Being a Giver of Gifts

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Sowing Hope: Youth in TOP at Florence Crittenton Agency make shoes for donation to children in Uganda.


TOP and Trauma Informed Care
In June 2016, we surveyed staff in Tennessee congregate care settings where TOP is being implemented, asking them to tell us how TOP contributes to treatment that is “Trauma Informed.” We used  the SAMHSA Guiding Principles of Trauma Informed Care as the basis for our questions. 

Below are some of the ways that staff---senior leaders, case managers, supervisors and direct care workers---said TOP meets the SAMHSA principles of Trauma Informed Care:
  • TOP creates opportunities for youth to exercise voice and choice.
  • TOP focuses staff attention on what youth have to offer, rather than focusing on perceived deficits.
  • TOP supports a sense of physical and psychological safety.
  • TOP supports youth in feeling more trusting.
  • TOP provides opportunities for staff to try new things and build new skills.
For more information on the TOP/Trauma Informed survey, contact Jane Fleishman at

TOP Learning Collaborative Agencies

Florence Crittenton Academy
G4S Academy for Young Women
Gateway to Independence
Holston Home
Metro Nashville Juvenile Court
Monroe Harding
Madison Oaks Academy
Mountain View Youth Development Center
Volunteer Youth Academy
Youth Villages, Nashville
This newsletter is produced with funding from the State of Tennessee.
The Power of Generosity
"Traditional cultures around the world hold the belief that each human born into the world brings a unique gift for the well-being of the community,” write Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown in Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature. While people of all ages seek to know where they fit in and how their gift can contribute, these questions are especially meaningful to adolescents as they seek to build adult identities. Being able to contribute to community and to be appreciated for what one gives can help teens appreciate themselves on a profound level.  
Youth-driven volunteer service through TOP provides youth in custody with opportunities to assume the role of gift giver and contributor.  Although an unfamiliar role to many youth in custody, the gift giver role is one that we have seen youth embrace. We have also seen that staff are inspired and gain hope from seeing young people with histories of deprivation step up to give to others.
Some service learning projects recently undertaken by youth in TOP include:
Using the resources at, young women at Florence Crittenton Agency (FCA) used discarded denim pants to help fashion shoes for children in Uganda, helping protect otherwise bare feet from dangerous infections carried by the jigger worm. This summer FCA youth made 33 sets of shoe uppers out of denim and shipped them to Uganda for final assembly and donation to needy children. The SoleHope website provides background information, including a video, to help FCA youth understand the context of their work and experience a connection to those they are serving. Several youth commented that they could "hardly believe that in a few months a child on another continent would be wearing something they made," reports Malinda Kilgore,TOP Facilitator at FCA.  
Youth at Omnivisions Cleveland Academy have organized a recycling program at their facility, setting up and managing bins for collecting recyclables and taking them to the local recycling center.
Young men at Monroe Harding held a bake sale in a store parking lot in West Nashville. They spent an afternoon enthusiastically talking to passersby and customers and raised several hundred dollars. Their goal, which they met, was to make a contribution to Second Harvest Food Bank. 
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