Join us on August 25th, 2018, at the Boundary Oaks Clubhouse for delicious dinner and the return of our gala and auction! We look forward to seeing you there!

For more info, or to RSVP, contact rociop@crisis-center.org or call 925.939.1916 today!

The start of spring can bring a renewed sense of purpose, a time to commit or recommit to goals and intentions, a sense of renewal and returning energy,  and a time to set priorities for the coming months.

For those in the non-profit and social services sector, a renewed commitment to practicing self-care should be at the top of our list. Self-care is often stressed as a core competencyor mandate for those in the social services sector, yet many of us struggle to develop and sustain meaningful self-care practices.

Self-care is far from self-indulgence, rather it is the safeguard against burnout, compassion fatigue, and secondary trauma. Without self-care practices, we are attempting to carry out our daily task and fulfill our agencies mission without the necessary resources or equipment.

Developing your own self-care plan 

Unsure where to start?  The  University of Buffalo, School of Social Work has developed an online self-care starter kit that is an excellent resource for those who have been working in the social services sector for a few weeks to a few decades.  The kit includes tools to help you assess your coping strategies, identify your stressors, and develop a plan to help you build healthy habits and practices and protect against compassion fatigue.

You can see the full self-care starter kit here.

 

Board President, Andrew Pojman, presents Laurie Kozisek with the 2017 Rosemary Caldwell Volunteer of the Year Award

Rosemary Caldwell was the Crisis Center’s crisis line director from 1974 to 1986 and trained and mentored numerous volunteers and staff during her tenure.  This award, established in her memory, is the only award we bestow.

The Crisis Center is excited to announce the 2017 Rosemary Caldwell Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Laurie Kozisek during our annual volunteer appreciation lunch in July.

Laurie has been volunteering weekly with the Crisis Center since 2006.  During her shift Laurie answers crisis and 211 calls- helping community members navigate difficult times, providing hope and support, and connecting them to resources.  Laurie’s service has demonstrated her dedication to the Contra Costa Crisis Center’s mission and core values of compassion, integrity, inclusion, accessibility, and collaboration.  In addition to her work at the Crisis Center she also volunteers for the Red Cross in Alameda County.

To date, Laurie has spent more than 2,000 hours answering the crisis and 211 lines-  providing help and hope to those in need.  Volunteers like Laurie share more than their time, they share their kindness, compassion, and skills to ensure that callers in crisis have a place to turn for help.  Laurie is a role model to all of us here at the Crisis Center, and it is our privilege to acknowledge her work with the Rosemary Caldwell Award.

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.

 

References

Association for Death Education and Counseling. (n.d.). Grief Process: What to Expect and Self-Care. Retrieved October 25, 2016 from: http://www.adec.org/adec/ADEC_Main/Find-Help/CopingWithLossNew/Grief-Process.aspx

The Dougy Center. (n.d.). Getting through the Holidays.  Retrieved October 25, 2016 from: http://www.dougy.org/grief-resources/getting-through-the-holidays/.

Vitas Health Care. (n.d.). Coping with Grief During the Holidays. Retrieved October 25, 2016 from: http://www.vitas.com/resources/grief-and-bereavement/coping-with-grief-during-the-holidays

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.

MHAM2016

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.
 SmilingShovel

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 rhondaj@crisis-center.org or (510) 815-4538

For volunteer program inquiries, contact Dee Dee Robillard at CorporateCaringVolunteerWeek@crisis-center.org or (925) 939-1916

Website photo

Joseph & Zeus

Joseph Fuentes discovered the Contra Costa Crisis Center as part of his career exploration.  He wanted to gain a better understating of what it would be like to counsel people, to help them work through issues.

 

“I’ve led a privileged life and learning about the difficulties people face has been very eye-opening.  Even more so now, than the five years I spent in the Navy, where I grew up and learned so much.”

 

Joseph found that many of the calls he answers on the crisis line or the 211 line are from people who are struggling everyday, facing hard decisions about the basics, like food and shelter.  When the struggles seem overwhelming or they face an emotional crisis, some talk of suicide.  “I guess what surprised me the most is the sheer number of people who need help, who are struggling, including veterans.  So many callers don’t have the ability to take care of themselves or their families.”

 

Then he shared what his own transition as a Call Specialist felt like.  “I was raised in the Mexican tradition, ‘Don’t broadcast your troubles, men have to be strong – you know, machismo.’  To hear all these different stories of struggle changed me.  I can tell you, I never expected a guy like me to get so emotionally involved in the stories of other people.  I’ve learned that strength is more than just muscle strength or stoicism.  It is compassion, empathy and understanding.”

 

“I wish everyone knew about the Contra Costa Crisis Center and knew more about mental health and how important it is to health in general.  Every moment in life has a story and I think the world would be a better place if everyone tried to have an open mind and an open heart.  To anyone wondering about volunteering I’d say – absolutely, do it.  Life is about gaining wisdom – this work will open your eyes.”