All posts by Hearts & Homes for Youth

May Newsletter

Fashion show for Hearts & Homes

On Saturday, April 14th, Picole Kids sponsored a Children’s Global Fashion Show at Tyson’s Corner. Hearts & Homes for Youth was one of the charities receiving proceeds from the event. Picole Kids mission is to celebrate personal confidence, self-acceptance, and positive self-image. Prior to the show, Gisella Howe, founder of Picole Kids, held a fashion design seminar at one of our girls’ group homes. The girls accessorized outfits that were used in the fashion show. We send a big thank you to Gisella for her work creating fashion with a purpose.

Volunteers from Skyline Technology Solutions

We are thankful to Skyline Technology Solutions for helping us beautify our JumpStart home in Hyattsville. They spent the day painting in the house and cleaning up debris in the yard. We had a great time with these hard working folks!


Charity Golf Date Change

Due to the recent deluge of rain, we were forced to postpone our Charity Golf Outing scheduled for May 21st. Please join us on the rescheduled date of June 18th at Argyle Country Club. You may learn more or register online at

Employee of the month

Ms. Sharnee has been working very hard at our JumpStart Program to ensure the youth are getting their needs met and staying motivated! She shows a lot of care for the young men and has been working to make changes to improve the program. Her dedication shows in the relational bonds that she builds with the youth and their engagement with her. Overall, JumpStart is lucky to have a Program Manager like Ms. Sharnee!


What Success Looks Like

Amber came to our Damamli Independent Living Program as a discouraged young mother who had dropped out of high school and then did not pass her GED. With the support and encouragement of our highly trained staff, she was able to attend the high school program at Brightwood College. Amber worked very hard in school in spite of her mother’s illness, her own personal health problems, and having to take care of a young child. We are excited to announce that Amber will graduate in June with her high school diploma, and is on the path to a brighter future! Congratulations Amber!

Gala date

Please join us on Thursday, October 18, 2018 for our Annual Charity Gala. This year we will be partying at Canopy, the new Hilton Hotel in Bethesda North. Celebrate with us at this exciting new venue! For sponsorship opportunities and other information visit


Hearts & Homes Annual Charity Golf Tournament is right around the corner! Help us raise money for our programs by purchasing a sponsorship, sponsoring a team, or playing in our tournament. We’re looking forward to a fun filled day of golf, networking, contests, games and prizes for all skill levels. Contact Valerie Snogren –  for more info or visit our website at See you on the green!

We love our volunteers!

We were privileged to have this group of folks from Transwestern, including HHY Board Member Joe McCormick, come to our Avis Birely Home to paint and work in the yard. It was fun working with them, and we greatly appreciate their hard work!


The Emerging Class of Leadership Montgomery visited our Helen Smith Home to paint. They had a good time making the house look more beautiful and talking with the girls. We’re thankful for their help!

HHY is pleased to partner with Dominique Hinton of Children’s Birthday Miracles. They’re providing monthly birthday parties for our youth. The first party was held at a bowling alley and was a huge success!

Many thanks to volunteer, Nikki Abban! She recently moved here from New York City after working in the documentary film industry there. She’s providing workshops for our girls . We’re excited for them to have this artistic experience, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they create!

In Memory

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of one of our cherished founders, Judge John C. Tracey. If not for him and his passion, we would not have served over 41,000 young people since 1964. He will always be remembered in our hearts and in our homes.


Employee of the Month

Congratulations to Senior Counselor, Vanessa Johnson, for being our Employee of the Month! Vanessa runs a tight ship at our John C. Tracey home. She has tremendous rapport with the girls in the program, and they love her home cooking! The house is always in tip-top shape because Vanessa gets the job done, and makes sure the girls have everything they need.

How attachment patterns impact brain development

While working with children in the foster care system, it is important to have an understanding of their behavior.  A lot of the behaviors that young people present are telling of the home life they had prior to being placed in care.

Since the 1960’s, there has been a lot of research on the theory of attachment, and how attachment patterns impact brain development.  For example, if a child has a caregiver that is consistent in meeting their needs, the child is more likely to be able to regulate their emotions and be generally stress-free and safe. This is called a “secure attachment.” However, if a child experiences abuse or neglect from a caregiver, the child is then more likely to be stressed out and fearful, because their needs are not being met.  This can be an “avoidant attachment” or “resistant/ambivalent attachment,” and in some cases, a “disorganized attachment.”

As many people can relate, not just children, whenever people become stressed out, to the point of being afraid, a number of physiological symptoms occur.  The person may sweat a lot, heart rate increases, and the need to act, whether fight, flight, or freeze, is activated, particularly in high stress situations.  This is a helpful biological survival tool for people who have normal brain development, however, for children who are always in that heightened state of arousal, those constant responses can be quite damaging to the brain.

The excessive rise of cortisol levels can impact the development of the frontal lobe.  The constant inability of the caregiver to provide the child with safety and ways to get their needs met can impact the Amygdala, or the part of the brain that converts long and short term memories.  Because the brain is a social organ, nurturing through healthy and responsive care giving will help regulate the brain and help the child form a secure attachment. Here are five ways to develop a bond with your adopted or biological child:

  1. Play and do activities together – children love to play and it develops their abilities and social skills. Engage in activities that you are interested in as well as activities they are interested in.
  2. Create routines – routines and structure give youth a sense of control and help them develop their sense of trust.
  3. Be flexible – make sure to be flexible to keep life interesting for kids and to empower them to use their voice and let you know what they are interested in doing.
  4. Be consistent and dependable – it is critically important that a young person knows they can rely on you and that you provide a safe and stable environment.
  5. Read – read to little kids and share one of your favorite books with an older kid to discuss later.

What sets Hearts and Homes Therapeutic Foster Care Program apart, what makes us different?

Our Parents! We truly believe that Hearts and Homes for Youth has some of the best foster parents you can find. Many of our parents are veterans, individuals who are in it for the long haul, and are not willing to give up with things get tough! Their individual years of service range from three years to thirty years! Foster parents open their homes, adjust their lives, and put their needs second to the needs of their children. There is not enough we can do to thank them! Each year we host a Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner to convey this message to our parents. This year we had a lot of fun! Our foster parents enjoyed the entertainment, their meal with steak and lobster options, and special tributes to each parent! The dinner was hosted in private dining room, allowing our parents to let loose and enjoy themselves with us and each other. They danced, laughed, and were able to have a child free adult only evening! We were able to capture some memories at the photo booth, check them out!