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Catholic Foundation of N. Georgia & AARC for Mental Health Counseling Program

Catholic Foundation of N. Georgia & AARC for Mental Health Counseling Program

Within the past two decades, the number of people suffering from depression and mental health disorders has exponentially increased, making suicide one of the biggest causes of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. Over the past several years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have suffered from mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in 2020, approximately 1 in 5 adults or 21% of U.S. adults have experienced mental illness, and 1 in 20 adults or 5.6% of U.S. adults have experienced serious mental illness. Mental illness also affects the younger age groups as well. In 2016, approximately 7.7 million children or 16.5% of U.S. youth between 6-17 years of age have experienced a mental health disorder. Mental illness affects all demographic groups among U.S. adults. Studies have shown that the following groups were affected in the U.S: Asians (13.9%), White (22.6%), black or African-American (17.3%), American Indian or Alaska Native (18.7%), mixed/multiracial (35.8%), Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (16.6%), Hispanic or Latino (18.4%), Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual (47.4%). Out of those diagnosed with mental illness, in 2020, 46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness and 64.5% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment. In 2016, 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment. However, the average time between initial diagnosis with mental disorder and treatment is 11 years. Treatment may be an obstacle for many due to financial difficulties. In 2020, approximately 11% of U.S. adults with mental illness and 11.3% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness did not have any insurance coverage for treatment. Over 148 million people in the U.S. reside in an area that is designated as a Mental Health Professional Shortage Area. The Asian American Resource Center offers a Mental Health Counseling Program to provide free evaluation and counseling to enhance the quality of life to single parents, children and adolescents, victims of crime and abuse, homeless individuals, and other vulnerable individuals. AARC has partnered with industry professionals to strengthen and secure each individual’s mental health aspect and grow as mature independent individuals. In order to support the Mental Health Counseling Program at AARC, the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia has awarded AARC with a Catholic Community grant. The Grants Program at the Catholic Foundation helps organizations in the community with sufficient financial resources to make a difference and serve those in need. The Grants Program also directly impacts non-profits, parishes, and schools serving within the boundaries of the Archdiocese of Atlanta community that reflects the teachings of the Catholic social teaching, faith, and The Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan. AARC is thankful to have received a grant from the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia and will continue to provide mental health counseling to those in need.

Jackson EMC & AARC for Rapid Rehousing & Homeless Prevention Program

Jackson EMC & AARC for Rapid Rehousing & Homeless Prevention Program

The COVID-19 pandemic was a setback for many individuals and families as corporations and businesses had to cut back on employees. As a result, many of these individuals lost their jobs and could not afford to pay their rent and mortgage in addition to basic household essentials. According to the Pulse survey, in October 2021, over 20 million households reported that they did not have enough to eat while over 12 million households were behind on rent. Toward the end of 2021, unemployment benefits had expired for most of these individuals along with other economic troubles such as the increasing cost of goods due to the global supply chain issues. Homelessness continues to be a major problem for those in the metro Atlanta area, due to the exponential increase in rent and housing prices over the recent months. The Rapid Re-Housing Program at the Asian American Resource Center helps homeless families find and maintain housing by creating pathways for homeless families to enter the financial mainstream for their future. Families and individuals are able to access financial education and develop essential job skills for employment. In addition, the Homelessness Prevention Program assists families facing imminent eviction in the state of Georgia by offering short-term rental and utility assistance to stop homelessness and pending evictions. In order to support both the Rapid Re-Housing and Homeless Prevention Programs, the Jackson EMC Foundation has partnered with AARC. The Jackson EMC Foundation is a 501 (c)3 organization set up to represent the members of Jackson EMC by awarding the funds collected from Operation Round Up to charities. Operation Round Up is a program where Jackson EMC members have the option to round up each month’s electric bill to the next whole dollar amount. The amount can be as little as one penny or as much as 99 cents; the annual average contribution for each member is approximately $6. Contributions toward Operation Round Up are tax-deductible. With the funds from Operation Round Up, Jackson EMC provides financial assistance and charitable needs to the ten counties served by Jackson EMC: Banks, Barrow, Clarke, Franklin, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Lumpkin, Madison, and Oglethorpe. Within the first year of launching Operation Round Up, the program was able to raise more than $800,000 to benefit organizations and individuals. The grants awarded from Operation Round Up are chosen on a monthly basis and have been awarded to organizations such as YMCA, public libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs, Children’s Center, food banks, and other charitable organizations. In 2020 alone, AARC was able to pay rental assistance for over 63 individuals anywhere between one to four months in addition to providing resources in the community so that clients are able to have a better quality of life. AARC is grateful to have partnered with Jackson EMC for the grant opportunity to better serve the community of metro Atlanta.

Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation Grant & AARC for DreamEd Program

Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation Grant & AARC for DreamEd Program

Due to COVID-19, student participation in virtual classes at some schools lagged in their academic performance, and researchers stated that the percentage of students in 3rd to 8th-grade metro Atlanta students deemed proficient in English language arts and math dropped over 40%. To address this issue, AARC will be launching its newest program, DreamEd, to help the underperforming students from low-income families who are struggling in the school system and have had a further setback during the pandemic, among the low-performing schools in Gwinnett County. Experts state that schools should focus on low-income, minority students, and the DreamEd program will provide guidance in increasing student performance in schools. Through this program, students in elementary and middle school will be able to receive the help to get back on track for educational success and perform on par with the expected grade level proficiency. AARC has been collaborating with schools in the Gwinnett County school district since 2021 to create a program that will assist the students who are struggling. DreamEd will help the students from underprivileged, low-income families get back on track for educational success and hope to see incremental growth in confidence, demeanor, concentration, and retention. This will positively impact the students’ output and progress in school and may further identify and evaluate additional areas of support required for the student to reach their optimal potential. Education is key to building strong communities, and we want those who may not have the resources and opportunities to have that solid foundation. AARC has received its first grant for the DreamEd program from the Mary Allen Lindsey Branan Foundation. The Foundation was created under the will of Charles I. Branan, who passed away in 1929, and named the foundation in loving memory of his mother (1830-1915) who was a widow caring for seven children. The grant provided by the Foundation supports organizations generally in Georgia to promote the relief of suffering and other charitable purposes in the following program areas: public/society benefit, religion, environment, human services, and health. With funding for the DreamEd program, AARC can further advance the Foundation’s mission to promote the relief of suffering through empowerment and strength to all communities by providing culturally competent support services that enhance self-sufficiency and quality of life; providing human services, education, and job placement to the poor and disadvantaged members of the community in the metro Atlanta area; and assisting the elderly, jobless, single mothers, and unskilled people to break through language, cultural, and social barriers to obtain self-sufficiency and stability. AARC is dedicated to serving individuals and families to be productive citizens throughout the metro Atlanta area with an array of support services and programs. The other programs that AARC works on feed into the education program as it has been established repeatedly that education can help families get out of the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

Morehouse School of Medicine & NCRN Project with AARC

Morehouse School of Medicine & NCRN Project with AARC

Ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have gathered together to educate and provide support for assisting individuals and families. Organizations such as the Morehouse School of Medicine and the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) have greatly impacted the community and done a phenomenal job in creating awareness for the COVID-19 outbreak to people of racial and ethnic minorities. The partnership between the Morehouse School of Medicine and the NCRN coordinates a strategic and structured national network of national, state/territorial/tribal, and local public and community-based organizations that mitigate the impact of COVID on racial and ethnic minorities, and rural populations. Specifically, the NCRN provides awareness of culturally appropriate health education information and linkage to care, helping organizations and families recover from pandemic difficulties. The NCRN was created for community, by the community, governed by community leaders across the nation’s states, territories, and tribes. The six primary objectives of the NCRN program are: identify and engage communities through local, state, territory, tribes, and national partners; nurture existing and develop new partnerships to ensure an active information dissemination network; disseminate culturally and linguistically appropriate information in partnership with communities and national, state, local, territory, tribe, and government organizations; link communities to resources with technology by connecting communities to community health workers, healthcare, and social services; monitor and evaluate identifying successes and measuring outcomes to improve the program; and comprehensive dissemination using mainstream media, white papers, and publications to educate and train the response workforce. The priority populations that the NCRN targets include: Asian Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Blacks/African Americans, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Individuals with Disabilities, Justice System Involved Adults, Migrant/Agricultural Farmworkers, Immigrant/Refugee Communities, and Underserved Rural Populations. In order to serve the priority populations and the communities, the NCRN has created a sub-committee of the NCRN National Community Coalition Board (NCCB) called the Regional Community Coalition (RCC). The RCC allows for the expansion of the network at the grassroots level while fostering collaboration and networking to create sustainability among Community Organizations and Strategic Partners and includes representation from the Territory and Regional Offices of Minority Health. The RCC has opened to all community-based organizations that sign up as volunteer Community Organization Partners for the NCRN including grassroots non-profit organizations, academic institutions, inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities, clinician networks, hospital systems, faith-based organizations, and federal agencies. By joining the RCC, organizations will be able to receive many benefits including access to news/publications that are culturally relevant to the serviced populations; access to COVID-19 educational materials that are culturally and linguistically designed to assist in COVID-19 mitigation efforts; the opportunity to engage and network with other national and international organizations committed to combating the effects of COVID-19 within their communities; a monthly NCRN newsletter highlighting resources, promising practices, and cultural insights from the community; the opportunity to participate in the Regional Community Coalition with representation from State and Local Offices of Minority Health; and the opportunity to apply for RCC Microgrants, which is funded by the NCRN to help fund Regional Community Coalition partnerships while amplifying the NCRN’s objective of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority, rural, and other disproportionately impacted populations. Through the opportunity to apply for the RCC Microgrant provided by the partnership between Morehouse School of Medicine and the NCRN, the Asian American Resource Foundation (AARC) is a proud recipient of the 2021 Microgrant. AARC has worked in Gwinnett County for over 25 years now and has established credibility and reach within the Asian American Community. Our role as a Community-based organization will allow for expansion and delivery of the NCRN’s network of designed collateral materials, tools and technology, and other news and publication resources that have been culturally and linguistically designed to assist and optimize their COVID-19 outreach efforts. AARC has a roadmap and network to effectively spread the message across the community and reach the isolated and underserved members of the community through an array of activities including news articles, blog posts, flyers, posters, website content along with engagement opportunities such as mental health seminars and help desks to disseminate the information about safety, preventative measures, and self-care during COVID-19 and assist to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the mental and emotional health in the community. The Asian American Resource Foundation greatly appreciates the Morehouse School of Medicine and the National COVID-19 Resiliency Network for the opportunity to further mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Asian American population.