Family Man by Bettye Westbrook

My name is Bettye Jones-Westbrook.  I was born in a family of ten siblings. Six sisters and four brothers. My parents did the best that they could to raise us with God’s help.  My parents were not educated.  My momma learned to read when my oldest sister started school. They learned together.  My daddy never learned to read.  Education was important for his children though, so we had to go to school.  Daddy was the first-born out of his siblings.  His father’s name was Matthew, and he was born during slavery. When slavery ended, my grandfather had no family except his father and mother, because his two brothers were sold during slavery.

 

Daddy worked hard farming, and at the end of the year, he would just break even. One day, Daddy came home and said to my mother that they did not make it.  Because he did not break even, they lost the farm. But he had an option to stay on the farm and continue work for the person that he was share chopping with …but God.

 

I can remember how Daddy would only buy what they did not raise on the farm.  He came home with a barrel of flour, sugar, salt and the major items. Momma would use the flour sacks along with some cloth to make our dresses. I can remember momma looking in the Sears catalog to make our dresses, and that was a gift from God.  Daddy was the best dad. He would take us riding in the horse and wagon.  He owned a horse named Bob, and a mule named Ole Jim.

 

At the age of twelve, I can remember my daddy saying, “Yes sir” to a white boy my age. I stood there feeling so awful, and I think the young guy was embarrassed too. But that was him, and the time he was from.  You see, Daddy was born July 3, 1903. My parents bought their first truck in 1953, and my brother was the driver.  

 

My daddy loved God above all.  He was the janitor at our church.  He also served as a deacon.  I can remember momma telling us that she taught daddy a verse in the Bible each week, so when he helped with the devotion, no one would know that he could not read. What love!

  

My Daddy would take us to Church every Sunday.  Ironing, playing ball and cards was not allowed because Sunday was Holy.  With the help of God, my daddy kept his family together. He was a family man. God blessed him to see six of his children grown and doing well and a host of grandchildren. He had one son in college, and two in school when he went home to be with the Lord. I loved my dad, and I thank God for him. When up against the odds, he didn’t give up. He made a stand and trusted God for everything.

About Timeless Memories

For centuries, we have used story telling as a way to maintain our traditions, values, and history.  As we have transitioned to the 21st century, we use the internet and social media to share who we are -creating a gap in our story telling traditions for those that experienced some of the most prolific events of the last 100 years.  The Great Depression, two World Wars, miraculous medications and awesome inventions mark some of the incredible happenings witnessed first hand by today’s seniors, many of whom do not use email or the internet.  The stories of how we lived life before computers may be lost in the shuffle from paper and pen to bits and bytes.

Timeless Memories: Our Legacy for Your Generation is a compilation of stories, poems and reflections of the seniors participating in our Writing for the Soul Workshop™ Legacy Program.  This one of a kind program offers a platform for our writers to leave a footprint of their history to this generation and beyond.

A portion of all sales benefit St. Luke A.M.E. Church in Waco, Texas, provider of Writing for the Soul Workshop Legacy.

Buy The Book $12.99Download The eBook

Life is hard.  Life is not fair.

Forward from Stories of Hope

Life is hard.  Life is not fair.  We’ve all heard these phrases, spoken them ourselves about our own lives, and helped family or friends through circumstances where these phrases apply all too well.   Some of us, if we are lucky, don’t have to endure the heartache these simple words bring with them until we are well into adulthood and can somewhat deal with them in a healthy way.  Some of us too, have these fantastic support systems of friends and family to help us through times that challenge us.  But then there are those of us whom, for unknown reasons, get thrust into challenges and dire situations at a much too early age.  How does the universe determine who gets to breeze through life with few problems and who has to endure tribulations that sometimes we think we will never survive?  We may never understand why certain things happen to some people and not others, and maybe we aren’t meant to understand.

What we do know is how we handle these events can either plunge us deeper into despair and sorrow, or catapult us to a better place if we so choose to channel our energies in that direction.  This may be an easier task if you have had enough life experience to truly comprehend what is going on and make the right decisions moving forward.  But when life deals you a bad hand earlier in life, those experiences are not generally there to draw from.  We do not even know where to start, or how to start, in picking up the pieces and changing the direction of the momentum in our lives.

Having taught for 14 years, I have seen a lot of kids endure some pretty ugly situations.  For some of them, they still struggle to overcome their challenges, to change their life’s path.  Some still do drugs.  Some still sexually offend.  The list is lengthy and sad.  Some have even committed crimes that have landed them behind bars as adults.  So many of these kids have gone through things in their incredibly short lives, which most middle-aged adults would shudder at the thought of going through.  It is so difficult to see them battle within themselves and try to comprehend why they struggle so much to “get it together.”

But then, every once in a while, you come across a kid with something deep inside of them that you can sense, but can’t explain.  These kids have a drive within them that pushes them, propels them to do something, to change their life’s path.  And they do! Why does this happen for some and not others? You see the same type of kids in front of you who go through the same kinds of life-altering events in their lives, yet the outcomes are so vastly different.

Every single one of these adolescents is a very special person with an incredibly varying list of difficulties and struggles.  However, woven throughout these adversities sometimes emerges an inner spirit, a drive for change and for something better.  They all have a story to share, and a lot of times they want to share it, need to share it.  These are the stories of those kids who overcame their challenges, and of those who continue to battle them.

Eric is currently conducting one of his workshops in-house with our students.  I have been completely blown away by the response that our students have given Eric and this program.  I have kids in class who struggle to write a sentence for me, write an entire page in a few minutes for Eric! Kids who have declared loud and clear to me, “I don’t write. I don’t like to write. I can’t write. You can’t make me write” who end up writing; and write from their gut.  Some of the responses from my kids:

“I love this workshop. I have never wanted to write before. Now I do.”

“I can’t believe that I am going to be a published author!”

“I want to write a book now!”

Eric really works to connect with the kids on an emotional level and can elicit written responses from them that astound me. He works from the very beginning to create an atmosphere of acceptance and safety that allows these kids to express themselves not only on paper, but also verbally in front of their peers. It is an extremely awesome scene to witness. You can definitely feel the healing that is going on with the kids through this process.  The kids want to continue to write and carry the process on long after Eric is gone. Some even ask to work on their own stories in class and after their work is done.  Kids ASKING to write because they WANT to.

This workshop is truly amazing and will touch whoever chooses to embrace it and dig deep into themselves.

Sincerely,

Sarah Lankford

Special Education Teacher

State of Missouri

About Stories of Hope:

Stories of Hope is a compilation of heart wrenching, and liberating short stories written by youth participating in Writing for the Soul Workshop™ around the world. Through a unique structure offering both engagement -and reward, this workshop brings education and passion together in a way that offers permanent life changing impact. As noted in the forward by educator Sarah Lankford, these unique and amazing individuals have received a rare opportunity to share a story they needed to share … and develop a love of writing as a result.

Details:

eBook:$9.99 USD
Soft Cover: $12.99 USD
Size: 6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Color: Black & White on White paper
Page Count: 158 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1537368849
ISBN-10: 1537368842
buy-nowBISAC: Nonfiction / Biography & Autobiography / General
Purchase a copy of the book or download the eBook and enjoy it from your favorite device today! Stay connected with updates from our workshops in the United States on Facebook at: Writing for the Soul Workshop™ in North America.

Removing Chains of Child Abuse Book Review

Top customer reviews

on June 10, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The collective voices of this anthology rise up as a rightful specter over the insidious realities of child abuse in all its forms. Thank you to its authors for finding the courage to speak to child abuse’s immediate and long-lasting effects. Whether you are a similar victim – or not – the take-away from this worthy effort is one of great emotion and necessary education. Only through the later, can we cause change. A must read…

Removing Chains of Child Abuse

The short stories, art and poetry collected in Removing Chains Child of Abuse are from survivors of human trafficking, child abuse and bullying.

This project was made possible through our Community Partnership with Ark of Hope for Children. Ark of Hope is a human rights umbrella organization using a trauma informed approach to serve survivors through various programs. This includes our Writing for the Soul Workshop™ program.

These powerful stories allowed those who submitted them to experience writing and art as therapy. They give hope to the survivors reading them that they are not alone and they too can recover. This book is packed with resources  for those still suffering, as well as signs to look for if someone suspects that a child is being abused. Book includes a journal at the back. Proceeds from book sales benefit Ark of Hope for Children.

Buy The Book $16.99Download The eBook $11.99

 

Be the change. Mentor.

“Every day, mentors in communities across our Nation provide crucial support and guidance to young people. Whether a day is spent helping with homework, playing catch, or just listening, these moments can have an enormous, lasting effect on a child’s life.” –President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, National Mentoring Month.

TGIM is so proud that our Writing for the Soul Workshop™ program is now aligned to the Elements of Effective Practice for Mentoring. In alignment with those standards, we  provide an effective systemic approach to ensure the safety, well-being and growth of both our Mentors and Mentees. We also provide a wealth of ongoing resources to ensure our program participants receive all the support they need.

Mentors are the backbone of a successful workshop.  The Mentor to Participant relationship strengthens the engagement that participants have with the Workshop, and can also help facilitators better understand what motivates our participants.

A Background Check and certification is required for all workshop staff because it outlines the way workshop staff should interact with participants.  In that way, all of us that interact with the workshop are mentors for our participants. While “mentor” is a specific role within the workshop structure, the mentor certification process outlines what a responsible mentoring relationship looks like, and how their unique role and relationship with workshop participants strengthens the overall success of the workshop.

Successful Mentors:

*Accept the importance of the relationship they develop with participants in the Workshop, and understands the need to have honest, engaged and supportive relationships with Workshop Participants

*Protect the Workshop and it’s participants with professional, caring and honest interactions with all Participants, other Workshop staff, and members of the community.

*Relate to others in a way that is respectful and understanding of each person’s unique story and identity, while staying focused on a positive, pro-social communication.

*Illustrate our Workshop Operating Values in all that they do, and stays focused on the Mission of the Workshop during interactions, understanding that they represent Writing for the Soul Workshop™ in all that they do.

*Listen to feedback from all they interact with, understanding that all feedback is valuable to improving our success in communication with everyone associated to the Workshop, as well as the community we serve.

Benefits of Completing Training

Mentors receive a Certificate of Completion after successfully completing a Background Check and the four hour certification course. The Certificate allows our mentors to work in any of our workshops around the world.

  1. Have a better understanding of quality mentoring.
  1. Have a better understanding of the program.
  1. Be prepared to start their mentoring relationships.
  1. Better understand working with youth in challenging environments.
  1. Be prepared for a great adventure mentoring!

Mentoring is, simply, the right thing to do. You do not need a particular religious orientation or specific motive to be a mentor in our program. If you are in a position to give of your time—and many of us are—that is all you must have to begin. Use the Contact Form below to sign up today.

 

 

Hispanic Youth: Reversing the Damage of Adverse Experiences

Image result for children in traumatic circumstancesCan you imagine what it would be like to grow up in an area of armed conflict?  How it might feel as a child to deal with a constant threat of death, the stress of being surrounded by violence and loss?

What if I told you that almost one in four children in the United States today are in home situations just that stressful? That almost 50% of our children will experience at least one adverse childhood experience that impacts their ability to learn?  Children that have these experiences have higher risks of long-term diseases, such as diabetes, depression, asthma and high blood pressure due to the impacts of stress hormones on developing bodies.  It isn’t hard to understand that children in a constant stressful situation have higher rates of discipline issues, and are more likely to be diagnosed with ADD and ADHD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder.  To top it all off, the disciplinary systems in today’s schools will then re-traumatize the same child dealing with the behavioral issues spawned by the uncontrollable environment.

While these numbers are dire, Hispanic children in the United States are 38% more download-1likely to experience these adverse circumstances, according to a 2016 study in The American Journal of Preventative Medicine, when you add in the fact that more than 17.9 MILLION Hispanics are under the age of 18, this is a group that needs additional focus now to reduce the long-term impacts of trauma.

According to the last census data, Hispanics are the fastest growing group in the United States, and in Texas.  TGIM Digital Publishing understands how a Trauma Informed approach is imperative; this is why we are focusing our outreach efforts in Hispanic populations, ensuring a unique support approach to begin healing and empowering the next generation of Hispanic youth, through Writing for the Soul Workshop™.

Launch Our Workshop in Your Community

Many of the stories we collect through the workshop are written in Spanish, and we’re working to offer Writing for the Soul Workshop™ in Spanish, creating a multi-lingual support and mentoring system to support this population of at risk youth. We need your help to ensure that students here in Texas and around the world maintain access to Writing for the Soul Workshop™, and all of the wow factors available. Offering our program in Spanish helps to ensure youth in your community continue to access a program that offers better educational outcomes than school alone.  Through our Trauma Informed Approach, these youth will have access to the tools they need to reverse the damage of their adverse experiences and empower them to achieve the outcomes they dream of. Click here for more information on Writing for the Soul Workshop™, or use the Contact Form below to schedule a phone call to discuss implementing our program to your community.

 

 

Subscribe: TGIM Digital Content Shelf

Be the first to read every TGIM new release! We’ve created a digital book shelf and filled it with must read, page turning digital content. Get exclusive & unlimited access not only to our new releases, but these TGIM titles:

Your subscription includes the entire collection of eBooks by Writing for the Soul Workshop™ like Stories of Hope. Take a sneak peek inside the making of the book:

Enjoy all of our content at home, or on the go. You get great content -all while impacting youth around the country.  See, your subscription is one way that we are able to offer our writing program at no cost to youth. New content is added monthly. Access our audio and eBooks now right from your favorite device!

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It’s A Disease NOT a Decision

Imagine what would happen if you saw a teen athlete suffer a severe compound fracture, and then overheard the coach say “just shake it off… the pain is all in your head anyway.”  Or perhaps a father and son talking about the child’s recent cancer diagnosis, deciding not to treat the cancer because “I don’t want my friends to make fun of me for getting sick.”  For most of us, these conversations would seem ridiculous, because we don’t shame people who have an accident, or are diagnosed with cancer or diabetes; in fact, we rally around these individuals, providing comfort and support.

Sadly, these mindsets don’t hold true when it comes to our mental and emotional diseases, especially for children. Most people don’t think that children can suffer from things like depression; the reality is that 1 in 5 children will experience depression and other types of mental illnesses, but only 22% will receive treatment.  In many areas in the United States, there is a shortage of mental health professionals, with some states having only 1 mental health provider per 1,000 people.  Those who do receive treatment are stigmatized if they talk about their condition.  People with cancer are sick… but people with a mental illness are “crazy” making it shameful to admit and address mental illness.

Between the stigma of mental illness, and a lack of access to mental health professionals, youth face serious long term impacts due to mental illness, especially when it is unaddressed.

Mental Health has a direct long term correlation to physical health.  According to Health.gov “Mental health disorders also have a serious impact on physical health and are associated with the prevalence, progression, and outcome of some of today’s most pressing chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Mental health disorders can have harmful and long-lasting effects—including high psychosocial and economic costs—not only for people living with the disorder, but also for their families, schools, workplaces, and communities.”

It is time that we start treating mental illness with the same attitudes as other long term, catastrophic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  We need to ensure that youth who experience traumatic events like bullying, violent crime and natural disasters receive ALL the treatment that they need, adding mental triage to the physical triage we are familiar with.  We need to encourage our children to practice good MENTAL hygiene, in addition to taking care of their physical bodies.  Finally, we need to change the perception of mental illness away from some kind of shameful defect to what it truly is, a true physical problem that requires professional treatment, and long term support.

We offer Writing for the Soul Workshop™ as a writing as therapy program. Our core program philosophy is based on the fact that powerful emotions have a powerful voice; and that when we get what is on the inside out, we take control of those feelings, and make smarter behavior choices as a result. Donors help us to reach youth actively engaged in at-risk behavior at no cost to them or their families. We understand that hurt people hurt people. No child is born bad. Help us continue our work around the US. Donate today.