Call for Compassion 2012 Recap

Mental Health America of Greenville County's annual Call for Compassion conference was held on May 30th at St. Michael Lutheran Church. The theme of 'Nurturing Healthy Relationships through Life's Passages' was presented by our multiple speakers, covering issues that individuals face from early childhood through late adulthood. Kathy Eckart, the Director of Crisis Intervention Services at MHAGC started the day off with an interactive presentation on active listening and building connections when discussing difficult subjects. The active listening segment was followed by Natalee Braun, Ph.D.'s presentation on bullying. Dr. Braun and her guest speaker Ivy Hill, who is a survivor of bullying that consumed many years of her childhood, discussed the facts and myths about bullying, its effects, and what we as individuals can do to help prevent bullying. Ivy's heartfelt stories and painful first-hand experience gave the audience a raw insight to what it is like to be a victim of bullying. Natalee and Ivy's segment was received with great interest and compassion from the audience; making it one of the most enjoyed segments of the day.

A panel of faith leaders discussed the topic of intimate struggles in adolescence, touching on issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, teen pregnancy, and other struggles adolescents face during this period in their lives. Rev. Angela Ford Nelson (Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, Bishopville, SC), Rev. Dr. Vaughn CroweTipton (Furman University), Rev. Dr. Michelle McClendon (Greenville First Baptist), and Pastor Robert Miles (St. Michael Lutheran) delivered a panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Natalee Braun. As one attendee said "The panel discussion was very informative. All were dynamic speakers and gave us a lot to think about. They are very knowledgeable and non-judgmental." The panel did an excellent job of discussing such a taboo subject from a faith based perspective while still educating our audience and bringing in their own personal experiences facing these situations as faith based leaders.

Neil Sondov and Haley Speer from Compass of Carolina presented a very enlightening piece on divorce; teaching the audience the key elements of a co-parenting relationship as well has how to support and talk to children whose parents are going through a divorce. Their presentation not only engaged the audience, but many personal stories were shared; suggesting that this is a topic everyone can relate to one way or another and more importantly, something we can all gain knowledge about.

We ended the conference's "journey through life" with Dawn Harbin from Greenville Mental Health Center talking about depression in the elderly. Dawn's presentation was very interactive, with the audience consistently asking questions, sharing their personal experiences, and talking about services they know of that are useful to the elderly and their families.

Overall it was a day full of imperative information and engaging conversation. Call for Compassion gives Faith Leaders and professionals a chance to come together to discuss topics that are important to not only their duties as professionals, but also to their personal lives. As one individual put it, "This was one of the best workshops that I have attended in a long time. All of the presenters were excellent." Another said, "I enjoyed the conference. This is the first I attended and I will plan to attend again."

We would like to give a special thank you to all the individuals and companies that made this event possible. Thank you to Trio for catering our delicious lunch, Entenmann's for their generous food donation, Thomas McAfee for donating water bottles, St. Michael Lutheran Church for housing this event, and all our vendors, staff, and volunteers.

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