The Rotary Club of Naperville Downtown, in recognition of the great toll COVID 19 has had on everyone’s mental health, is asking you to burn your most harmful, hurtful memories. Your contribution of at least $20 will help Loaves and Fishes feed those who are facing serious food challenges. Your donation will also support NAMI DuPage as the nonprofit works with people who have lost their jobs and homes and who have seen their families pulled apart by this pandemic.
For $20, you can write three things that you want to see go up in flames. The Great Burnout of COVID-19 will happen on December 27th, helping you get back on track for 2021! Your donation will ensure someone is fed, counseled, and healed!
Overview of NAMI DuPage programs addressing current mental health needs
The pandemic and mental health needs:
Before 2020, one in five Americans experienced mental illness every year. Since the pandemic, the number of Americans with anxiety has tripled, and those with depression have increased fourfold. It is not surprising that mental illness would skyrocket with hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions more infected with the coronavirus, combined with job/income loss, violence on the streets and in our homes.
Suicide in DuPage County has increased by 23% and fatal drug overdoses are up 52% over last year. The DuPage County Coroner also did an investigation into each case and found common threads—depression, substance abuse, relationship and/or financial problems, and in nearly every case, isolation.
NAMI DuPage provides free and low-cost mental health services to over 30,000 people in DuPage County every year. Throughout the pandemic, NAMI DuPage has provided a variety of online and in-person programs including peer counseling, online recreation programs, telephone information and referral, classes for families, support groups, job coaching, and online employment classes. In addition, NAMI DuPage has operated its Living Room program (an alternative to the Emergency Room) at regular hours, and in-person throughout the pandemic. Our onsite Print Shop has also remained open. In an effort to reduce isolation, NAMI DuPage hosted an Octoberfest at the fairgrounds with three local bands and a variety of activities, including goat yoga and a costume contest!
Although 2020 has felt like the worst of times for mental health, we believe that with treatment, support, and community involvement, we can make 2021 the best of times.
We start with the Burning Covid Bonfire!
“If not for Loaves & Fishes, I wouldn’t even have any groceries. You’re literally saving my life and relieving the stress of choosing paying rent and utilities or buying groceries. I can’t say enough about your service and sacrifice … you have gone above and beyond helping those of us who need this help.
— Client Mary
Before the pandemic, Loaves & Fishes’ grocery assistance program served, on average, 789 families a week. We are now serving approximately 900-1,000 families a week. Loaves & Fishes relies on local grocery partners for its food rescue program. During the beginning of the pandemic, we experienced a significant reduction in this food supply; additionally, we were unable to accept physical food donations due to safety concerns. Because of these challenges, we were purchasing far more food to meet the demand.
Our Loaves & Fishes CARES Programs provide additional resources to help struggling families with essential needs. Our volunteer team adapted to virtual consultations and worked around the clock, assisting clients needing help for utilities and rent. Calls for this emergency assistance have doubled during the pandemic.
Food insecurity and financial distress continue to rise, and families will continue to need our help. The community has very graciously stepped up to help us address the increase in demand. The community gets involved in some way whether through contributions, volunteering, or hosting a food drive or virtual food drive. We are so proud to live in a community that selflessly sets hope into motion for thousands of struggling families.
About Loaves & Fishes Community Services
Loaves & Fishes Community Services is a registered 501(c)(3) organization that has served our community since 1984. Our vision is to end hunger and transform lives. Our mission is to provide healthy food and impactful programs to promote self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.loaves-fishes.org.
For centuries, the incorporation of fire and burning have been pivotal instrumentals for the release of pain, healing, and restoration. The inclusion of fire and burning in healing traditions across the world has and continues to be used by global communities to push forward and find freedom from pain and hardship. Among the many century-old traditions are:
- The fire lantern release ceremonies, which have existed for over 800 centuries at the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals in Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos
- The “Burning Bowl” ritual, which has been practiced since the time of indigenous peoples in the Americas
- The “Swinging Fireballs” has been practiced in Scotland since Viking times, and
- The “Burning of the Old Year” in Beliz, Guatemala, and Nicaragua has been around for centuries
These traditions have transcended generations because they are both healing and unifying. They manifested out of an inherent human need to have release and restoration following a struggle. This is the very essence of this event — it is an act of freeing ourselves from our struggles and seeking a new beginning. And, we can help others in the process with your $25 donation. Just as with Loy Krathong, Yi Peng, the Burning Bowl, and the Swinging Fireballs, our DuPage Community can and will heal together.
The mental health impact of COVID has been unprecedented, as has the demand for mental health services. The statistics are sobering. We have all experienced some form of pain and loss since last March. Families have lost connection, marriages have been strained, jobs have been lost, children are struggling, our work and life is not what we expect it to be, and questioning value and purpose has never been easier. Depression, anxiety, deep inner turmoil, and identity loss struggles are driving extremely unhealthy behaviors and coping sources — to “escape” the pain, which is only leading to more loss; within one’s self and with those they love. And, for many, the mental health loss has taken place alongside an absence of safety and security; evidenced by the quadrupling of Loaves & Fishes demand.
Our current mental health needs as a community are tremendous. Individuals need help and are reaching out for counseling and support when they have access to it. Grow Wellness Group, a Naperville-based counseling, and therapy practice opened 15 months ago. Prior to March, an average of 130 clients were seen per month. At present, Grow Wellness Group serves over 250 clients per month with 14 counselors on staff. Since last March, they have seen client need for services increase to the point where the practice has had to expand both physical space and counselors on staff in order to be in a position to support our DuPage community during COVID times. This is one of many stories illustrating our community’s well-being and demand for mental wellness services.
Opportunities to acknowledge and let go of our pain and loss, and do so united as a community, are currently rare yet crucial to our own healing. This opportunity provides just that. We can all show up to support one another, and support the healing of our community and ourselves.