MANASQUAN — The Samaritan Center at the Jersey Shore held its third annual Harvesting Hope for Mental Health fair on Sunday, inviting the community to gather in Squan Plaza to celebrate the fall season while raising awareness of counseling and other services.
Therapists and ambassadors from the center convened with community members from Manasquan and elsewhere for an autumn-themed festival including entertainment, discussion of mental health and food.
“The Harvesting Hope for Mental Health idea came from the ambassadors,” said Carol Cavaiolo, the executive director of the center. “The ambassadors are our volunteers, and it was their decision three years ago to do [this]. Basically, what we hope is that more people in the community know that we run a professional counseling center and that we do education classes in the schools.”
Judy McCormick, the community outreach coordinator for the center, explained that these education classes exist to help equip people with “mental health life skills.” She said, “As the community outreach person, I go out to any school, church, etc. that wants to be trained from kindergarten through 12th grade, staff or parents. What [the training] is there to do is give them mental health life skills.”
Ms. Cavaiolo also said that another goal of the fair is to alleviate the anxiety people or families may have in seeking such counseling for mental health. According to her, the aim is for the organization’s board and volunteers to “bring in enough money so that we can provide counseling to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. [We hope] that this takes the ‘scare’ out of professional therapy.”
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