Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of the Community
March 2023 - Published in: Spring 2023 Main Points Newsletter - One of the unique things about community foundations is that they are able to impact nearly every area of a community, and support every type of emerging need. One of those needs, more important now than ever, is the social and emotional health of local residents. Here are two ways MSCF was able to support local programs aimed at improving the social and emotional wellbeing of residents in the last year.
Support Dog Programs
The friendship between dogs and humans spans thousands of years all around the world, so it’s no wonder that dogs are being utilized to enhance the safety and security in local communities. At the Southington Police Department, they recently welcomed a new member of their team: K9 Luke Jacob. Luke Jacob is a fully trained emotional support companion and part of the Southington Emotional Support Dog Program, through which he is providing comfort to both Southington officers and community members. The program is supported by Main Street Community Foundation’s Jacob Perkins Memorial Fund. This designated fund was established in 2020 in memory of Jacob Allen Perkins, a young man who sadly committed suicide in October 2019. Jacob, a Southington resident, enjoyed many things including camping and being outdoors, and had a very strong affinity towards animals, especially dogs. An annual grant to the Southington Police Department benefits the Emotional Support Dog Program and Luke Jacob, who is named after Jacob Perkins.
But Southington is not the only town in the area bringing in dogs to assist public service departments; Bristol Police Department is taking those steps as well. Their support dog Frankie just completed her training in February and had her first day on patrol shortly after. With help from the Foundation in the form of a $2,460 grant from the Bristol Brass General Grant Fund and Tedesco-Gallant Charitable Fund, the Bristol Police Department was able to create a Service Dog program with the grant providing funds for the care and maintenance of the dog, like vet bills, food, and toys. Through this program, Frankie acts as a community outreach companion to assist patrol officers when they are interacting with people in crisis, suffering from a mental health issue, or are victims of a traumatic event. Additionally, the Department plans to purchase Carter Kits Sensory bags for each of their 12 patrol cars, which contain items that will aid children and adults in crisis.
MSCF is proud to support these programs that are doing so much good for the local communities - the presence of these dogs is sure to provide comfort and joy to everyone they meet.
Inclusive and Gender-Affirming Care
With its 54-year history of expert health care, Wheeler Health is always looking for ways to improve the health of the communities and populations they serve. Wheeler Health launched a program made to address a community need with a severe local service gap. The program, Walk With Me, aims to provide specialized outpatient treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ+) patients who are seeking therapeutic and/or peer support to address their specific needs. With no other in-person support services for the LGBTQ+ community in the local service area, and the CDC reporting significant health disparities between LGBTQ+ youth and their peers, this program is an integral component to fulfilling the social and emotional needs of residents.
Walk With Me provides a wide variety of care for LGBTQ+ youth and adults, including primary care, individual and family therapy, LGBTQ+ affirming psychiatric care, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and peer support services, as well as providing information, support and guidance to LGBTQ-identifying youth, adults, and their families. Having access to this care and the support of parents/caregivers is vitally important to reducing the risk of suicide and decreasing depression and anxiety for LGBTQ youth, as well as enhancing the lives and care of LGBTQ+ adults. This program is partially funded by a $5,000 grant awarded by MSCF from the Bristol Brass General Grant Fund, an unrestricted community fund dedicated to improving the quality of life in MSCF’s service area; a mission that is undoubtedly furthered by Wheeler Health’s Walk With Me program.