Monthly Archives: January 2013

How a “Broken Man” got a new start at the RCC

Guest post by John Harker, current participant at the Tallahassee Renaissance Community Center. The center provides many services to the homeless, ranging from shower and laundry facilities to medical and educational needs.

A young man signs up to volunteer at RCC

I used to look like a skeleton. All I did was drink alcohol and not eat. The doctors told me I was bleeding inside and if I didn’t stop drinking I was going to die. But now, thanks to the Renaissance Center, my life is new and I’m grateful for the opportunity to get a new start.

I began drinking when I was 10 years old. My mother and father were alcoholics and they owned a bar, so alcohol was always around and available. I hit bottom earlier this year when I walked all the way from my daughter’s home in Midway to Tallahassee in order to get away from serious family problems.

I was homeless and had heard about the Renaissance Center, but I didn’t really know what it was. I just knew I had a lot of problems and I needed help, so I walked in. I was fed up with my life. I’ve tried so many other ways to stop drinking, too many to count. I was broken.

With the help of the Center, I took the first steps towards sobriety and self sufficiency. I worked to get an apartment through the “A Place Called Home” program with Ability 1st. I have a disability, so Ability 1st helped me figure out the process of applying for benefits. I went to a 12-step sobriety program. The encouragement of the Center’s staff helped me stay the course.

You’ve got to want help. I put all I had into learning how not to drink and how to live a new life. But I can have all this knowledge and it does me no good if I don’t use it. Wisdom is knowledge applied.

Now I’m proud of what I have accomplished. I’ve been sober a few months and I have an apartment now. I went to a graphic arts school and want to continue painting pictures, even if they are just to hang on the walls of my apartment.  It’s quiet around here, except on football game nights. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Center. Now I have a future.

Preventing Childhood Deaths

DCF and DOH just released the Statewide Child Abuse Death Review Report, which investigates deaths related to abuse or neglect.

Most of the children in the report were under age 4 and the majority of these deaths could have been prevented.  Of 126 deaths, 62 were caused by drowning or unsafe sleep practices. Several other deaths were a result of parental frustration with the child.

Here are some tips to help ensure your family is safe:

Drowning prevention

  • Install fencing and other barriers around your pool and check regularly to make sure they are working properly.
  • Make sure your doors have alarms and child-proof locks so that you know if a child has left the house.
  • Adults should learn to swim and also teach their children how to swim. Children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at risk of drowning.
  • Remove toys, especially riding toys, away from the pool area.
  • Never allow a child to be around any water unsupervised. That includes bathtubs, buckets, toilets, ponds, ditches, canals, pools, rivers, oceans, hot tubs and more. Children can drown in as little as two inches of water.
  • Never allow a child to supervise another child near or in water.
  • Learn first aid and CPR for children so that you can help in the case of an emergency.

Safe-sleep practices

  • Put baby’s crib, cradle or bassinet close to the parent or caregiver’s bed for the first six months.
  • Place your baby face up to sleep
  • Make sure the baby’s mattress is firm and fits snugly in its frame, and that sheets fit tightly around the mattress
  • Keep the baby’s sleeping area away from all loose strings (i.e. blind cords, electrical cords and clothing)
  • Offer your baby a pacifier (never a bottle) when placing your baby down to sleep.
  • Keep the room temperature of your baby’s sleeping area comfortable for a lightly clothed adult to keep baby from getting overheated.

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Parenting tips

  • Constant infant cries can be frustrating. It is ok for your baby to cry while you take a five-or 10-minute break. First, put your baby in a crib, make sure the baby is safe, and close the door. Check on the baby every five minutes. Don’t ever shake a baby.
  • The “Terrible Twos” can be a difficult time for any parent. Give your toddler basic choices – this outfit or that outfit? – and tell them what they CAN do – “Please take your toy to your room,” instead of “Don’t leave your toy there.”
  • The teen years can be extremely challenging for parents. Take time to do activities together and talk so you create a bond of trust. It is very important to have open communication with teenagers so they feel comfortable talking to you about issues such as sex, drugs, school, friends, etc.
  • For more parenting tips, check out our online Parenting Guide. It is also available in a free e-book format.