Colin’s contagious smile and big heart will brighten anyone’s day. If you happen to find yourself driving through the McDonald’s in Latrobe, his kind words will greet you at the window. When he isn’t working, this 18-year old is often watching YouTube videos, or teaching his young nephew how to ride his bike. To see him now, you would assume he’s a happy, fulfilled recent high school graduate. But it wasn’t always this way.
In 6th grade, Colin started to get into trouble at school and was diagnosed with ADHD and Impulse Control Disorder. By the time he reached 8th grade, the school was calling his mom Leslie pretty regularly. As his behavior spiraled and the calls increased, she began to fear that he was going to get “lost” in the public school system.
Before the end of the first quarter of his 9th-grade year, Colin’s principal called her to have a meeting. During that meeting, his principal suggested that Colin attend Adelphoi Ketterer Charter School in Latrobe. While she agreed that she needed to do something to help Colin, she was hesitant to send him to a school that she knew little about.
“Life before the Charter School was very stressful and full of anxiety,” said Leslie. “Problems just kept arising and Colin was getting further and further away from where I knew he could be.”
Leslie reluctantly agreed to meet with teachers at the Charter School. During that meeting, Leslie says that they were greeted with “a smile and acceptance” from everyone that lasted long beyond the first meeting. Colin felt comfortable and accepted the first time he set foot in the school, not only from his teachers, but from all of the school personnel, including the counselors, receptionists, principals, CEO and the school resource officer.
Colin found that the staff took interest in his life beyond just school, and worked hard to forge a personal bond with him. One of Colin’s teachers, Eric Pavlik, was what Colin considered his “go to” for everything. “He has talked to me and helped calm me down so many times,” said Colin. “He talked through problems with me.”
Many others, such as Brooke Pierce, Principal at Adelphoi Ketterer Charter School, rallied behind him to help him succeed. “She has been there for me anytime I needed,” Colin noted. “I know that I am welcome to go to her and talk if I need to. She’s helped me even when I messed up.”
Colin says he feels at home at the Charter School. He credits his teachers for encouraging him and allowing him to realize his potential. He knows that he can go to each of them with any problems that he may have and they will help.
Leslie says that that everyone at the Charter School “has Colin’s back” and they give him the encouragement and support that he needs to be successful. “Even when Colin makes a bad decision, the staff don’t make him feel like a bad kid, they just help him understand why it was a bad decision and help him to move forward.”
According to Leslie, the personal care and attention that Colin has received is outstanding. “We have never felt like just a number at Adelphoi Ketterer Charter. Anytime that I have concerns or questions, the staff have responded and provided the human contact and care that I have come to know, expect and love from them.”
“When I drop Colin off every morning, Resource Officer Ray always reminds him to tell me that he loves me,” says Lesie. “He asks Colin how he is, and if Colin misses a day of school, the next morning Ray says, ‘I was worried about you, you doing ok?’ There have been many mornings after Colin walks into the school that Ray will take the time to talk to me. He tells me what a good kid Colin is and that he will check in with him and see how he’s doing.”
Today, Colin talks positively about his future with his school counselor and plans to use the Adelphoi Promise scholarship program to pursue education after high school.
“Colin is a smart a young man, he was a lost soul with some emotional baggage that needed the support of people that understood and cared and that is exactly what he got at this school,” said Leslie. “Adelphoi Ketterer Charter School gave us hope again, restored my faith in public education, in teachers and humanity. I wouldn’t want my son anywhere else.”
Before Adelphoi, Bob didn’t have many healthy relationships with friends and family. He would often hang out with friends that were a negative influence on him. His life consisted of trying to push the limits of what he thought was wrong and what was actually wrong. Bob needed structure and guidance from Adelphoi to bring him to terms with reality with the decisions he was making.
Adelphoi also showed Bob that there were people that understood what he was going through and wanted to offer guidance to help him make better choices that would lead to a more productive and healthy lifestyle.“Adelphoi gave me opportunities of leadership, accountability and responsibility. Through situations such as being a home manager for a week, keeping myself accountable for negative behavior, tasks such has schoolwork and treatment work, I had things to focus on, which in the long run, carried over into my daily routine 10 years later. From these opportunities, I often seek leadership positions instead of being a follower, I am more self-accountable and pride myself with integrity through work and personal life. I find taking responsibility easier knowing that I have the willpower to follow through and the determination to get tasks and jobs finished.”
After Adelphoi, Bob jumped right back into high school as a 16-year-old freshman. He completed high school on time and pursued a Bachelor of Science degree in Commercial Music Technology from California University of Pennsylvania.“After I received my undergraduate degree, I went back to California University of Pennsylvania to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. After 2 more years of school and through the help of the Adelphoi’s scholarship programs, I was able to pay for and complete the required curriculum in order to receive my MBA in 2018.” “The programs and services at Adelphoi that I received made a difference in my life because I am now fully aware of my life and my actions. I can easily identify things like seemingly unimportant decisions and high-risk situations that I couldn’t recognize before Adelphoi. From the programs at Adelphoi, I’ve learned about understanding my behavior cycles and how to identify my problem areas. I have also learned about urge control and empathy. These two things have impacted my life the most because I use them every day. Having the self-control to stay away from temptations and releasable behaviors as well as recognizing and having empathy for the people that I hurt or could have hurt keep me more self-aware and help me to live a healthy and responsibly life.”
Today, Bob’s life is completely different from his days before Adelphoi. He currently has a successful sales position with a plastics supply company.“This year has been my 10th year since completing treatment at Adelphoi. Almost every day I find myself doing or thinking about the lessons that I’ve learned from this program. Adelphoi has taught me that all of my actions will never only affect myself. The way I handle every life choice for the rest of my life will affect my family and the people around me.”
Multisystemic Therapy (MST) program is an intensive family- and community-based treatment program designed to make positive changes in the home, school and community for youth who are displaying antisocial behaviors. For 13-year-old "Amy," these behaviors included becoming physically and verbally aggressive, stealing and leaving home without permission.
Amy’s mother "Dawn" worried about her daughter’s behaviors, fearing that she would never reach the promising potential she saw in her. As a result, Dawn's mother turned to Adelphoi MST for help.
Early in the family’s treatment, the MST team realized how crucial it was for Amy and her mother to improve their communication as well as learn how to model the de-escalation skills that she desperately wanted Amy to use in handling her anger more effectively. Numerous steps were also put into place to assist with communication styles from both mother and daughter on a daily basis. These interventions helped Dawn to see the value of an authoritative parenting approach that encompassed both control and warmth.
To help Dawn construct appropriate expectations, the MST team provided education on normal adolescent development in tandem with teaching Dawn about how to “pick and choose” her battles. Adelphoi MST also assisted her with developing clear expectations with added incentives to help strengthen her discipline techniques. This way, Amy had clear rules in place with either a reward or consequence, based upon the behavior she chose to exhibit.
MST also focuses on enacting change within the child's entire ecological support system. In order to sustain the support Dawn had received from Adelphoi MST, the team enlisted Dawn's boyfriend "Jeremiah" as a support to help her to continue to use the skills that she had learned throughout treatment. Jeremiah was able to stay calm amidst tense circumstances, which was incredibly helpful in managing Amy’s behavior and more importantly, the changes that had greatly improved the mother-daughter relationship.
Through completion of the MST program, the entire family learned how to decrease aggressive communication and find ways to really hear one another, which strengthened their relationships with one another. In turn, they were able to share their concerns without being critical and could focus the conversation on problem-solving rather than arguments.
After working with Adelphoi MST, Amy found a renewed sense of being loved and taken care of while simultaneously understanding that because she was loved, she would be held accountable to certain standards of behavior. At the close of treatment, Amy was most proud of her ability to demonstrate self-control, successfully meeting each of her overarching goals, while her mom was confident that she had the skills to be a better parent.
Adelphoi foster parent Sandra Barnaby has watched many children move in and out of her life over the years. A foster parent for more than 30 years, many of these children, now adults, still call the Barnaby household “home” and refer to Sandra as “Mom.” Over time, Sandra has been able to watch some of those children have their own children, get married, or visit her to show their appreciation for her love and support over the years.
Foster parenting wasn’t something Sandra embarked on early in life. No stranger to hard work, Sandra worked outside of the home to give her family all that she could. Her employment and active involvement in the church never interfered with her role as a full-time, hands-on parent.
In 1988, everything changed when Sandra and her husband Steve made the decision to become foster parents. As if it were second nature, the Barnaby’s approached each child with a compassionate heart and the philosophy that each child deserves their unconditional love, no matter what occurred in the child’s past.
Years later, after the passing of her husband, Sandra continued to foster, giving all that she had to ensure that others did not go without.
Sandra credits much of her success with children to the great support system within her family, church community, and Adelphoi staff. When she takes on the care of any child, they are adopted by her entire family. Every child that has been lucky enough to have found a home with the Barnaby’s has come to them the same way, weary from life lessons learned all too soon. Over time, Sandra’s love and devotion catalyzes a change in these children. The youth in her care slowly start to trust again and gradually let down the walls that have protected them for so many years.
Over the past six years, Sandra has continued to offer even more permanence for kids in need, seeking and obtaining guardianship of three teenagers who are now currently in their twenties and hve families of their own. She also fostered a young man that lost his mother to her battle of cancer. After only a few months of fostering, Sandra made the decision to give this young man a “forever home,” and secured guardianship of him as well.
Because of her dedication and to so many children, Sandra was named 2019 Permanency Family of the Year by the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network. She was honored at a banquet on June 13, 2019 at the Kalahari Resorts in the Poconos.
Sandra has given more than 125 children with broken dreams a chance to dream once again. At 74 years old, Sandra notes, “Fostering children keeps me young. I don’t know where I would be without them.”
Adelphoi provides a continuum of quality services to children, youth, and families from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Delaware. Headquartered in Latrobe, PA, our 650 staff provide help and hope to over 2,000 youth and families each year.