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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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Thank you for being part of the Anew Day family and for supporting our ministry in the month of October. We currently have 24 lay counselors and 6 professional therapists working with clients in our office, which is very exciting. Our waitlists are very small except for with men wanting to see a lay counselor. God has answered our fervent prayers for counselors to meet the growing need for mental health support in Grass Valley. Our team is amazing. The counselors who work in our office are kind, compassionate, generous, and faithful servants. They love God and they love people. I consider it a great honor to work with them and call them friends.

In October Anew Day hosted another Healing Through Art Class, we started a new support group for people 55 years and older, and we continued our fall Counseling Skills Workshop. We also were invited to participate in a Bright Futures for Youth event called Lights on After School. At this event Anew Day hosted a station called The Conversation Couch. We set up a couch and invited the youth to come and have a conversation with an Anew Day counselor. There was a game show style spin-wheel with different topics on it. The kids would spin the wheel and then sit on the couch with a counselor and talk about the topic selected. As an observer, I was impressed with how many young people were willing to sit down and open up about their thoughts on the topic. This event was a great way to let some of the younger generation know that Anew Day is here for them if they ever want to talk. We handed out brochures and business cards. It is my prayer that if any young person is struggling mentally or emotionally, they will know there is a trustworthy place to go called Anew Day where counselors care and want to help.

Thank you so much for giving to provide for the expenses required to keep Anew Day’s doors open so we can make counseling affordable and accessible for all people in our community.

With appreciation for your support,

Tricia Johnson

Executive Director

Thank you so much for the donation you made to Anew Day in September. The work we do and the services we offer either free or at a greatly reduced cost would not be possible without our generous donors. Your gift to Anew Day is a beautiful expression of love for your community.

I want to tell you a little bit about the amazing work God has done here at Anew Day this past month. First of all, we welcomed several new staff members, which is always exciting. We hired an amazing servant named Jenny Woodall to manage our office and fill our vacant administration position. She is a fantastic addition to our team and our family. We also added two new professional counselors to our ranks, Lauren Pretlove and Botho Gaenangaka, who are also great additions. This means we now have 29 trained counselors serving community members at Anew Day - 23 trained volunteers and 6 professional therapists.

In September we started our fall Counseling Skills Workshop and have 12 people taking advantage of this valuable training. We’re also starting a 55+ Support Group that will begin later this month. So, if you know of anyone that could use some peer support with life’s challenges for older adults, please pass on the information. The group will meet Wednesdays from 4-5pm, at the Anew Day office, starting October 26th. This group will be co-ed and free, no sign-up required. Lastly, registration for the MEB2 Turkey Trot has begun. Anew Day is a main beneficiary of this event so participating is another great way to support our ministry. You can register at

It is such a pleasure to see the Lord strengthening and growing the ministry of Anew Day. Thank you for being part of our support team.

With appreciation for your support,

Tricia Johnson

Executive Director

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