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Suffering is part of the human condition despite the fact that so many try to act like it's not. Social media platforms allow people to create whatever image they want others to see. Many use digital media to erase the appearance of struggle and hardship, painting a distorted picture of reality. So, despite what you see on your screens, let me assure you that no one is untouched by hardship and struggle.

Some struggles are public, like the death of a loved one or an injury. Others are private, like depression, abuse or addiction. Whether public or private, the road of suffering is difficult to walk. The good news is, you don’t have to walk it alone. The Bible records that when God created Adam, He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Then God created Eve and with her, companionship and ultimately community.

It is not good for us to bear the burdens and the sufferings of life alone, so why do we do it?

Often it is because we are ashamed of our struggles. Sometimes it is because we don’t want to add our burdens to anyone else’s load. Other times it is because we don’t want anyone else to know we’re struggling. Occasionally it is because we don’t have anyone in our lives who can help us carry them.

These are all reasons why Anew Day is so vital to our community. We believe all people should have someone to be open and honest with, someone who will listen and care, someone who will help them process and see their circumstances from a different perspective. We believe all people should have a personal cheerleader who roots for them and encourages them.

Anew Day is an organization of Christian people who love others by walking with them on the difficult roads of life to lend a helping hand.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” - Gal. 6:2

So, what does it mean to be a Christian? Among other things, it means that you intimately know and have experienced the love of God expressed through His son, Jesus Christ. This love changes a person from the inside out. This love is a light that shines into the blackest darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. This love is a gift, not to be hoarded, but to be shared. Jesus himself said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)

Jesus set an example of loving others and asks His people to follow it. Therefore…

"We love because He first loved us." - 1 John 4:19

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Thank you for donating to support the ministry of Anew Day in the month of November. It was a busy month. Many people have graduated from our Counseling Skills Workshop and have gained valuable skills for helping others and maintaining healthy relationships themselves.

The 17th Annual MEB2 Turkey Trot is in the books and it was a great success. God gave us beautiful weather on Thanksgiving, which was a blessing. Around 2,000 people came out to enjoy the morning together. 1,800 of them were registered participants and there were at least 100 volunteers helping pull it all off. I was inspired by the way this event highlights the beauty of our community. What a great group of people and what a fun morning together. Thank you to the Bratton family for your sacrifices in organizing and hosting the Turkey Trot once again. It has become a valuable tradition for so many.

I have mixed emotions in letting you know that our beloved Clinical Director, Keith Thompson, is moving on. I am happy for him as he prepares to take his private practice full time. He has a new office and is excited about taking this step. We wish him all the best in this transition. That said, I am also so sad to see him go. He has served the Lord faithfully through Anew Day for many years. Keith will be with us for several more months as we go through the recruitment and hiring process. Please keep us in your prayers as this position is critical to the culture and quality of our ministry. May God lead us to the perfect fit and go before us to prepare the heart of the person He is calling. Please pray that this individual embraces the beauty and impact of our work as well as the privilege and responsibility of leadership.

Hundreds of people have come through our doors this year seeking help and encouragement. It has been our pleasure to be here for them and to walk with them on the challenging roads of life. Thank you for giving to supply what we need to do the work we’ve been called to do.

With appreciation for your support,

Tricia Johnson

Executive Director

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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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