A Community of Partnership

I have to write a follow up post to the one posted earlier today about the work day and the many things we have currently going on at Grace Landing. I have to write this follow up, because I am blown away by the willingness of local businesses to engage in making a difference in the lives of foster kids in central Florida. If you check out the Group Home Projects & Needs Lists, you will find several local businesses that are donating time, resources, and finances to make our Group Home a reality. I don’t want you to have to search through a list to locate who those community partners are, so I am going to spell it out for you:

  • Kent Custom Homes – remodeling our master bedroom and bathroom
  • Terry’s Electric – updating our light fixtures and ceiling fans in the home as well as exterior lighting
  • Arnco Construction – repairing a bedroom door and frame, repairing closet doors and installing shelving and carpet in the bedrooms
  • Kissimmee Carpet and Tile – partnering with Arnco to provide carpet for the bedrooms
  • Jeff Wolfe Construction – removing a wall in between kitchen and breakfast room, repairing the pantry, repairing door frame from kitchen to garage and replacing doors (one from kitchen to garage and one from garage to outside)
  • Statewide Cabinets – installing kitchen cabinets and counter tops.
  • Crossfit Firebase – providing a work team for our March 28th work day

These local businesses are standing in the gap with Grace Landing to make a positive impact in the lives of young men in foster care in central Florida.

Thank you!

“I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap…” Ezekiel 22:30


March 28th Work Day!


We have lots of things going on here at Grace Landing! Juda, Matt and Eli are buzzing around like busy little bees. We are in the midst of gearing up for our Fourth Annual Paddle Challenge at the St. Cloud Lakefront, we are working to open a group home for teen-aged young men in foster care this summer, we are continuing to partner and work with local churches to answer God’s call on his people to do something about the foster care dilemma in central Florida, as well as our day in and say routine with the young men we currently have living on site at Grace Landing. This Saturday, March 28th, we have a the first of several work days planned to do some work on site at our soon-to-be opened group home. We will doing demolition work in preparation for our local partners who have committed to donating a wide range of products and services (check out this list of donated products & services and the related partners who are donating).

At Grace Landing, we are able to offer the ministry to young men in foster care that we do because of our partners. If you haven’t yet gotten involved in helping with any of the projects for our Group Home, it isn’t too late. As you can see on the previous list, we still have lots of work to do and lots of items we need donated.

Verbal De-Escalation Techniques, Part 1

notesondeescalatonThe notes for these thoughts on verbal de-escalation came from a training given by Laurie Lee, LMHC & CBHA. I am compiling her outline notes in addition to the notes I took during the training.

The first place to start when approaching a situation that may need to be de-escalated, is to know your own style of arguing or conflict. We must know what our own style is so we are able to make adjustments on the fly if needed to the way we interact with others. A helpful question to ask is simply, ‘what is my normal response to an argument?’ There are several common ways people typically respond to arguments. Some of those are: pouting, pampering others, responding passively, protecting or covering up, pleading, verbally attacking, yelling and screaming or threatening. Most people will respond to an argument in one of these ways. They aren’t inherently right or wrong, they are just different ways to respond to conflict. The responses themselves aren’t right or wrong, however what we do with those responses are where the maladaptivity comes into play. Strike that, verbally attacking, yelling and screaming and threatening are inappropriate from the beginning. These responses are maladaptive at their core.

Once we are aware of what our personal style of conflict is, we need to be aware of our triggers. A trigger is something that brings a particular response or creates a set of feelings and emotions causing us to respond. Knowing what triggers we have and how we respond when those triggers present themselves, is critical to appropriately de-escalating a potential conflict before it even starts. I have realized some of my triggers, specifically with my boys, are whining, disrespect, and a general lack of cooperation. When I am faced with these triggers, I have to work very hard to continue in the argument appropriately. Triggers are easy to identify, but difficult to overcome. We need to determine ways to take our triggers and turn them into positive expressions. If we are able to respond to a trigger positively, we will be better suited to de-escalate a conflict before it develops into a full blown conflict.

Being able to de-escalate a conflict before it even starts is a skill which can be taught. Not all conflicts will be able to be de-escalated, but many can be minimized or kept less volatile by engaging in techniques to de-escalate. Knowing how we argue and what our triggers are mark the first steps in being able to de-escalate conflicts. There are many techniques to be learned and skills to add to our skill-set, which we will discover over the next few posts. If we don’t understand where we are and what our starting point is, it will be difficult if not impossible to keep others from escalating into conflict.

Training and Proficiency

Photo courtesy of http://q2learning.com/blog/?p=441
Photo courtesy of http://q2learning.com/blog/?p=441

In order to be continue to be relevant in your field, no matter what that field is, you have to continue to train and educate yourself. At Grace Landing, we have been doing just that recently. Friday, March 13th, is week three of UCF’s School of Social Work Case Management Academy. This academy is an intense 6 week cohort where the necessary skills and knowledge to be effective in a case management setting are taught. Juda and Eli have been attending this academy to sharpen their skills and to increase Grace Landing’s overall awareness of the issue in case management. Grace Landing offers some case management to the young men living in our independent living transitional home and will offer more in depth case management services to the young men who will be living in our group home, we plan to open this summer. In our independent living transitional home, the case management we offer is along the lines of budgeting, schoolwork completion, time management, job application skills, interviewing techniques, cooking and cleaning and other basic independent living skills. Even though Grace Landing doesn’t offer ‘case management’ services we still offer case management to our clients.

 Additionally, on March 5th, all three of us had an opportunity to attend a verbal de-escalation training. this training was very informative and insightful on the skills and methods needed to assist in de-escalating an individual when they become angry and agitated. As we were in the training, we realized many of the techniques described are techniques utilized by Trust-Based Relationship Intervention or TBRI. At Grace Landing, we are firm believers of the TBRI methods and seek to employ them with our clients. TBRI at its core is positive parenting where the maladaptive behaviors are addressed and the child is never demeaned or put down. The behavior is constructively corrected as the strengths of the child are built upon. There was lots of good information at the verbal de-escalation training we will share with you in an upcoming post on Monday.

Wild at Heart

Photo credit: John Eldredge

Photo credit: John Eldredge

In our consistent efforts to provide mentoring for our young men at Grace Landing, we have begun a new program aimed at assisting our guys in becoming the kind of men God calls all of us men to be. We have partnered with a group of men from Celebration Community Church who are meeting with our guys every two weeks to provide a place for them to share their struggles, hear the stories of other men and to grow in the godly manhood. They meet and discuss things like cooking steak, how to tie a tie, how to present themselves appropriately for a job and how to respectfully talk to girls. They are using John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart as the basis for their discussion time. We have thought long and hard and spent lots of time in prayer trying to determine what would be an effective way for us to offer our guys an opportunity to grow as men and to mature into adults. We believe this approach is going to hit the mark. Matt has recruited a leader of this program from within the church and aside from providing oversight, Grace Landing has taken a hands off approach and we are letting the group run itself. Having this separation from the Grace Landing staff, who the guys see daily, will allow them a little more freedom to feel the group is safe, plus it will allow for a wider range of voices speaking into their lives. We are very excited about this program and have already begun to notice a difference in the lives of our guys. Continue to pray for our guys and the success of this program.

Ministering to the Fatherless

Last evening at Johnson University Florida, Matt had an opportunity to speak to a youth ministry class and share his insights on how to minister to the fatherless of this world. This topic is that is often left off of youth ministry curricula. We were excited Johnson University Florida was interested in having Matt come and speak to her students on this much-needed topic in ministry.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Humphrey via FaceBook.

Photo courtesy of Bruce Humphrey via FaceBook.

2014 Paddle Challenge


It’s that time of the year again! We are gearing up for our annual Paddle Challenge fundraiser at the St. Cloud Lakefront. Since we are preparing for the 2015 Paddle Challenge we thought we would remind us of the 2014 Paddle Challenge.

On June 7th, 2014, fourteen teams descended on the St. Cloud Lakefront Park to battle through surf, sand and sun for the prestige of being the fastest team on the water. We held our Fourth Annual Paddle Challenge fundraiser and it was an incredible experience for everyone involved. We had an increase of five teams from last year and six of those teams were brand new to the paddle challenge. We were able to raise just over $40,000 during this critical fundraiser. Each year this fundraiser grows and God continues to bless us each year through it. We want to thank everyone who was a part of making this special day happen!

 Click here to see photos from the 2014 Paddle Challenge.

Bank of America Awards Grant!


For the fourth year in a row, Bank of America has awarded Grace Landing a grant of $3000. This grant will help homeless and aged out foster youth access much needed services and programs that address immediate issues like homelessness, job skill training and independent living skills while helping them prepare for a more financially stable future.

Give Kids Safe Shelter helps one of our Youth

Give Kids Safe Shelter gave Deshawn $550 for school supplies and here he is with Matt and the receipt from ordering training gear he needed for the track team at Osceola High School. A big thanks to Give Kids Safe Shelter for helping Deshawn get the equipment he needs to be on the track team!


Running track is very similar to navigating life. Each day we have to face the challenges that come to us and run the race that is set  before  us. Just like each race, regardless of the distance, each day presents us with a new challenge we must overcome. At the end of our lies we each desire to say we have run the race to the best of our ability. At Grace Landing we assist these young men in gaining the skills to run their race the best they can.

New Year’s Resolutions

Each year many of us begin the new year making a resolution to change something about ourselves or something about our lives. Most resolutions center around things like eating better or exercising more. These aren’t the only kinds of resolutions that can be made. We can make a resolution to get more involved in the dilemma of foster care. We can make a resolution to get more involved in living a religion that is pure and undefiled as described in the book of James. Religion that is pure and undefiled is to care for orphans and widows. To care for foster children. To get involved in their lives to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed. At Grace Landing we have numerous ways you can get involved in the lives of our residents. Some of the easiest ways to get involved are: by becoming a mentor to our young men; if you own a business or are in charge of hiring you could allow our young men an opportunity to work with your company; you could assist us in getting new carpet in our residence at Grace Landing; you could begin a monthly donation of $30 a month; or you could become a foster family. There are many other ways to get involved at Grace Landing, drop by the office, shoot us an email or give us a call and we can get you involved in forever impacting the lives of these young men.

new years resolutions