SFFC Raleigh December Newsletter

Communicating News Everyone Can Use

Together: Our Favorite Place 

Happy holidays! I have so enjoyed the last few months working as the Director of Safe Families Raleigh. In the short time that I have been a part of this movement, I have seen great strides for our chapter! We have new church partners and have had many new volunteers join us. Our chapter is currently hosting 5 children, has been able to serve over 30 children this year and have served more than 20 families.

We hope you can join us for our upcoming Reindeer Run! Through our six community sponsors, our generous anonymous donor, and ticket sales, we have raised over $22K! We are SO CLOSE to reaching our $25K goal. Thank you for walking together with us on this exciting event and we cannot wait to see you all there!

December 2021
Lead Article

2nd Annual Reindeer Run
November Impact
Mental Health and the Holidays
Merry Christmas
Safe Families Blog

As we look forward to 2022, we are planning to serve more families through radical hospitality. At Safe Families, we know that none of our goals would be possible without your partnership and support as volunteers. Your disruptive generosity with your time and resources is the fuel of our movement. We are so grateful for your willingness to make sacrifices to serve others. It’s because of you that we are able to keep children safe and families together. 

We hope you and your families have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

- Lyn Ballard (Director)

Upcoming Events

Age Groups

Age groups will be divided into staggered start times for safety of participants.
Ages (4-8) will run the NRCA track (1/4 mile per lap)
Ages (9 and up) will run the NRCA track (1/4 mile per lap)

Each participant will receive a t-shirt, antlers, a red nose, and a Christmas bell necklace.


Registration opens at 9:30 a.m.
Registration deadline, December 13th

Mental Health and the Holidays

Guide to Managing Your Mental Health Around the Holidays

Elvis once crooned about feeling blue at Christmas time—and we’re here to tell you: It’s perfectly normal to feel that way.

There are a variety of reasons why your days may not be merry and bright around the holiday season. It can be the jam-packed social calendar, deadlines at work, the loss of a loved one, sunless winter days, or all of the above.

According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people surveyed said their stress increased during the holiday season, which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. The reasons given: lack of time, financial pressure, gift-giving, and family gatherings.

To make matters worse, the National Alliance on Mental Illness noted that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays.

However, there are ways in which we can prepare ourselves and hopefully deflect some of the increased stress of the holidays. It’s important to realize that we do have more control than we think we do. However, it’s equally important to realize that even if we put these ideas into practice and continue to feel overwhelmed or depressed, professional help is available.

We’ve identified six common issues that come up this time of year, as well as suggestions from our mental health experts for ways to address them.

1. You’re Lacking the “Holiday Spirit”

Being surrounded by cheeriness can be stigmatizing when you don’t feel the same level of enthusiasm as others.

The pressure to be social, happy, and present can make it difficult to speak up if you feel otherwise. You may also feel left out if your spiritual traditions aren’t the dominant ones on display this time of year.

What You Can Do About It

  • Recognize that you don’t need to force yourself to be happy and that it’s good to acknowledge feelings that aren’t joyful; remember that you are not alone in feeling this way
  • Avoid numbing or avoiding feelings by using alcohol or other substances, which worsen anxiety and depression
  • If possible, surround yourself with people who feel similarly; celebrate your traditions or create new ones

According to Elsa Ronningstam, PhD, a psychologist at McLean Hospital, “It’s important to understand that triggers for holiday angst come from many sources. Memories, stressful patterns that seem to occur every holiday, or potential new crises are common triggers,” she said.

Ronningstam added that preparing yourself by understanding how different triggers affect you can help reduce stress. Additionally, by finding out why you become anxious or sad around the holidays, you may be able to navigate the rest of the season.

Pushing Back Against Feelings of Loneliness

Feeling alone can be especially hard to handle during the holidays. Dr. Lisa Coyne helps us push back against feelings of loneliness. Watch the Video

2. You’re Overwhelmed by Grief and Loss

If you are living with grief, loss, trauma, or loneliness, it can be easy to compare your situation to others’, which can increase feelings of loneliness or sadness. Take time to check in with yourself and your feelings and have realistic expectations for how the holiday season will be.

If you are dealing with loss or grief, gently remind yourself that as circumstances change, traditions will change as well.

What You Can Do About It

If holiday observances seem inauthentic right now, you do not need to force yourself to celebrate. During this time, connect with and plan to check in with a support group, a therapist, a faith community, or friends who understand.

As much as possible, let your loved ones know how they can support you, whether it’s helping you with shopping or meeting up for a regular walk. Often, people want to help but don’t know what to say or where to start.

To finish reading this article by Putting People First in Mental Health, use this LINK and get additional resources for your chapter.

Merry Christmas from Safe Families
Top: Pamela Kuhl (Administrator)
Left to right | Kristin Pilcher (Intake Coordinator and Family Coach Supervisor), Lyn Ballard (Director), Janae Jackson (Church and Community Engagement Coordinator)
Safe Families for Children Blog
Sharing Gifts of Compassion
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

The three core values of Safe Families are radical hospitality, disruptive generosity and intentional compassion. Radical hospitality is the idea that we love strangers by opening our lives to strangers by inviting them into our homes to live and fellowship with us. We call it radical hospitality because caring for a vulnerable child without being paid or adopting them, is quite unusual and sets us apart from others. Disruptive generosity is complex. Generosity means the sharing of one’s possessions (home, car, family, money, encouraging words, etc.) with those in need. We recognize that God is the owner and we are his stewards. When we live a generous life, especially in a cancel culture, we inspire others to do the same.

Compassion is the underlying emotion or attitude that gives life to hospitality and generosity. Without compassion, hospitable and generous actions are hollow.  The Bible commands us to “practice hospitality” and “offer hospitality ungrudgingly.” Compassion gives life to hospitality and generosity and ensures they do not become a chore or duty. One definition of compassion is the act or capacity for sharing the painful feelings and experiences of others. It implies the capacity to feel what others feel but with the urgency to do something about it. It involves the capacity to step out of our own shoes and experiences and put ourselves into the shoes of someone else.  Without that, our acts can be subtly flavored with judgment.

Is it possible that God allows us to suffer, in part, so that in experiencing His comfort, we might be able, even eager, to share it with others? The world tells us that suffering has no meaning or purpose. We know differently. One of the outcomes of our own suffering is a desire to come alongside someone else who is suffering not just with empathy but with a willingness to get our hands dirty in helping. How have you experienced God’s comfort during your trials? This is the fuel for hospitality and generosity. During this Christmas season, have your eyes open and your heart ready to share the gift of compassion. Many individuals experience heightened stress and depression in December. Sharing intentional compassion goes a long way during the holiday season!

"According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people surveyed said their stress increased during the holiday season, which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse."

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Safe Families Raleigh · 4300 W. Irving Park Road · Chicago, IL 60641 · USA

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