Thanksgiving overflows

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” —2 Corinthians 4:15-16

Each year, families in need throughout the Brainerd Lakes Area are able to share a Thanksgiving meal thanks to the generosity of many in our community.

Nine years ago, Bridges of Hope began a seasonal campaign pairing donors with families in need each Thanksgiving. Donors provide a turkey and accompanying side dishes, and deliver to their ‘adopted family’ just prior to Thanksgiving Thursday.

(It’s) super rewarding,” commented one donor. “I was able to provide two meals and lots of extras with the help of my great friends and family. The tears of joy from  one of the moms we gave to was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. She was BEYOND grateful! Amazing!”pie

Referrals come in to Bridges of Hope of families in need by a variety of organizations throughout the area. Bridges staff solicits interested individuals willing to donate a meal, and then pair families with sponsors based on geographic area and any other preferences a sponsor may have.

Bridges of Hope Program Specialist Janelle Vesely said while the number of sponsors varies from year to year, the need for meals continues to be great.

At this point, we are on track to serve 200-plus households,” she noted. “If that is the case we still need more sponsors; specifically in the Crosby, Deerwood and Ironton area.”

In 2016, the Thanksgiving Meals program:

    • Served 222 households consisting of 947 people
      • 556 children (0-17)
      • 391 adults (18+)
    • Found the largest household served was 14 people
    • Found the average household size was 4

     

Consider making the holidays a little brighter for someone. The deadline to sponsor a family is November 15th. For additional information, call Bridges of Hope or visit http://bit.ly/BoHThanksgiving

–Written by Jenny Holmes with assistance from Janelle Vesely
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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.

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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.