Lena’s Look-In


News & Resources

REDEFINING HEROES: Vista staff during the pandemic

In 2020, the title of hero expanded to include the millions of healthcare workers, childcare providers, grocery store staff, and so many others who put their lives on the line throughout the pandemic.

At Vista Del Mar, our entire staff is comprised of heroes, each one bravely stepping up to ensure the wellbeing of our residents, students, and families…

The Workings of a Child’s Mind

Shining a spotlight on Vista’s Reiss-Davis Child Study Center and the Reiss-Davis Graduate School
As a parent, have you ever had a moment with your child where you wonder, ‘I wish I could know everything going on in their head right now?’ Well, from twenty-four plus years of being a parent, I can tell you, you will probably never know everything. But thanks to advancements through the work happening right here on Vista Del Mar’s campus, we can understand a lot more…

Merry and Bright in spite… of 2020

What do you do when you have antsy teens pining for holiday outings that are just not possible in times of COVID? That was the obstacle facing our residential staff, who each year take a lot of pleasure in assuring Vista residents experience a full spectrum of seasonal joy. In this instance, creativity triumphed, and a new tradition was born. Our staff rented a large van and, with residents in tow, drove two hours north to the most organic of holiday settings- snow…

Home-SAFE’s Response to the Rise in Domestic Violence Cases

When shelter in place orders were put in place earlier this year, one of my first concerns was for the safety of children and family members living in a home already riddled with stress. The increase of domestic violence cases as a result of COVID-19 has been described within our field as a pandemic within…

How one resident’s story can inspire a community

A look-in at Vista’s critical services. When someone asks about Vista Del Mar, specifically what services we provide, instead of rattling off a bunch of clinical terms, I’ve found the most impactful answer is the one that describes who we help and how. The individual stories of our residents are what brings to life the critical services we provide . . . “Jackie’s Story” is a brave and inspiring interview with a former Vista resident…

The opportunities that co-exist with the challenges of distance learning:
How the teachers of Vista went above and beyond to keep Vista’s students on track

This isn’t your typical back to school week… Walking through the aisles of Target has been a different experience for the past several months (it was feeling like low-stakes Hunger Games for a minute) but what has been most eye-opening lately is how different back to school shopping has felt…

Reflections on My First Year at Vista Del Mar

I used to be quick to label a year with challenges as a “lonnnnng year” and I can imagine many of you nodding along with me in regards to 2020. But, recently I’ve had a shift of perspective. Maybe it’s the gift of hindsight, but I reflect back on those “long years” and instead label that time as it truly was – transformative. Which brings me to this moment, the one-year anniversary of leaving my home state of Michigan to become the President & CEO of this great, historic agency…

Juneteenth

As we celebrate this Juneteenth holiday that has been proceeded by social unrest and cries for equality, justice, and freedom, it cannot be lost that all the hopes and promise Juneteenth celebrates has not come to pass.  One hundred years after, Martin Luther King, Jr told the world about his dream of fulfilling that promise…

Building Trust with a Foster Youth

“Remember, you don’t have to be perfect.” It’s what I tell myself when I fall short on a run, and it is what I have to tell most prospective foster parents when they worry they lack what it takes to parent a child in need. Unfortunately, it is that expectation of perfection that keeps so many loving people from opening their homes to the hundreds and thousands of children in the foster care system…

Continued Care Amidst Crisis

During a time when there has been so much disruption to our way of life I ask myself daily, “what has remained steady?” Maybe it’s not our travel plans or our hairstyle, but where I do see continuity is where it matters most. Maintained family support at Vista Del Mar. Throughout our agency, families continue to receive the highest level of care and support during this worldwide crisis…

Keeping Kids Busy During School Closures

The ripple effect of millions of schools closing due to a health crisis has created a sub crisis: “what do I do with my kids all day?” As a parent of two, I know that would have probably been my first question. To help ease your concerns, here are some suggestions to keep your little…

Women at Vista

Here’s a bold but true statement. Women and their leadership forged Vista into the progressive and dynamic agency it is today. While it’s true women comprise 73% of the workforce in most nonprofits, only 21% are in leadership roles. Compare those numbers to Vista Del Mar where women in leadership positions represent eight out of…

Celebrating Diversity

As I reflect on a month of celebrating black history, and teaching what these achievements mean to the children of Vista Del Mar, I am left with these thoughts. When you share black history with students and residents who have faced challenges, and represent a minority you are teaching that excellence can be achieved…

How a Mentor can change a life

When describing the role of a mentor, “supportive” is a word many would choose but ask an at-risk youth and you might get another answer – lifesaver. January is National Mentor Month where we recognize those who have helped us become who we are today. From professional achievements to wellness, we have all been impacted…

Charitable Giving and the Holidays for Residents

Like the snow coming down in my native Michigan the holiday spirit is swirling about and for some of us that’s a great thing, and for others not as much. Although our opinion of the holiday season may vary, one constant is that this time of year for a foster youth can be a difficult…

Openness in Adoption

Every November we celebrate National Adoption Month by asking how we can best support both the biological and adoptive families in this life-changing process. This month I would like to share my insights on openness in adoption, a practice that I believe has a tremendous healing impact for both families. Openness in adoption is a…

Vista’s Vocational Programs: Preparing Students and Residents for the Future

Driving through Vista’s beautiful and vibrant campus each morning, I am reminded of just how important a positive surrounding is for one’s mindset. This is especially the case for our residents, many of whom come from chaotic environments and are here because of difficult life circumstances. Knowing this, I am heartened that these children have…

The Safety of Our Students

As a parent of two, it was not long ago that I can recall the deep sense of relief that came with receiving a text from my daughters that they were home safe from school. In today’s landscape, the concept of school safety has changed dramatically. Active shooter drills are routine and entering onto a…

It’s that time of the year again…

It’s that time of year again. You know? School supplies, new teachers, new schedules… Okay, if I’m stressing you out just by mentioning those things then know this- you are not alone. I can’t help but think back to those mornings with my two daughters. As a working mom, I vividly recall the series of…

REDEFINING HEROES: Vista staff during the pandemic

In 2020, the title of hero expanded to include the millions of healthcare workers, childcare providers, grocery store staff, and so many others who put their lives on the line throughout the pandemic.

At Vista Del Mar, our entire staff is comprised of heroes, each one bravely stepping up to ensure the wellbeing of our residents, students, and families…

The Workings of a Child’s Mind

Shining a spotlight on Vista’s Reiss-Davis Child Study Center and the Reiss-Davis Graduate School
As a parent, have you ever had a moment with your child where you wonder, ‘I wish I could know everything going on in their head right now?’ Well, from twenty-four plus years of being a parent, I can tell you, you will probably never know everything. But thanks to advancements through the work happening right here on Vista Del Mar’s campus, we can understand a lot more…

Merry and Bright in spite… of 2020

What do you do when you have antsy teens pining for holiday outings that are just not possible in times of COVID? That was the obstacle facing our residential staff, who each year take a lot of pleasure in assuring Vista residents experience a full spectrum of seasonal joy. In this instance, creativity triumphed, and a new tradition was born. Our staff rented a large van and, with residents in tow, drove two hours north to the most organic of holiday settings- snow…

Home-SAFE’s Response to the Rise in Domestic Violence Cases

When shelter in place orders were put in place earlier this year, one of my first concerns was for the safety of children and family members living in a home already riddled with stress. The increase of domestic violence cases as a result of COVID-19 has been described within our field as a pandemic within…

How one resident’s story can inspire a community

A look-in at Vista’s critical services. When someone asks about Vista Del Mar, specifically what services we provide, instead of rattling off a bunch of clinical terms, I’ve found the most impactful answer is the one that describes who we help and how. The individual stories of our residents are what brings to life the critical services we provide . . . “Jackie’s Story” is a brave and inspiring interview with a former Vista resident…

The opportunities that co-exist with the challenges of distance learning:
How the teachers of Vista went above and beyond to keep Vista’s students on track

This isn’t your typical back to school week… Walking through the aisles of Target has been a different experience for the past several months (it was feeling like low-stakes Hunger Games for a minute) but what has been most eye-opening lately is how different back to school shopping has felt…

Reflections on My First Year at Vista Del Mar

I used to be quick to label a year with challenges as a “lonnnnng year” and I can imagine many of you nodding along with me in regards to 2020. But, recently I’ve had a shift of perspective. Maybe it’s the gift of hindsight, but I reflect back on those “long years” and instead label that time as it truly was – transformative. Which brings me to this moment, the one-year anniversary of leaving my home state of Michigan to become the President & CEO of this great, historic agency…

Juneteenth

As we celebrate this Juneteenth holiday that has been proceeded by social unrest and cries for equality, justice, and freedom, it cannot be lost that all the hopes and promise Juneteenth celebrates has not come to pass.  One hundred years after, Martin Luther King, Jr told the world about his dream of fulfilling that promise…

Building Trust with a Foster Youth

“Remember, you don’t have to be perfect.” It’s what I tell myself when I fall short on a run, and it is what I have to tell most prospective foster parents when they worry they lack what it takes to parent a child in need. Unfortunately, it is that expectation of perfection that keeps so many loving people from opening their homes to the hundreds and thousands of children in the foster care system…

Continued Care Amidst Crisis

During a time when there has been so much disruption to our way of life I ask myself daily, “what has remained steady?” Maybe it’s not our travel plans or our hairstyle, but where I do see continuity is where it matters most. Maintained family support at Vista Del Mar. Throughout our agency, families continue to receive the highest level of care and support during this worldwide crisis…

Keeping Kids Busy During School Closures

The ripple effect of millions of schools closing due to a health crisis has created a sub crisis: “what do I do with my kids all day?” As a parent of two, I know that would have probably been my first question. To help ease your concerns, here are some suggestions to keep your little…

Women at Vista

Here’s a bold but true statement. Women and their leadership forged Vista into the progressive and dynamic agency it is today. While it’s true women comprise 73% of the workforce in most nonprofits, only 21% are in leadership roles. Compare those numbers to Vista Del Mar where women in leadership positions represent eight out of…

Celebrating Diversity

As I reflect on a month of celebrating black history, and teaching what these achievements mean to the children of Vista Del Mar, I am left with these thoughts. When you share black history with students and residents who have faced challenges, and represent a minority you are teaching that excellence can be achieved…

How a Mentor can change a life

When describing the role of a mentor, “supportive” is a word many would choose but ask an at-risk youth and you might get another answer – lifesaver. January is National Mentor Month where we recognize those who have helped us become who we are today. From professional achievements to wellness, we have all been impacted…

Charitable Giving and the Holidays for Residents

Like the snow coming down in my native Michigan the holiday spirit is swirling about and for some of us that’s a great thing, and for others not as much. Although our opinion of the holiday season may vary, one constant is that this time of year for a foster youth can be a difficult…

Openness in Adoption

Every November we celebrate National Adoption Month by asking how we can best support both the biological and adoptive families in this life-changing process. This month I would like to share my insights on openness in adoption, a practice that I believe has a tremendous healing impact for both families. Openness in adoption is a…

Vista’s Vocational Programs: Preparing Students and Residents for the Future

Driving through Vista’s beautiful and vibrant campus each morning, I am reminded of just how important a positive surrounding is for one’s mindset. This is especially the case for our residents, many of whom come from chaotic environments and are here because of difficult life circumstances. Knowing this, I am heartened that these children have…

The Safety of Our Students

As a parent of two, it was not long ago that I can recall the deep sense of relief that came with receiving a text from my daughters that they were home safe from school. In today’s landscape, the concept of school safety has changed dramatically. Active shooter drills are routine and entering onto a…

It’s that time of the year again…

It’s that time of year again. You know? School supplies, new teachers, new schedules… Okay, if I’m stressing you out just by mentioning those things then know this- you are not alone. I can’t help but think back to those mornings with my two daughters. As a working mom, I vividly recall the series of…