Spring 2015 Newsletter

2015newsletterpicThe Spring 2015 newsletter is now available.  Click the link below for a PDF version.

NCH Spring 2015 Newsletter

Fall 2014 Newsletter

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NCH Fall 2014 Newsletter

NCH Newsletter Fall 2013

news The Fall 2013 Nashua Children’s Home Newsletter has been publish and is available by clicking the link below:

NCH_Fall_2013-Newsletter

Teen Conference

Nashua Children’s Home was well-represented at the 8th Annual DCYF Teen Conference on August 9th at Keene State College, bringing home 1st and 3rd place awards in the Talent Show.  Jackson and Jose energized the crowd with their jerk-dancing routine and were the overwhelming Peoples’ Choice as Best Act.  Adam wrote and performed a compelling guitar piece (he can sing, too!) and Samantha led off the show with another solo vocal rendition.

Independent/Transitional Living Director Lea Reilly received the Outstanding Community Member Award, the only award conferred to non-DCYF/DHHS staff.  Lea was honored for her ongoing commitment to assist New Hampshire’s at-risk youth on their jouney to adulthood.

 

Director’s Corner

By David Villiotti, Executive Director

During my 26 year tenure at Nashua Children’s Home, I have often taken calls from parents advocating for a stay at Nashua Children’s Home for their child.  They often describe a series of hard knocks, perhaps some questionable decisions that they’ve made, but typically speak to putting their lives in order while their adolescent son or daughter is running amok.  My standard reply is to review the possible vehicles for residential placement at Nashua Children’s Home.

“Has your son been involved in any deliquent activity?” I ask.  “Thank God, no!” says the parent. “Is there any basis for your being charged with abuse or neglect?” I go on.  “What!!?” is the response I often hear.  I then would describe the lone remaining option, which parents would often pursue, that being going to district court and filing a CHINS (Child In Need of Service) on behalf of their child, ostensibly for having “…disobeyed the reasonable and lawful command of their parent.”  Even this was not an appealing option to parents, who would initially plead that their relationship with their child was tough enough.  And yes, it did involve having an attorney appointed for their child, with their son or daughter then entering a plea.  There was no getting around the reality that this was an adversarial process.  But yet, it was a process that was available to parents in an unenviable position.

Fast forward to the New Hampshire legistlative session of 2011, of which I had written in the Fall 2011 newsletter.  Now, the CHINS statute has been restructured in a manner that no longer offers parents this option.  The change is perhaps best illustrated by a discussion at a recent Board of Directors meeting, where I was reviewing the new CHINS statute.

“So, do you mean that we can’t do anything about those kids that stay out all night and break into people’s houses?” asked a Board member.  “No,” I replied, “we can still do something about those kids.  It’s the kids that stay out all night and don’t break into people’s houses that we can’t do anything about.”

Since the new statute has taken effect, rarely a week goes by where I don’t field a call from a desperate parent, feeling that their son or daughter who is out of control would benefit from placement at Nashua Children’s Home and wondering how to make that happen.  I now describe a circuitous process where if their son or daughter is fortunate enough to be diagnosed with a mental illness, and presents a requiste level of danger; the parent can make thier case to the local juvenile justice office.  If it passes muster in that venue, it’s then kicked up to Concord and only if meeting the State Office gate-keeping approval, does it proceed to district court locally.  Now, rather than parents being thankful their son or daughter has not engaged in delinquent activity, such behavior provides an opportunity to access the system.  Being completely out of control at home may not be a sufficient vehicle for services at Nashua Children’s Home, but shoplifting a pair of nylons from Kohl’s might do it.

There are some efforts afoot to mitigate the delterious effect to the revision of the CHINS statute.  Unfortunately, the train has left the station, as it were, much to the detriment of at-risk youth.  We will continue, with the assistance of community leaders, to right the wrongs of a system that has been turned on it’s head.

A Long Journey Home for Oscar Villacis

Oscar outside the place he credits with "saving him", the Nashua Children's Home

By Carol Robidoux

Reprinted with permission from NashuaPatch.com

 

As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, Oscar Vallacis felt he always had something to prove.  Bullies reminded him daily that he wasn’t the biggest, toughest kid in town.  Drug dealers recruited him to deliver packages he was afraid to open, by bicycle, across town.

His next-door neighbor, a kid just like him, lost his mom most days to crack; a kid who was bullied more than Villacis.

“One day I saw this bike laying on the ground and a bunch of kids beating him up nearby.  I knew it was up to me, so I grabbed something, hit one of the kids  and chased them away,” Villacis said.

Of course, that only refocused the target on his own back and made his problems worse.  So when his mom annouced they were moving to Nashua, a place just named “the greatest place to live,” he was overjoyed.  He was 11 when they left NY and happy toget away from the bullies, but he soon found out they persist everywhere, even the greatest plasce on earth.

In lieu of a growth spurt, Villacis flexed some adolescent muscle to live up to the reputation- although unwarrented- that he carried to NH as a street-smart kid from Brooklyn.  “I wasn’t a tough guy.  Before coming to Nashua, I mostly stayed inside playing video games, afraid to be outside becasue of the bullies and crack dealers.” Villacis said.

“Looking back now, I just needed some attention, but at the time I made bad choices ,” Villacis said,  Hormones compounded by family strife led him down a one-way path to trouble.  One day, when a bully called him “shorty” in front of some other kids, he didn’t hold back.  “I punched him, right then and there.  The next day the police came looking for me.”

He was 13, and in and out of trouble after that; by 15, he was incarcerated at the Youth Detention Services Unit in Concord, spending his fifteenth birthday there.  Eventually he moved to a center in Rochester.  “After a while, my mom just wanted me to come home, but by then the system had me,” Villacis said.

His lucky break came when there was an opening at Nashua Children’s Home, which provides care and couseling for at-risk youth.

“I have to say that NCH saved me.  It was the right place for me.  The other places were jail, plain and simple.  NCH was a home away from home.  It was a warm staff and they really changed my life around for the better.  They are the reason I am who I am today.  When you put a young adult into the system who’s acting out, what they need is healing.  A jail cell might tame them, but once you let them out, they will act out again.  You keep doing that consistently without the healing , and that person will never get out of the system,” said Villacis, sounding wise beyond his 25 years.

Once he aged out of NCH, he limped along on his own.  Finding himself on the edge of trouble again, he returned to NCH for advice.  His counselor told him plainly, it was time to stop messing up.  “I finally woke up.  My counselor told me that the next time he saw me would be because he I was going to jail.  I knew it was time for me to get it right,” Villacis said.

He made connections within the Latino community and was inspired by start-up business projects, including streetwear enterprise DeFamNation.

Next, he followed his heart to Germany after falling in love with an au pair.  He bussed tables until he found a job working for an international school in need of a native English speaker.  “I was really blessed by that whole experience.  I didn’t speak German and the kids didn’t speak English, but we taught each other.  It was a fantastic experience,” Villacis said- but one that soon ended when he got word that his grandfather in Ecuador had died.

After attending the funeral, he was struck by home much he missed his family, particularly his mom in Nashua.  “I could have stayed in Germany and had a different life, but at that point, I knew it was time to come home to Nashua.  My family is everything to me.  Working with the kids and growing up a little along the way helped me focus on what I really wanted to do,” said Villacis.

Now, he has a good job with Apple Inc., and dabbles with fashiion design on the side.  He is currently in the dream stage of opening a community center downtown called Untouched Talent, a place where kids can explore the arts and develop inner talent that otherwise might never surface.

He’s making connections throuhg the city’s Arts Commission and Visualize Nashua, two avenues that might bring his dream closer to reality.

His vision includes hands-on arts experience, lining up mentors from different art disciplines to teach kids new skills.  He envisions a series of kid-centric events all with the goal of establishing scholarship funds to help aspiring artists pursue their talents through higher education.

“I keep thinking if I had a place like this, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten myself into as much trouble,” said Villacis, who says he sees his little brother, 11-year old George, as the perfect example of the kind of kid who could use a place like Untouched Talent.

For now, he will continue to do what he does best; follow his heart.

“I know that everything I’ve been through has led me back to this place.  I love living on Main Street, and being part of what’s happening every day.  This is my dream, and I’m going to make it happen.  It’s going to take some time, but I feel ready now to make a difference, to give something back.”

Oscar with his younger brother George and their mom, Fanny, at his mother's home in Nashua.

Santa’s Special Visit to the Youth at NCH

A hug for Santa.

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year for most families; time spent creating lasting memories and developing close family bonds in their beloved homes.  Unfortunately, happy memories are not such a consistent theme in the lives of the youth taken in at Nashua Children’s Home.  The holiday season for many, brings them only more profound and overhwhelming feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.

Our dedicated counselors, therapists and teachers try their best to make daily life better for those hurting boys and girls, who no doubt find life even more difficult at the holidays.  This and every year at Nashua Children’s Home, Santa comes by for a special visit, spreading holiday cheer and putting smiles on these youngsters faces.

 

All smiles!

 

 

2012 Newsletter

Please click the link below to read a PDF copy of the 2012 Newsletter.

Winter 2012 Newsletter

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