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"A Message of Hope" written by Rebecca Baldwin

"A Message of Hope" written by Rebecca Baldwin

Below is a message of hope written by Rebecca Baldwin, MSW, Executive Director of Saratoga Center for the Family

"The Power of Hope"
With all that is going on in our world, our vision of hope grows stronger each day.  For those who are already managing past traumas or who are struggling with mental health, hope is essential.  During this unprecedented time, Saratoga Center for the Family has been working tirelessly to ensure that we continue to be available to provide Hope, Help, and Healing for all community members who need it.
Even though our physical offices are closed, our computers and phones are open.  Our professionally trained therapists, who specialize in trauma and abuse, continue to work with clients from morning until night via telehealth communication platforms.  When we initially embarked upon this new way of delivering services, we were unsure of how clients would feel talking to their therapist via video conference or phone; we are extremely pleased to discover the transition has been very well received.
Additionally, we are working diligently to provide therapeutic resources to the community such as short-term counseling services and educational information specifically targeted to address COVID-related issues.
Like many other events and gatherings that have had to be cancelled or rescheduled, Saratoga Center for the Family’s annual Power of Hope event was cancelled due to the current need for social distancing. Despite the cancellation of this event, our hope and the power of that hope is not lessened. We are finding messages of hope in all that we do and we would like to share some of those messages:
Rebecca Baldwin, Executive Director of the Saratoga Center for the Family, notes that, “Despite the difficult circumstances we have collectively found ourselves in, I am seeing and hearing messages of hope everywhere. I have never been so impressed by the resilience and strength of this community, those I work alongside of every day, and those that we serve. This collective crisis that we are all going through has brought out a togetherness and a connectedness that I have never seen before. People who don’t even know one another are reaching out to help each other; people are openly sharing their vulnerabilities; we are all supporting each other and finding our strength in one another. It is clear that our strength is in our mutual support of each other, and in our lifting each other up and supporting each other through this collective crisis. I see hope that we will come out of this time more unified than ever before, and that is stronger than any virus.”
Megan Heeder, LMHC, Clinical Director of School Based Programming, says, “I can personally say that for some of my clients who have safe and comfortable home lives, that being home has brought a sense of comfort and safety.  I think there is a sense of simplicity, fewer social stressors and demands, which allows some people to feel more emotionally secure.  Being home is a way to stay safe from the virus, and help keep others safe.  This inherently has an “otherness” perspective, that we are doing something hard for the greater good.  I believe that living and thinking from an “other” perspective is mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Even in families whose children have difficult behavioral and emotional needs, I think parents have to tune in more, to listen, to pay attention.  They are gaining a new, intimate awareness of the struggles and patterns that ebb and flow through their children.”
For another client she is treating virtually, Mrs. Heeder, along with the parents, have seen a dramatic improvement in her 8-year-old client’s mental health.  Mrs. Heeder says, “The parents decided they will continue to homeschool their child because of this improvement.  Being home, feeling more secure, and having more individualized attention and academic focus has made a world of difference for the whole family. Her (the client’s) mother has been able to observe, tune into, and support her emotional needs on a more consistent basis.  This client is a pet lover, and being with her animals (2 dogs and a cat) definitely helps her feel more safe and secure.  She has many global worries about the virus but on a moment-to-moment basis, she feels safe, and hopeful, which is amazing. “
Mrs. Heeder continues, “I treat an adolescent boy who has been struggling with boredom and being “trapped” at home with his parents and much younger siblings, unable to see his grandparents and father who are big supports for him.  However, there is a silver lining for him.  He has been forced into expanding his ability to tolerate the boredom, to seek outlets that maybe he never would have before.  Outlets such as music, decorating, skateboarding, bike rides, and art have given him a more hopeful perspective on life.  Perhaps necessity is the birth of innovation. Sometimes we seek ways to grow, expand, and create when we are gently forced to do so.”
Wende Tedesco, LCSW-R, Clinical Director of Center and Community Based Programming, expands on further ways to face the pandemic:
“Whether through journaling, meditation, music, art, walks in nature, or simply talking to a therapist or trusted friend, it is important to slow down, breathe, and acknowledge the feelings that pile up inside.  If we do not acknowledge it or attempt to suppress it, the body will do it for us in symptoms such as sleep disturbances, nightmares, increased depression or anxiety, including somatic or physical symptoms of trauma or in children perhaps traumatic play or regression. The feelings have to go somewhere and often are expressed through the body. One important thing we must all remember is that the human capacity for resilience, to rise above and move on despite extraordinary adversity and unimaginable trauma, is powerful.  Together, we will get through this.”
Sometimes, it takes the youngest of our society to remind us that we will get through this, that hope is real.  Our Victim Advocate, Nicole Iwaniec, recalls a difficult case where, “a little girl that endured trauma that most of us would never be able to wrap our heads around came through our Child Advocacy Center (CAC).  She has to be one of the bravest little girls I’ve ever met.  This little girl said that being at the CAC with caring professionals was like being in a deep pit and suddenly seeing an escalator.  At the CAC, we are often asked why or how we can do the job that we do; how we can see and hear such horrible things and still believe the world is a good place.  This little girl is why.  We may provide hope for her, but she provides hope for us.”
With millions of people losing their jobs, losing the ‘luxuries’ they have enjoyed before COVID-19, I believe people are coming face-to-face with what they have rather than what they want. Our clients, our neighbors, and our co-workers are showing us what really matters – hope for a better future for our children and families.
Saratoga Center for the Family – providing hope, help and healing since 1978.

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