crusty, delicious sourdough bread was unlocked for me. As soon as I had enough starter, and a 6 hour window, I was baking my first loaf. The “hands-on” time is less than 20 minutes, but it is spaced out over 6 hours. I hit a few hiccups (like my big bottom oven deciding not to heat up), but my loaves came out perfect and oh so good!

Baking bread is no longer a mystery or an intense sounding task to me. Much like whipping up some lacto-fermented ketchup or raw milk yogurt. Many of my clients did not spend time in the kitchen when they were children learning to cook. In all honesty, their parents didn’t know how to cook fresh ingredients. The convenience of the drive-thru, boxed dinner starters and frozen meals has sucked us in like a Siren’s call.

Once you start cooking simple meals you’ll realize it doesn’t take hours in the kitchen to feed your family. Most fermented foods are a quick prep and then a wait as the probiotics do their part. I feed my sourdough culture (we named it Kukui) every day, but it’s ready to use to make biscuits, crackers, pancakes or bread any time. The souring process eats up the sugar and the gluten in the flour, making it easier to digest and unlocking the nutrients in the whole grains.

Being a stay-at-home parent might make it easier for some to make everything homemade, but I know they have lots of tasks demanding their attention, just like the working parents juggling their job and home life. I have been that working mom getting home at 6:30, starting dinner and keeping bed times. Real food can be a part of this equation.

My Favorite Real Food Living Tips:

Thyme to Turnip#1 Take a class. It doesn’t have to be at a school… if grandma makes a killer pot roast, or the bomb-diggity Fried Chicken, hang out and help her do it. She’ll probably make cookies while you’re waiting for the roast. (I wouldn’t worry too much about the refined sugars/flours in this case. You need to learn how to crawl before you can walk.)

#2 Invest in a crock pot. It will be your new BFF and you won’t have to remember it’s birthday or listen to it whine about the last jerk that stood it up.

#3 Replace vegetable cooking oils (corn, canola, soybean, etc.) with Coconut Oil, Lard, Duck Fat, Butter and Ghee. You can save your Olive Oil for drizzling on food after it’s been cooked, hummus and salads. Throw everything else away.

#4 Find a Farmer’s Market near you on a day that you can attend. Check it out. Buy some berries. Maybe get a little crazy and come home with a squash. (These things happen). Once you’ve found a good one, use it to buy your weekly vegetables and eggs. Meal plan around your purchases and use your grocery store for supplementation.

#5 Make double batches when you make dinner. You can reuse leftovers in a soup, throw meat on salad for lunch or mix up veggies into an omelet or frittata.

#6 Start eating fats. Good fats like whole eggs, wild fish, uncured bacon, avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, olive oil, and that crispy goodness wrapped around your roasted chicken… you know the skin! Our bodies have not evolved as fast as the processed foods have.  With the large amounts of grains we now consume, our bodies think we are out of meat and protein, so it sends the message to store that energy for later, leading to fat retention, which is great if you are in a famine… not so great in 2017. You need to send the message that you have plenty of food and nutrients and get your body to start burning protein for energy, and to stop storing the carbs. Basically, you need healthy fats to lose fat, get pregnant and have more energy. All good reasons for me!

Once you find a routine that works best for you, buying and preparing healthy meals is easier than you think and your body will thank you.

Thyme To Turnip

Note: The information found in this blog post is for educational and informational purposes only. The opinions of Brynn D’Avello/Thyme to Turnip do not necessarily reflect the views of Trinity Youth Services. This blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness, nor act as a substitute for medical treatment or advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before implementing any dietary and/or lifestyle modifications.


Thyme To Turnip Nutrition

Bynn D’Avello, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Brynn is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and owns Thyme To Turnip Nutrition in Claremont, CA. Brynn’s passion is working with families to build healthy foundations. She helps couples prepare their bodies for conception, works with parents to support healthy pregnancies, and nourishing their babies and children. Brynn & her husband Mike have a blended family they commonly describe as “Yours, Mine and Ours,” with 3 boys between them when they married; they had a baby girl together 2 years ago. Their nutrition journey with one son’s placement on the Autism spectrum in 2011, and they have learned how important food is to maintaining optimal health not just for their son with Autism, but also for the entire family. Brynn understands how daunting it can seem to switch to a nutrient-dense diet in today’s busy world of the working family.
Tel: (909) 747-7769 | Email: brynn@thyme2turnip.com | Website: www.thymetoturnip.com


Meal Planning

Meal Planning

As a busy mom, meal planning is a task that is never complete. Some days it doesn’t feel like I can even get the kitchen cleaned before a tiny human is telling me they are STARVING (picture them laying on the floor clutching my ankle). We also have a running joke in the house that there’s no dinner on Sundays. During the week we usually stick to quick prep breakfasts; oatmeal, fried eggs, or make-ahead-breakfast-muffins warmed up. Sundays are lazy days. Big breakfasts are finished around noon, and then I’ll cook a big meal that falls somewhere between normal lunch and dinner times. If you get hungry again later then you are on your own to forage for snacks and leftovers.

I would like to imagine that one day I am going to get the hang of having my pretty meal plan chalkboard all filled out for the week, with all of the necessary ingredients picked up in one shopping trip, but as of right now, I am planning one meal at a time. Part of my reluctance to sit down and plan is I depend a lot on what I am craving that day. In the past attempts to plan, shop and cook are thwarted by a long day at work where I don’t feel like cooking at all when I get home, or beef stroganoff not sounding as good as pan-seared scallops. It winds up being a waste of money when produce I meant to use goes bad. Here’s what works for me:

SHOP YOUR LOCAL STORE ADS

My store has a new ad every Wednesday. I loosely plan a few dinners once I’ve checked through the sheet for sales. The cool thing about the store I shop at is that Wednesday is double ad day; everything from the previous week is still on sale along with all the new sales. I believe in variety for nutrition’s sake, but if ground beef is 60% off, I know I will be getting creative with the beef recipes for that week. We can mix up the veggies and snacks to round out our nutrients.

STICK TO THE BASICS

As I mentioned before, weekday breakfasts are routine around here. So are week-night dinners. For my stepsons’ benefit their weekly dinner at our house is always Taco Tuesday. The rest of the week follows a general guideline of meat+veggie2. When I’m especially brilliant all of it gets baked on a jumbo sheet pan in the oven for an easy cleanup.

Meal Planning

PUT YOUR APP INTO IT

I have 2 apps I use on the regular. The Real Plans app is a great tool for meal ideas, and a very easy planner if you are good at that. I will plan my week on Wednesdays based on my grocery deals, but if I skip a meal I can easily flick it to another day on the planner. It also has plugins from some of the tastiest cookbooks around: PaleOMG, NomNomPaleo, Well-Fed, and The Paleo Mom to name a few. This a subscription service, but they offer a 30-day money back guarantee if it’s not for you.

The other app I swear by is the ShopShop app. This one is a free grocery list keeper. It comes in handy every day when I am out and think of something I need for dinner. I have multiple lists set up based on the store I like to use for each item. It’s also really nice to share if my husband is going to the store for me.

FARM IT OUTMeal Planning

If Amazon were a person I would vote it to be President. I have a steady stream of Prime deliveries to my house ranging from diapers, to groceries, to books, to goofy gag gifts. Now that Amazon Fresh is available in my area the bright green totes are also making an appearance. For hard-to-find items, or for weeks when I am swamped with other tasks this is one less trip to the grocery store with a crabby toddler that demands to eat the blueberries straight out of the carton before we get to the register.

There are also a ton of meal prep delivery boxes now as well. Our favorite is Sunbasket because they have family friendly options, simple ingredients and they are super easy to make. The ingredients are all sourced here in California, and the farmers are organic and sustainable, which makes my little heart beat a happy tune.

USE THE POWER OF THE FORCE… OF PINTEREST

I know, I know. Pinterest is a black hole, you jump on to find an idea for dinner and pretty soon you’re planning an add-on to your dream house/farm with the designer chicken coup in the backyard. This can be a great tool to save those ideas you come across or freshen up your meal calendar. If you need a place to start for ideas for what to feed your family and kids here’s a board I keep the fun food on: Snacks & Meals For Littles.

Unfortunately for me, there is more madness than method to the way we plan. I could blame the four kids and two business we run, but in the spirit of the New Year, it’s really just my personality. I love food, and never want to force myself to eat something I would prefer to make another day.

Thyme To TurnipNote: The information found in this blog post is for educational and informational purposes only. The opinions of Brynn D’Avello/Thyme to Turnip do not necessarily reflect the views of Trinity Youth Services. This blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or illness, nor act as a substitute for medical treatment or advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before implementing any dietary and/or lifestyle modifications.


Thyme To Turnip Nutrition

Bynn D’Avello, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
Brynn is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and owns Thyme To Turnip Nutrition in Claremont, CA. Brynn’s passion is working with families to build healthy foundations. She helps couples prepare their bodies for conception, works with parents to support healthy pregnancies, and nourishing their babies and children. Brynn & her husband Mike have a blended family they commonly describe as “Yours, Mine and Ours,” with 3 boys between them when they married; they had a baby girl together 2 years ago. Their nutrition journey with one son’s placement on the Autism spectrum in 2011, and they have learned how important food is to maintaining optimal health not just for their son with Autism, but also for the entire family. Brynn understands how daunting it can seem to switch to a nutrient-dense diet in today’s busy world of the working family.
Tel: (909) 747-7769 | Email: Brynn@thyme2turnip.com | Website: www.thymetoturnip.com


 

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