Anna Garrison, ASW

Registered Associate CSW

First of all, I would love to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to those of you who have contributed to the First Responder Scholarship Fund. This fund ensures any local first responder who receives services through Anew Day does so at no cost to them. I know I can speak on behalf of myself, Anew Day, and the first responders who have benefitted from this fund in saying a heartfelt “Thank You!” I know it matters deeply to them that their community cares enough about their well-being to ensure they have access to no cost services when needed.

As I reflect on what to share with you, I find myself both humbled and deeply grateful for the privilege I have of knowing and serving some of the first responders in our community. Our first responder population is comprised of a special breed of people who show up 24/7, day after day to help, serve, and protect our community. While they may at times be referred to as “heroes,” I don’t know many who would actually claim that title. If you call them a hero, they would likely shrug it off and say something like, “I’m just doing my job.” While that may be accurate, the reality is that some jobs automatically come with a higher price tag than others…and the price to serve the community is often paid by the first responder and their family in the form of their health and well-being.

Our first responders show up on people’s worst days, and often when people are at their worst. They experience all the tragedies that can befall humans or be done by humans. They see the worst days, the bad days, the not so good days, and the days when people are overwhelmed and irritated and the first responder may become the easiest target for frustration, anger, and biting words. Let’s be honest, no one calls a first responder when things are going well.

Society expects a lot from our first responders. In fact, we usually expect nothing less than perfection from these people who show up daily and are doing their best to serve others. While many people express deep gratitude for their service, first responders are in the spotlight constantly, and the loudest voices are often the most critical. The actions and motives of our first responders are often questioned, and every part of their split-second decisions during an incident are poured over with the commodity of time and a fine-tooth comb. They are often judged in the court of public opinion, and public opinion can be quite unforgiving.

Off the job, people want to hear their stories and often ask about their worst calls…but what is often not understood is that those are the calls they carry with them. These are the calls that end in sleepless nights and continue to accumulate over the years. When you ask, they might smile, make a joke, and change the subject, but what you don’t see are the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and stress responses that are burned deep into their brains. “You’ve changed,” might be the comment they hear from friends or family members throughout the years…and the reality is, they have. They have dealt with the bad, the tragic, the worst of humanity, and the worst humanity can go through, and that adds up. They (and their families) often pay the price so the rest of us can live relatively safe lives, knowing they will continue to respond whenever we may need them.

In having the privilege of working with first responders in a therapeutic capacity, I have seen firsthand the toll that cumulative stress can have on them. When perfection is expected, criticism is constant, and exposure to human suffering is a daily occurrence, it comes at a cost to their mental and emotional well-being and to their personal lives. The message to them for many years has been, “Do better, work harder, be tougher” …and if for some reason they make a mistake or struggle with what they have dealt with on the job, they may somehow be viewed as defective. But let me tell you, our first responders are not defective. They just deal with far more than most of us can imagine. The reality is many first responders struggle in silence because they are expected to be impervious and seeking support can somehow be seen as showing weakness. But let me also tell you, our first responders are not weak. Statistics are challenging, but it is thought that most people will experience approximately 40 traumatic incidents during the course of a lifetime. It is estimated that our first responders experience somewhere between 900 and 1200 traumatic incidents in the course of a 25-30 year career. That takes a lot of strength to endure.

What happens though, when the ones who do so much to serve and support others might just need some support themselves? Unfortunately, there are often very few culturally competent, affordable services available for first responders and their unique needs. But that’s where your support comes in. Because of contributions to the First Responder Support Fund, Anew Day has been able to provide support to our local first responders, especially in the form of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. EMDR therapy is one of the most effective therapies in decreasing the level of disturbance still experienced related to past incidents. One method of EMDR for recent traumatic events (usually only requiring several sessions) has been shown to reduce the chances of developing post-traumatic stress symptoms by 85-90% if used within the first couple of months after an incident (which is also available to our first responders at Anew Day). As you can imagine, this can be a significant help to first responders who are exposed to far more traumatic incidents than the general public. Our first responders give a lot of themselves, and they have earned our gratitude and support.

Whether the concern is work-related, family-related, or something else, our goal at Anew Day is to be able to continue supporting our local first responders as they continue showing up for us.

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Dear Supporters,

I want to thank you for the money you gave to support Anew Day’s important work in the month of February. People in our community continue to reach out and ask for help navigating difficult circumstances in life. As I’m sure you can imagine, people are struggling with depression, anxiety, fear, bitterness, broken relationships and much more. These are difficult times and I am so grateful our community has a counseling center like Anew Day where people can call and get help navigating and processing hard realities and heavy emotions.

Additionally, I’d like to express a special thank you to Networked Insurance for responding to our Newsletter request for office chairs. They donated a number of high-quality chairs for our meeting room and rolling desk chairs for our office. They also donated some nice furniture for our lobby and group meeting room. We are very grateful for their generosity.

Lastly, I want to share with you a quick update on our annual Crab Feed fundraiser:

In January the hard decision was made to postpone our large dinner and auction fundraiser till this summer. We needed to make this decision at a time when COVID cases were spiking in our area. It has been 2 years since we’ve been able to hold this event in person and we cannot go another year without it. Though our drive through Crab Feed was successful last year for what it was, it did not give us the opportunity to personally share about the important work Anew Day is doing in our community. We were not able to ask for support face to face and we couldn’t hold our auctions, which contribute greatly to our financial needs. To be sure we could have these things in 2022 we decided to push the event off till summer and hold it outdoors. This of course means that we cannot serve crab. Therefore, the Anew Day Board is happy to announce that we will be hosting a BBQ ribs dinner catered by Bill’s Chuck Wagon on the evening of July 8th, 2022, so mark your calendars. More details will follow.

With Gratitude,

Tricia Johnson

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Thank you so much for the donation you made to Anew Day in January. We are grateful for your support and recognize that we can’t fulfill our mission without those who give to cover the cost of our work. We get to focus on meeting the needs of our clients and counselors because you support the needs of our counseling center.

As you may know, since the beginning of the pandemic the need for our counseling services has greatly increased. At the same time, three of our professional counselors have completed their hours and gained their licenses for private practice (yay!!!), and several of our lay counselors have encountered challenges requiring them to step away from serving here for now. In light of these realities, Anew Day’s strategic focus for 2022 will include recruiting new counselors and retaining the ones we have. We want all the counselors who serve at Anew Day to feel loved and appreciated. Our 22 volunteer counselors completely donate their time and our 4 professional counselors take less than they might be able to make elsewhere because they believe in our mission. As a way to say thank you and let them know they’re appreciated, we’re updating our break room to include a new pub-style table, a coffee bar/snack station and more things stocked in the fridge/freezer. We hope, by investing a bit of money in this project, all the people who work here will feel loved and appreciated for their sacrificial service. If they forget their lunch, need a pick-me-up snack or a good cup of coffee, we’ll have them covered.

If you would be willing to pray for Anew Day, please pray that God would call more people that believe in our mission and our organization to work here as counselors. We are particularly in need of professional counselors who are either Trainees working on supervised hours to complete their master’s degree or Associates who are working on their supervised hours to become licensed. May God supply the counselors needed to help those who call for our services.

With appreciation for your support,

Tricia Johnson

Anew Day Executive Director

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