In the later part of 2016, the Contra Costa Crisis Center adopted smart building technology, enabling a more responsive and efficient energy usage in our 24/7 facility.  Below is a photo of our recent rebate check from the City of Walnut Creek – which has now taken our energy cost savings over $3,600 in our first eight months! Not only are we feeling great about our use of energy resources but we are thrilled about how this cost saving strategy stretches our donor dollars!


Thank you to PG&E and to the City of Walnut Creek for your support of this very green project!

Elbert Guico from DNV-GL for the City of Walnut Creek presents Crisis Center Executive Director, Rhonda James, with a rebate check for improvements in energy efficiency.

Elbert Guico from DNV-GL for the City of Walnut Creek presents Crisis Center Executive Director, Rhonda James, with a rebate check for improvements in energy efficiency.

Rosh Hashangettyimages-178675880_compah, Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha, Sukkot, Diwali/Deepavali, Halloween, All Saint’s Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza, New Years- the months of September-January are filled with a number of annual holidays that can be a very difficult to navigate for those who have lost a loved one.

Holidays can be a time for celebration, special meals, decorations, periods of reflection and time to connect with family, friends and community.  Holidays can be a magical, chaotic and arguably a stressful time under the best of circumstances.  When someone you love has died, the holidays can feel overwhelming, painful, lonely, or sad. The holidays, particularly the first holiday after a death, can feel like an unwelcome reminder that time continues to move forward.

Suggestions to help cope with grief

Plan ahead: anxiety about specific holidays or celebrations can be more intense than the actual event.  Planning ahead can help restore feelings of control and empowerment and help your family, especially for grieving children.

Set realistic expectations:Decide what you and/or your family are willing to tolerate this year.  Talk about the different holidays and events and what each person is interested or able to handle.  Once you have decided what you will or will not participate in, let your friends, family, or community know so they can support your decision.

It is okay to say no: Grief can change from one day to the next.  It is okay to say no or cancel attending an event if you are having a hard day. Resist the urge to let others, even well-meaning supportive people, tell you how you “should” or “should not” participate in the holidays.

Find support: Holiday support can come in many forms.  Sharing memories and feelings with friends or family can be a healing and comforting experience.  For others, looking for support outside your community or networks may feel more comfortable.  Support groups, counseling, and meet-ups are all great ways to find support during the holidays.

Ask questions: if you are concerned about who will be in attendance at certain events, expectations others may place on you, or want to avoid toxic or unhealthy people or situations- ask about the event beforehand.   If you are concerned about a toxic or unhealthy situation, ask a friend or family member to leave with you or support your decision to leave.

Celebrate in a way that feels good: There may be ways in which celebrating the holidays feels helpful or healing.  This may include celebrating in the same ways as years past, in a different way, or not at all.  Allow space for different family members to participate, or not participate, in ways that feel important to their particular grief journey.

Prioritize your self-care: Make sure you are getting sleep, eating healthy foods, drinking water, and participating in physical activity.  Making time to care of yourself is important when you are grieving and even more so when you are balancing physically or emotionally challenging events at the holidays.

Find ways to honor your loved: Some individuals and families explore or adopt new ways to honor the person who died during the holiday season.  Here are few examples:

  • Make a donation to a charity in your loved one’s name
  • Write a letter or card to your loved one
  • Create a memory box and invite friends and family to share memories of your loved one
  • Create a space for your loved one a holiday table
  • Share your loved one’s favorite holiday meal or treat
  • Light a candle in your loved one’s honor
  • Set a time to play your loved one’s favorite music, movies, or television show
  • Volunteer at an event that your loved one felt strongly about

The most important thing to remember is that there is no handbook, no right way, and no wrong way to celebrate the holidays when you are grieving.  Take time for yourself and participate in ways that feel good and helpful to you.



Association for Death Education and Counseling. (n.d.). Grief Process: What to Expect and Self-Care. Retrieved October 25, 2016 from:

The Dougy Center. (n.d.). Getting through the Holidays.  Retrieved October 25, 2016 from:

Vitas Health Care. (n.d.). Coping with Grief During the Holidays. Retrieved October 25, 2016 from:


Horace Del Rio, 16, of De La Salle high school, serves bowls of fresh fruit at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, Calif. where a Share the Spirit grant helped host a meal and food distribution for seniors on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 2009.  The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which administered the Share the Spirit campaign, has announced it will be shutting down.   (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

Horace Del Rio, 16, of De La Salle high school, serves bowls of fresh fruit at the Monument Crisis Center in Concord, Calif. where a Share the Spirit grant helped host a meal and food distribution for seniors on Friday afternoon Dec. 4, 2009. The Volunteer Center of the East Bay, which administered the Share the Spirit campaign, has announced it will be shutting down. (Karl Mondon/Staff Archives)

The Share the Spirit evaluation committee, a partnership of Bay Area News Group – East Bay Times and the Contra Costa Crisis Center, is pleased to announce the following organizations have been awarded grants for Share the Spirit 2016:


Acts of Grace/Grace Baptist Church

Alternative Family Services

American Indian Education Program

Ariel Outreach Mission

AXIS Dance Company

Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Services (BORP)

Bay Area Rescue Mission

Berkeley Food and Housing Project

Berkeley Food Pantry

Beyond Emancipation

Child Abuse Prevention Council of Contra Costa

Child Care Links

Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area

Downs Memorial United Methodist Church

Episcopal Senior Communities

FACES (Family, Art, Community, Education, Spirituality)

Family Emergency Shelter Coalition (FESCO)

Hayward Police Department

Hope 4 the Heart

Las Trampas School, Inc.

League of Volunteers

LITA   of Contra Costa; Port Costa

Loaves and Fishes

Love Center Community Development Corp.

Meals on Wheels Senior Outreach Services

Men and Women of Purpose

Oakland Catholic Worker

Opportunity Junction

Saint Vincent’s Day Home

Salvation Army Antioch

Service Opportunity for Seniors/Meals on Wheels San Leandro

SHELTER, Inc. of Contra Costa County

St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County

Swords to Plowshares

Tri Valley Haven

Trinity Center

Vestia, Inc.

Volunteer Hayward

Warm Winters

West Contra Costa Youth Services Bureau


This was a competitive grant cycle and we say thank you to all the 2016 Share the Spirit applicants for their great work in the community.

Does talking about thoughts of suicide increase the risk that someone will act on those thoughts?

We know that most people who die by suicide SAY they are having thoughts of suicide before they attempt suicide.  And, as the 10th leading cause of adult death and the 2nd leading cause of youth death in the U.S. we have to talk about suicide. 

None of the 13 studies reviewed in a recent article published in Psychological Medicine found that talking about suicide increased suicide ideation.  In fact many of these 13 studies found that asking the questions improved mental health in individuals who sought treatment.

Start a conversation and help stop suicide.

The Movember Foundation shared a video about the power of talking about suicide as part of their efforts to raise awareness during World Suicide Prevention Day.


Columnist Faith Barnidge highlights the upcoming Corporate Caring Volunteer Week in her Good Neighbors column this week (excerpt below).

For the full article, click here.


Elaine Clark, chief executive officer of Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services, front row from left, awarded the Ray Zenoni Volunteer of the Year Award to the Wells Fargo volunteer teams led by Wells Fargo Bank vice president Darlene Campbell and Jennifer Lopez, with, second row, from left, Carole Schultze, Kathy Sutton, Mona Aviles, Debbie Goodenough, Gayle McKinley, George Kanto, Nancy Carrell, Mary Gerach-Levenesque and Maria Andrews, and top row, from left, Rita Nyulassy, Kent Tambazidis, Linda Fuller, Dave Brown, Shirley Pettit and Paula Lloyd.


By Faith Barnidge, Columnist

The Contra Costa Crisis Center provides support and safety net resources for individuals and families in stress in Contra Costa with a 24-hour crisis line, crisis-response training, face-to-face grief counseling, homeless services, and a 211 information and referral program to keep people alive and safe.

Crisis resources are available for residents for issues concerning suicide, alcohol abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, elder abuse and mental illness.

The Crisis Center has expanded its mission to assume management of the Corporate Caring Volunteer Week from Sept. 19-24, an annual week of service where committed, corporate volunteers from Bay Area businesses are matched with local nonprofits.

Management of the event was previously supported by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay, a nonprofit organization that sadly ceased operation at the end of May.

Corporate volunteer teams may select and register for projects that have been submitted by nonprofit organizations through Aug. 23, and expect confirmation by Sept. 1.

Projects vary in size and scope and could require a few to dozens of volunteers, so businesses of all sizes are welcome to participate.

For volunteer program inquiries, contact Dee Dee Robillard at or 925-939-1916.

For more information about the Contra Costa Crisis Center, visit


Thank you to all the staff, volunteers, and board members who went green and helped us raise awareness about the 1 in 5 Americans who will experience mental health concerns in their lifetime.


Initially launched in 1949 by Mental Health America and evolved into Mental Health Awareness Month, we continue to observe this important reminder that mental health matters and that suicide is preventable.  We endeavor to bring positive attention to the importance of creating and sustaining positive mental health practices and to supporting those of us who struggle with mental health challenges.  One in five Americans struggle with a mental health issue at some point in his/her life, yet only one in four seek help.  Talking about these issues raises compassion and decreases stigma- both response that help keep the conversation going and as we all know,  reduces the likelihood of suicide.

Summer Food For Kids is a Summer Food Service Program provided by the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano.

Meals are offered to children and teens age 18 and younger free of charge while school is out.  Kids and teens are invited to eat for FREE at their local school district site.  For a full list of participating sites, call 2-1-1  or click here.


You can also download the postcard Summer Meal postcard. May 2016

Contra Costa Crisis Center continues the important work of Corporate Caring Volunteer Week.

For the last 53 years, the Contra Costa Crisis Center has provided support and safety net resources for individuals and families in Contra Costa.  This year, the Crisis Center will extend its safety net tradition to The Volunteer Center of the East Bay and support key projects to ensure that Corporate Caring Volunteer Week and other services remain available to the community.

Effective May 19, 2016, the Contra Costa Crisis Center will be the home of the Corporate Caring Volunteer Week 2016.  The process to sign-up for volunteers and non-profits remains the same.

Corporate Caring Volunteer Week, sponsored and led by Chevron (also known as Chevron Volunteer Week or Week of Caring), is an annual week of service where committed, high-quality corporate volunteers from Bay Area businesses are matched with local non-profits.  The Contra Costa Crisis Center is excited and honored to continue the tradition of service and volunteerism that Corporate Caring Week embodies.

Corporate Caring Volunteer Week 2016 will remain September 19-24, 2016.  Non-profits can submit a project for consideration via the website between May 18-June 15, 2016.

Updates regarding the Share the Spirit and Volunteer Listings will be announced by May 27, 2016.

For press inquiries contact Rhonda James at or (510) 815-4538

For volunteer program inquiries, contact Dee Dee Robillard at or (925) 939-1916

In our experience, grief is not necessarily something we “just get through”, but rather a journey towards integrating our grief into who are now, that our loved one is gone.

Becky Olsen, co-founder of, shares the lessons she has learned in her article “8 Things I Learned Years After My Dad’s Suicide” for the Huffington Post.

I think it’s safe to say that whether it’s been 10 days or 10 years (or more), the effects of living through a loved one’s suicide will continue to evolve and impact survivors in various ways. As a new survivor, I hated when I heard people say “time heals.” I didn’t believe it and I didn’t want to hear it. However, I can say that time has molded my grief away from the sick, punched-in-the-gut feeling, into what I would equate to a backpack or dark cloud that I carry or pull along with me in the background.


Read her full article here.

Its_A_Wonderful_Life1-300x225Frank Capra’s classic film is a favorite this time of year, but as Dana Grayson at iCarol notices, the film also “centers around the topic of one man’s suicide plan”.  Dana published a humorous blog post highlighting 13 ways in which crisis intervention workers view the holiday film a little differently than others.

Our favorite is #6.  Click here for the full blog post and see the list below:



13 thoughts of crisis workers when watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”

  1. It bothers you that the movie perpetuates the myth that suicide rates go up at Christmastime
  2. You’re envious of the detailed and factual background Clarence has on George, and think of how helpful this would be when working with your clients
  3. You know of a dozen people you’ve spoken to this month who are in way worse circumstances than George, but knowing how complex and unique suicide can be for each person you’d never judge George for feeling how he does
  4. You can list all the warning signs that George is giving, and yell at the other characters for not picking up on them
  5. Even better, you wish someone would talk to George about his behavior and ask him directly if he was thinking of suicide
  6. You cheer on Mary when she calls a family member to talk about how George was behaving, and doesn’t keep his behavior a secret. Mary – 1 Stigma and Shame – 0
  7. George’s story reminds you of all the people you’ve spoken to that thought their suicide would be what’s best for their family
  8. You note the high lethality of George’s plan for suicide
  9. And think of how more bridges need suicide barriers for this very reason
  10. It angers you when Clarence tells George he “shouldn’t say such things” when George discusses suicide, effectively shutting him down and judging him rather than listening to why he feels this way.
  11. You’re relieved when George finds his reasons for living
  12. You’re thankful for the happy ending, but you know that it’s rarely wrapped up so easily
  13. You’re reminded of why you do the work you do