Become a Friend of CASA

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14th, 2021 with No Comments

Family Services’ Essex County CASA program has recently kicked off another advocate training.  Eight individuals are learning all about the juvenile justice system and how to effectively advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in our communities. 

If you’re interested in supporting CASA but are not able to make the commitment of becoming an advocate, consider joining our “Friends of CASA” committee.  Friends of CASA are volunteers who are interested in supporting the program through volunteer recruitment, planning and hosting fundraising events, and helping get the word out about the program throughout Essex County. 

Interested?  Contact the CASA Program Director, Danielle Emig, at [email protected] or 978-327-6615.

Fall Fun at the Family & Community Resource Center

Posted in Uncategorized on October 13th, 2021 with No Comments

Did you know that Family Services actually has 2 sites in Lawrence?  Our satellite space at One Union Street houses many of our family programs, including our Family & Community Resource Center (FCRC)!  Operated in partnership with the MA Department of Children and Families, the FCRC provides a host of programs to parents and children, including weekly parent education classes, play groups, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, youth development groups, special events and recreational activities.  Most importantly, the FCRC provides individual support for people in need of a helping hand.       

To contact the FCRC directly, call 978-978-8800 or submit an online inquiry form HERE.

Mass Service Alliance Grant for Latinx Mentor Recruitment

Posted in In the News, Mentoring, Uncategorized, Youth Development on January 20th, 2021 with No Comments

Family Services is pleased to announce that it has received a grant of $10,000 from the Massachusetts Service Alliance to recruit at Latinx bilingual volunteers as mentors for it’s Big Friends Little Friends mentoring program.

Family Services’ Big Friends Little Friends program supports over 100 matches between volunteer mentors and youth , the majority of which come from Latinx  families from Lawrence and surrounding communities. Dr. Dolores C Calaf, EdD, Volunteer Coordinator for the program, has been working with a group of Latinx volunteers who have been helping with a new promotion and marketing campaign in Spanish. The campaign consists of five strategies: 1) identify community stakeholders, 2) conduct community forums to understand the needs of Latinx youth, 3) develop an outreach work plan to engage adult Latinx mentors, 4) develop outreach materials and strategies in Spanish, 5) assess effectiveness of outreach strategies and modify activities as needed. The working committee members represent different areas of services including local business owners, educational, social services, and healthcare professionals as well as two state legislators.

“We are so pleased to be partnering with the Massachusetts Service Alliance to enhance our ability to match youth in our community with mentors who share their language and cultural identity,” said Aida Castro, Director of Community Support Services. “And we’re thrilled that so many volunteers have joined us to get this initiative off the ground, especially during this difficult time”, concluded her.

Family Services is a leading provider of comprehensive social services located in Lawrence, MA.  The agency is committed to helping children and families build a better life by offering services in youth development, parent education and mental health and wellness. Rooted in compassion and respect for the diverse population it serves, Family Services helps over 7,000 people from throughout the Merrimack Valley each year.  All services are based upon hope and the possibility that with support, individuals can thrive within their family, school, workplace, and community. 

For more information or if you are interested in become a Latinx bilingual mentor, contact Dr. Dolores Calaf at 978-314-3125 or email her at [email protected]

Stand & Deliver – Delivers Quality Content

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15th, 2021 with No Comments
The most impactful piece of our Stand & Deliver program is the weekly one-on-one mentoring students receive from the mentors who work at our corporate partner companies. Although conducted virtually for now, the advice and encouragement these students receive help them believe in themselves and their futures.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Stand & Deliver partners produce monthly webinars topics including: College Information & Admissions, Financial Aid, Money Management, College Panel, and the first annual High School Panel to help our 8th grade students transition to high school! Click here for more information.
Thanks to the following individuals for sharing their wisdom and sage advice:
  • Merrimack College Assistant Director of Admissions, and former Stand & Deliver alum, Dauri Torres
  • Northern Essex Community College Admissions Coordinator Thomas Ortiz
  • GLTS Guidance Counselor, Mr. Chris “CP” Plourde
  • UMass Lowell Assistant Director of Study Abroad & Financial Aid, Tonya Brito
  • Stand & Deliver Raytheon mentor, Arie
  • College Panel Participants and S&D alum: Keiddy, Javier, Manases, and Jennifer
We are so grateful for our corporate partners: Raytheon, New Balance, Schneider Electric, and Pfizer for their help and support of this program!
Here are a few pictures from our Fall series:


Cultivating Spiritual Health

Posted in Uncategorized on December 7th, 2020 with No Comments

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began and with the holiday season upon us, our physical and mental health continues to be tested. But there is another aspect of health that is also being tested and that is worth paying attention to: our spiritual health. Spiritual health refers to our sense of belonging, our feelings of shared humanity, and our sense of purpose in life. For many people, spiritual health is fed through a shared belief system or faith tradition (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, for example). But even for people who do not ascribe to a faith tradition, spiritual health is still relevant and important as it brings a sense of meaning and purpose to life.  

During this time, when so much that we care about is at risk or has already been lost, we are becoming acutely aware of what really matters in life. The pandemic is forcing us to reassess our values, causing us to question our priorities, and inspiring many of us to seek solace and understanding in a connecting to a higher power or deeper meaning. Having a strong sense of purpose and meaning in life has been shown to positively affect all aspects of health. Research has shown that people with a strong sense of spirituality have less hypertension, cardiac and respiratory diseases, depression, and reactivity to stress.

But, like everything else, spiritual health requires some time and attention. If you could benefit from re-examining beliefs, the following exercises are a good place to start:

  • Conduct a Values Exercise: Make a list of your values (just google “list of personal values” to get you started). Then start crossing off and prioritizing. You can also google “Values Clarification Worksheet” for a lot of online resources for similar exercises.
  • Written reflection: Do some journaling about what matters most. Here are some prompts to get your writing juices flowing: “I felt most alive when…”; “The things that give me a feeling of peace come from …”; “I am grateful for…”. These exercise can help you clarify what truly matters in the big picture.
  • Keepsake & photo collection: Gather up old photos and keepsakes from your life and put them all together in one place. Spend some time with these items and see if you notice any themes. Are you with family in each photo? Are your keepsakes all related to travel. Is there a nature theme among the items. Do the keepsakes and photos mostly relate to time with family? This exercise can help reveal the things you didn’t even realize were meaningful to you.

Once you have spent some time examining what brings a sense of meaning to your life, it’s time to implement strategies that help keep those values and priorities in the forefront of your daily life. Here are some tips for keeping your priorities in check:

  • Read, Watch, Listen: There is a huge industry of spirituality-related media that can provide you with constant inspiration. Think of a book you’ve read or show you’ve watched and see what other content is recommended for people who like those authors or producers. The podcast industry is also full of great resources for every faith and spiritual tradition.
  • Daily Reminders: What quotes are meaningful for you? Do you have a favorite passage from a holy book? Is there an image that conjures a meaningful memory? Print these things out and hang them where you will see them frequently (at your desk, in your car, on your nightstand, your smartphone screen). Frequent reminders to reconnect with what’s really important to us is a powerful way to stay connected to feelings of a higher purpose.
  • Be a Joiner: Although physical gatherings are not really permissible right now, they will return. And online groups, chat rooms, Zoom meet ups are still taking place, bringing likeminded people together to share faith and community.
  • Find Mentorship: If you belong to an organized religion, you may find solace in speaking with your faith leader. If you’re more secular, you may find mentors in personal relationships with family members, teachers, coaches or others who have a shared sense of values and purpose.

If you or a family member are struggling with stress and anxiety of the holidays, give us a call to schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians, 978-327-6600.

Appointments are currently being provided via telehealth.