Brian Hamilton: Let's keep the doors open to those who are hurting
Mike Bratton knew there was a need, but he admittedly had no idea the extent of the help needed.
Where can people in our community turn when they’re on the brink, when they’re dealing with depression, when they’re feeling so alone in their pain that they actually want to end it all?
That’s the question he sought to answer, not long after his own son — Michael Bratton II — killed himself.
Bratton wanted to make sure there were doors open to any one of us needing help. And thanks to him, his family, and the team of professionals and trained volunteers, for the past 10 years an increasing number of western Nevada County residents have found that help at Anew Day.
“We’re a faith-based organization because we’re there for a mission,” Bratton said. “And our mission is to help people who are hurting.”
“We have made an impact and this is just too valuable to let it go. We need the community to help us help others.”Mike Bratton
But, as word was shared this week, those doors are now in danger of closing.
Citing a nearly $5,000 budget shortfall each month, the faith-based nonprofit needs the community it has been supporting for more than a decade to rally for Anew Day.
“After providing for the needs of the Nevada County community for more than 10 years,” an ominous email stated, “frankly, this time we need you.”
How did Anew Day find itself in such a situation? Essentially, they say, the demand for the free counseling help they provide has surpassed their ability to provide it.
When the organization began keeping official statistics concerning client population in 2009, three years after opening, Anew Day provided counseling services to 309 individuals that year. Today, they’re serving nearly that same number on a monthly basis. In 2015, Anew Day served 2,905 clients collectively on an individual and group basis.
“And with those 2,509 people,” Executive Director Lori Nunnink-Taylor said, “I can’t help but wonder where else they would go.”
According to Anew Day, in 2006, Nevada County was ranked number one in suicide rate per capita in California. As of 2014, according to worldlifeexpectancy.com, Nevada County was ranked 17th in suicide rates of the 58 California counties.
“I got involved because of that statistic,” Bratton said of the No. 1 ranking, thinking back to his own realization that his family was not alone, that his son’s suicide was not nearly the anomaly many believe it to be. “We have made an impact and this is just too valuable to let it go. We need the community to help us help others.”
The situation is so dire, Nunnink-Taylor said, that next month’s operations are in jeopardy. She said the organization is able to operate on a “shoestring” $16,000 budget each month, due largely to 45 passionate volunteers who supports a paid staff of four: an executive director, two licensed mental health therapists and an administrator.
In other words, the community is getting quite a bang for its buck in supporting a group of people so committed to helping those of us who need it.
And the value of that help is absolutely priceless for people in their most distressing or desperate moments.
“We offer them a safe place to come and talk about things they can’t talk about anywhere else ... a place where they’re not going to be judged,” said Barbara Coffman, one of Anew Day’s licensed therapists.
Funding sources are primarily through regular contributions from community donors, currently a shortlist of 52 individuals, organizations and churches that they hope to grow by 100 within the next 30-45 days to keep the doors open.
“Some of those folks give $20 a month, some give $200,” Bratton said.
The organization also raises funds through its annual crab feed in March, its Random Acts of Kindness Event (RAKE) in October, and the annual MEB2 Turkey Trot — named for Michael Edward Bratton II and hosted by the Bratton family — which typically raises $35,000 each Thanksgiving for Anew Day. The organization also operates Anew Place, a thrift store and resource center at 745 S. Auburn St. in Grass Valley, which opened in May 2015 but has yet to become a real revenue generator to support the services offered by Anew Day.
Because of the budget crunch, the organization will soon ask clients to consider making a $5 donation per counseling visit, though they will not turn anyone away based upon ability to pay.
Those open doors are just too important, especially in tough times.
“We have to keep our doors open to help people,” Bratton said. “This has got to work because there is such a need to help people.”
Brian Hamilton is editor of The Union. Contact him at
HOW TO HELP
117 New Mohawk Road, Ste. A
Nevada City, CA 95959