Valancia Abdullah considers it her calling to care for youth who some may think of as “challenged.” After working with special needs students at Atlanta Public Schools, in 2000, she joined CHRIS 180’s foster care program. She serves as a Resident Assistant. The kids affectionately refer to her as Ms. Val. “The RA to me is just like being a mom in care: we have to make sure their needs are met,” Abdullah shared. “They look up to us. They’re learning from us. Kids who are grown now have come back...

Did you know that children are now seen as the silent victims of the opioid epidemic? CHRIS 180’s HERO Program (Helping Restore Children and Families Affected by the Opioid Epidemic), was created to provide direct services, psychoeducational training and a community coalition aimed at expanding awareness and advocacy for these silent victims.  The program is funded by a grant awarded to CHRIS 180 by the Office of Victims of Crime (OVC). The funding comes from settlements between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and pharmaceutical companies around misleading claims related to...

“The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily and not be touched by it, is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.” Rachel Naomi Remen Screeching tires. Smell of burnt rubber. Windows breaking and metal crunching. These are sensory triggers that may remind us of traumatic events known as direct trauma experiences.  We also can experience vicarious trauma – stress-related symptoms caused by indirect exposure to traumatic material. Vicarious trauma could be stories or experiences that our friends and families...

My African American mother, aunts and uncle lived through the Jim Crow laws and experienced racial violence throughout much of their childhood.  My Congolese father and aunts experienced the trauma of war in DRC. The recent killings have touched trauma wounds in some members of my family. I imagine that many survivors of intergenerational trauma are recalling warnings from their elders who communicated that this world is unsafe for Black people --that Black people do not really fit in American society.  The painful and harsh reality lingers as a backdrop for...

“We’re hardwired for connection.”  This is one of my favorite quotes from a shero in our field, Brené Brown. Through her work on shame and vulnerability, we are able to get a closer look at aspects of the human condition that are often overlooked. Her quote reminds me that an authentic connection with others is comforting and reaffirming. It invites a sense of security into our world…security about who we are and where we fit. Connection with others solidifies our sense of identity and belonging. We want to belong to something...

The month of April was difficult for me, both as a human living in the age of a global pandemic, and as a bereaved daughter. April 13, 2020 marked what would have been my mother’s 70th birthday. We lost her suddenly just over four years ago. This was the first year that I did not feel moved to memorialize her on social media as a reminder to the world that she had once graced us with her larger-than-life presence, only to slip away from us quietly in the night. In the...