January is mentoring month.

A whitehouse photo taken for former President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” mentoring program

January is Mentoring Month, January 17 International Mentoring Day — with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday a day of service. (January is also Human Trafficking Awareness Month, underscoring one risk of a lack of positive mentoring and other adult presences in a young person’s life.)

Supportive, cross-generational relationships help young people to develop socially/emotionally and academically — as well as adults to grow professionally and beyond.

The original mentor appeared in the Odyssey, as the man to whom Odysseus entrusted his son’s education during the father’s epic journey. The common definition is “trusted counselor or guide.” Mentors can be…


Sweet appreciation, and helping those in need.

CLOE POISSON :: CT MIRROR.ORG Volunteer Elena Goodman hands a loaf of bread to a client at the drive-through food pickup at Foodshare at the Hartford Regional Market earlier this year.

A decade ago, I reflected on turning 40 — this year I turned 50. In 2010, we were recovering from the Great Recession; now there’s a pandemic.

Such calamities heighten what should be appreciation for all that we do have and enjoy, while so many neighbors are suffering. Illness, unemployment, the prospect of eviction — such threats afflict many. If we have lesser concerns, we should focus on blessings, and how we might help others.

That has been my general reaction to turning 50, after many had their lives cut short. These include prominent names, from Leila Janah to Ahmaud…


Domestic violence and substance abuse receive particular attention during October, a month for heightened awareness. This follows September, designated for recovery and suicide prevention, and months for often related issues — from child abuse prevention (April) and foster care (May) to mental health (May), among others.

Also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic violence — with the broader problem of abuse, encompassing emotional, financial, and other controlling, damaging behaviors — is linked to numerous social harms.

Men are sometimes victims of such violence (or stalking), and same-sex and transgender abuses do occur. Yet men are usually at fault, consumed…


Participants in a July 2020 Zoom forum: “Virtual Teaching and Learning: Supporting Youth and Families in 2020”

This article about the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven and its YouTube resource first appeared in the New Haven Independent. This is part of a series of literacy-related pieces that have appeared on Medium — including in fall 2019, spring 2019, spring 2018, fall 2017, spring 2017, fall 2016, and fall 2015.

As the New Haven Public Schools among other districts — from New York to Los Angeles — began the academic year remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic, community organizations such as ConnCAT’s “safe space” and the Boys and Girls Club’s learning hub emerged as sites for children to…


Celebrating a division title in New Haven, March 5, 2020

I write as a (white) father, citizen, and volunteer basketball coach of fifth- and sixth-grade boys. They are the age of Tamir Rice, the Cleveland 12-year-old shot dead in 2014 on a playground by a police officer responding to a report of a “probably fake” — indeed toy — gun. The 911 dispatcher shared responsibility for not fully relaying the call’s details.

Ahmaud Arbery’s and George Floyd’s filmed killings, and Breonna Taylor’s in her home, exposed immense, enduring injustices. Institutional and personal biases perpetuate racism in politics, law, the economy, housing, health, schools. Individuals own their actions. Yet systems fuel…


May is Foster Care Month, May 15 the International Day of Families. June is National Reunification Month, a complement in that the hope is for foster care to be temporary before children are reunited with their families. These occasions evoke the enormous challenges facing children and families — challenges heightened during a pandemic — and how to help.

There is value in raising awareness through designation of a particular month (or week or day) to highlight a social issue. Yet there is an arbitrary aspect; many such issues are potent every day. …


While April is officially “Volunteer Month,” it’s always timely to recognize those who give their hours, skills, and thoughts to serve others. Whether mentors or tutors, helping in hospitals or disaster relief, volunteers assist those of all ages and bring us together.

This is harder when public health requires “social distancing.” But some volunteering can occur remotely, via phone or computer. Volunteers — with proper precautions — can help with urgent child care, collect critical supplies (or even make them), check on aging neighbors, pick up groceries and medicine — among other forms of mutual aid. …


November is National Adoption Month. Amid the opioid epidemic, with the number of Connecticut children in foster care increasing past 4,300 (after having earlier dropped below 4,000) — and with the total number of children under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction due to abuse or neglect exceeding 10,000 per year — let’s consider ways to help these young people secure safe, permanent homes.

All children deserve this, whether with their biological families, extended kin, or adoptive families. Let’s also recognize people who open their homes as foster parents, during traumatic periods of transition.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Public consciousness around adverse…


Josiah Brown, a volunteer member of the board of the Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven, sent this account of an event in which the Coalition was involved.

David Braze, Nicole Landi, Joanne R. White, and Waltrina Kirkland-Mullins

The Literacy Coalition of Greater New Haven collaborated with the New Haven Free Public Library on an October 24 forum that the Public Library hosted on “Reading Instruction and Interventions in School: Science, Policy, and Practice” (which followed by a decade a Literacy Forum that had featured Margie Gillis on teachers and reading research).

The October event had been previewed, along with other literacy news, in an earlier Independent story — and…


“Emergency need for blood,” the ads proclaim. They have appeared widely on websites and social media recently. The normal five-day supply is reportedly down to a couple of days.

If your health and other circumstances allow, please consider helping to meet this need for volunteer blood donors. Only three of 100 Americans currently give blood, indicating a great opportunity to increase the numbers — and the blood supply — accordingly.

Josiah Brown

Dad, husband, nonprofit professional, volunteer youth coach, eclectic reader and writer, #citizen…. http://www.josiahbrown.org/ @JosiahBrownCT

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