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For Immediate Release

For more information contact
Terri Speirs, Director of Community Relations
cell: 515-770-5155

A virtual Women Helping Women event raises $201,000 to provide mental health services for women, children and families in need

Mary M. Riche, 2020 Women Helping Women Honoree (high resolution image)

May 21, 2020, Des Moines, Iowa – More than 450 guests participated in the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center’s 22nd annual Women Helping Women event which raised $201,000. Funds will support mental health counseling, education, training and other services that impact women, children and families who are underinsured or from low income households. The May 15 event was transformed from a ballroom luncheon format to a live, online program for the first time in the annual event’s two-decade history, due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Mary M. Riche was the 2020 event honoree. She was recognized for her work as a mental health therapist, community leader, pragmatic executive and for her long-standing support for vulnerable women. In her live remarks, Mary laced in photos of her garden as a metaphor for how to care for one another. Her message was clear: “While I am honored to stand here today, this event is not about me. Today is about the women, the girls, the families and all the Center’s clients, regardless of their ability to pay, who need these vital, mental health services.”

Jackie Servellon, 2020 Women Helping Women keynote speaker (high resolution image)

Jackie Servellon delivered the keynote speech, Wounded Healer: My Story of Surviving Violence, Seeking Help, and Creating Beauty. As a survivor of domestic violence that started in childhood, Jackie shared her journey of hope and healing. Her remarks included wisdom she’s learned through therapy: “You can’t ‘un-do’ violence. You can’t un-do memories of violence. And you can’t un-do the sadness that comes along with it either. Therapy isn’t a tool to ‘fix’ the broken, because we are not broken.” Jackie shared how art and community helps her to heal.

She continued: “Today, I am certain that we can raise enough funds to provide access for these families and survivors that do not have the financial support or resources so they can live a life that isn’t shattered by trauma response from abuse.”

“A very special thank you goes to our generous sponsors, donors, volunteers and event participants,” said Laurie Betts Sloterdyk, the Center’s director of development, “The community stepped up to help others, and we are grateful for the support.”

Since 1998 the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center’s Women Helping Women annual event has raised more than $1.4 million, providing access and care to thousands of women – a population who experience poverty, crime and abuse at disproportionately high levels – and children and families. The 2020 virtual program is available for replay at

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit organization with a mission to walk with people through counseling and education to find hope and healing, and to live a fulfilling life. The Center is one of the only providers in Greater Des Moines that serves people from all walks of life including those who are uninsured or underinsured.

Remote Group Spiritual Direction for Caring Professionals on Zoom

Beginning May 8, 2020
Fridays: 1:00-2:30PM
These are stressful, uncertain times, and caring professionals are working hard to find new ways to respond to the needs of others in this changing context. To care well for those we serve, we have to tend to our own well-being. This group will offer opportunities for encouragement and support as we practice listening well to ourselves, one another and the Sacred. It is open to those engaged in supporting others, including faith leaders, chaplains, spiritual directors and mental health professionals. All spiritual perspectives are welcome.
To include those who have been financially impacted by this crisis, this group is being offered for a self-selected fee ($0-$180 for 6 sessions or $0-$30/session) based on your available resources. Group meetings will take place through Zoom video conference on Fridays from 1:00 to 2:30, beginning May 8. The group will meet weekly for the first three sessions and then decide together to meet weekly or biweekly for the remaining three.



Please contact:


Andrea Severson at:

or Christine Dietz at: for more information.

Women Helping Women – Domestic Abuse

Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center presents the 22nd Annual Women Helping Women event on Friday, May 15, 2020, 11:30 a.m. (Facebook event here.) For the safety of the community, in consideration of coronavirus (COVID-19), the event will be held online. Our “virtual” gathering recognizes the need for continued support for uninsured and underinsured women and children. Domestic abuse, the theme of this year’s initiative, brings to our attention a plight suffered by countless women, children, men, elders, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals.

Mary Riche, this year’s Honoree, points out “This year’s luncheon is even more important to the Center’s ongoing fundraising efforts because of the coronavirus pandemic. Participating in a virtual luncheon will make the 2020 WHW unforgettable!” For updates and information about accessing the event, please visit The website is updated as new details become available.

Mary said, “Asking for help and naming a problem is a necessary, often emotionally painful first step to transformational change.” She emphasizes, “This is especially important for victims of abuse, because it takes immense personal courage for victims to reach out and begin the process of counseling.” She stated, “Jackie Servellon’s personal story of hope and healing as a survivor of domestic violence draws attention to this problem that may worsen since life, as we know it, has been halted and altered.”

Keynote Speaker Jackie Servellon, owner of Balloon Bar DSM, shares her experience of violent domestic abuse from parents with drug abuse and mental health problems. She said sharing her story, though “sad and shocking,” contributes to her healing. “Mental health is infinitely as important as personal safety,” she said, pointing out, “Conversation stops at [victim] safety.” She went on to say, “Mental health does not heal itself, and low-income women don’t have access to care and other resources.”

Domestic abuse hits close to home for me. I grew up in an era in which American culture recognized “wife beating,” and deemed it a family matter. No one considered emotional abuse, or the damage done to the victims’ mental health. I did not realize for many years that what I experienced in my childhood, adolescence, and adult life was, in fact, abuse. My experiences were emotionally painful, but I thought they were my fault which I have learned is common among victims. As an adult, I adhered to the belief that I could not have been abused because my experiences were not physical. My therapist here at the Center gently helps me discover and claim my strengths, my accomplishments, and my humanity, as he stresses self-compassion, and self-acceptance. He supports, encourages, and helps me celebrate my progress no matter how small. Recognizing and assigning the abusers’ responsibility was a huge step for me. I take ownership of my part in the relationship, but only mine. Today, I am confronting the memories and working to heal from them. The survival skills I developed as a child continue to inform my personality—thoughts, beliefs, decisions, behaviors. I grieve the loss of what I needed in the relationships but could not get from others as well as the loss in the termination of relationships with people I had cared about.

Sadly, not much has changed since those early days. When someone describes her or his experience with emotional, psychological, financial, deprivation, isolation, withholding affection, others often dismiss their story as trivial because they do not see injury and scars. Indeed, all domestic abuse results in invisible scars that may affect the victim for the rest of her or his life.

Domestic abuse is active and prevalent in 2020, yet we hear little about it. We become aware only when sensational or high-profile situations make the headlines, or someone publishes a best-selling book—fiction or nonfiction. Then the issue retreats into the periphery of our collective consciousness. Domestic abuse, no respecter of race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, or disability, is ever-present in the lives of victims. Emotionally stable and strong individuals find themselves battling feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

Often, people think of domestic abuse only in the context of domestic violence. Domestic abuse and domestic violence are interchangeable terms in that both are used to convey the same types of behaviors. Domestic abuse exists in myriad variations of the following forms:

  1. Physical, which includes barring the victim from medical care or forcing victim to use drugs or alcohol.
  2. Sexual, which includes coercion or attempts to coerce in addition to violent attacks and exploitation.
  3. Emotional, which includes decimating the victim’s sense of self and impairing victim’s relationships with family, friends, and others.
  4. Economic, which includes controlling or attempting to control financial activities, withholding financial support, and removing money from victim’s accounts against the victim’s will or without the victim’s permission.
  5. Psychological, which includes intimidation, threats of harm to victim or people or situations important to the victim— the victim’s employment, children, pets, other family members, close friends, etc.—and isolation from family, friends, and support system.

The current protective measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) place victims in their homes with their abusers for prolonged periods. Loss of income, the effects of quarantine, and the stress around the pandemic add tension to already volatile households. Around the world, advocates report distressing rises in reported domestic abuse cases. Victims have fewer places to go as employees of safe places are now also in quarantine leaving agencies with limited or nonexistent staff onsite. The result is locked-out buildings, long hold times for calls, and fewer staff to investigate. Law enforcement report similar problems.

Apart from the shame the abusers heap on victims, the victims experience shame for a host of reasons: 1) they failed ability to please the abuser; 2) bewilderment for getting into the situation; 3) they believe they have let themselves and their family down. Family members, friends, law enforcement and social services workers may underestimate the abuser’s power over the victim. As a result, they may further injure the victim’s fragile self-worth by ridiculing and blaming the victim for the circumstances in which they find themselves and downplay the victim’s precarious circumstances and mental and emotional states.

Abusers are cunning, intuitive, manipulative, and patient—until the victim is hooked. They know what their prey wants to hear and how to shame or intimidate her or him into doing what they want. They know how to threaten what is important to the person. Abusers either instill feelings of low self-worth in the victim or reinforce beliefs already in place. For these reasons, extrication from relationships can be extremely difficult and often dangerous. While abusers may have deep-seated insecurities and fears as well as their own history of abuse, they are responsible for addressing their needs rather than projecting them onto others. However, abusers often crave the intoxicating feelings of power, control, and domination over others. When they feel threatened or self-doubt, they resort to familiar means to relieve their stress.

We all can help in the effort to eradicate domestic abuse. 1) Question the appearance of new injuries; 2) Pay attention to signs of changes in the person’s mental health state; 3) Be aware of changes in someone’s behavior, communication, or questionable fixation on a partner, particularly if the relationship is new or recently altered, e.g. the partner is recently released from incarceration, home from a prolonged absence, newly divorced, married, etc.; 4) Believe the victim is telling the truth; 5) Learn about resources and safety measures that minimize further harm.; 5) Enlist assistance to remove the abuser from the home.

If you or someone you know is at risk or affected by domestic abuse, the resources listed below are available.

  • The Center plays a vital role in the hope and healing for people suffering the effects of domestic abuse. Mary Riche affirmed, “The counselors at DMPCC are skilled practitioners with wisdom and expertise to walk alongside all clients in a safe, non-judgmental environment. For information and to schedule an appointment, visit, call 515-274-4006 or email

Jackie Servillon said, “DMPCC’s funding is how we support the community and save lives. We bury communities by limiting access to mental health care.”

  • Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence 4725 Merle Hay Rd Suite 107, Des Moines, IA 50322 (515) 244-8028
  • Children & Families of Iowa 1111 University Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314
    (515) 288-1981
  • Your community’s emergency services Call 911


  • Signs of domestic violence or abuse

  • Differentiating Between Domestic Violence and Abuse

  • 5 Types of Abuse, Domestic Violence FAQ

  • In quarantine with an abuser: surge in domestic violence reports linked to coronavirus

  • Safety Tips

  • 9 Ways to Help a Victim of Domestic Violence

Billie Wade, writer

For more of Billie’s blog posts – CLICK HERE

Blessing Practice for a Pandemic

Dr. Christine Dietz

By Dr. Christine Dietz, counselor, spiritual director, and training director at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

I have often thought of Jewish observance as an ancient mindfulness practice. The rituals, prayers, blessings and practices that Jews engage in offer multiple opportunities to move from mochin d’katnut (small mind, the ego) to mochin d’gadlut (expansive mind, a more universal perspective) every day. One way to understand halakhah, often translated as law or observance, is as a way of walking, as the root of the word may be translated as “to go” or “to walk.” Judaism is how we walk our walk, and blessings can be part of this walk.

I was reminded of this perspective last Friday night when Rabbi Barton reminded us that, traditionally, Jews are supposed to say 100 blessings a day. While I aspire to being able to do that, I am not there yet. At the same time, the idea of pausing and tuning in to a larger perspective multiple times a day does appeal to me, especially at this time, when we are in both a pandemic of illness and a pandemic of fear, as Rabbi Sacks observed ( As a psychotherapist and spiritual director, I witness the pandemic of fear every day. Since I don’t know all of the traditional blessings and don’t yet have the awareness or discipline to recite 100 of them every day, I decided to try saying blessings for 100 people each day during this time of self-isolation and fear. I offer some ideas about how I might do that below and invite you to think about your own ways of offering blessings to the world at this time.

First, I would like to share a Jewish version of the metta meditation, a traditional Buddhist lovingkindness meditation, that I learned from Shaye Cohen and Bahira Sugarman. It is traditional to offer the blessings first for yourself, then for others:

  • May you be blessed with shalom (peace, wholeness)
  • May you be blessed with ahavah (love)
  • May you be blessed with refuah (healing)
  • May you be blessed with simcha (joy)
  • May you be blessed with kol tov (whatever is best)

Next, you might bless those who are most affected by the virus. For me, one of the hardest things about this pandemic is the isolation that can result from shelter in place orders, or when affected people are quarantined.

I am acutely aware from personal experience of how this affects both the affected individual and their loved ones. In 2018, my 95-year-old father was quarantined after acquiring MERSA in the hospital where he went for surgery after a fall. He had been in good health prior to the infection but rapidly declined. Visitors were limited and required to take extreme protective measures. He died alone in isolation while my mother and sister were ordered to evacuate due to a flood that same day. My mother is still haunted by the thought of him dying alone and not being able to say goodbye.  As a psychotherapist, I am also aware of how many people live alone with their anxiety about themselves or their loved ones becoming ill and being unable to be together.

Bless Those Affected by The Virus


  • The sick
  • The lonely and those who are distant from loved ones
  • Children who are ill or separated from their parents
  • The poor
  • The homeless
  • Immigrants and refugees
  • Prisoners
  • Asylum seekers
  • Those who are confined at home with abusers or unsafe people
  • Those who tested positive and are in hospitals
  • Those who tested positive and are in quarantine at home
  • Those who can’t get tested
  • Those who are or may have been exposed to the virus and are waiting to see if they develop symptoms
  • Those who have lost their jobs
  • Those whose incomes have been or will be reduced
  • Those whose businesses are affected
  • Those who need mental health services and don’t have access to care
  • Those who need other kinds of health care that is being pre-empted by this virus
  • Those (all of us) who are anxious
  • Those who are depressed and in despair
  • Those who are mourning or will be mourning without the in person support of their communities
  • There are many others – please add your own


Mister Rogers has been quoted a lot these days: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said to his television neighbors, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’” (Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, October 29, 2018). Mr. Bogost worries that this may be bad advice for adults if it leads to complacency or passivity. For me, “looking for the helpers” gives me hope and leads me to consider how I, too, can be a helper. I can also be mindful of who is helping and offer blessings for them. See Mr. Bogost’s article here:

Bless the Helpers

  • Health care workers in the front lines, risking exposure, working long hours without personal protective equipment, fearful of exposing family and friends to the virus: doctors, nurses, CNAs, technicians and other medical personnel.
  • People who work behind the scenes in health care institutions, including cleaners, food service workers, administrative staff and assistants, who face many of the same risks as those above.
  • Religious and spiritual care providers in hospitals and other health care facilities: clergy, chaplains and others.
  • Volunteers and any others working in health care institutions.
  • Workers in long-term care facilities and hospice, who face the same risks as those in hospitals as well as the expectation that most of those exposed to the virus will die. These include nurses, social workers, physicians, chaplains, bereavement counselors and others.
  • Workers in government agencies, including Departments of Public Health, research facilities, Departments of Mental Health, Departments of Human Services, CDC, WHO and many more, who are doing research, issuing guidelines, making decisions without adequate information, and working long hours.
  • Scientists and researchers working frantically to develop treatments and vaccines.
  • Policy makers at all levels of government.
  • School personnel, from administrators to teachers, who are trying to keep children safe, healthy, fed and educated without much to support them except their dedication and creativity.
  • Mental health workers at all levels and in all types of facilities, who are trying to provide hope and healing, either directly or from a distance, in a confused landscape of conflicting regulations, payment restrictions and limitations while trying to keep their organizations running.
  • The Boards of Directors and administrators of non-profit organizations, religious institutions and government services who are trying to offer their services at a distance and without certainty of compensation.
  • Religious and spiritual leaders and care providers: clergy, chaplains, spiritual directors, teachers of all types, who are working locally, nationally and globally to provide hope, inspiration and comfort.
  • Local emergency services whose work does not end during a pandemic: police, fire fighters, EMTs, dispatchers, etc.
  • Those who provide food and supplies despite risks to themselves and low wages: stockers, drivers, food service workers, cashiers, store managers and others.
  • Employees of necessary services who keep things running: sanitation, utilities, technology providers, repair people.
  • There are many others. Please add your own.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list – it is just what I came up with this morning. I plan to add to it daily, creating an ever longer list of people to bless. I also hope that this practice, rather than making me complacent, will lead me to find tangible ways to support these people, whether through contact by phone or video chat, donations, letters of encouragement or other creative ways.

During Purim this year, I was particularly drawn to Mordechai’s words to Esther (Esther 4:14): “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” I am asking myself, and I invite you to ask yourself, whether you, too, are in this time and place to offer what you, uniquely, can and how you will do it. In the words of Psalm 69:14, as translated by Rabbi Yael Levy, (Directing the Heart: Weekly Mindfulness Teachings and Practices from the Torah. (2019) Philadelphia, PA: A Way In).

“I am my prayer to you,

Aligned with the Highest Will in this very moment.

With great love and generosity,

Receive me with the truth of your presence.”

How will you be your prayer?


Christine Dietz, Ph.D., L.I.S.W., is a licensed independent social worker, spiritual director and Reiki Master. She is the Center’s Director of Clinical Training. She received her M.S.W. from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. in Sociology from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She is a graduate of the Lev Shomea Training Program for Spiritual Direction in the Jewish Tradition. Christine’s focus in counseling is on helping people reconnect to their innate wholeness and renew their sense of hope and possibility. She works with people experiencing anxiety, depression, OCD, trauma, life transitions, chronic illness, grief and loss, and relationship issues. She also offers individual and group spiritual direction to people from all faith traditions. She is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and Spiritual Directors International.

Tips for Nurturing and Protecting Children at Home

This article was written by

Tips for nurturing and protecting children at home
Child Mind Institute

Parents everywhere are struggling to keep children healthy and occupied. If you’re anxious about how to protect and nurture kids through this crisis — often juggling work obligations at the same time — you’re in good (virtual) company. I know, as I write this from home, with my 2-year-old hovering, that we have a lot to figure out.  Here are tips from the Child Mind Institute’s clinicians to help calm fears, manage stress and keep the peace.

Keep routines in place
The experts all agree that setting and sticking to a regular schedule is key, even when you’re all at home all day. Kids should get up, eat and go to bed at their normal times. Consistency and structure are calming during times of stress. Kids, especially younger ones or those who are anxious, benefit from knowing what’s going to happen and when.

The schedule can mimic a school or day camp schedule, changing activities at predictable intervals, and alternating periods of study and play.

It may help to print out a schedule and go over it as a family each morning. Setting a timer will help kids know when activities are about to begin or end. Having regular reminders will help head off meltdowns when it’s time to transition from one thing to the next.

Be creative about new activities — and exercise
Incorporate new activities into your routine, like doing a puzzle or having family game time in the evening. For example, my family is baking our way through a favorite dessert cookbook together with my daughter as sous chef.

Build in activities that help everyone get some exercise (without contact with other kids or things touched by other kids, like playground equipment). Take a daily family walk or bike ride or do yoga — great ways to let kids burn off energy and make sure everyone is staying active.

David Anderson, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, recommends brainstorming ways to go “back to the 80s,” before the time of screen prevalence. “I’ve been asking parents to think about their favorite activities at summer camp or at home before screens,” he says. “They often then generate lists of arts and crafts activities, science projects, imaginary games, musical activities, board games, household projects, etc.”

Manage your own anxiety
It’s completely understandable to be anxious right now (how could we not be?) but how we manage that anxiety has a big impact on our kids. Keeping your worries in check will help your whole family navigate this uncertain situation as easily as possible.

“Watch out for catastrophic thinking,” says Mark Reinecke, PhD, a clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute. For example, assuming every cough is a sign you’ve been infected, or reading news stories that dwell on worst-case scenarios. “Keep a sense of perspective, engage in solution-focused thinking and balance this with mindful acceptance.”

For those moments when you do catch yourself feeling anxious, try to avoid talking about your concerns within earshot of children. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, step away and take a break. That could look like taking a shower or going outside or into another room and taking a few deep breaths.

Limit consumption of news
Staying informed is important, but it’s a good idea to limit consumption of news and social media that has the potential to feed your anxiety, and that of your kids. Turn the TV off and mute or unfollow friends or co-workers who are prone to sharing panic-inducing posts.

Take a social media hiatus or make a point of following accounts that share content that take your mind off the crisis, whether it’s about nature, art, baking or crafts.

Stay in touch virtually
Keep your support network strong, even when you’re only able to call or text friends and family. Socializing plays an important role in regulating your mood and helping you stay grounded. And the same is true for your children.

Let kids use social media (within reason) and Skype or FaceTime to stay connected to peers even if they aren’t usually allowed to do so. Communication can help kids feel less alone and mitigate some of the stress that comes from being away from friends.

Technology can also help younger kids feel closer to relatives or friends they can’t see at the moment. My parents video chat with their granddaughter every night and read her a (digital) bedtime story. It’s not perfect, but it helps us all feel closer and less stressed.

Make plans
In the face of events that are scary and largely out of our control, it’s important to be proactive about what you can control. Making plans helps you visualize the near future. How can your kids have virtual play dates? What can your family do that would be fun outside? What are favorite foods you can cook during this time? Make lists that kids can add to. Seeing you problem solve in response to this crisis can be instructive and reassuring for kids.

Even better, assign kids tasks that will help them feel that they are part of the plan and making a valuable contribution to the family.

Keep it positive
Though adults are feeling apprehensive, to most children the words “School’s closed” are cause for celebration. “My kid was thrilled when he found out school would be closing,” says Rachel Busman, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute. Parents, she says, should validate that feeling of excitement and use it as a springboard to help kids stay calm and happy.

Let kids know that you’re glad they’re excited, but make sure they understand that though it may feel like vacations they’ve had in the past, things will be different this time. For example, Dr. Busman suggests, “It’s so cool to have everyone home together. We’re going to have good time! Remember, though, we’ll still be doing work and sticking to a regular schedule.”

Keep kids in the loop — but keep it simple
“Talking to children in a clear, reasonable way about what’s going on is the best way to help them understand,” says Dr. Busman. “But remember kids don’t need to know every little thing.” Unless kids ask specifically, there’s no reason to volunteer information that might worry them.

For example, our two-year-old daughter Alice is used to seeing her grandparents regularly, but right now we’re keeping our distance to make sure everyone stays safe. When she asks about them we say: “We won’t see Grandma and Grandpa this week but we will see them soon!” We don’t say: “We’re staying away from Grandma and Grandpa because we could get them sick.” Older kids can handle — and expect — more detail, but you should still be thoughtful about what kinds of information you share with them.

Check in with little kids
Young children may be oblivious to the facts of the situation, but they may still feel unsettled by the changes in routine, or pick up on the fact that people around them are worried and upset. Plan to check in with younger children periodically and give them the chance to process any worries they may be having. Children who are tantruming more than usual, being defiant or acting out may actually be feeling anxious. Pick a calm, undistracted time and gently ask how they’re feeling and make sure to respond to outbursts in a calm, consistent, comforting way.

Sometimes the path of least resistance is the right path
Remember to be reasonable and kind to yourself. We all want to be our best parenting selves as much as we can, but sometimes that best self is the one that says, “Go for it,” when a kid asks for more time on the iPad. My daughter is watching Elmo’s World — and possibly drawing on the wall — as I write this. That shrill red Muppet is the only reason I’m able to write at all.

“We should forgive ourselves the image of perfection that we normally aspire to as parents,” says Dr. Anderson. “Maybe your kids don’t have TV or screens on the weeknights during the school year, but now that school is cancelled or online, we can give ourselves license to relax these boundaries a bit.  We can explain to our kids that this is a unique situation and re-institute boundaries once more when life returns to normal.”

Accept and ask for help
If you have a partner at home, agree that you’ll trade off when it comes to childcare. Especially if one or both of you are working from home and have younger children. That way everyone gets a break and some breathing room.

Everyone who can pitch in, should. Give kids age appropriate jobs. For example, teens might be able to help mind younger siblings when both parents have to work. Most children can set the table, help keep communal spaces clean, do dishes or take out the trash. Even toddlers can learn to pick up their own toys. Working as a team will help your whole family stay busy and make sure no one person (Mom) is overwhelmed.

“Be creative and be flexible,” says Dr. Busman, “and try not to be hard on yourself. You have to find a balance that works for your family. The goal should be to stay sane and stay safe.”


A Memorable Birthday

Tell me your most vivid birthday memory? I hope there’s a positive image that popped for you as you pondered the answer to that question.  I remember walking home with some friends after school and my mom inviting everyone in to have a slice of cake, which was in the form of an 8. I vividly remember how cool that cake looked and how good it felt to be surrounded by a loving community.

April 6, 2020 is the Center’s 48th birthday. Cue the music!

I have a feeling this is a birthday that will stand out in our memories. These are vivid times. In the last month we have made radical changes to our operations so that we can continue to live out our mission to walk with people on the path to hope and healing. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the coronavirus has caused us to change as much in a few days as we did over some decades—all perforce so that we might continue to be present to those most in need.

Examples abound…

Who knew one month ago that our Women Helping Women committee would find a way to transition an event that’s been around for over two decades from a luncheon gathering of over 600 (not recommended these days!) to an online gathering that will provide the same kind of inspiration, community, and generous support for the Center? I am so inspired by the efforts of our development team, the planning committee, our speaker, honoree and generous donors. We still have a month to go before the May 15th event, but their capacity to change radically is truly inspiring. Thank you!

Who could have imagined one month ago that we would transition our administrative services to a remote office in order to keep our workforce and those we serve safe? It has been amazing to watch the commitment and innovation required from our staff as they have not only imagined new ways to operate and support our clinicians, but literally to radically alter the way we do things in a matter of hours rather than weeks or years. It’s been hard work, but the reward of the efforts is the stuff of which a live of purpose is made.

Who, among our clients, had a sense that when they made an appointment with their counselor, spiritual director, or teacher a few weeks ago, would have considered the possibility that the encounter would be happening on a screen, rather than “live?” My admiration for clients and therapists goes well beyond words. Our services are needed more than ever in this anxious time of mitigation and neologisms. None of us had really heard of “Covid-19” until very recently. Now the mere utterance can raise blood pressure.  Thank you for all the courage it took to make those appointments possible! May the connections bear good fruit.

I must admit that as we were working on grants and asking donors to support us as we had lots of needs related to technology and getting the infrastructure in place to do telehealth and manage electronic health records, that none of us had any idea how urgent those “asks” were. Mental health stakeholders in general and our staff, board and donors in particular, positioned us to face this crisis head on. It’s been a bumpy transition at times, but we are here and we are doing our best to help as many as we can regardless of the resources one might bring to the healing process. The generosity of all who support our work has saved lives.

This is a birthday we will likely never forget. I am grateful for all those who made the first 48 years of our mission possible. I am also grateful for those of us that are a part of this current moment in the Center’s history and for the varied contributions that have made our services possible when the needs are urgent. It still feels wonderful to be surrounded by loving community.

Feel free to bring a present to the party by offering an online gift:


With a prayer for you and yours,


Care and Concern in the time of Coronavirus – Women Helping Women

COVID-19 and your safety:

2020 Women Helping Women Luncheon – a special announcement

  • For the safety of our community, the 2020 Women Helping Women luncheon will transition to an online experience.  While we will not be physically together in a ballroom, we will gather “virtually” to support women and children – and provide a balm for one another as we seek creative ways to build community during a time of social isolation. We have contracted with a professional production company to help ensure a high quality experience.
  • Sponsors and donors will continue to be recognized through 4,000 printed and electronic invitations, website, newsletter and social media. Additionally, sponsor visibility will be expanded by adding logos to all communications related to Women Helping Women.
  • The date and time remain the same:  Friday, May 15 at 11:30 a.m.  We will still be able to experience the wisdom of our speaker, Jackie Servellon, and honor community leader, Mary Riche.  And most importantly, your support will allow us to continue the event’s mission of providing hope and healing to those who experience depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.  In fact, those needs are increasing during this unprecedented time.
  • As of 3/28/20 the Center is offering mental health services exclusively through telehealth services. The building is closed to promote the safety of our clients, staff and community.
  • Thank you for your care and compassion for women, children and families who need high quality mental health services but are uninsured or underinsured.
  • For up to date information and coping resources, please visit our website often:
  • We will get through this together. Thank you.

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