Tough times need not become desperate times.
Because there are people out there who have made it their job to find help for those most in need of it.
Three stories we ran in the Clarion over the past week come to mind as we talk about some difficult social issues.
The first was a story on a recent report released by the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council. The numbers make it clear that suicide remains a serious issue in our community, but progress is being made in bringing the issue out into the open.
A look behind the numbers reveals the work of, among others, J.R. Myers, the emergency services team leader at Cottonwood Health Center in Soldotna. Myers told the Clarion that he's seen an increase in emergency calls and suicide attempts. People in need of help span all demographic groups.
Myers asked the community to reach out to those in distress.
"This is really not an individual problem; it's a community problem," Myers said. "I think we all have a responsibility to reach out when people are down, because when people are in the throes of depression they often cannot reach out themselves."
The second story was that of Dani Kebschull, the local coordinator for the National Family Caregivers Support Program. In her role, Kebschull often sees families at their wits' end as they try to care for a family member.
"They are in tears -- and I've seen men in tears, I've seen women in tears -- and they come to my office because they don't know what to do," Kebschull told the Clarion.
Kebschull helps those people by providing information and matching them with services available. But she says that there are more people who qualify as caregivers and could benefit from help, but don't realize it.
"You don't even have to be related. You can be a friend, you can be a family member, or a neighbor," Kebschull said. "... If you're any kind of person with a heart, you just feel so bad and you want to help them."
The third story has to do with the mentoring program run by the Boys and Girls Club in Soldotna. Clubhouse director Kim Lee initiated the program for kids who would benefit from a little extra one-on-one time with an adult.
"She didn't want to do it at first, but then after the second time she was like, 'Mom, I love it,'" said Shanda Hall, the mother of a girl who was matched with mentor Sharon Hale. "It's given her a lot of attention that she needed."
Lee said that if she could, she'd find a mentor for every club member.
"I told them that everybody could use a mentor," Lee said.
We are fortunate to live in a place where caring people are available to find help for some of the toughest issues people deal with. Something that affects an individual or a family will eventually, in one way or another, affect the entire community. This is a tough time of year for many people. It's cold and dark, and spring can feel like it's a lifetime away.
Please, reach out to your friends and neighbors. If you're in a position to help, volunteer or serve as a mentor, make the time and do it -- you won't regret it.
And if you feel like you need some help, please, just ask. There's caring people out there who want to help.
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