Ask ME what it’s like to rescue a dog, and I’ll tell you…
My name is Brianna. I love French Toast and Flan! Next month I’m turning 14. Ask me what it’s like to rescue a dog, and I’ll tell you all about Hazel. She’s a mixed breed that our family took in from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Between Hazel, my younger brother and our new baby sister, our house is full and I don’t get much quiet. Given that, one of my favorite places to spend time is in my room where I listen to music, do crafts, watch Harry Potter movies… and my favorite television show Supernatural.
I’m hoping to be matched with a Big Friend so that I can share with them my interest in science, photography and interior design. I am also hoping that having a Big Friend will provide me that chance to be a younger sibling to someone. As the oldest in my family, I spend a lot of my time helping out with my brother and sister. Being matched with a mentor might give me a chance for some time away from them and their needs. Summer is my favorite season, and a perfect day for me (especially in summer time) is taking a trip to a theme park like Six Flags!
If I could have three wishes granted they would be:
- Receive a scholarship for college…
- Buy my Mom her dream house…
- Be given three more wishes!
A Big Friend who enjoys creative projects, conversation, shopping and field trips to new places would make for an ideal match with Brianna. To learn more about Brianna and the many other wonderful children who hope to be paired with an adult mentor, please contact our Big Friends Little Friends program at 978-327-6600.
Family Services of the Merrimack Valley’s Big Friends Little Friends is a youth mentoring program that matches caring adult mentors with young people who could benefit from a relationship with a positive adult role model. The goal of the program is to develop the positive potential of young people by providing them with support, guidance and friendship. Serving fifteen towns in the Merrimack Valley, each year our Big Friends Little Friends program matches approximately 100 children with mentors.
Big Friends are caring and responsible people who:
- Are from all different backgrounds, races and religions, and like to have fun.
- Are committed to being a consistent role-model; to their continued mentor training; and to sharing, listening and visiting with their Little Friend.
- Are able to relate positively and in a meaningful manner to a growing boy or girl.
Little Friends are boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 14 who:
- Reside in our service area.
- Have a desire to be in the program and want to have a Big Friend.
- Have the approval and support of their parents or guardians to participate in the program.
- Are from all different backgrounds, races and religions.
Our mentoring program service area includes children from: Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury, and West Newbury. Please consider helping us make our long wait list vanish this season by signing up to be a Big Friend today! Check out one of our great matches… Omar and Boris.
Meet our Partners at Uncommon Threads…
With a natural flair for style and a down-to-earth approach to fashion, Wardrobe Stylist and Style Blogger Susan Kanoff has the innate ability to create fabulous outfits for women of all shapes and sizes. A former social worker, Kanoff has in recent years made a name for herself by curating stylish outfits for all body types, personalities and lifestyles and by sharing her experiences in her wildly successful blog, The Midlife Fashionista. She seamlessly (and passionately) fuses both of these skill sets in her role as the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Uncommon Threads, an “empowerment boutique” for low income women and domestic violence survivors. Family Services of the Merrimack Valley is delighted to partner with the organization, located at 60 Island Street in Lawrence, as they champion women employing clothing and style as tools for increasing self-worth.
Open to the public, Uncommon Threads’ clients receive a private styling session with one of their “volunteer stylists” to identify their best styles and colors and how to dress to project a positive image – then receiving up to four complete outfits for a suggested (and able to be waived) $10 donation to the program. Uncommon Threads was born in the spring of 2017 as Uncommon Closet – a storage space for donated clothing (from apparel makers such as Chico’s, Ecru and French Lessons) which hosted occasional pop-up shops with all proceeds funding their mission. Those early initiatives were met with a swell of community support and media attention. This enthusiasm continues to fuel the organization’s evolution and today, as Uncommon Threads, they identify themselves as a “women’s empowerment center”. Monthly self-esteem focused workshops and groups provide women with information as well as a place to connect with other women (breaking the feeling of isolation). Future plans include a mentoring program (called “Uncommon Friends”), as well as stress management and beauty services. Uncommon Threads’ new “Senior Style” program brings their boutique shopping to women in nursing homes and is enjoying much success in their pilot program with Nevin’s Nursing and Rehabilitation in Methuen. “Our goal is for women to feel nurtured, beautiful and confident by changing the way they view themselves and the way they are perceived by others,” shares Kanoff and her team. “Although we can dress a woman for a job interview or the workplace, we can also style women who are not able to work due to emotional trauma, age or circumstances. We believe that all women deserve to feel beautiful.”
Relying on an army of 190 volunteers, Uncommon Threads’ Assistant Director Lysanne LaPierre and its Marketing Assistant Elizabeth Mullard (pictured together above) go to great lengths to manage the experience for both their staff and clients. Andover resident LaPierre, with a long history of supporting local non-profits, sees a real power in clothing and now passionately lends her business skills to the center’s mission of seizing that potentiality. “Clothes are just a means to an end for us… Clothes will always be fundamental to what we do here, but our goal is to raise self confidence, self-esteem and self worth so that our clients can achieve whatever goals they may have,” says she. “We are fortunate to have a fantastic team of volunteers who help us carry out that goal, and we want them to feel (through their service) as though they are truly making a difference.”
There are a number of opportunities for supporting the work of Uncommon Threads… one of which is by donating your barely worn women’s clothing such as shoes, jewelry, handbags and accessories in new or nearly new condition and in-style. All items must be in perfect condition – either new or nearly new, and packed in lightweight shopping bags, or on hangers. Or, maybe you own a high-end piece that you will never use? If so, please consider donating those designer items to their shop, Uncommon Closet at its 60 Island Street in Lawrence All donations are tax deductible and all proceeds help pay for rent and operating expenses necessary to run the program. Donations can also be made locally at Salon Navid located at 8 Main Street in Andover.
- Plus size clothing
- Denim jackets
- Skinny jeans
- Black pants
- Clothing with tags on
- Sandals and sneakers
- Bras (gently worn or new)
- New underwear
- Velvet-covered clothes hangers
Uncommon Closet is open for (“guilt free”) public shopping at its 60 Island Street location on Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 AM – 2PM. The shop is also available for private shopping events. Please contact Lysanne LaPierre at: [email protected] for further information about booking Uncommon Closet for your next personal or corporate gathering. Family Services of the Merrimack Valley is a non-profit social service agency engaged in game changing work which helps children and families live their BEST lives. Our purpose is to drive outcomes, and we do so by nurturing inner strengths, teaching life skills, championing emotional wellness and providing vital community-based resources in the Merrimack Valley.
Samaritans of Merrimack Valley Partners with NAMI Cape Ann in Recognizing National Suicide Prevention Month
The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Cape Ann, is one of 1000 affiliates within the expansive organization. NAMI Cape Ann, a grassroots, nonprofit organization working on behalf of either those who suffer or those who care for anyone challenged by daily, mental health issues, serves the Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Essex and Ipswich communities. NAMI Cape Ann provides, at no charge, advocacy from diagnosis to recovery, education, support groups, classes and programs to those…their families and friends dealing with or challenged by mental health issues, living on Cape Ann. Next month (as part of an ongoing Suicide Prevention Training partnership) Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley, a program of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley, will partner with NAMI Cape Ann for The Fundamental Facts About Preventing Suicide.
We are grateful for the important work being done by our friends at NAMI Cape Ann,” shares Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley Director Debbie Helms. We are excited to collaborate for this upcoming program to get the word out to the communities we serve and increase awareness around suicide.
We recently sat down with Malva Crothers who serves as the Vice President of NAMI Cape Ann‘s Board of Directors. She has had a long history of service in the area of emotional wellness and is thrilled to be working in concert with Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley for this month’s special programming.
Tell us a little about NAMI, and the work that you do in the Cape Ann area? How did you come to be involved with the organization?
NAMI Cape Ann provides, at no charge, advocacy from diagnosis to recovery, education, support groups, classes and programs to families and friends dealing with or challenged by mental health issues, living on Cape Ann. I became involved with the organization as I was (personally) looking for a group which supports mental health challenges. I now serve on their Board of Directors as Vice President and assist NAMI Cape Ann with their Marketing, Public Relations, Membership, Events and Promotions.
The Samaritans of Merrimack Valley is excited to partner with NAMI Cape Ann on September 24, for The Fundamental Facts About Preventing Suicide. How did the collaboration come to fruition. Who should attend this program, and why now?
The NAMI Cape Ann and the Samaritans of Merrimack Valley, Suicide Prevention Training partnership came to fruition as we sought out the insights and training expertise of Debbie Helms for our Cape Ann community as we together recognize September, National Suicide Prevention Month. Joining us for this program will be community leaders, i.e. law and fire enforcement officials, member of the clergy, elected officials, educators, mental health service providers, representatives of Veterans Services, Housing Authority officials and private practitioners. We expect 25-30 guests to be in attendance.
We live in complex times, with a continuous reel of not so positive news. The average person’s level of stress is unsustainable. Can you offer any suggestions for small (daily) practices for others, especially those battling with depression or suicidal thoughts, for combating life’s daily grind?
Random acts of kindness need to be demonstrated not only during Suicide Prevention Week, but on a daily basis.
The Fundamental Facts About Preventing Suicide is an invitation only event. To learn more about the public programs and services of NAMI Cape Ann please visit their website. Family Services’ Samaritans of Merrimack Valley strives to reduce the incidence of suicide in the Merrimack Valley and throughout Massachusetts by providing “befriending” to individuals who are lonely, depressed and contemplating suicide or self-injury. Suicide prevention is one of the primary goals of the Samaritans, although services also include postvention services, trainings and seminars, and support groups. Family Services’ Samaritans is a member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, the Northeast Regional Coalition for Suicide Prevention, and the American Association of Suicidology.
Family Services’ Samaritans provides a free and confidential crisis help line to those who are lonely, despairing, suicidal or need someone to listen. This service is provided by trained volunteers who provide unconditional and non-judgmental “TLC” – talking, listening and caring. This service is available (daily) from 8 AM to 11 PM by calling our Crisis Help Line at 866-912-HOPE (4673), or 978-327-6607. Please join us on October 20 for our second annual Walk for Hope. Register here…
877-870-4673 – Samaritans Statewide Crisis Help Line
1-800-273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-508-532-2255 – Call2Talk
To contact a Samaritans staff member, please call 978-327-6671.
Make a Difference TODAY
A friend recently shared a story of a gesture she will never forget. It took place a few years back while she was standing in line at a grocery store – on a tough day that found her feeling overwhelmed and especially blue. Out of that blue, she looked up and noticed a woman, a stranger, holding a beautiful plant. She turned to my friend, handed her the plant, saying, “I bought this for someone, and I think it was you.” That simple act of compassion – of recognizing that we ALL have something with which we are dealing, proved to be a game changer for my friend. In an instant, her spirits were elevated. Someone noticed her, saw her pain and offered a simple human touch.
Can you imagine a world where everyone modeled the kindness of this stranger? Where everyone looked up from their multi-tasking, and their self study to lift the spirits of another? How about just for a day? WE can, and we invite you to join us on Monday, September 10 as we recognize World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). Organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), the purpose of World Suicide Prevention Day is to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented. In that spirit we’re launching the Make a Difference TODAY Challenge calling on everyone in our Family Services of the Merrimack Valley Community and beyond to commit to one small act of humanity that might benefit someone outside of your social circles – be it the mail carrier, the clerk at the grocery store, an elderly neighbor, or a co-worker in a department you rarely frequent. You never know the ripple that action may have.
Suicide and non-fatal suicidal behavior are major public health problems across the world. Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly. But, our friends at IASP remind us that suicide is preventable. A simple gesture of kindness or extension of attention can often go a long way in easing the despair of someone experiencing suicidal thoughts.
“What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other,” queried the author George Eliot long ago. It’s a timeless inquiry well worth worth revisiting throughout September (National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month). On September 10, together let’s make a wave by looking up from our phones and smiling at someone passing by along the street, buying a coffee for a co-worker, writing a letter or card to a friend you’ve lost touch with or buying a plant for that stranger in the grocery store. Can we for one day make life less difficult for another? Get creative. Taking our challenge will likely lift your spirits as much as it will the benefactor. We would love to share your experiences as you take our Make a Difference TODAY Challenge. So, please visit our Facebook page on September 10th and throughout the month and let us know the story behind your gesture. We want to know what, who, where, and most importantly… how it was received.
Family Services’ Samaritans of Merrimack Valley strives to reduce the incidence of suicide in the Merrimack Valley and throughout Massachusetts by providing “befriending” to individuals who are lonely, depressed and contemplating suicide or self-injury. Suicide prevention is one of the primary goals of the Samaritans, although services also include postvention services, trainings and seminars, and support groups. Family Services’ Samaritans provides a free and confidential crisis help line to those who are lonely, despairing, suicidal or need someone to listen. This service is provided by trained volunteers who provide unconditional and non-judgmental “TLC” – talking, listening and caring. This service is available (daily) from 8 AM to 11 PM by calling our Crisis Help Line at 866-912-HOPE (4673), or 978-327-6607.
If you or someone you know is in imminent risk of suicide, call 911 or an ambulance to take them to an emergency room.
Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues. The National Alliance of Mental Illness offers a wealth of information regarding treatment services to those affected by suicide, and to connect individuals with suicidal ideation. Please visit their website at www.NAMI.org. “Suicide does not discriminate,” notes Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley Director Debbie Helms. “You never know what someone is going through. One small gesture of kindness can change that person’s outlook on life.” Let us join together and use National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic, to reach out to those affected by suicide and to connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. Now is THE moment to take the Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley Make a Difference TODAY Challenge. And, please join us on October 20 for our second annual Walk for Hope. Register here…