All posts by Hearts & Homes for Youth

June 2023 Happenings

Congrats to our Graduates!

We are proud to announce our graduates! We have youth that graduated from Eleanor Roosevelt HS and Richard Montgomery HS, and we have graduates from Loiederman MS. This is a wonderful accomplishment for many of our youth who have faced many challenges. Thank you to our incredible staff and phenomenal community support in leading these kids to a brighter future.

A Fun Day for our Youth

Our Avis Birely program has a list of incentives for the youth that they can choose from for showing positive impact and good behavior. One of our youths chose to have lunch with our Program Director, Robin Colbert and CEO, Chloe Bernardi. They went to Franks Burger in Wheaton and had a great time. He has lots of summer plans which includes a trip to Six Flags, Bush Gardens, and he’s excited to celebrate his birthday in July!

Our TFC Success Story

After being placed with the Johnson family for two years in foster care, Kevin was legally adopted. The Johnsons have done so much for him providing stability and structure but most importantly, showing Kevin what unconditional love feels like. Words cannot express how happy we are to share this incredible story!

Exciting Summer Ahead!

We have an exciting summer coming up for the youth in our care! In July, Stein Sperling will hold a BBQ cookout for our Helen Smith and Marys Mount programs. We are also going to schedule our 3 on 3 basketball tournament for the boys at our Avis Birely program and this is hosted by DLH Corporation. Our Damamli and TFC youths are going to an Aquarium, amusement parks, volunteer excursions, cookouts, and more! Interested in hosting or donating to help with our kids activities and outings? Pls. click here to donate. Any help is greatly appreciated and will bring a big impact to our youth!

Healthy Meal from our HS Garden

Helen Smith girls are making good use of their garden.  They picked these squash and zucchini and had a delicious farm- to- table lunch vegetable medley!


Save this Date – May 6, 2024

Hearts & Homes Annual Golf tournament is scheduled for May 6, 2024! We had a remarkable and successful tournament this year and we are already looking forward to next year’s exciting event. Thank you so much to all our sponsors, staff and supporters who joined us for our annual fundraiser golf tournament. Hope to see you at Norbeck Country Club next year!


We Appreciate the Donation!

We just received boxes of diapers last week from Ticket to Dream. They are being provided by Dyper, a  responsible diaper company delivering plant-based products. We are grateful for these generous donations that will help our babies at our Damamli/TFC program. You can learn more about Dyper by visiting their website –

May 2023 Happenings

HHY Charity Golf Tournament !

What an incredible day of golfing at Norbeck Country Club! We had an amazing time with all the golfers, staff and volunteers who were enjoying the beautiful day playing golf, enjoying the food and drinks and networking. The money that was donated and raised goes so far to help our kids and gives HHY the ability to keep improving all our programs. We congratulate our top 3 winners: The TekSynap Team, Truist Team and Kayla Kania’s Team. Many thanks to all our sponsors and the golfers, donors, HHY staff, board members, and the staff at Norbeck for making this year’s Annual Charity Golf Tournament a great success.

May is National Foster Care Month

We celebrated our foster parents for National Foster Care Month, and we recognized the dedicated people who promote compassionate and  stable homes for children. Although not all our 30+ families could attend, we were thrilled to see most of them and hand out some awards to acknowledge all the work, effort, and dedication they provided to our youth. Interested in learning more about fostering? Reach out to

Help our Foster Kids!

There are so many ways to support our cause and our kids. CASA workers are infinitely important in the lives of our kids. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer appointed by a judicial officer to provide advocacy for a child who is under the jurisdiction of the courts due to abuse or neglect. The CASA serves as the “eyes and ears” of the judge for children in foster care.

The littlest things sometimes mean the most. please send us a message at  if you want to talk more about how you can help!

It’s Prom Season!

Some of our young ladies and young men were able to enjoy prom at their respective high schools last month. Helen Smith Group Home staff got their young ladies ready and looking like princesses! They all looked fabulous and they all had fun! Special shout-out to Rev. Dr. William E. Butler and First Lady Sonja Butler from Queen’s Chapel UMC for helping our young men from JumpStart Semi-Independent Living Program prepare for their prom and shoutout to Mr. Dion West, Program Manager for helping capture the weekend moment for his youth.

Happy Mother’s Day!

We celebrated our pregnant and parenting teen mothers from our Damamli Independent Living Program for Mother’s Day! These young ladies have faced many obstacles in their lives, but certainly show what it means to be a mother. It was a pleasure for HHY to celebrate them for all they have achieved – and for what’s to come!

Thanks to Adam!

Thanks to Adam for his kind donation to one of our foster kids! Adam was our long-time supporter and was recognized when he was a kid at one of our events for his outstanding work to help the kids at our programs.

April 2023 Happenings

Many Thanks to our Volunteers!

We are so grateful to all the incredible volunteers from Rebuilding Montgomery for renovating our homes. Rebuilding Montgomery has helped more than 2,600 homeowners throughout Montgomery County and engaged more than 50,000 volunteers who have dedicated their time and talents to helping their neighbors. They helped three of our group homes with modifications and improvements – from renovating our bedrooms and bathrooms, and helping with landscaping, etc.  Now the houses look nicer and more functional, and we could not have done it without the support of these amazing volunteers. They have  greatly helped our agency and the youth we serve!

Spring Fling alert!

Avis Birely Therapeutic Group Home hosted their first annual Spring Fling to kick off the season, and the rain didn’t stop them! They grilled, played games, and even had an impromptu water balloon fight – kids vs staff! Many thanks to our incredible staff, board members, and Pets on Wheels for helping the boys put this together. And our biggest thanks to the boys for having this idea to get us out of the office to socialize in the spring breeze!

Foster Parent of the month!

HHY loves supporting our foster parents! HHY staff and fellow foster parents celebrated Ms. Betty as our foster parent of the month of April for her outstanding advocacy for the child in her home! She is truly amazing! Interested in learning more about becoming a foster parent with us? Email:

What success looks like

Jumpstart: Giovanni purchased a new vehicle – a white Honda Accord. Gio and Emmanuel are scheduled to graduate this year.
Helen smith: Hannah is scheduled to graduate and will be adopted at the completion of school.
Mary’s Mount: India has gotten a summer job as a lifeguard at six flags.

It’s National Pet Day!

April 11th was National Pet Day! The youth in our group homes do not have the opportunity to have pets so we partnered with “Pets on Wheels” to bring pups to the program to allow them to engage and pet these cute animals. The kids had an amazing time!


HHY Employee Highlight 

Kenneth Studstill, Program Manager
Kenneth is a veteran who enjoys sports, movies, and museums. He has worked with juveniles and at-risk youth for 30 years and continues to guide young men and women with developing life skills and strategies to deal with confrontation. He has extensive experience with crisis intervention and conflict resolution and is pleased to be using his knowledge of residential facilities and their operational procedures as the Program Manager at Hearts & Homes for Youth.

Join our Team of Social Workers!

Ms. Nikki and Ms. Lucy travel near and far to recruit. If you know any social workers, we are hiring! Email our Clinical Director, Nicole Smith, at to learn more about this amazing opportunity for licensed Social Workers (LBSW and LMSW) and if you have any questions regarding these positions.


March 2023 Happenings

Hooray to our Social Workers!

Every year, we honor our social workers during National Social Worker Appreciation Month in March. They celebrated spending a little downtime together at a restaurant, having dinner, and talking about the many positive contributions of their professions. With the daily case loads they face every day at work and their determination in assessing our kids with counseling and resources they provide a very important role at Hearts & Homes. We appreciate their hard work and dedication in promoting the well-being of our kids and helping them improve and be more productive.  We are thankful for their amazing job in keeping our organization operating smoothly and efficiently, and always putting their best footforward!

HHY Employee Highlight

Rhiannon Pinhak, Social Worker
Ms. Rhiannon first moved to DC from Colorado for college and then decided to stay in the DC area. After spending a year as a volunteer for a girls group home in Bolivia, Rhiannon went on to graduate school for social work. She interned with Hearts and Homes at one of the girls group homes and loved the experience. After grad school, Rhiannon came back to Hearts and Homes as a licensed social worker. She has been at the Avis Birely home as the Program  Therapist/Social Worker since September 2021. She loves working with the residents and watching them grow and realize their goals!

Come and Join the Fun!

There is still time to register for our annual charity golf tournament at Norbeck Country Club this coming May 22nd! Please gather your friends and enjoy an amazing time networking while helping us raise money for the youth in our care.

To sign up, please visit or email Valerie Snogren at

We are Hiring!

At Hearts & Homes, you are joining an organization where you can make a difference in the lives of youth who are overcoming adversity throughout the state Maryland! Come and explore opportunities at Hearts & Homes.  We are a dedicated staff of child welfare professionals committed to the growth and development of our employees. We offer a comprehensive employee benefits package, including: Clinical supervision for Social Workers, Extensive training program and CEU, Opportunity for promotions, Employee benefits, Generous leave, Affordable medical, dental, and vision insurance, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Company paid life, long-term disability, and AD&D insurance, 403(B) retirement program and company matching.

February 2023 Happenings

Come and Play!

We have a lot of fun on the green!

It’s already March, and the weather is warming up. That means it’s time to play golf! Hearts & Homes is hosting our 11th Annual Charity Golf Outing on Monday, May 22 at Norbeck Country Club. Gather your friends/colleagues for a great time on the course at Norbeck. We’re offering a discounted price for foursomes and individual player signups during the month of March, so now is the time to sign up! ​

The proceeds from this event will go directly to build brighter futures for the young people we serve each day.​

Foster parent ​of the Month​

We are happy to announce Kim O’Brien as February foster parent of the month. Kim provides a loving and stable home environment for the youth in her care. She is a great advocate and always willing to take on a challenge. She understands the importance of bio family relationships and goes above​ and beyond to ensure that the youth in her care have a relationship with their family. Thank you, Kim for everything you do. Your hard work and dedication do not go unnoticed.​



We are thrilled to report that a young man in our Jumpstart Program is scheduled to graduate this year and has been accepted into 3 Colleges – Towson University, Morgan State, and UMUC. He is awaiting responses from other colleges before he decides where he would like to attend. We are proud of the accomplishments of this young man despite the difficulties that he’s faced in his life.​

Foster Parent Training Sessions​

At Hearts & Homes we provide training sessions to help our foster parents deal with issues they may face. Some of the training topics have included Healthy Conflict Resolution, Motivational Interviewing 101, and Adolescent Development. The training sessions also provide a time for the parents to discuss and share their achievements and concerns with each other.​

The need for foster parents is great! If you have ever considered fostering a youth, please contact our Foster Parent Recruiter, ​Annie Brandicourt, at ​

February was Black History Month​

At Hearts & Homes we celebrate Black History Month and honor the achievements and struggles of African Americans who have greatly contributed to our nation’s history. We are inspired each day by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King:​

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”​

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

January 2023 Happenings

A Warm Welcome to New Foster Parents

Michelle and Troy Willis live in Glen Burnie, MD (Anne Arundel County), in a house with 2 spare rooms for foster youth. They have a passion for DIY projects, arts and crafts, and new technology (so their home is absolutely lovely). Michelle enjoys shopping, hiking, skiing, watching movies, and spending time with children. Troy likes games (board and video), skateboarding, snowboarding, sports, and spending time with family. Both Troy and Michelle are laid back parents who also excel with clear expectations, creative consequences, and proficiency in working with a child’s biological family. They are both lovely, empathetic, and warm individuals.

January Foster Parents of the Month

We are thrilled to announce Carolyn and Kenneth Bartee as January foster parents of the month. Carolyn and Kenneth are compassionate and nurturing foster parents. They are trauma informed and always willing to put their own personal feelings and needs aside to provide the best possible care. Thank you, Carolyn and Kenneth for being exemplary foster Parents. We appreciate you!

Have you ever considered becoming a foster parent? If you would like more information, please email Annie Brandicourt at: or call Annie at (231) 412-7812.

We’re Thankful for Community Support!

It was wonderful to receive this generous donation from the Gamma lota Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. They stocked us up with umbrella strollers and baby care products for the young mothers in our Damamli Program. Many thanks go to Jazmyn Colon-Johnson for organizing this donation drive for us!


We’re especially grateful to Narrisa Johnson. She started her own organization, Gooddeed NJ, LLC to give back to the community. Hearts & Homes is the first organization to receive a very generous financial donation from Narrisa. She’s pictured holding the sign with her son hiding behind her. 🙂

Kimberle Searcy from the Jack and Jill Club of PG County dropped off many toiletry bags for young women coming into our programs. She is shown with a sampling of them.

The purpose of the Jack and Jill Club is to provide social, cultural and educational opportunities for youth between the ages of two and nineteen. Find out more at:

Calling all Social workers

A magnificent team of Hearts & Homes social workers visited the University of Maryland to recruit graduating social workers at the UMD job fair. The need for social workers is great and we’re hiring!

Hearts & Homes is a fantastic and rewarding place to work, and we provide great benefits. Find out more at or email your resume to Nicole Smith at:

December 2022 Happenings

Wishing all of our friends a Happy New Year!

Thank you for Holiday Gift Drive and End of the Year Contributions

Our Hearts & Homes kids were super excited to receive their many holiday gifts from all who participated in our Holiday Gift Drive. Everyone was so generous, and each child in our care had many of their wishes fulfilled! It touches our hearts to see the love extended by the community to our children. Many, many thanks to all our Wishmakers!

Adam Abramowitz & Andrea Goldin, Alan & Sue Krueger, Arlene Brens, Barbara Jordan, Beltz Family, Carey Miller, Charlene Bolden, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – Savage Mill & Columbia 2nd Wards, Concord St. Andrews Church, Council of the Great City Schools, David Moon & Melissa Coolidge, Dan Vallone, DLH Corporation, Edelman Financial Engines, Education Week, Elevation Ministries, Fred Pugh, Jannette Hasan, Kingdom Fellowship A.M.E. Church, Lindsey Auriemma, Mike & Nan Whitehurst, Michelle Steffes, Mindy Steffes, Montgomery County Planning Dept., Paley Rothman Attorneys, Shacarra Johnson Meridian, Silver Spring United Methodist Church, Stephanie Haynes, Susan Massey, Takoma Park Seventh Day Adventist Church Women’s Ministries, Vivianna Rivera

We also are very grateful to everyone who contributed to our End of the Year Campaign. Your financial donation helps us provide our deserving kids with the best care.
All of us at HHY are overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness and generosity!

Welcome New Foster Parents!

We are super excited to welcome the wonderful Shontel and Mike Bracewell to our foster parent team! Shontel and Mike are a kind and welcoming couple who are excited to jump right into therapeutic foster care. Shontel is warm and intuitive, while Mike is laid back with a great sense of humor. Mike enjoys sports of all kinds, relaxing on the couch, and doing fun activities with Shontel. Shontel loves shows, shopping, festivals, family time, community activities, and watching movies with Mike. They have a very adorable and friendly labradoodle named Coko. Please join us in welcoming Mike and Shontel to Hearts and Homes!

Hearts & Homes Receives an Award from Montgomery County


Hearts and Homes had the pleasure of being honored by County Executive Marc Elrich for all the hard work we do in the community. It was a privilege to have lunch with him and his team and talk about the needs of the kids and families we serve. They also participated in our Holiday Gift Drive providing us with many gifts for our kids. Thank you, Marc Elrich and team, we appreciate you!!!

Yum! Crumbl Cookies for kids! We graciously accepted this yummy cookie donation from Crumbl Cookies in Waugh Chapel. Many thanks to them for thinking of us and sharing their wonderfully delicious cookies!

October/ November 2022 Happenings

FUNraiser at Topgolf

Thank you to all of our generous sponsors who helped make our 2022 FUNraiser a great success, especially our Premier Sponsor, Standard Technology! We had a great time seeing old friends and making new ones, playing the game of Topgolf, eating yummy food, and dancing to the tunes of the Dynamic DJ Entertainment. We appreciate all who came out to support us.  You may view photos of the event at:

Become a Wishmaker

You can grant a child a wish by participating in our Holiday Gift Drive. Each child in our care creates a list of items that they wish to receive. If you would like to participate, we will send you the name, age, and wishes of the child you choose to help. Any help you give will send a message of care and support to our young people. Contact Hazel Eguia at for more info or to participate.

A Happy Welcome Back

Welcome back to HHY Ms. Diane Johnson! Ms. Diane was a foster parent with Hearts and Homes pre-COVID, but took some time away during the pandemic to attend to her family and her own health. We are so pleased to announce that Ms. Diane has returned to Hearts and Homes, ready to foster another child and to continue her growth as a foster parent! We are lucky to have her back.

We Celebrate Success

One of the young mothers in our Independent Living Program struggled significantly with hygiene and daily independent living skills. She had a hard time keeping her apartment clean. Our staff provided hands-on training to help her learn the skills needed to effectively parent and provide for herself and her child. Recently she was successfully discharged from our program, and she and her child found a safe and stable housing situation that meets their needs.

 A 16 year old young man struggled all last year to attend school consistently. With the support of his foster parent, his clinical case manager, and other staff members, he has made huge strides in improving his attendance. This past school quarter, he not only attended almost all classes, but passed all of them.

Our Volunteers are Awesome!

It was great fun to have the volunteers from Aronson, LLC come out and spruce up our JumpStart Program. They painted many rooms and gave the kitchen a good cleaning. We greatly appreciate all of the help and support that we receive from Aronson! Many thanks to Clint Woofter for organizing the event.

Foster Parent of the Month

We are excited to announce Martha and George Benyella as the October foster parents of the month. The Benyella’s are exceptional foster parents who deeply care for the youth in their care. They are great advocates and provide a safe and loving home environment. They promote extracurricular activities, sports, and performing arts. They ensure that the youth have ample opportunities to grow and thrive. We can always count on them to provide respite care. Thank you, Martha and George for being a part of the HHY team. We appreciate you!