Occasionally I get emails from reader and supporters of A Place for Mary, with suggested help groups dedicated to aiding families and loved ones of addicts. One such organization that was recently brought to my attention was Project Noelle.
Keli Clark lost her daughter, Noelle in December 2017 to a drug overdose. Noelle left behind three young sons. Her youngest two, identical twin boys, then 4 years old are being raised by Keli, their grandmother. As a result of this tragedy and the responsibility placed on her shoulders, Keli realized that her situation was probably not unique and was compelled to do something to help others.
Too often, children are left behind to be cared for by grandparents or other relatives when addiction causes the parent(s) to become incapable of providing a safe home, or are in prison, or have suffered the ultimate toll, death. Often, these new caregivers are unprepared to deal with raising children again, or for the first time. They are forced to handle their grief at the same time as they learn to navigate their new parenting responsibilities.
Affected children might now have safe living environments, but they too need help to comprehend the sudden change in their lives; where their parent have gone, why they might not be coming back, and help to understand that its not their fault.
Project Noelle tries to fill these needs. They offer emergency clothing and diapers, back-to-school haircuts, and Christmas and other holiday gift baskets for kids. Support groups are available for children aged 5-12, teens and grandparents raising grandchildren, as well as grief support for those who have lost someone to addiction. They also, with the help of donations and generous sponsors, organize events for kids and caretakers, such as an annual luau party with games, prizes, food and face painting, as well as concerts and toy drives.
*The current Covid-19 pandemic has forced a change in the format of these types of fun events, but they still continue in a creative online format via Zoom.
A sample of upcoming 2020 events and support chats include: (registration for all events can be found at the Project Noelle website – www.projectnoelle.com)
Virtual Luau – a Hawaiian Luau Party – Sunday July 26, 2020 from 2-3pm. Ariel and Spiderman will be joining the Zoom party! Every kid gets a free luau bag!
Eyes Wide Open – Teen Talking Circles – for girls aged 13-17 – Wednesday August, 2020 from 7-8pm
Game Changers – for guys aged 13-17 – Thursday August 6, 2020 from 7-8pm
Project Noelle is based in Sandusky, Ohio and reaches out to 14 northern Ohio counties.
You can reach Executive Director, Keli Clark via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Here’s a list of all the counties that Project Noelle serves, and the contact person in each:
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