LUK, Inc. Blog

National Volunteer Week 2017

by Hilary Amedy, Mentoring Program Coordinator

Have you ever wished that you could say “thank you” to someone who has performed a service to our community?  You have that opportunity during National Volunteer Week, which takes place April 23-29 this year.  Volunteers are one of our country’s most important assets and programs like the LUK Mentoring Program are volunteer driven. We would not exist if it we didn’t have the dedicated volunteers that we have.

National Volunteer Week began in 1974 when President Nixon signed an executive order establishing the week as an annual celebration of volunteering.  Since then, every U.S. President has signed a proclamation promoting National Volunteer Week, which has grown each year with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week. National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognize and thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes they care about in their community.

Volunteers reach out beyond themselves, to engage in kindness and caring for others. People from all walks of life engage in volunteerism for a variety of reasons. Recently, a volunteer who applied to be a mentor with the LUK Mentoring Program stated that her reason for wanting to volunteer is that she loves working with young people; that she had a lot of help in her life and wants to give back. Another volunteer said she just wants to give back and hopes she will be someone a youth will be comfortable talking with; one felt she had positive role models in her life and she will feel good about being there for someone who needs some extra support; another has liked coaching sports in the past but wants to be able to focus on being there for one youngster; and one young man had a mentor when he was growing up and knows first-hand what a difference it made in his life.

The LUK Mentoring Program has incredible volunteers who spend time mentoring, serve on the Mentoring Advisory Board and help with fundraising events like the Kids at Heart Mentoring Gala. When we asked Kelly J. why she became a mentor she stated, “1 hour a week is a small commitment when the bigger picture is the lifelong impact you will make on a child.” Domenic Z responded, “Just to see the pure joy on your mentee’s face when you go to pick him up and hear him reminisce about time that you spend together, times you thought were so normal but to him were phenomenal and John M says, “Anyone interested in joining a non-profit board should take a good look at LUK Mentoring,” and if they are interested, he recommends becoming a mentor too as he believes they go hand-in-hand and make him a more informed and vested board member.

According to the latest Volunteering and Civic Life in America report from the Corporation for National and Community Service, 62.6 million people in the United States volunteered in 2015, collectively donating 7.8 billion hours of their time to their communities – an estimated $184 billion worth of service. Volunteers in the LUK Mentoring Program donated approximately 3,648 hours of time last year through 1:1 mentoring, serving on the Mentoring Advisory Board and towards fundraising events.

Please take a moment to recognize the volunteers who make our community a better place and go to www.facebook.com/lukmentoring where we are highlighting our generous mentors and volunteers.

If you would like to be a LUK Mentor, serve on the Mentoring Advisory Board or help with our fundraising efforts go to www.luk.org/mentoring or call 1-800-579-0000 and ask for Mentoring staff. 

A Holiday Message

by Maurie Bergeron, Director of TIL Services

When we think about the holidays, it often conjures up scenes of family dinners, laughing, roaring fires, eating, drinking, gifts, beautiful lights, and trees. We associate words like joy, peace, sharing, giving, warmth, and togetherness. Christmas music saturates the airwaves in November and store displays announce the coming season sometimes before all the leaves have even hit the ground.  We are inundated by these images, and with the support of the media we construct a vision of how things are "supposed to be."  We internalize this vision and create stories about the fact that if we are "good" our holiday will look like this as well. 

Unfortunately in the real world - the world outside of marketing and media - in the world where people are unique and families are multi-dimensional and thoughts and feelings exist, the reality of this vision is often fleeting at best. Eggnog spills, cats knock over Christmas trees, people get laid off, the baggage of history arrives with family, families fracture and generations of experiences and feelings surface. Whether we are alone or in the midst of people, many of us experience shame or unworthiness - a sense that who we are and what we have can’t and won’t be enough. That somehow if our world deviates from these joy- filled scenarios – we are "bad," that somehow there is something wrong with us.

But this is just not true.  Our vision of how things are "supposed to be" is the problem – not you, not me, not us – but the "supposed to be."  The images of other people, other families are just that – images.

I can remember how families were portrayed on television when I was a child and thinking, "if only we were like that." I can remember going to a friend’s house to play thinking, "if only we were like this." The television families were actors, quite honestly – many of whom struggled a great deal in their lives and some who sadly lost that struggle. As for my friend’s family, nothing was as perfect as it seemed, I found out, when her parents got divorced and my friend moved away.

The concept of "supposed to be" is fraught with misinformation and pain. And the premise that somehow during a particular time of year we should be kind to one another, that we should be grateful and giving, well in my humble opinion, this is misguided as well.

Let us begin now to work towards accepting the reality of who we are in real life – as real people with real problems, sorrows, joys and gifts. Let us allow ourselves to be imperfect, different than what we are told we are "supposed to be," because we are so much more than that. You are so much more than that. Let us be gentle with ourselves and allow ourselves to recognize it is okay to be sad if we feel sad. Whatever you feel is authentically yours. Own it. Let us recognize that if the holiday season is hard for you, there is nothing wrong with you. You are perfectly you. There is no shame in struggling through this time of year – nor is there shame in rejoicing in it. There is no right way to do this. There is only your way. And let us not forget that what we see is not always real, that we are not alone in our struggles. Let us remember that each of us wrestles with our history, our ghosts, differently, so be kind – always – not just during the holidays.

There may be times when our feelings can become more than we believe we can handle. There may be times when we feel we are totally alone and want to give up. There is always hope and you are never truly alone. If you need someone to reach out to – you can call any of these hotlines 24 hrs. a day, 365 days a year  National Suicide Prevention Hotline  Trans Lifeline  VA Suicide Hotline

 

Remember you are worthy. You are perfectly you. Peace - always.

TIPS Training for Our Servers: Why is this Crucial?

By Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

For Substance Abuse Prevention Month, LUK is featuring a series of blogs specially discussing substance abuse prevention activities.

It doesn’t matter what bar you go into in the United States, I’m willing to bet that your bartender is going to be TIPS trained (Trainings for Intervention ProcedureS).

This training started in 1982 by Dr. Morris Chafetz. Dr. Chafetz helped found the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse and served as the first director. He developed this program to help bartenders and servers be more confident in their abilities and to prevent the patrons of restaurants from drinking in excess.

This training comes with many benefits for the business, staff, and community. For the businesses, TIPS Training helps with liability concerns, prevents property damage, and legal problems. Not only does TIPS training prevent insurance increases, but can qualify a business for insurance discounts. This training can also help with regulation and with making the establishment more welcoming for customers.The staff the benefit from increasing their skills, and learning how to protect themselves and their employer from legal action in the case of over-serving or serving alcohol to an underage person. Even better, TIPS training may even help increase tips by strengthening their professionalism!

Lastly, TIPS training helps the community by improving education surrounding underage drinking and over-indulgence. Well-trained servers help to decrease the chance of someone driving while intoxicated. This leads to fewer accidents and fewer deaths and injuries, meaning more people can travel safely.

The cost for TIPS training varies by location. However, LUK Prevention staff members qualified to provide TIPS training at a discount to organizations in Fitchburg/Leominster area.  Please call 800-579-0000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. For more information about TIPS, please visit www.gettips.com. For more information about LUK’s Substance Abuse Prevention Services, please visit www.LUK.org/Prevention, call 800-579-0000, or like the Prevention Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LUKPrevention.

Check back next week for information on the connection between mental health and substance use disorders.

All information taken from the www.gettips.com site.

How Mental Health Can Affect Substance Use Disorders

by Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

For Substance Abuse Prevention Month, LUK is featuring a series of blogs specially discussing substance abuse prevention activities.

In recent years, Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) have been identified as a mental health illness. For many people, another mental health illness comes along with SUDs and it’s hard to identify which one started first. SAMHSA has designed the SPF (Strategic Prevention Framework) to provide a community based approach for prevention, intervention, and treatment for both.  

SAMHSA estimates that, as of 2014, 43.6 million people have a mental illness in the United States. In the same survey, it is estimated that 20.2 million people have a SUD and 7.9 million suffer from both. Mental illnesses can have a big impact on how we make choices and socialize with other people, as well as our mood, thinking, and behavior. Sometimes the biggest coping mechanisms for those that aren’t in treatment for their mental illness is a behavior that can end up being very dangerous, such as SUDs.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse those with a severe mental illness are 4 times more likely to be considered a heavy alcohol user, which means consuming 4 or more drinks per day. They are also 3.5 times more likely to regularly use marijuana and 4.6 times more likely to use other drugs. The biggest relationship, however, is with smoking. Those with a severe mental illness are 5.1 times more likely to smoke daily. So the question now becomes: if we were to crack down on those with mental illness and get them into treatment, can we prevent these 7.9 million people from having a SUD as well? With increased mental health services and better access, it’s possible. The first thing that will need to be done is to Shatter the Stigma on mental health and SUDs. Stigmatization is the greatest barrier to individuals seeking help, because they feel as though they will be looked down on. We will also need to watch for warning signs in our friends and family members. If you think someone who may need help, say something. For all the teens out there, Instagram has developed a new feature where you can flag a picture if you think someone might be fighting a battle that they need help (and it’s completely anonymous).  Together we can help the people we love get the services we need and decrease that 7.9 million people who have a mental illness and a Substance Use Disorder.

For information on you can help Shatter the Stigma to help people access services please visit http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/stop-addiction/state-without-stigma

For more information about LUK’s Substance Abuse Prevention Services, please visit www.LUK.org/Prevention, call 800-579-0000, or like the Prevention Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LUKPrevention.

References:

http://www.samhsa.gov/prevention/samhsas-efforts

http://www.samhsa.gov/disorders

 

https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2014/01/severe-mental-illness-tied-to-higher-rates-substance-use

Compliance Checks

By Libby Baker, SAPC West Coordinator

For Substance Abuse Prevention Month, LUK is featuring a series of blogs specially discussing substance abuse prevention activities.

\Have you heard of Compliance Checks?

Compliance checks are tool used to prevent youth access to alcohol. It is one of the many techniques use by LUK to prevent underage substance use and keep our communities safe During a compliance check, an undercover youth (who is under 21 and under the supervision of law enforcement personnel) goes into a liquor store and tries to buy alcohol. We ask our youth not to carry any I.D. with them while they are doing their part in the compliance check, and here’s why:  if the store fails to ask for the I.D., the youth simply walks away, and the store is penalized. However, if the youth is asked to show identification, then we know that the establishment is doing its due diligence. Either way, the purchase is never completed.

Compliance checks are a fairly simple and effective tool; they have been shown to reduce crime and alcohol-related problems among youth. When the law is enforced by not selling alcohol to someone who is underage, we’re helping to prevent a variety of risky behaviors, including driving under the influence, violence, and unsafe sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancy. Compliance checks also send a message – they remind people that preventing underage drinking takes a community effort.

Prior to performing compliance checks in the community, an announcement is publicized with a date range for the checks. This can allow for managers to review policies with staff, and helps to maintain good relationships between agencies (like LUK), and the stores. By working together, we can help keep our communities educated and safe. Remember: in keeping with the law, only adults aged 21 or over can purchase and consume alcohol.

Check back next week for information about TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS)! 

For more information about prevention in your community, visit www.LUK.org/Prevention, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LUKPrevention.

Resources:

Environmental Prevention of Underage Drinking
https://www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings/pdf/2014/AlcoholComplianceChecks_508.pdf

 

Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK37591

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