Northern Nevada Dream Center Executive Director Susan Sorenson, right, and Director of Programs and Volunteers Bethany Herzing provide information to a student May 25, 2022 at a Carson City Mental Health Community Fair .
Photo by Jessica Garcia.
On Wednesday, students and families seeking local resources for National Mental Health Awareness Month had the opportunity to meet with leaders and volunteers representing local agencies at the Carson City Community Center to learn how to get help or access enrichment tools.
Carson City School District Coordinator Michelle Cleveland, a licensed professional on assignment who oversees school social workers, said the event was the first community resource fair to help families and children meet their needs.
“Our goal is to connect the community to resources, especially our families before the kids come home for the summer,” Cleveland said. “And so, this event is something new for all of us to bring all of our community partners together under one roof so that our families really get a sense of what’s available out there.”
The show offered access to agencies such as Carson Tahoe Behavioral Health Services, Capital City CIRCLES Initiative, Grounded Roots Therapy, Serenity Mental Health and Juntos Carson City 4H Youth Programming and more.
Kaitlyn Griffiths, a school social worker representing Mark Twain Elementary School, sat at the National Alliance on Mental Illness table and helped spread the organization’s information. Griffiths said the year so far has been positive but difficult for students of Mark Twain.
“It’s been a lot of struggles with COVID,” she said. “Everyone feels like it’s whiplash; first we are told this, then we are told this. It’s still a work in progress. We hope that next year looks like a normal year.
But Griffiths said there are general misconceptions in the community about mental health issues in general. She said she was in favor of holding the fair for interested families to ask questions of local organizations or school staff members.
“There’s a lot of stigma and not enough education about it, and I think we wanted to be such an advocate because I think a lot of families don’t know what to do when faced with health issues. mentally with their student or themselves,” Griffiths said.
Northern Nevada Dream Center Executive Director Susan Sorenson led a table with Director of Programs and Volunteers Bethany Herzing, who provided materials to everyone who visited their booth. The NNDC helps to meet the basic needs of the homeless by providing emergency food boxes, clothing, toiletries, educational services and services for children and offers vocational training to use the Internet, smartphones and extended classes, Sorensen said.
“We know parents are under pressure, and it’s been really important to support them,” she said. “With the past three years of our Back to School Bash, parents and students have been in our hearts. … We always follow the need.
Sorensen said that although the Dream Center has been in Carson City for 12 years, it has experienced what she calls the “COVID fallout” with its work doubling since 2020.
“COVID has changed everything,” she said. “We never closed our doors and we continued to serve. … We love our city. Carson City is a great community.