Caring for our Youth and Young Adults – Recap and Resources

Thanks to Amber Nickels and also to Kristen Gillman for sharing their wisdom and resource ideas with us on Sunday, October 27th at AfterWORDS. After our 4-Sunday series in September there was a wealth of information and ideas from these two professional mental health specialists and the group that gathered after worship at the house.

This is a feeble attempt to compile and share what was talked about in that session.  For those who were there, please add or edit to make this report more complete.

Kristen offered us a formula for involvement with youth and young adults, particularly high school students.  Here are the three levels of entry:

  1. Influencer – someone who works in the background to raise awareness, who “knows” about the challenges and needs and can share and inform others.
  2. Front Liner – someone who leads out in front either with kids (e.g., Big Brother/Big Sister, Rise Sister Rise) or organizations (e.g., Urban League, ACLU).
  3. Giving – someone who wants to use their financial resources perhaps anonymously but in any case wishes to donate to organizations that directly work with and help youth.

Tangible ways to help:

Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, Columbus Schools (we are connected through Kristen Gillman, a regular at 8 am service and counselor at Fort Hayes). Help with supplies for the school’s store, “The Fort Store” – here is a link to Amazon to buy needed supplies that ship directly to the high school –

Neighborhood Bridges was started by Rick Bannister of Westerville and is spreading out now to other states.  Currently the organization serves 18 communities, has impacted 25,106 people, filled 1,343 needs and fulfilled 93% of the requests for help. Neighborhood Bridges posts “Opportunities for Kindness” and you can sign up to receive emails about current needs. For needs here in Westerville, go to this link:

Supporting the Girls, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering young girls and women in need by providing them with new bras and handwritten notes of affirmation.  Our connection is through Wendy and Dean Johnston, regulars at the 10:30 am service, the choir and often at AfterWORDS.  Wendy and Dean’s daughters, Sarah and Hartlee, founded this effort in 2012 and this December there will be a workshop to help write this year’s handwritten notes of affirmation that go out with EVERY bra.  Be on the lookout for more details of the date and time of the workshop and in the meantime visit their Facebook page:

Mrs. Rutherford’s 6th grade class, Blendon Middle School –  we’ve joined with Triumphant Church of God (Pastor Vaughn Bell) in Westerville to support this class and the needs of the classroom.  Glenn Mryes is the St. Matthew contact and will keep us informed of what Mrs. Rutherford needs for the classroom and/or the students.  Currently (November 2019) the call is for 1″ 3-ring binders and dividers.  Bring to the house and Glenn will be sure they get to the classroom.

For those wanting a deeper involvement, Amber shared with us the “Host Home Network” volunteer program through KYC Ohio, Kaleidoscope Youth Center (  Host homes provide short-term, supportive housing for young people ages 18-24, who are experiencing homelessness or unsafely housed.  To learn more contact the Housing Program Manager, Heather Wise, MSW at

Items that Amber Nickels suggested would always be welcome for her at her office at Grandveiw Heights are:  Capri Sun, Granola Bars, water and Fruit rolls.

Other resources or connections to make:

Heidi-Weaver Smith of LOVEboldly shared an article with us to answer the question of the impact a trusted adult might have with LGBTQ youth.  Amazingly just one supportive adult cuts the chance of LGBTQ attempted suicide by 40%!  Here’s the article:  One Supportive Adult or copy and paste this link into your browser:

You will recall that Amber introduced us to ACE – Adverse Childhood Experiences and the astounding facts that more than 46 percent of U.S. youth—34 million children under age 18—have had at least one ACE, and more than 20 percent have had at least two. Following the questionnaire we also looked at the Resilience questionnaire.  Here is a link to both:  I remind us of these two resources in order to add to the resource list the Grief Recovery Method for Children called “When Children Grieve” ( This is a book that can be self-guided but there is also a class at least twice a year in Westerville.  Our own Lindsay Smith is a certified Grief Recovery Trainer and will welcome questions.  I have attended the Grief Recovery course twice and recently completed the Children’s program and I’ll be glad to share my experience as well.

Contact has been initiated with Tami Santa, LISW-S, Coordinator Student Assitance Programs in the Westerville school district.  I hope to meet with her soon and will share what I learn so stay tuned!

I am working to connect with Mary Traverse at Mental Health American of Franklin County. They provide free training to the public called “Mental Health First Aid” to help identity risk factors and warning signs of mental illness, how to listen non-judgmentally, give reassurance and information, encourage professional help and other appropriate support strategies. They will often bring a class to a group so perhaps in the near future we can host a session at St. Matt’s.  Stay tuned.

Can’t recall much about this program but the Project for Awesome (P4A) was mentioned and it’s coming up on December 6-8, 2019.  You can learn more here:

If I left out anything, please add!!

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