Supporters and Board Members of Joyful Connections. Sitting L to R: Dr. Hablitzel, Ottawa County Community Foundation, Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick. Standing L to R: Executive Director Joyful Connections Sheila Powell, Corrine Creeden, Joy Roth, Gary Macko and Wayne Biggert.
There are thousands of children and families that are in need of supervised visitation services. Parents, guardians or family members may have chemical dependency, mental health or domestic issues which can put strain on a child’s home life. Joyful Connections is a safe place where children can visit their parent or family member who may have a problem with any of these issues, but wants to try and work them out for the sake of their family and the sake of their child.
“No matter what has happened to these kids, they’re excited to see their parents,” said Sheila Powell, Executive Director of Joyful Connections. “Seeing their parents and having that connection gives them a taste of normal.”
Joyful Connections just celebrated its fifth year anniversary. The program stemmed from a Leadership Ottawa County project after the group found a need for these services in our area. Leadership Ottawa County went to different organizations in the county with the idea of supervised visitation and a safe child exchange area where parents wouldn’t have to see each other. Leadership Ottawa County found a group to launch the organization and the first board of directors met in July 2007 and Joyful Connections opened in October of 2008.
Since then, Joyful Connections has monitored roughly 3400 visits, which is 7000 hours of child family time, and has hosted 500 child exchanges.
“A lot of families need this service,” said Powell, “if a family isn’t exposed to anything like this, they don’t know. I never thought the need for this program would be this great. There are so many different cases and so many different kinds of children.”
“We really see the children as our clients. It’s the child’s emotional well-being that’s at stake when they are removed from their family.”
Everything at Joyful Connections has been donated by members of the community or has been acquired by grants. They are always in need of donations and volunteers. The organization does hold fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for their needs.
On June 14, Joyful Connections is teaming up with CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, for the Amazing Island Raise. This is the second year for the fundraiser and it mimics the television show The Amazing Race. Contestants are put on Put-in-Bay to complete different challenges at different locations.
“It’s good to team up with CASA, Joyful Connections and CASA serve a lot of the same clients,” said Powell. “We are both small, non-profit organizations that could use the help.”
For more information about Joyful Connections or The Amazing Raise visit joyfulconnections.com.