Family Essentials Blog

5 thoughts on “Family Essentials Blog

  1. fesninc

    The late Congressman John Lewis was such an inspiration to me. I want to take a moment to reflect on how important it is to have people in our lives to inspire us with their wisdom and strength. This week I am honoring John Lewis by connecting some of his most inspirational quotes with some unforgettable life lessons from my grandparents and parents.

    “We are one people with one family. We all live in the same house…and through books, through information, we must find a way to say to people that we must lay down the burden of hate. For hate is too heavy a burden to bear.”
    Congressman John Lewis

    When I read this quote today, I thought of my grandfather and my mother. What I remember growing up was that family was important and so were books. Whenever I had nothing to do, my grandfather would always strongly encourage me to pick up a book. My mother, the first to go to college in the family, bought a set of encyclopedias and I used to enjoy looking through them A-Z. I am a self-confident adult in part because my grandparents built a strong family. But reading all those Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries made me curious and made me a good reader. And studying those colorful pictures in the encyclopedia introduced me to a lot of information about people, places and things from all over the world. What I have learned in life is that self-confidence, curiosity and learning about other people and places will resist hate. Building family matters.

  2. fesninc

    “If you’re not hopeful and optimistic, then you just give up. You have to take the long hard look and just believe that if you’re consistent, you will succeed.”
    Congressman John Lewis

    There’s so much to be said about being hopeful, optimistic and persistent. Ask any of my students, I have a consistent message in the classroom—it’s not about perfection, it’s about excellence and you have to keep trying. I learned about persistence and consistency from watching my grandparents and my parents.

  3. fesninc

    What started out as a Turkey Drive almost 10 years ago has taken on a whole new life of its own. Years ago, I organized and ran what I believed to be a one-time Turkey Drive benefitting families in need. We received enough donations that year to donate about 150 turkey boxes to families in need in the Greater Hartford area. Each turkey box contained (of course) a turkey, stuffing, dessert, and a variety of other food items. The families who received the donations were identified through the social service departments of the State of CT, City of Hartford, Towns of Bloomfield and Windsor.

    Since then, we have partnered with several area charities to provide hundreds of turkey boxes each Thanksgiving. Not only is this a Thanksgiving thing, but the effort also birthed a year-round food pantry that is available to anyone who has a need. No one is turned away. Our partnerships also include organizations like WorldVision, who provides items for donations on a weekly basis to those in need. On any given week, we can be found at their local warehouse with a box truck, picking up everything from new bedroom furniture, living room sets, dining room tables, and much more. We match up families in need with furniture and household items, and make deliveries several times a week to those who are less fortunate than most of us, and those who may be facing temporary hardships.

    The response has been unbelievable, but maybe not for the reason that I would have initially anticipated. The surprise (maybe shock) has been the realization that even in this day and age, in our wonderful and prosperous state and nation, with record highs in the stock markets, that we still have so many people who are living right there on the very edge, and maybe not too far from our very own homes. While some of these families live in poverty, a majority of these individuals are people who have jobs and homes, but are finding it incredibly difficult to make ends meet for one reason or another. Some are experiencing temporary losses of income, unforeseen medical issues or some other tragic situation that quickly and drastically changed their situations for the worse.

    So, every now and then, we run into someone who reminds us why we need to continue volunteering our time and resources to those in need. Sometimes, it’s the grandmother who has custody of her 4 grand-kids (kids’ parents are both incarcerated), who broke down in tears because we delivered a package with diapers…and she was on her last diaper and no money to purchase more. Or maybe it is the gentleman who is recovering from his second bout with colon cancer, who became homeless due to his inability to work as a freelance graphics arts designer. He recently was able to get a studio apartment, and we were able to donate a new bed, new living and dining room furniture, and all sorts of household appliances and goodies. Or maybe the lady who just moved to the state and had nothing, but we were able to help furnish her apartment. All serve as a reminder that not only is it the right thing to do…it is also our moral obligation.

    Everyone should volunteer to help someone less fortunate.

  4. fesninc

    Family Essentials Network, Inc. is happy to be participating in the Farmers to Families food box program. We are here to help each Saturday if you need food and you are in the Hartford / Manchester / Vernon area.

    Each Saturday in October and November, we will have boxes of fresh produce, dairy and meats available for pickup to any family with a need.

    Please register by responding to this thread or by calling us at 860-924-0796.

  5. Richard Griffiths Post author

    A Tale Of Two Cities
    “When are you getting that periwinkle paint for Elizabeth’s room?”
    This question was posed to me by my 6th grader’s advisor as we passed each other in the hallway of the suburban private school for girls that she attended. It took a few seconds for me to connect the dots before responding.
    “Oh, we’ll get that done this weekend”, was my delayed response.
    Earlier that week, my daughter had decided that she wanted her room painted in a cheery periwinkle blue, and had apparently shared that with her advisor in their weekly meeting. For a quick minute, I wondered if the school was maybe just a little bit too involved in our family’s personal affairs, but quickly decided that I was entirely on board with how well the faculty and staff had engaged with her, supported her studies and her personal development, both in and out of the classroom. During any one of our regular conversations with her advisor, he could point out exactly where my daughter needed help, where she was excelling, and everything in between. There was excellent communication between all of her instructors, and we felt confident that the school had developed a comprehensive plan that would ensure that the young lady would receive the best possible education.
    Later that day, I recalled (in stark contrast) an earlier conversation that I had with my son’s guidance counselor. At the time, my older son was late in his junior year at the public high school in our town, and my wife and I had been discussing with him potential college opportunities, and trying to help him focus on his next move in life. I turned to his guidance counselor at school to try to get an idea of what conversations had taken place with him about college.
    After not being able to reach the counselor directly, I left him a voicemail. I received a return phone call a day or two later.
    “Is your son that big kid?” was the first question that he asked.
    Although I had left my son’s name in the voicemail, along with the reason that I had called, the school counselor had not bothered to look at any school records, had no recollection of any conversation with my son (ever), and in fact, clearly had no idea who my son was. There was no college preparation that took place for him in that school.
    The scene was repeated several years later with my younger son and younger daughter. While all had the opportunity to attend private school, only my girls showed the desire to take full advantage of the opportunities offered to them. They both attended the same private school for girls in another town, while the boys went to the local public high school. The girls excelled in all areas of their education, while the boys just did what they had to do in order to get through. While much of the results may be attributed to their personal drive, work ethic and interest, (maybe even parenting), I also give some credit to the schools, their willingness and ability to inspire and encourage each of them individually. I expected more from my sons’ high school experience.
    All public schools are not clearly NOT inferior. Neither are all private schools great examples of excellence. However, the educational experience that my girls enjoyed was in clear contradistinction with that of their brothers’. The girls’ high school began preparing them for college in 6th grade, and by the start of 11th grade, they were almost singularly focused on college essays, college courses and preparation.
    The public high school in our town? Not so much. They clearly did not have the same focus or available resources, a fact that became clear after graduation. I have heard similar accounts from friends and family about schools in other towns, even for schools not necessarily in low income or disadvantaged communities.
    Two of my children excelled academically, while the other 2 struggled. The results were predictable, as is the current state of affairs in many of our schools:
    Of the 3,000,000+ students of color entering college across the nation as freshmen this year, estimates are that 1,000,000 will drop out before graduation.
    That is a truly staggering number! Undoubtedly, many of these casualties could possibly have been avoided if the students had been better prepared. While my daughters’ high school had a built-in college transition program, all high schools in all towns do not. And sadly, students studying in schools in many disadvantaged communities are disproportionally represented in the number of college dropouts. Unless we help to better prepare these students, the problem of high college dropout rates will be a perpetuating issue, especially among students of color, where the college dropout rate is more than 10% higher than their white counterparts from more affluent school systems.
    Enter the Family Essentials Network College Success Transition Program.
    I started this program, along with some seasoned educational professionals, to better prepare high school students of color (and those from dis-advantaged communities) for their transition to college.
    Students attend 4 workshops over 2 weekends and learn about study skills, time management, procrastination, communication skills, financial literacy, and so much more. These workshops are designed to help incoming freshmen understand the rigors and discipline of college life, and how to succeed in this challenging new environment. Successful graduates also earn a $250 -$500 scholarship, depending on availability of funds.
    On July 30, 2021, we will host our first 25 students, and we are so looking forward to what we believe will be the start of something great!
    We welcome any form of support from those interested in improving the college experiences of our youth. You can find out more information and how you help by visiting out site


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