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Project WARM accepts much-appreciated gifts from FCSO

Flagler Beach Rotary Club also contributes

From left, FCSO Sr. Cmdr. Steve Cole; Cris McLaughlin, site director for Project WARM; Cmdr. Steve Brandt; mom, Hillary Medlin and her son Xavier, 13 months; Deputy Robert Tarczewski; and Sgt. Jon Welker.
From left, FCSO Sr. Cmdr. Steve Cole; Cris McLaughlin, site director for Project WARM; Cmdr. Steve Brandt; mom, Hillary Medlin and her son Xavier, 13 months; Deputy Robert Tarczewski; and Sgt. Jon Welker. (Photo provided to News4Jax)

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – The mothers and children of Project WARM received plenty of supplies, clothing and Halloween costumes last week from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the Flagler Beach Rotary Club.

Members of the Sheriff’s Office and the Rotary Club carried bags filled with diapers, children’s clothing, juice boxes and more to Project WARM last Thursday. The gifts went to babies and children who started their lives addicted to drugs, officials said.

The women at Project WARM — Women Assisting Recovering Mothers — are allowed to bring their kids under the age of 6, and they’re permitted to include them in the treatment process. Project WARM is a long-term residential program for women with drug and alcohol dependence, officials said.

Sgt. Jon Welker and Deputy Robert Tarczewski organized the Sheriff’s Office drive. Welker, who’s also a father, said he has “a soft spot for kids.”

About 30 to 40 people donated to the program.

Donations meant a lot to the recipients at Project WARM, the assistant director said. Right now, 18 children and their mothers live at the center. The kids range in age from 6 weeks to 2 1/2 years old.

On Thursday, several of the infants were seen wearing the costumes purchased just for them.

The goal was to expose children to the Sheriff’s Office and fire department, because the kids’ experiences with law enforcement haven’t always been positive, site director Cris McLaughlin said.

These children don’t all have the same needs — many require different kinds of care, McLaughlin said. Some kids started their lives with physical challenges.

At Project WARM, the women live in a community setting and receive clinical help from a team of therapists, therapeutic groups and individual therapy. When the mothers are getting help during the week, others assist by watching the kids at an on-site child development center provided by the Easter Seals.

The center has at least an 85 percent success rate for the kids, officials said, adding that the ultimate goal is to help the mothers learn parenting skills and gain the confidence to move on with their lives.


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