It’s easy for us facilitators to get lost in what we think we are achieving at New Leaf, just the same as it is for members of the community to form their own personal idea of what we do within our green walls. However, this week, while sifting through piles of old files and notes, we came across a list of goals our clients had said they had hoped to achieve by coming to our program from 2007.
It is always interesting and helpful for us to get feedback from our clients, especially when given the opportunity to see what they want to get from us and what they feel they do get from us at the end of their time here. Finding this list gave us insight into what we should be doing and an opportunity to reflect on what we are doing well today.
As a summer student intern, I have no idea what was going on in the program in 2007, however looking at this list today, I can identify aspects of each of the goals our guys set out on that warm September night 10 years ago in the work we have done in the past six weeks. While I cannot attest to what the guys felt they were learning with us 10 years ago, I do know that these goals are playing out every night in group today.
I think the goals they guys set out reflect the values New Leaf has always dedicated itself to, but serve as a good reminder of the work we are doing and where our focus should lie during group. They guys identified;
Every day we walk into group somewhat blind; we have an idea of what our guys were struggling with the last time we saw them or major events they had coming up, but we are never certain of who will walk through the door or what will be on their mind. I personally feel like the goals the guys shared with us 10 years ago give us a guiding light with which to lead our sessions, regardless of the individual struggle each guy is going through on that particular night. Finding this reminder of what the guys want to get from us helps us guide discussion and create links between what each guy is going through on their own and provides us with the opportunity to address the bigger picture and give the guys something they can take home, think about, and work with.
This list of goals also goes beyond our meeting room; the things the guys identified that they would like to learn and work on in their lives and with us are relevant to every individual and every relationship. We hope looking at these goals also serves as a good reminder to everyone that we need to constantly be working on ourselves and developing our relationships in positive ways.
Sarah Toole – Admin Assistant, Summer Student Position
We are now into February and the longer days bring with them the promise of spring. People seem a little more upbeat somehow. Spring, to me means that my world opens up and I can breathe again. I am looking forward to being outside working in my garden and listening to the many happy sounding bird songs. I love that the children spend more time outside, running off their energy. I always feel more alive as my flowers find their way back to their rightful places and the trees get reacquainted with their leaves.
I am also mindful that this time of year arrives with many people who are struggling also. I was surprised to learn that spring has the highest rate of suicide than any other time of year. I was also surprised to learn that, although women attempt suicide significantly more often than men, men have the highest death rate because they tend to use more violent means.
There are many reasons why people find themselves actually considering ending their lives. Some of these reasons may not even make sense to somebody else, but these reasons are real to someone who is depressed or to someone who has just suffered a loss, for instance.
Generally speaking, those who are feeling suicidal will try to tell someone. Maybe in a casual or off-handed way, or maybe they will just blurt it out. Either way, if you feel someone is thinking about suicide, ask them. Not everyone is comfortable talking about this and some people say they are afraid to ask because they don’t want to put the idea in their head. Statistics show that if someone is saying things like, “The world is just better off without me”; “No one cares anyway”; or, “I wish I were dead”, chances are they are already considering it, especially on the anniversary of a loss; especially if the loss was through suicide, or if they are depressed.
Asking them if they are considering killing themselves doesn’t mean that you have to know the right things to say to keep them alive. There is no right thing to say really. They just need to know that you care enough to ask and to help get them to the people who are trained to work on this issue. Sometimes they agree to go on their own, sometimes they need someone to take them, or sometimes you need to call the police to take them. It’s okay if they are angry at you because being angry is much better than being dead. So if they have made you promise not to tell anyone, tell people anyway. People who can get them to the help they need. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
There are also some very good training for those who would like to learn how to ask the question. One of them is called, “Safe Talk” and is often offered free in various communities.
Enjoy your spring everyone, be kind to each other, and stay safe.
New Leaf and community contributors