Kimberly’s Moment

It’s that dreaded feeling you get…when you realize you have just been in a car accident.

What happened before the accident is usually a blur, but what happens after an accident can leave you feeling just as foggy. At Bridges of Hope we try to help lift some of the fog for the clients that reach out us. Some have experienced a figurative “car accident” that has left them spinning emotionally, and others have experienced a literal car accident that has caused injury in other ways, like in the case of Kimberly:

Apartment Building PicKimberly called Bridges of Hope a few months after she had had a car accident that left her needing neck surgery. During her recovery, Kimberly was unable to work and was let go from her job. Without any income, Kimberly also found herself without a home shortly afterward. She moved in with her mother and younger brother.

During her three-month-long recovery, Kimberly’s family was helping her pay her other bills, and they all just managed to get by. At the end of the three months, Kimberly was going to be released from her work restrictions and had already found a new job that was just a few blocks away from an available apartment. When Kimberly  connected with Bridges, she was seeking resources for the first month’s rent and damage deposit to get into this apartment.

Since her mother lives out of town and Kimberly does not have a vehicle, an apartment close to her employment is ideal. Lutheran Social Service (LSS) is one of our community partners that we regularly collaborate with in instances when a client needs help with housing. Bridges of Hope and LSS both have guidelines to ensure that the rent is sustainable for the client based on their current situation, and typically that means the housing is close to 30% of their income and fits into their budget. Based on these factors, Bridges and Lutheran Social Service were able to assist Kimberly in getting into her new apartment.

When we followed up with her a few weeks later, Kimberly stated she is loving her new job and has made great strides in her recovery. She is extremely grateful for the help!

And we are grateful to be able to be there for people in our community like Kimberly. Thank you for helping us help others! For more information about how you can get involved, please visit our website.

Advertisements

Run for Hope – A Success!

collage

What a fun day!

Last Saturday, we partnered with the Journey North Community Church (TJN) to host the first-ever Run for Hope. It was a huge success! More than 140 people registered to walk or run and many others came to cheer us on. I was one of those 140 registered “runners.”

Flashback with me a few months ago. There was snow on the ground. It was cold. I was in an exercise slump that I am sure none of you can relate to (wink, wink). I received a call from Sheila at TJN saying, “We’d like to host a 5k as a part of our Wellness Initiative and we’d like to have the event benefit Bridges! How does that sound?”

“Great!” I said and agreed to attend a meeting the next week with her & Pastor Mark. They had all kinds of ideas already in progress and I was very excited. Pastor Mark said, “We need you to do something.”

Okay, I thought, they’ll need some help promoting the event & some volunteers at the event. No problem.

“We’d like you and some of your staff members to run in the event” said Pastor Mark.

“WHAT?? I am NOT a runner. How am I going to get out of this?” – – – – is what I was thinking.

What I SAID was, “Sure. I’ve been wanting to start running & this will be a good goal for me.” GULP!

Weeks passed & plans began shaping up for the Run for Hope. What did not begin shaping up was ME. Exactly one month before the event, I realized I really had to start “running.”

Sheila

Thanks for all your hard work, Sheila!

I downloaded a running app on my iphone, put on some sweats, tennis shoes & a sweatshirt (remember May…when it was STILL really cold?!) and I went for my first “run.” Yep, I walked for 5 minutes, ran for 90 seconds, walked for three minutes, ran again for 90 seconds, etc. I thought I was going to fall over! It was so hard! Remember, I was NOT a runner (at this point).

Well, I stuck with it and ran/walked every other day for a month. A few of us on our staff & board swapped training stories and it was starting to feel fun. The runs were really hard some days & went well on other days.

The big race day came & I wasn’t quite through with my training, but I managed to run the first mile-and-a-half (trailing my 9-year-old daughter & almost everyone else the whole way, mind you!). I took a little walking break & then ran some more. Low & behold, I finished the Run for Hope in just under 40 minutes which was my goal. Hooray!

At the finish line, I celebrated with so many people who, just like me, had just finished their first 5k and with some people who had done this before.The energy at the event was amazing. I was so inspired by all the participants who spanned a variety of ages, ability, fitness levels & anxiety levels! We were cheered on by spectators, family, friends & volunteers. It was a very powerful experience — I felt like a “runner!”

At Bridges of Hope, we cheer people on every day to make adjustment or changes in their lives to improve their well-being. We are so thankful to TJN for hosting this great event to challenge us, to support us & to raise awareness about the work we do. To all of you who helped with the planing or on race day and to all of you who ran, walked, or cheered us on: THANK YOU!

walkers

We really did have runners, walkers & crawlers (in their strollers, anyway!)

me

I made it to the finish line!

 

Tools of the Trade

This past summer, Bridges of Hope hosted an excellent community training for those of us working in the “helping profession,” called Healing the Heart of the Healer presented by Chris Henley, MS, Licensed Psychologist. Chris says everyone is “hard- wired” for empathy, and as a result, we can be pulled in to another’s feelings by the work we do or the circumstances we experience in our life. We can become so focused on the other person’s feelings that we forget ourselves and the state of our own body and mind.  Chris teaches that when we learn to identify our own signs of hyperarousal, we can calm both ourselves and the other person too. Signs of hyperarousal can include an increased heart rate, increased respiration, a sense of not thinking clearly, sweating, and high blood pressure.

One of the lasting concepts that Chris shared that day was that we–those of us whose work is primarily focused on helping others–are the tools of our trade, so we need to take care of ourselves. She impressed on us the importance of maintaining our overall well-being and balance while continuing to facilitate our clients’ healing. The training also gave us several hands-on techniques to use when we are feeling stressed or fatigued, which are easy for anyone to use. If you experience a stress-filled situation or conversation, it’s time to “put on the brakes” mentally and begin to become aware of yourself and surroundings. Here’s how to do that:

1. BREATHE: Breathing is key. Take three slow deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

2. RUB AND SHAKE: Rub the palms of your hands together quickly for three to five seconds to create heat, and then shake your hands to get rid of the energy. This helps clear your mind and release stress.

3. CHANGE YOUR POSITION: If you feel yourself being “pulled in” to the other person’s experience, deliberately change your body’s position by crossing your legs,  picking up you pen, or diverting your eyes.

The take-home message of the workshop was we need to be aware–aware that we’re hardwired for empathy, and aware that we can “catch” each other’s emotions. Once we’re able to identify our body’s signs of hyperarousal, we can practice ways to deactivate some of the stress and can maintain a healthier sense of well-being. If you start with the simple techniques described above, you will be taking the first steps to healing your own heart.

Other Self-Care Resources:

Music to My Ears

For many, the Holidays are a wonderful time of year filled with family, fun, laughter, giving (and eating!). One of my favorite things about the Holidays is the Christmas music. I am an avid collector of Christmas albums, and coming from a musical family means that singing in church and playing instruments is a part of the Holidays that always brings me joy.

As the season winds down, I usually feel a slight pang as Christmas music is no longer being played in church or on the radio. It somehow feels empty. This feeling also serves as a reminder to me about how this time of year is not a wonderful time for everyone. Some are experiencing a first Holiday without a loved one, some are feeling the pain of divorce and complicated Holiday celebrations, some have to face strained relationships with family members; and for many, the “winter blues” have begun to set in.

I think at some point everyone experiences a little of the “winter blues” here in Minnesota. The void of activity after a busy few months of Holiday celebrations, the cold of January and February, and the lack of sunlight is an easy recipe for feeling down or depressed. For some, staying active with friends and family both in or outdoors is enough to shake the mood. But for others, it’s not quite that simple, and it can become a very serious concern, like what happened in Carol’s family recently:

Carol’s Moment

girl sitting by a wallCarol felt like she was in over her head. A couple days after Christmas, her eldest daughter Laura confided in her about some frightening suicidal thoughts. A home-schooling mother of four with a husband who owned his own business, Carol felt that their family life was good and had been confident she was pretty in-tune with her children. Stunned with this news, Carol acted quickly and scheduled an appointment for Laura with the family doctor.

The doctor recommended Laura see a counselor, but after striking out on her first few attempts at scheduling an appointment, Carol called Bridges of Hope. During her conversation with a Bridges staff, Carol disclosed that she too had been personally struggling with depression for most of her adult life–especially during the winter months. Bridges of Hope was able to find two available appointments for both Laura & Carol at the same local counseling center.

A couple days after the appointment, the Bridges staff called Carol to see how things were going. Carol thanked her for helping set up the counseling and shared that she and Laura were both planning to see the counselors regularly over the next few months. Carol was grateful that BoH had been able to find counselors that were such a good fit for her family, right when they needed the support.

As a staff who works directly with families who reach out for support, I help with a wide variety of situations and struggles on a daily basis; however, over the past 3 and a half years, I have noticed some trends too. One is the increase in calls during January and February that are related to help with mental health and counseling. Although we do not provide the counseling ourselves, it feels so great to be able to make really good recommendations to our local therapists, based on the knowledge and relationships we have built with our therapists and counseling agencies in the area. Knowing that I am helping someone who is facing a dark time in their life is very rewarding. Following up with someone after their first appointment and hearing the change in their voice–a more relaxed, less burdened, lighter sounding voice–truly is music to my ears.

———————————————————————————–

Are you, your child, or someone you know struggling with a mental health issue? Call Bridges of Hope today (218.825.7682). A staff member will gather some information from you and can help match you with a therapist who specializes in what you are looking for.

You can also learn more about our Mental Health Program here.

Michael and Susan’s Moment

Three-Year-Old Girl

Photo by Neree Jackson | Studio You

Susan contacted Bridges of Hope asking for help with a Security System for her home. Susan and her husband Michael have two grown children and recently adopted their two grandchildren, Olivia and Madison, ages 3 and 1. Olivia, at age 3, had already been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a behavioral disorder, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome–a trio of hefty diagnoses for such a little girl.

Susan explained that Olivia has trouble comprehending danger and she has even tried to leave their home at night. Susan and Michael were concerned that Olivia would eventually be successful in getting out at night and would wander off into the street. Susan had tried locking the door with a deadbolt, but Olivia was able to reach the lock. Susan was already seeking supportive services for Olivia’s mental health, but she was also very concerned for her granddaughter’s safety.

Convinced that a security system with an audible alarm would be the only way to keep Olivia safe, Michael got an estimate. The couple looked at their budget and decided they would be able to afford the monthly maintenance fees, but the instillation cost was just too much for them, especially after recently adopting two children. Since the total cost was also too much for Bridges of Hope on its own, a Family Service Worker helped Susan brainstorm several resources that might be able to help her. Susan explained that she had already contacted her own church and a local service club, and between them they would be able to assist with about a third of the cost. The Bridges staff then directed Susan to also contact a local Family Center, who agreed to assist with another third of the cost. Bridges of Hope was able to utilize its own internal funding for the balance of the installation cost of the security system, and it was installed the following week.

The owner of the security company commented that he was truly touched by the outpouring of support for this family, staying he had never had a firsthand encounter like it before. About a week later, the Bridges staff received a note from Susan and Michael, thanking Bridges of Hope for helping them keep Olivia safe—and for helping them all sleep better at night.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the care or safety of a preschooler, contact Bridges of Hope for assistance.

2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Leaning Tower of Pisa has 296 steps to reach the top. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2010. If those were steps, it would have climbed the Leaning Tower of Pisa 3 times

In 2010, there were 7 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 34 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 9mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was October 1st with 247 views. The most popular post that day was Nicole and Tom’s Story.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were bridgesofhopemn.org, facebook.com, mail.live.com, undefined, and myemail.constantcontact.com.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Nicole and Tom’s Story September 2010
1 comment

2

Wally and Cindy’s Story September 2010

3

Who knew? September 2010
2 comments

4

‘Tis the Season… September 2010

5

About Bridges September 2010