Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015 from all of us at Latham Centers!

"Thank you so much for all your help. Without your help, I wouldn't
be able to go and stay at home with my wonderful, loving and very caring family when I graduate. Latham is the best school to go to ever....You have rocked my world and life."

 ~Mike R., Latham School 2014 Graduate

Thank you for your support of our life-saving and enhancing programs in 2014. You truly make a difference in the lives of the children and adults we serve throughout Cape Cod. If you haven't done so already, it's not too late to make a year-end, tax-deductable donation to benefit Latham programs.
Your year-end gift will help Latham individuals to lead meaningful, abundant and more independent lives. Your generosity and ongoing commitment to our mission matters! Click HERE to donate today!

Thank you!

Gerry Desautels
Latham Centers

Friday, December 26, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Setting Realistic Goals

As the new year approaches, many of us will be looking at what changes we want to make in our lives and creating plans to hopefully keep those changes in motion past the first few weeks of January. Here are some ideas for setting goals and keeping the momentum going for both yourself and your child:

1. Set realistic goals. Nothing ruins motivation like a goal that is so far reaching that success will not be experienced for some time. Make plans achievable and then keep adding to them. A goal for six months or even one month of appropriate behavior: no skin picking / zero episodes of aggression, may be too daunting for a child who has multiple episodes per week/day. Losing 50 pounds is an overwhelming goal but losing five pounds is more realistic so the goal is to lose five pounds 10 times. Start with something that can be achieved, reward the success, and then slowly add small increases of new expectations.

2. Allow for setbacks. Not achieving a goal does not mean that the goal is unattainable. Look closely at the circumstances, environment, and anything that could have caused the setback. Get right back on track and keep trying.

3. Be skeptical of perfection. If a goal is met 100% every time, then it may not have been the right goal to begin with. We want success, but a goal that can be reached every time without challenge is not teaching your child what it really means to work and  achieve.

Regardless of whether the goal is for you or your child, be sure it is attainable with many layers of opportunities for success.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Latham Tree

I have a beautiful Christmas tree. It will never be in “House Beautiful” but it is spectacular to me. My grandson was over recently and began examining the tree’s decorations very closely. “Did my Dad make this one?”
"No, not this one." I reply.  
“What about this one?”  
"Nope, not this one either." He turned, looked puzzled and asked, “Why do you have so many ornaments on your tree made by other kids?” And the answer is surprisingly simple…these are made by my “other kids”. Kids not with my DNA, but mine by choice. I explained to him that students where I work (or more accurately, where I used to work) made these ornaments and that they are very special to me. They hang on the tree with those made by his father and his aunt and uncle and they are as precious to me as any in museums or fine department stores. He listens as I explain about Latham and nods his head in understanding as I point out the handcrafted designs and tell him a little bit about the artist. Some of these designs are older than he is but I personally feel like it was just yesterday that I picked up these beautiful pieces of art from the Latham craft fairs of years gone by. I treasure each and every one and plan on hanging them up every year on my tree, wherever it may be.

I wish all of you a very  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Putting Yourself First

On airline flights when the stewardesses give you directions on how to use an oxygen mask, they explicitly state that you must always put your mask on before helping anyone else with theirs. The reason for this is clear. If you don’t take care of your basic needs– in this case, breathing–then you will be unable to care for anyone else. This advice holds true in all areas of life: Take care of yourself first or else you will be useless to others.

Over the last month, we have been focusing on providing Generosity to others. For the final week of this month, we will focus on thanking ourselves. The Holidays can be anything but joyful unless we are mindful. Many of you may find yourselves very thin, whether financially, emotionally, and/or physically, as you are pulled in a thousand different directions; it is easy to lose yourself in the process. Stop right now, take a breath and reflect on how much good you are bringing into the world.  

Challenge: Reflect on the positive impact you have on those around you and feel thanks for who you are. Experience your own “It’s a Wonderful Life” scenario and realize how much grayer this world would be without the light you bring to it. Take a few minutes and re-connect with what is important in your life and realize that you are on the right path. Stop feeling bad, stressed, and overwhelmed by what you don’t have and feel grateful for everything you already have. It’s okay to stop and just enjoy small things. Say “thank you” to yourself for striving to make a meaningful life. Continue to mull this over until the New Year and pay attention to what comes up.

Thanks to all members of the greater Latham community. Whether you are a parent, a staff member or a community supporter, it is nice to have you involved with us. Chances are that in your life, you do not receive nearly enough thanks for all that you do. Understand that your work is important and life changing to those around you. Latham has much to be grateful for and we are glad to have you all involved. 

Tim Vaughan
Director of Leadership and Growth

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Santa Arrives on Campus for Latham's Annual Holiday Party

On Thursday, December 18th Santa and five elves came to the Latham School Campus to shower each and every student with a well-thought-out gift. The holidays are a special time at Latham Centers when students and staff celebrate the season of giving and show appreciation for one another.

The party started with a performance by the Latham Bell Ringers led by Humanities Instructor, Suzanne Johnson. Next, Latham singers and dancers glided across the stage singing a variety of Christmas classics like Jingle Bell Rock. When Santa finally walked into the room there were cheers of excitement. Individual gifts were distributed one-by-one, each carefully selected based on each student’s wish list. Hugs were received, smiles were given and holiday cheer was felt from corner to corner.

This day marks for many the last to celebrate with peers the holidays prior to heading home to families. For others, in which Latham Centers is their only home, this marks the first of many traditions on campus.

Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy holiday on behalf of all the students, adult residents, and staff at Latham Centers.

Katrina Fryklund, MSC
Development Associate

Monday, December 22, 2014

Expanding our Community: Values in Action

As we are coming to the end of the month, Latham employees are being encouraged to return to the Circle of Courage tenet of “Generosity” and what it means to them. Over the course of the next seven days, we have been asked to think of one person who has influenced and/or benefitted our lives and impacted us. We will then put those thoughts into words and use the A TIPS model to communicate the sentiments directly to the person we benefit from.

The A TIPS model is a simple way for us to make sure we are heard by others with all types of feedback. Anyone can do this at any time, whether at the work place or in our personal life.You need just a few minutes of quiet privacy to ensure that your words can be heard. Strive to make eye contact and use open body language so this message is pulled out of the day to day chatter. It is important that these words are heard. Once you know what to say, this is how to say it:

A:  Ask for permission. (Do you have a minute to talk?)

T:  Tell the person what you observed. (Yesterday you made it a point to help me with. . .)

I:   Impact.  Describe how this affected you. (Your support made my day immediately better and my life easier.)

P:   Pause.  Stop talking to see if they have a response and to also allow your words to be heard and processed.

S:   Suggest. If the feedback doesn’t require change, then reinforce your thanks. (I value you and want to help you in any way I can. You are important in my life.)

If people in the Latham community were able to do this with one person in their work life, our community would be transformed leading into the holiday week. Please stop and remember how many people support you on a daily or weekly basis. It is in all of our best interests to start recognizing the good that is around us with gratitude and mindfulness.

Happy Holidays and Happy 2015!

Tim Vaughan, MAT
Latham Centers
Director of Leadership and Growth

Friday, December 19, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: The Christmas Countdown

For any parent, this week is stressful. For the parent of a child with PWS, it can be next to impossible without the right supports in place. Here are some tips to survive the holidays:

1. Take time for yourself. You will not be any use to anyone if you don't take care of our own needs. Eat right, sleep enough and slow down in general.

2. Allow for imperfection. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, to downgrade your plans and to delegate responsibilities.

3. It's okay to let people down. If you accepted plans to attend a party and things have not gone as planned, or at the last minute the thought of going is about as appealing as a root canal, don't go. It really is a simple as it sounds.

4. Keep it simple. You may typically celebrate the holidays with a large extended family but if that will cause your child (and in turn, you) high amounts of anxiety, then plan for a small celebration at home with immediate family members.

While your idea of a perfect holiday celebration may involve lots of gatherings, food, and family, your reality may be very different. If you can learn to accept your new reality, then you are on the way to making new, beautiful traditions that may be different but still joyous and full of love.

Happy Holidays to you and your family. You are perfect just the way you are!

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Last week I had my second cornea transplant in 17 years – a matching operation now for each eye.
The donor tissue was from a 10 year-old child.  I am 49.

With age and retrospect, I was able to step back this time around and equate the experience with Latham and identify with our individuals with “complex special needs”:

-For our residents with Prader-Willi Syndrome, their condition cannot be reversed while my sight can be improved over time if all goes well.
-Their condition is genetic, mine is not.

-Time does not “heal all wounds” for some of our individuals. Time can heal mine.
-Our families often have to fight for their children to be placed at Latham. I merely had to wait five months to see my world-renowned physician and pursue an operation covered by insurance.
-Our kids get up every day and face the day, sometimes when they don’t feel their best. I get sick time and medication to ease the pain.

And what do we have in common?
-Our residents and I are surrounded by qualified professionals who are skilled, caring and compassionate.
-We all are allowed to heal at our own pace, and are expected to have good days and bad days while being supported unconditionally along the journey.
-We worry. We laugh. We celebrate the good, and we learn from the bad.
-We are alive and facing life’s challenges one day at a time.
-We have hope for a brighter future.

And in the process, we develop a Changed View and a Fuller more Empathetic Life.

Happy Holidays to All During this Season of Gratitude,
Gerry Desautels
Latham Centers VP of Development & Community Outreach

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Latham Says a Bittersweet Goodbye to Graduating Resident Student

Latham said a bittersweet goodbye to resident student Ryan M. this week. Ryan proudly graduated Latham School with his high school diploma and a certificate of completion on Tuesday.  During his three and a half years at Latham, the gregarious Ryan was a large part of the Latham/Cape Cod community participating in a number of activities.

Tall and lean in stature, Ryan was adept at sports and Special Olympics Games; he is also the first Latham student to run and complete the Falmouth Road Race—two years in a row!  He also devoted time as a member of student council, and was even a tutor to his younger peers.

On his graduation day, Ryan provided some very wise words to his peers by telling them “to always be strong, and to never give up.”

Latham would also like to send a big thank you to the Harwich Quilt Bank for providing another Latham graduate with a memorable custom-designed quilt! The volunteer group has done so for years and the student quilt presentation is one of many highlights of graduation for our students.

Congratulations Ryan! Latham is lucky to have seen you grow into the mature, young man that you are today. We wish you well in your transition to adulthood.

Meghan Pouliot
Latham School Teacher

Monday, December 15, 2014

Community Members Attend Latham Centers’ 11th Annual Holiday Craft Fair; Proceeds Benefit MSPCA Cape Cod and Latham Centers’ Fire Museum Renovations

This year’s craft fair was a true dream come true. We were open to the public and the public response was outstanding.  One shopper showed up before our sale even began. At 3:01p (sale began at 3p) I lifted my head and saw the room was full of customers. At times the parking lot was full and folks needed to wait for a spot. One woman let me know she was at our Brewster in Bloom event. Seeing the crafts there made her know she had to come back for more. A former Latham cook came to make her purchases. She was thrilled to purchase Alumni cards. Not only was she thrilled to remember that Alumni fondly, she was thrilled because her art work is amazing. One couple had armfuls of goodies. They stated they were going to use them as gift toppers. “How can you resist this stuff?” they exclaimed waving a google-eyed reindeer made out of puzzle pieces.  

Our students have been making crafts for the last few months in anticipation of the sale. Students look forward to this event as not only, an opportunity to showcase their artistic talent but as an opportunity to give back to the community. Student council coordinates student voting for the charity of their choice. This year our students have decided that the proceeds will be a 50-50 split; to both the local MSPCA and our fund raising campaign for the renovation of our fire museum property. Shoppers got a sneak peek at our fire museum property, since this is where the sale was held. Students manned the table at the sale. They delighted in describing the items for sale and that all proceeds will be donated.

We have been conducting this sale for 11 years on campus. We were thrilled to let the community in on it. During the sale a student caught me tearing up. She exclaimed that I was “crying because I was so proud of everybody.” That is absolutely correct. We are very proud of our students and their craft fair. Should I confess that I may also have had a tear in my eye because I could not greedily purchase everything for myself. Luckily there was no time for that—we had customers to serve. Can’t wait to see you at the Craft Fair next year!

Shauna Kelly
Transitional Supervisor

Friday, December 12, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: It's Not Just About the Calories

With Christmas right around the corner some parents have asked that we re-post this blog from a few years ago. One of the hardest things to do is to say no to a child who's saying that they're hungry but with a little education your family members will see that it is the most loving thing that you can do.

Many of you have asked that I talk in greater detail about getting through the holidays, specifically about how to explain to family members (grandparents in particular) about their child's diet. How many of you have heard the following:

"It's only one cookie"
"It's a special day"
"He's thin"
"You don't need to worry about his diet anymore"
"You're being too strict"
 "Just this once."

Grandparents want to spoil their grandchildren and in many cases that includes food. Not giving their grandchild special treats goes against their nature, especially when that child is saying that they're hungry. Will one extra piece of cake ruin their diet and make them gain 5 pounds? Probably not but it's not just about the calories. We have an obligation to create an environment for our kids where they can thrive and that includes managing their expectations regarding food. When our kids know what they are going to eat, how much, and when, they can relax and can focus on the rest of their lives. When extra, unexpected food is introduced they feel anxious, stressed, and out of control.

Giving a child or adult with PWS more than what they were told that they would get creates anxiety and anxiety leads to unwanted behaviors. You are no longer grandma or grandpa, you are a food source because you created an expectation. You want your grandchild to want to see you for your love and comfort, not because you might slip them some treats that they shouldn't have. Spoil them every time you see them with presents and hugs and your company, not with food. If for no other reason than the more secure their minds are about what they are going to eat, the better behaved they will be. "Just this once" hurts them. It makes them feel unsafe and anxious and that is the last thing that you want your grandchild to feel about you. And if you think that this isn't fair, you're right. It's not fair that they can't have what the other kids have and that we have to be so careful about what we give them, but it is our reality and sticking to it will make your grandchild and your whole family better for it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

LATHAM PROFILES: Katrina Fryklund, Development Associate

Katrina Fryklund
Development Associate

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Every day I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help raise funds to further enhance the life-changing programs here at Latham Centers. Moreover, I enjoy telling the story of what we do at Latham Centers and how amazing our residents and staff are – they are truly my inspiration!

Describe a few of your responsibilities and how you spend much of your time.

As a Development Associate it is my responsibility to help with fund raising. This is done through event planning, community outreach, sound media/donor communications, grant writing and working with board and Capital Campaign Committee.

What skills are most important for professionals who raise funds for individuals with PWS or other complex special needs?

When you’re raising funds for residents like ours who struggle to raise monies on their own, or have limited vocational opportunities, it is critical that the public knows how special and brave everyone is at Latham Centers. As a fundraiser, you need to know how to tell these stories in an eloquent and interesting manner.

One question I get all the time is, “How can you ask people for money?” My answer? I feel that I’m not asking for money, rather I’m asking for funding to support our amazing residents and innovative programs.

What are the most important lessons you attempt to teach new staff and what advice would you give to someone contemplating a career at Latham Centers?

Annually the Development Team works with a summer intern. I tell them to keep their head up when giving is down, think of new and innovative ways to raise monies, and to ALWAYS say, “Thank you for your generosity.” Also, I tell them it’s about who you know and how you network – don’t be afraid to be outgoing and to involve yourself in community events.

What do you love about working with individuals with PWS or other complex special needs?

When given the great opportunity to go to campus or adult residential homes I love seeing the appreciation and vivacity of each and every one of our residents. They motivate me and help me to stay engaged on a daily basis.

Has this job taught you anything about yourself?

This job has made me impress upon myself and others, “What’s the worst that can happen when you ask for funding – they might say no?” The positive energy that comes from our donors, friends, volunteers, staff, and residents is absolutely contagious and I’ve learned to act as a sponge and absorb that enthusiasm.

How do you spend your time when you’re not working at Latham?

When not at Latham I enjoy time spent with friends and family, as my roots are on Cape Cod – whether it be lounging on the beach in the summers or teaching my nephew new and exciting things about Cape Cod. I also work in restaurants on the side and enjoy the customer interaction that comes with the service industry. Lastly, I find myself getting more involved with other causes such as CCYP, and co-chair the Live for Lou Fund.

Friday, December 5, 2014

TIP of the WEEK: Conflict Resolution

It is not uncommon for children and adults with PWS to find themselves in the center of a conflict at school, work, or in the community. Poor impulse controls, communication challenges and/or a lack of self awareness can lead to struggles in certain social situations. Here are some ways to help resolve conflict if it arises:

• Be sure that your child understands or at least hears his or her part in the conflict. It may very well be that a lack of preparation or understanding on someone else's part caused the problem, but it is more important and beneficial for your child to hear how he or she could have handled the situation differently. You can then privately address the other party involved.

• Don't rush to fix it. If your child loses a job or a friend as a result of his or her behavior, don't try to resolve this on your own. Your child needs to be the person to explain and apologize. Let them do the fixing. If you are always the one cleaning up the mess, your child will not learn that actions have natural consequences nor will they learn that if he or she caused it. The child needs to fix it.

• Raise your expectations. The higher you set the bar, the higher your child needs to reach. The most successful children that I have met have parents who expect more, push more and do not allow their child's diagnoses to excuse poor behavior.

• Be a support. Validate the challenges that your child has and coach him or her as to how to repair a damaged relationship; but remember that the key is to support and not to do it for them.

There will likely be many conflicts along the road. Teaching cause and effect from a young age allows children the benefit of stronger relationships as they age.

Patrice Carroll
Manager of PWS Services

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Latham Works News: Liam to the Rescue!

Liam has been a great example of a student who has found an outlet through vocational work to focus his attention on in a positive way.  Whether sanding a crate until it is silky smooth or keeping the halls clean as part of the “Fantastic Floor” team, Liam has shown a steadily increasing amount of reliability and consistency on the job.

Liam recently helped the Voc staff complete a sizable soap order and meet a deadline. He was instrumental in our ability to successfully present a finished product to our customer. He was focused on task completion throughout.  Liam truly saved the day!

Andy Needel
Vocational Teacher

Monday, December 1, 2014

Circle of Courage: Generosity in Action

At Latham Centers, we employ an overarching philosophy that helps to guide us in many of our interactions and communication among staff, residents, and family. This philosophy is called the Circle of Courage™.  The Circle is based on the concept that all people share four universal needs to be happy, successful, and fulfilled. They are:

BELONGING - recognizing that every person needs to feel part of a group or community

MASTERY - recognizing that everyone should feel that they are capable and skilled in at least one area

INDEPENDENCE - recognizing that every person needs to have a voice and a sense of control over themselves

GENEROSITY - recognizing that the most powerful thing a person can do is to provide service to
someone else

The Circle of Courage involves the entire Latham community and extends from our program sites to our Board of Directors, volunteers, parents, and community supporters. It is a perspective that can help us to help each other to live happier, more satisfying lives.

As friends and supporters of Latham, we invite you to join our circle as we work to expand it from our community to yours.

Our December value of the month is Generosity, during what is typically a month of giving. This is how you can participate and bring this to life in your own interactions with others within and beyond “the Latham family”:

Practice a random act of kindness. Go out of your way for someone, just to help and be nice.

Find a way to compliment someone for something specific. When you provide the compliment, stop, get their attention, and speak it clearly so you know they hear what it means to you.

Write a thank you note to someone for helping you or making your world easier. Think of a person who you do not typically get along with and think of five positive attributes they have. To really stretch and bring this to life, find a way to compliment that person for one of those things even if it is really hard.

Think of a person that could use a pick me up. Remind them of how important they are to you, the world, and to others in their life.

If each of us does just one or more of the above five acts, imagine how much better our Latham community and your own community will feel—be it a Social Media one or in-person community you experience on a daily basis.  If we have a large number of individuals commit to doing one of these “generous” acts a day, imagine how Latham, and the world, for that matter, could be transformed this month and into the future.

Please find a way to be involved. Even though you will never be thanked enough, remember your work is incredibly important to the individuals around you.

Tim Vaughan
Director of Leadership and Growth