Dear Editor and Community Members:
Happy holidays and season’s greetings from the Trustees and staff at The Marsh Foundation. A lot has happened in 2023. Prior to the Marsh Foundation celebrating their 100th anniversary in September of 2022, the Trustees of the Marsh recognized the need for a strategic plan. In order to guarantee the future of The Marsh Foundation for another 100 years, the Trustees need to develop a strategic plan that could both adapt to the changes in our society and to develop new programs that could reach children in new and different ways. The mission of The Marsh Foundation is to inspire hope, to teach and to care for children and families. By incorporating new and innovative strategies and services, this mission continues to serve as the foundational component for the continuum of care that the Marsh Foundation provides.
The Trustees began the strategic planning process prior to the May 2019, groundbreaking for the new gymnasium, dining facility and renovation of the old cafeteria into an exercise and weightroom. The benefits of this facility have been paying tremendous dividends. The new gymnasium and weight room provides our students and staff with physical activities that the Marsh was unable to provide previously. To better meet the social-emotional needs of youth receiving clinical services, the position of Wellness Case Manager was developed at The Marsh Foundation to complement these new facilities. Abigail Neville was promoted to Wellness Case Manager. Neville’s certification as a CrossFit and weightlifting trainer, and in CrossFit Kids has been integral in teaching the Marsh youth valuable skill sets such as teamwork, perseverance, and self-worth. In an effort to promote these skillsets, Neville and two Marsh Foundation youth trained and prepared for a CrossFit competition. The trio recently placed third in the CrossFit competition and also received a grant of $10,000 to further help with the development of the CrossFit program at the Marsh Foundation. This program has allowed Marsh youth to learn self-regulation and problem-solving techniques. Other skills learned in this program are managing emotions, communication, spatial awareness and goal setting. The new gymnasium and weight room also provide our students and staff with other physical activities, such as basketball, pickle ball and aerobic exercise. The Trustees believe that instituting programs like these will allow The Marsh Foundation to continue to be a leader in the child and family services industry for many years to come.
Another program that the Trustees are contemplating is a full-time equestrian program at The Marsh Foundation. The Marsh has had a summer equestrian program for the past several years and the benefits of this program to Marsh youth have been remarkable. Over the past year, clinicians at The Marsh Foundation had the opportunity to go through the certification process in equine assisted learning and/or equine assisted psychotherapy. Equine assisted therapy incorporates a variety of treatments that involve activities with horses to assist in the promotion of physical and mental health for troubled youth. This certification will allow therapists, case managers and equine personnel to work together to provide an enriched therapeutic learning experience for the youth on the Marsh campus and also for the youth in our community. The students will learn complex communication skills, “real-time” problem solving techniques and how to effectively work as a team. “Watching the kids take everything they had been learning and apply it in a different arena was priceless, said clinical therapist Annette Herrmann. “The pride that the kids had in what they had accomplished was truly unmatched.” Equine assisted learning teaches youth how to effectively manage their emotions and behavioral responses.
In order to expand the equestrian program, the trustees have begun a long-term capital improvement campaign for the Marsh campus which includes the construction of an indoor horse arena to be used in conjunction with The Marsh Foundation clinical services and to also provide services to the Van Wert community. This would allow equine assisted learning and therapy to be incorporated into Marsh youths’ treatment on a year-round basis and provide the same type of treatment to youth in the surrounding communities.
Some might say that The Marsh Foundation has gone to the dogs since equestrian therapy is not the only way to reach children in therapy sessions. Clinician Elspeth McCoy and her dog became certified in Animal Assisted Therapy. The Marsh Foundation is constantly exploring new methods of therapy and educating its clinicians on ways in which they can better serve their clients. McCoy is a counselor at The Marsh Foundation with a master’s degree in social work and an LISW license. McCoy incorporated dogs into her work as a more effective way to reach some of the students she was working with since many of her clients have unique needs that require more innovative approaches to treatment. The goal is for the dog to have a calming and comforting effect on the youth during counseling sessions.
The Marsh Foundation Foster Care department continues to grow at its new location on Westwood Drive. With so many children in Ohio in need of foster care, the Marsh Foundation is constantly looking to add foster care parents to the give the gift of a caring, family setting to as many children as possible. The Marsh Foster Care program provides excellent support services for foster families and foster children.
All of these great services that Marsh provides not only require planning and time but also funds to develop and grow the programs. During this holiday season, we encourage you to consider supporting the mission of The Marsh Foundation by making a donation and to also consider estate planning that will help continue our mission for years to come.
In closing we would be remiss if we did not recognize Kim Mullins for an award she received from The Ohio Children’s Alliance, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. At their annual conference for childcare professionals throughout the state of Ohio, The Ohio Children’s Alliance presented The Steve Plottner Award for Leadership in Child Welfare to Ms. Kim Mullins, Executive Director of Child and Family Services at The Marsh Foundation. The Alliance presents the award to a person who demonstrates leadership for children, families, and the direct care workforce of the Ohio child welfare system. The award honors an advocate who has made outstanding contributions to the field of residential care or other intensive treatment programs, benefiting Ohio’s high-risk youth. Congratulations Kim!
As we all celebrate this holiday season, the staff and Trustees of the Marsh Foundation want to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for your continued support of the Marsh Foundation.
The Marsh Foundation Trustees
Gary Corcoran Robert Gamble Gary Clay