September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and on this - the penultimate day of September - the question is, did you know that? If so, what did you learn this month? What did you teach?
Nationally, we have many months with many (often overlapping) assigned causes. Though individuals and organizations attempt to raise awareness throughout each month, it’s often easy to miss or simply stop noticing. The NFL fields, for example, will be dotted with pink for Breast Cancer throughout October, but how many will see that and be reminded to learn more about risk factors, donate to research or take other action? How many will just see cool cleats?
Calls for awareness and action are important. Months of opportunity for learning are valuable. But we have to remember to take note. We have to remember to pay attention in the month and beyond.
As National Suicide Prevention Month ends, remember this: suicide is preventable. Learn more about how you can be a part of that prevention here.
On September 8, the Queen of England passed away, plunging the UK and many other parts of the world into a (sometimes complicated) grief. Three days later, the United States marked the 21st anniversary of September 11. And for the past two and a half years, the world has experienced a tremendous loss through the COVID-19 pandemic. While each of these events impact the individual differently, they are all examples of collective grief.
Collective grief is something that happens when a community - large or small - experiences the same loss. A shared response such as this can offer healing, as community members come together to support and remember. However, it can also cause conflict as individuals react in a wide range of ways.
Society today is forever interwoven. We will inevitably continue to experience loss as large and small communities. We will inevitably mourn together while mourning individually. In doing so, we must remember to support each other while leaving space for personal response and emotions. As ever and as we have said many times since 2020, though we may all be in the same storm, we are in different boats.
My nephew recently left for his freshman year of college. As he did, my sister was told that there are three times through the first semester that her son will be most homesick - at 3 days, when the newness fades and he realizes this is it, at 3 weeks when he realizes how much work is involved and at 3 months when finals hit.
For most colleges in the area, we are at three weeks right now, and those first year students are in deep with papers, reading material, quizzes, presentations and more. If/when they begin to feel overwhelmed, many will call home to talk to their parents, their grandparents, even their siblings for an ounce of reassurance. But what about the students who don’t have someone to call or whose phone call only adds more stress to their day?
For many young people who have aged out of foster care, they do so without a caring adult or only with caring adults who came into their lives as professionals (case managers, counselors, etc.). At the R.J. Leonard Foundation, we aim to match Fellows with that caring adult - someone they can call when the course load feels like too much or even when it feels like too little.
If you’d like to be that person, that Mentor, contact the R.J. Leonard Foundation here.
RJLF is excited to welcome two interns for the 2022-23 school year! Casey and Kait join us from Gwynedd Mercy University where they study social work. Over the next 9 months, they will help us with events, workshops, resources and more. We can’t wait for them to get started and, even more, for you to get to know them. Learn a little more about Casey and Kait below!
Hi! I’m Casey, RJLF's newest intern! I have explored plenty of different majors throughout my college years, from education to wanting to be a radiologic technologist. It wasn’t until I found Social Work that I knew this is the career path I should be on. I have always been driven to give others the resources they need to thrive in society. When I first learned about RJLF I knew that this is where I wanted to intern. I'm all in when it comes to children or young adults and making their lives the best that I can be! I look forward to learning more about the foster care system and RJLF throughout my time here!
Hello! My name is Kait. I am the new senior intern here at RJLF! In my final year at Gwynedd Mercy University, I have joined the team in helping change the lives of young adults forever. With my own experience in foster care, it has become my mission to give back to the community and help provide additional resources and support to children and young adults who strive for a positive future. Having experiences in healthcare, geriatrics, infant care, and many more, as I near graduation I have realized that my passion for Social Work lies within young adult care. Previous mentors, professors, and fellow Social Workers have prepared me to utilize my education and life experiences to not only support foster youth, but leave a positive impact on this system. I look forward to working with the RJLF and can’t wait to learn so much more!
One of RJLF’s Fellows recently received a chronic health diagnosis - a diagnosis that she can manage but that has scared her nonetheless. In trying to find her a support group, someone to talk to about the changes she has to make and the daunting nature of “lifelong”, we found . . . nothing. The local association does not hold or know of any support groups, and Googling is overwhelming, unconfirmed and ultimately unhelpful.
We are fortunate enough at RJLF to have a variety of Board Members, one of whom is a nurse and offered to speak with the Fellow. However, we know that this is not an isolated incident. Our Fellows will frequently face challenges that require previously unknown/untapped resources. That’s where you come in.
We want to know what is available in Bucks and Montgomery Counties and the surrounding areas. We want to be able to point our Fellows in the right direction when they need support. If you know of a resource that might be helpful now or in the future, please reach out, so that we can add it to our list.