Hi. Welcome to our new Samara blog. As we move forward you’ll be hearing many different voices that have a connection to our work at Samara. At Samara we meet amazing people – parents, children, staff, and volunteers. We are grateful to the many individuals and organizations that support us and cheer us on.

One of the people who really inspires me is Jan Howell. Originally brought by a friend to help out in our children’s program, her curiosity led her to take the intensive parenting program and the leader’s training, and finally led her to a position as a parent program leader. She recently agreed to help facilitate our new parent support groups.

Why does Jan inspire me so much? Along the way she began to write gratitude lists on Facebook – short little phrases that describe her life and our work. Her insights have become a blessing for all of us. They inspire me to keep pushing forward.



“As you know I am constantly finding reasons to be grateful as I go through my day.
I never expected 4 years ago when I began working for Samara, in the children’s program, that I would come to look at my work not only as a job but also as “my church”.
The people working for Samara are working from their hearts. The love and nurture they give to the families and staff is like that of a loving family…a family that is growing together all the time.”


Here are a few of Jan’s gratitude lists:

  1. Cats in the Cradle reminds us it’s important to show our children we put them before other things
  2. Feeling safe enough to share
  3. The thought of flowers coming
  4. A flock of robins
  5. Time to reflect on family values

Stay dry and warm

  1.  A six month old baby girl…2 pigtails standing on top of her head…held up by her mommy…bouncinghappily with a huge smile taking over her whole face to “If you’re happy and you know it…”
  2. Parents making that 8 week commitment again
  3. A place to nurture and care for families
  4. Recognizing the positive when the negative is so much more obvious
  5. Games, toys, roll baking, happy faces… Hugs and kisses


  1. Do you ever think to yourself, this woman cannot be that grateful for her job, nobody is really that crazy about their job? I am seriously that crazy about what I do. But more than that I am that crazy about the people I work with and the parents that make our program what it is…thank you with all my heart.
  2. Passion…sharing that passion with others
  3. Our dining room/ bedroom… it’s cozy… it’s lovely
  4. R-e-s-p-e-c-t… it’s the trunk of the family tree
  5. London Bridge a favorite of Samara children and adults… our bridge last night made up of one little one and one big guy…perfect for a bridge at Samara… bringing everyone together.

  1. A woman who came to class 8 weeks ago and cried and cried most of the time for some time, now laughs and smiles and shares her gratitude endlessly just by the changes she has made
  2. The commitment of parents to change the cycle for their family
  3. Realizing that the work we do at Samara means so much to so many
  4. My work, my work, my work…the people, the material, just all of it
  5. That a new class will begin next week…new families to meet and learn from

Blessings on your day

  1. I’ve heard many comments on what Samara means to the people that are part of it, staff and families, last night is all you need to know…Samara, where distant strangers become close relatives…priceless
  2. I wasn’t going to go to Harrisburg last night because we were supposed to be busy all day and wasn’t sure when it would all end…but then everything changed…I usually spend quite a bit of time getting ready for the class, but didn’t yesterday…somehow I knew though that what I did prepare was going to be good and it was GREAT as always…we carry each other through
  3. Prayer…priceless
  4. A quite drive home, the smell of smoke from people warming their homes, lights in windows making these homes look so inviting, families settling in for the night
  5. Colored lights on the trees of our next door neighbor

Have a great day


  1. PHD (parents having discussion)…returning parents to Samara intensive program…their thoughts and ideas are what make our work so rewarding
  2. Driving home reflecting on an evening of community
  3. How one word can mean something different to each person reading it
  4. Coffee…the smell…the taste…the feeling
  5. Circle time after supper at Samara…the adults love it sometimes more than the children…laughing and loving

Stay warm…stay safe…stay grateful