Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tuesday town hall #4

Tuesday night was the fourth and final "town hall" meeting we had. These were meetings where leaders in the community were invited to talk to us "church people" about what they thought the issues were in the area, and how we might be able to help. There was a police officer, someone who operates a youth center, a school administrator, and this week was a family counselor.

Ann Flaningam operates a family and marriage counseling practice in Bluffton, and she shared some very helpful information with us. She also attends Hope Missionary church. She broke her talk into ten areas (I think) that she deals with or sees a need for in the area. They were:
  • Depression & Anxiety issues
  • Grief & Bereavement
  • Strengthening Marriage
  • Divorce care
  • Job Search
  • Family Centered Services
  • A Friend's House
  • Park Center
  • Parenting
  • Senior Citizens
The first five are things she deals with, or had direct information about. The last five were places she consulted for additional help in addressing what we're after. Again, it was quite informational.

Some of the things I was thinking about, and/or notes I took...
  • She mentioned two depression groups: Hope Alive (meets that the N. Wells St. YMCA in FW... 420-6100); and Emotions Anonymous (meets at Parkview Behavioral - contact Ron Bush 747-3816). I thought both of these sounded like good places to maybe visit and get ideas. The idea of starting a depression & anxiety support group is actually the one thing that stuck out to me the most during these talks. I think the key might be to find a safe place to do it though, because I'm not sure a church is the best place for a lot of people. But I don't know, I could be wrong about that. But I'm thinking of a support group scenario where you just invite people to come and just talk. Maybe offer some helpful suggestions sometimes, but mostly just provide a place and a group where people can feel welcome.
  • I was also intrigued by her grief & bereavement ideas. She holds a free grief support group at her office on the first and third Thursday of each month. I can see where that would be very helpful to a number of people in our church, as well as some people not in our church. This triggered in my brain the idea that I think it would be good to have her come and speak on a Sunday morning sometime, not only because it's helpful information, but because we have so many people struggling through grief issues. She also recommended a grief seminar at the Coliseum on April 19 and 20 given by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. I think this is something I might check into. Tickets are apparently available through McComb and Sons funeral home.
  • While talking about strengthening marriage she recommended a DVD curriculum by Dr. Emerson Eggerich called "Love & Respect." She said it only needs someone to facilitate, as the DVD's do the teaching. She said their church takes an occasional break in their Sunday School programming and offer this in its place for larger groups. I thought that might be a good idea. It also made me wonder if we shouldn't do something like this in the summer when we don't have Sunday School. Perhaps having someone teach something in a larger group setting - whether it is this, or something else.
  • She also recommended the Divorcecare DVD program, as well as another like it called "Before You Divorce."
  • She didn't have a lot to say about the Job Search issue, but I think this would be helpful to a lot of people. Conducting some classes on how to write a resume, how and where to look for jobs, how to fill out an application, and things like that. I bought a book for Isaac that had some ideas about these things in it, but can't remember what it was now.
  • The remainder of the talked mostly discussed the specific organizations she mentioned, and most of them were places I am either already familiar with or not really interested in. Which isn't to say they're not important, just that they weren't things that tripped my trigger.
Overall I thought this whole "town hall" idea was fantastic. I gained a lot of info, and it has me thinking about several things. I would say at the top of my list presently is some kind of depression/anxiety support group. I've also been thinking somewhat of a toastmaster's group for awhile too. I don't know that I necessarily want to be in charge of it, but I wish someone would start one and hold it at our church. But that's kinda different than the focus of these town hall meetings. Anyway, good stuff. I'm glad Steve did this, and I think we should revisit this again in the next 6-12 months. I know we had someone at our church try something like this that was limited mostly to our church people. I thought it was a great idea then too, but it was just a little different format. I think we, as the church, need to do more of this kind of thing.

Peace out; and in.