Vol. 20, No. 1 • November 2015

SaySo Announces New Executive Director

SaySo is pleased to announce that on August 10, 2015, Carmelita Coleman joined us as SaySo's executive director. SaySo is a statewide association made up of youth who are or have been in out-of-home care. Its mission is to improve the substitute care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and supporting youth who are or have been in substitute care.

Carmelita Coleman
Carmelita Coleman is well known to those who frequent SaySo and NC LINKS events. She began her journey with the North Carolina child welfare system in 2001 at Forsyth County DSS. She served there for over 13 years, first as a social worker for adolescents and LINKS coordinator and later as a supervisor. Most recently she has been an independent contractor and a supervisor in Davie County DSS.

One of Carmelita's most prized professional achievements is the orchestration of the TEAM-UP program, a week-long summer business camp for youth and young adults in foster care interested in starting their own businesses. TEAM-UP, which stands for "Teens Engaged in Aspiring Mentorships an Uplifting Partnership," won a Best Practice award from the NC Association of County Directors of Social Services for the creative collaborative program design. TEAM-UP has served over 200 youth from 10 counties; it is open to all LINKS-eligible youth ages 16-21 in our state.

Carmelita's experience as a licensed foster parent, LINKS coordinator, and SaySo adult advisor will help her jump into our activities and programming very quickly. Asked about becoming SaySo's executive director, Carmelita says, "I feel specifically charged and dedicated to create a tapestry of opportunities throughout the state for youth and young adults involved with SaySo with the hopes that these experiences will facilitate a positive change in their journey."

Carmelita will be officially commissioned in her new role at SaySo's December board meeting. You can reach her at 919-384-1457, 800-820-0001, and [email protected]. Nancy Carter continues to serve as chief administrator for SaySo and executive director for Independent Living Resources, Inc.

SaySo Updates

Upcoming Activities
It's My Transition. Jan. 30, 2016 Granville County. This is a one-day youth workshop sponsored by the department of social services LINKS communities of Granville, Franklin, and Vance counties, along with SaySo (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out). It is designed specifically for older teens in foster care and will focus on how to achieve successful outcomes for youth transitioning out of substitute care--specifically, how to blossom into a productive adult citizen in your local community.

SAYSO Saturday. March 5, 2016, Guilford County, NC. This will be the 18th Annual "Family Reunion" and Celebration of SaySo's existence. It is also a chance to celebrate and honor all youth in foster care who may not have had the opportunity celebrate their individual birthdays. The day will be full of workshops for youths and adults and elections for the next Youth Board of Directors.

NOTE: SaySo activities are free and open to any youth age 14-24 in out-of-home care. This includes all types of substitute care: foster care, group homes, kinship placement, and mental health placements. Youth do not have to be a member of SaySo to attend!

SaySo Newsletter
SaySo produces four newsletters a year. If you wish to stay updated on SaySo events email us at [email protected] or call our office at 800-820-0001.

Superstars Rewards Program
SaySo is pleased to announce a new program to help get youth engaged in LINKS. The new "SaySo Superstars Rewards Program" provides incentives for youth to get involved with community service, advocacy, fund raising, member recruitment, local chapter development, monthly meetings, and SaySo events. Youth earn points for each activity they engage in. Local chapters earn points for each activity they plan and implement.

Individual points can be used to purchase reward items in the SaySo Store at SaySo Saturday. Items currently in the store include Carolina Panther hats, shirts, and bags, Converse Chuck Taylor duffle bags, Otterbox Phone cases, gift cards, and more. In addition, the top ten points holders will be entered into a raffle for a Dell Latitude laptop with Windows and Microsoft Office. The local chapter with the most points will win a gift for a party.

If your county does not have a local chapter, now is the time to start one. All you need is a supporting adult and two youth who qualify as SaySo members. Start a new chapter and get 50 reward points immediately. For more on starting a local chapter go to http://www.saysoinc.org/about_us/sayso_local_chapters/

For more on the Superstars Rewards Program, go to http://www.saysoinc.org/sayso_superstar_points_system/sayso_superstar_rewards/. If you need additional information please call SAYSO at 1-800-820-0001.

~ Family and Children's Resource Program, UNC-CH School of Social Work ~