I went to school at Goshen College and started as a theater major. I went on SST to Ethiopia and worked with an AIDS hospice there. Seeing people suffering, I found myself wishing I had more meaningful skills to contribute. That took me on a path; I switched to a social work major.
The Source is an Elkhart County System of Care, and we’re hosted by Oaklawn Psychiatric Center. A System of Care is something that exists around the United States. We’re the largest in Indiana, and we’re a children’s public mental health collaboration group. We bring together any organization that works with kids or youth or their families. We work to help them to collaborate and ensure that services are good.
In a big-picture vision, we do what we can to help prevent mental health challenges from actually emerging with kids and youth. We want to orient ourselves to be upstream – getting those early warning signs and being able to intervene early. We want to be there to help the parents and the families and the teachers at that early point.
I hear a lot of leaders in the county talk about that, a lot of non-profit leaders say, ‘Look at what we’ve gained from this crisis.’ I think we’ve gained a lot. There are certainly challenges, but what I love about Elkhart County is its willingness to adapt. There’s this kind of creative spirit here. I’ve seen that in leaders. The community has been able to do a lot to take care of kids, to take care of families, to meet their needs and be really creative in how we’ve done that.
In the mental health field, we learned how to do telehealth. Also, we had a group of 130 community members gather with less than two weeks notice to do a child abuse prevention training in a Zoom format. We wouldn’t have been able to gather that many people in another time.
A key message I would love people to take away is: You’re not alone. I hope people reach out for support because we have many good resources waiting for them in the community, and people who want to help. Sitting with your grief or worry or sadness by yourself, imagining you’re the only one feeling that – that can be hard. There are people like you, and there are also people to help.
Social connections have such a powerful role in helping people thrive and be resilient. It’s been a hard time in our county and across the country. Not letting divisiveness get in the way of us taking care of each other in the community is important. We want to stay connected. We want to help our neighbors and reach out to people. That reaching out and staying connected has a powerful impact on our own mental wellness
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Do you have a story to tell about someone who contributes to Goshen’s greater GOOD?
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