2021 FirstLink Spring Newsletter

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SPRING 2021

FIRSTLINK CARE & SUPPORT SERVICES In the spring, many are filled with a renewed sense of hope. Temperatures rising, daylight increasing, buds sprouting on the trees. It is a good reminder that while we may go through dark times when we feel alone with our suffering, hope is out there. Our care and support program offers an opportunity to connect to hope through caring cards, phone calls, or texts. Regular follow-up may involve reviewing or making a safety plan, identifying resources that support emotional and physical wellbeing, and exploring healthy activities that help manage stress and strengthen resilience. We celebrate

every success with our contacts, empowering them to use coping strategies and seek out help when needed. We offer advocacy and assist in navigating treatment and recovery services for substance use and mental health. Our team of call specialists strives to make a connection with our participants. Maybe you are reading this as one of the thousands we have reached out to over the past year. Perhaps you are a family member or friend concerned about someone. Or maybe you are a provider with one of our partnering hospitals or clinics. Whatever your role or relationship, if you or someone you care about is struggling and unsure what hope is available, please call the FirstLink helpline by dialing 2-1-1 or 701-235-7335 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

COMMUNITY

DIRECTORY COVID-19 hit the FM area around a year ago and is still impacting our community. Many of our neighbors have been affected by job loss and other hardships due to the pandemic. These stresses can lead to the need for help. FirstLink is handling an average of 40 calls per week related to COVID-19. Since February 23, 2020, the number of calls related to this pandemic has totaled 3,814. Knowing where to turn for assistance during this pandemic can be scary, and MyFirstLink. org is a safe, convenient place to start. From our website, you can find the Community Directory online to view a list of helpful local resources.


A LETTER FROM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CINDY MILLER

I hope you are all enjoying the nice weather and getting into a routine of the new “normal” this spring! I am personally looking forward to spending more time outside with family and friends. I am also excited that we did not need to make sandbags this year, although I am going to miss seeing our regular volunteers! We have made a few changes to our special events this year. FirstLink will hold our Annual Breakfast on Thursday, October 21 at 7:30 am at the Hilton Garden Inn. Mark it on your calendar now! We are still making plans, so watch for more updates. I hope to see you there.

Our contact numbers have skyrocketed in recent months. FirstLink staff have done an amazing job connecting our friends and neighbors who are struggling with area resources. I want to thank them for their passion during these trying times. I also want to thank YOU. We could not have been here for our neighbors 24/7 without your support, both financial and emotional. We are so blessed to live in this community, where I know that neighbors are checking on neighbors. This has been a difficult year, so please keep checking in on each other. Remind your loved ones that they can reach out for resources and 24-hour support by calling or texting FirstLink. We are here for everyone!

I cannot wait to see you all in person in the fall.

Cindy Miller FirstLink’s Executive Director

MEET THE

TEAM Dial

800-273-8255 to get connected.

CHELSEA AKASON

Community Resource Coordinator

My name is Chelsea Akason and I am the Community Resource Coordinator at FirstLink. I began working at FirstLink at the end of December 2020. Since my first day, working with FirstLink has been nothing but amazing. My background is in accounting, along with other customer service management roles. What I enjoy most about FirstLink is the culture. Everyone is super supportive of one another and shares a common goal, to stop the stigma of mental illness, which is something I have advocated for in my past jobs. FirstLink has been there for me during times of personal struggle and I am so lucky to be able to contribute to such a great organization. In my past it has been difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and I feel I have finally found my happy place here at FirstLink.


RESILIENCE: Resilience can help us get through and overcome hardship. But we are not born with resilience; it is something that we learn and build progressively over time. Having resilience does not mean that people do not experience stress, emotional upheaval, or suffering. Having resilience means that we work through emotional pain and suffering.

How do we learn resilience? Developing resilience is both complex and personal. It involves a combination of inner strengths and outer resources. Dr. Ginsburg describes the 7 C’s of resilience. Take a few moments to ponder how these fit in your life.

Confidence:

take time to appreciate your own abilities.

Connection:

reach out to family, friends, and neighbors, or dial 211

Character:

know your morals and what you think is right and wrong

WHY I

SERVE KYLE VEUM Suicide has touched my life at various points and I have seen its effects on those closest to me. But for many years, I was not aware of the resources available to those in need. My first exposure to FirstLink was seven years ago, working with Cindy Miller. I witnessed the incredible passion that Cindy and the FirstLink staff possess for providing resources to our community. Through my interactions with Cindy, the staff, and attendees of the annual breakfast, I saw the impact they had on the community. I found myself talking more about FirstLink with family and friends, so much that my wife attended several classes that they offered. Now, more than ever, the services that FirstLink provides are crucial. When the opportunity to become a board member was available, I could not resist. I am honored to serve an organization that has given so much to others.

Contribution:

recognize that the world is a better place because you are here

Control:

take a minute to note what you can and cannot control

Coping:

write down how you positively handle stressful situations

Competence:

tell yourself, “I can do this”

Take time to practice thought awareness, choose how you respond to things in your life, and maintain perspective. You are on your way to increasing your resilience.

WHITNEY WALKER Hello all, Whitney Walker here! Mother, wife, serial entrepreneur, and dog mom. I have been married for 5 years and have a beautiful 14-year-old daughter and 2 puppies, Charlee and Chanel. I am a Master Esthetician and am the owner of Beauty Bar by Whitney in the Block 6 building, The Wig Suite by Whitney, and the Texas Best Express food truck. I also competed in the North Dakota International Pageant 2020. I am delighted to serve on the FirstLink Board of Directors to use my business ideas and entrepreneur skills to promote mental health awareness.


P.O. Box 447 Fargo, ND 58107-0447

SUCCESS I know that my spouse calls you when he is thinking about suicide. Thanks for being there when he needs you the most.

Thanks, my daughter had a suicide attempt last week. I was at a loss. Thanks for listening to me and for linking me to telehealth.

STORIES Thanks for linking me to rent assistance. I had an eviction notice and was not sure what I was going to do.

What a year. Thanks for giving me hope to make it through.