The idea of providing Brave Heart gift bags has been a personal endeavor of one family.  Awareness of the need of these children for physical and emotional comfort came about at the Sunday dinner table through a discussion between the founder and her niece, a social worker, as she described the plight of these children when they were brought into the office for placement.

The inspiration to provide the tangible items to comfort originated when another niece at an early age was afraid of the unknown situation of attending preschool.  The child's mother gave her a pin, which was a bear with a red heart painted on its chest, to wear on her blouse.  She told her daughter to remember the brave heart when she looked at the pin and it would help her through the difficult time she was facing.  It worked!  It is always amazing how sometimes the smallest things can produce enormous results.  That has been the purpose of Brave Heart - to remove fear and offer comfort for these children.

Brave Heart Programs to Help the Children

Here are some of the programs and ways we help the children.

Gift Bag Program

We give to each child that has been removed from their home a Brave Heart Gift Bag. Our goal in this gift is to instill self-confidence and self-worth in the children. The Brave Heart Gift Bag contains items of personal hygiene, ownership, and comfort (the bags are age appropriate). These items are only small tokens in the face of the trauma these children are going through; however, they offer some distraction from the pain, loneliness, and even anger the child may be feeling.

Duffle Bag Program

These children are often taken with no property of their own and come into protected care with little but the clothes they are wearing. We provide each child with a duffle bag to place a few belongings they sometimes can bring and items they acquire once they enter protection. All too often, the children may be moved from home to home and the duffle bag gives them a "place of their own" to keep personal hygiene and comfort items.

Graduation Recognition Program

Life is difficult for these children and to reach high school graduation is quite an accomplishment. Often they have no family support, have moved from school to school, and yet have been able to continue with their education. We help them to celebrate with a graduation gift and words of encouragement.

Birthday Program

Brave Heart - Children in Need assures that each child placed in a Group Home is recognized on their birthday. The children of abuse have been told by physical abuse or mental abuse that they are not wanted and their "birth day" is of no importance. Brave Heart seeks to assure these children that they do have value and that they are unique, special, and loved. We see that each child receives a birthday cake with candles, party plates, napkins, and a birthday gift. We want them to celebrate their "birth day".

Scholarship

Three scholarships are awarded per semester for children who are or have been under the care of the Office of Community Services. Study must be in the areas of Engineering, Medicine, or Education.

Christmas Gift Program

Brave Heart helps to see that children who have been removed from their home celebrate the Christmas season with a Christmas Gift Bag. Last year we gave out over 3,000 gifts!

Life Book Program

Brave Heart assists the social workers by providing life book journals for each child. This gives the child some continuity in their life. At age 18 they can look back and remember where they have lived and the families and groups that have helped them along the way.

Refurbish OCS Visitation Rooms

The Office of Community Visitation rooms are being refurbished to give the children a better environment for their visits with family or staff members.