Monthly Newsletter Full of Good Stuff!
Event for Middle Schoolers on 12/9
JJAB Resource Specialists (RS) are available to help families connect to financial and food assistance whenever needed, and especially during the holidays. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more families than ever are struggling financially. Here are a few of the things the Resource Specialists have been doing this holiday season to help:
JJAB partnered with New Beginnings Fellowship Los Alamos to provide 42 families with Thanksgiving baskets, which included all the fixings needed to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The RS’s identified the families from their client base and New Beginnings generously purchased all of the food items, and even assembled a team of volunteers to deliver the dinners to families who were unable to pick them up.
The RS team has also worked closely with the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish’s Christian Concern Committee to add 35 clients to the church’s Angel Tree. Parishioners and other community members will choose families/youth from the Angel Tree to purchase gifts for this Christmas.
Families would not receive the assistance they need without the kindness and generosity of the wonderful faith-based organizations in our community. A heartfelt thank you to New Beginnings Fellowship and the Christian Concern Committee for their contributions this holiday season!
As we enter the Holiday season, Self Help, Inc is running their largest fundraiser of the year: their Bell-Ringing Fundraiser! Self Help, Inc is Los Alamos County’s Salvation Army outpost. The Salvation Army contracts with Self Help to implement an emergency assistance program for Los Alamos County, and the funds are used to help people in our county who are struggling with needs such as food and shelter. Each two-hour shift of bell ringing raises an average of over $150.
Though the Bell-Ringing Fundraiser is done in conjunction with the Salvation Army, all funds raised stay in Los Alamos and are used completely at Self Help’s discretion.
Let’s learn a bit more about Self Help’s programs:
Emergency Basic Needs Program Self Help’s largest program assists 400-500 families per year with one-time emergency microgrants for basic needs such as food, medicine, utility bills and rent. Grants are intended as a bridge to self-reliance to help someone who has hit a bump in the road. Residents of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Taos, and northern Santa Fe counties (north of the Santa Fe city line) are eligible to apply. To apply, please call the intake line at (505) 662-4666 or send a message via the intake form at https://selfhelpla.org/basic-needs/
Seed Money Seed money grants help low-income individuals or families to initiate or repair a small business, begin job training, or start other projects that will enable self-reliance. Grants are relatively small and are paid directly to vendors as directed by the applicant. They are provided on a one-time basis. To learn more and/or apply for the Seed Money program, please visit https://selfhelpla.org/seed/
Self Help needs bell ringers! If you’d like to volunteer for a two-hour shift, please visit https://selfhelpla.org/bells/
JJAB’s Resource Specialists are available to help individuals sign up for these and other resources. Check out our website for more information.
Teens in the Community
Meet Paula Sofia Marti-Arce.
Paula is a 14 year old freshman at LAHS. She is the oldest of three siblings and moved to White Rock from Puerto Rico when she was 4 years old. “I really enjoy this community,” says Paula. “It’s calm and it is easy to make friends. My favorite place in town is the skate park in White Rock.”
While the skate park is her favorite place, and skating one of her favorite hobbies, volleyball is Paula’s true passion. “Volleyball grabbed me,” says Paula, who plays on the LAHS volleyball team. Paula said that she wants to follow in her Dad’s footsteps when it comes to her favorite sport. “[My] parents used to play volleyball when they were young. My Grandma has a closet full of volleyball trophies from when my Dad used to play.”
Paula is proudly bilingual and bicultural and loves getting to connect with other people. “I think [it’s] fun when you find other people that [speak] Spanish. We may not come from the same place but it’s great to find things we might share culturally or find similarities in how we were raised. It’s fun.”
Thank you for being a light in our community, Paula!
Winter Clothing Project
Los Alamos JJAB wrapped up its Annual Youth Winter Clothing Drive just in time for Thanksgiving.
JJAB was able to provide youth ages 5-18 who live or attend school in Los Alamos County, and their younger siblings, with winter coats, boots, gloves, scarves and/or hats. In the first two weeks of November, JJAB provided items to 94 youth, up from 85 last year.
This drive was a huge undertaking that took many hands to achieve: JJAB Resource Specialists, Los Alamos Public School Counselors, the Los Alamos County Victim Assistant and representatives at other organizations collaborated to identify youth with needs and submit requests to JJAB’s Executive Director Lisa Zuhn.
Using funds graciously donated by Rio Grande Orthodontics, Merrick & Company and individual donors, and clothing donated by the community, JJAB filled each request, ensuring that youth would have the warm clothes they needed.
Once all items were received, the JJAB team sorted and packed the items in space generously provided by Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church.
This community giving project was truly that: a community project. Thank you to every person and company that donated time, clothing and money to make the drive a success. Nearly 100 youth will have a safer, happier winter because of you.
Los Alamos JJAB Board Member Elizabeth Allen, left, sorts donations with Resource Specialist Santina Shije and intern Nina Neil.
Community donations fill 94 bags with winter clothing for students in need.
JJAB staff Rachel Mohr-Richards, Santina Shije and Nina Neil sort donated clothing.
"In addition to fun programming collaborations with our JJAB friends, we're always happy to see them teaching kids about the library as a community space. Sometimes it's for one-on-one meetings, other times it might be for homework help or volunteering." - Melissa Mackey, Youth Services Librarian
get to know our board
Here at JJAB, our board plays an integral role in meeting our mission of helping youth and their families; we would not be the organization we are today without them. With that in mind, we would like for you, our readers, to get to know them!
Elizabeth Allen is the Los Alamos Municipal Court Judge, a Government representative for the JJAB Board, and has supported JJAB in a variety of roles. Let's get to know Judge Allen better:
How long have you lived in Los Alamos? I have lived in Los Alamos for almost 7 1/2 years. Los Alamos is a great community and a great place to raise kids. It was so easy to feel welcome and there are so many fun and free things to do with kids. From Bear Fest and Earth Day at PEEC, Lucky Ducky Day with FSN, Science Fest, Chamber Fest, Winter Fest, Homecoming, County Rodeo and Parade, Halloween weekend, Friday night concerts, movies in the park, library activities, Easter egg hunts – so many traditions that my kids look forward to every year that this town provides.
How long have you been involved with JJAB and why did you become involved? JJAB was my first job in Los Alamos – I started working as one of the coordinators. It was a great way to get to know the town. Since, I have been lucky to be on the board as the Teen Court Coordinator and now as an elected official. JJAB also helped connect me to resources when I was struggling with grief after the passing of my mom and postpartum depression. I have been blessed personally by JJAB’s services – from parenting classes to Imagination Library for my kids. I think it is a great organization.
What is one thing you would like to share with Los Alamos youth? There are a lot of people in this town that want to see you grow into happy adults. We are rooting for you – but also, tell us what you need from us!
Tell us something fun about yourself. I love to see musicians live. My favorites are Imagine Dragons and Death Cab for Cutie, but also, Transiberia Orchestra has a really good show around Christmas time.
Self-Care for the Holidays
The Holidays can be an exciting, joyful time- it is “the most wonderful time of the year” after all. It can also be the most stressful time of the year. Between buying gifts, hosting and attending parties, trying to stick to healthy habits, and trying not to overspend, stress is a given. All of this stress can lead us to new or old unhealthy coping patterns. Youth Mental Health First Aid emphasizes the importance of staying on top of our self-care plan during this time of year. Here are 5 Tips for Self-Care for the Holidays:
- Let It Out. The holidays can bring up a lot of emotions, baggage, and discomfort. Bottling these feelings can lead to long term health problems, chronic pain, heart disease and diabetes to names a few. Talk to someone; a friend, a coach, a mental health professional, or someone you trust to provide you with a safe space to vent. Make sure that person is able to give you what you need by being specific, “I need someone to listen, I don’t need advice, just an ear, can you be that person?”
- Carve Out Time for Self-Care. The importance of self-care during the holidays can’t be overstated. You may be thinking, ‘But I’ve got too much to do. How am I supposed to make time for self-care?’ You may have to schedule your self-care time. Let your family and friends know when you are taking a break to self-care to ensure you won’t be interrupted.
- Recite Affirmations. Affirmations are another great way to center yourself. Try reciting and/or writing the following affirmations, “I can do this,” “I am enough,” or while you breath “I breath in love and positivity and exhale negative thoughts.”
- Say No. It’s easy to stretch ourselves too thin over the holidays by saying yes to everything. While we encourage you to say yes to the things that are most important to you, we also want to remind you to be kind to yourself, guard your time, and to politely decline anything that drains you or feels stressful.
- Breath…and Smile. If the length of your to-do list or other worries are bringing you down, try two things:
- Take some slow, deep breaths in and out. Studies have shown that this simple act can increase positivity, decrease emotional reactivity, improve brain health, and promote feelings of calmness.
- Smile (even if you don’t feel like it). There’s something to be said for faking it ‘til you make it. If you’re feeling the opposite of happy, try grinning from ear to ear. Just the act of smiling can uplift you and snap you out of a funk.
JJAB is excited to announce that the Con Alma Health Foundation has once again awarded our organization a generous grant to provide Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings in 2022. Look for the announcement of classes after the first of the year.
How Can You Help?
Los Alamos JJAB programs are made possible through contracts, grants, and generous donations from individual donors. Your investment in JJAB will allow us to provide the youth in our community the tools they need to feel supported and thrive. Contributions to JJAB go straight to work helping youth that live or attend school in Los Alamos County. Donate today at Los Alamos JJAB - Support Us
Our Vision: We value, celebrate, and appreciate all the youth of our community, and help each develop resiliency, create meaningful connections, and build capacities to thrive.
Our Mission: We effectively facilitate the application of resources through innovative direct services and collaborative networks, to engage and support the youth and families of Los Alamos.