November 2022 Edition

Crisis Response News and More

Welcome to the November 2022 edition of the Southwest Iowa MHDS Regional Newsletter.

The Region shares some ways to give back to our community and remain Thankful during these stressful times. We also share the meaning of Thanksgiving from our staff through their holiday traditions and recipes. We hope you enjoy them!

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Staying Thankful during these stressful times!

The spirit of Thanksgiving is more than just eating a big meal and watching football; this holiday season is about expressing gratitude for the people, places, and things in your life that you often take for granted. A chance to slow down and consider the abundance in your life, Thanksgiving is a time for community involvement and provides countless opportunities to resonate appreciation and generosity, rather than one of consumption and personal gain.

While the primary people you are grateful for might be your family members, consider the entirety of your social circuit as you count your blessings. As research shows, our social relationships are intimately linked to our happiness and life satisfaction, so why not go the extra mile (or block) to offer your gratitude to your local community this holiday season?

Here are 10 ways you can give thanks to your community this Thanksgiving.

1. Check on your neighbors

Call or text your neighbors (especially elderly neighbors) to make sure they’re doing okay. Ask if there is anything that they need (be it a box of tissues or a cup of sugar). If you have what they’re looking for, offer to leave it outside their front door so that they can pick it up without coming in direct contact with you. It sounds extreme, but this is actually a great (and safe) way to make sure that your more vulnerable neighbors have what they need.

If you feel comfortable going out, consider knocking on the door of any elderly neighbors and chatting through the screen or storm door just to offer a bit of comfort and reassurance. 

2. Explore ways to connect and volunteer

Being grateful means taking nothing for granted. Show your support for a cause you believe in by sharing your abundance in the form of time, energy, and donations. Look for local churches or services that provide Thanksgiving meals for those in need. Participate in volunteer opportunities and spend an afternoon at your local community center helping kids read,or take some time to clean and walk dogs at a nearby animal shelter. Every community has nonprofit organizations that are contributing to those who need it, so give thanks by getting involved in local activities and fundraisers.

Giving Tuesday is a global day of generosity that will take place on November 29. The Healthiest State Initiative is focusing our Giving Tuesday fundraising efforts on Make It OK, a community campaign to reduce the stigma of mental illness by starting conversations and increasing understanding about mental illness. 

Mental health is an important issue that impacts our families, communities and state. In fact, 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental illness. For far too long, people have been afraid to open up and share experiences with mental illnesses for fear of being judged because of the stigma surrounding it. If an Iowan is struggling with a mental illness, stigma should never be a barrier to seeking help.

3. Waste not, want not

For many of us, the first of many mad dashes to the grocery store happened a while back. And if we’re lucky, our pantries, freezers, and fridges are stocked with the necessities (and maybe even a few treats).

According to Feeding America, each year 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste. A few simple ways to cut down on food waste include storing food in the proper place (and at the proper temperature), waiting to wash produce until you’re ready to use it (to avoid mold), freezing anything that you don’t expect to use in the near future (if freezing is possible), making a stock, composting, and eating your leftovers!

4. Give blood

According to a recent press release from the American Red Cross, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, we can expect to see a decrease in those eligible (and willing) to donate blood. Here is what they have to say about the current situation:

“Right now, the American Red Cross encourages healthy, eligible individuals to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment at to help maintain a sufficient blood supply and avoid any potential shortages. Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. The need for blood is constant, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need of transfusions.”

5. Make a donation

While many of us are busy hunkering down and pouring over the latest CDC recommendations, millions of nonprofit professionals all over the world are working to continue to deliver services and implement programs, uninterrupted. And that’s going to be really, really difficult. 

If you have the resources, consider making a donation to your favorite organization. Whether they’re on the front lines of the fight to quell the coronavirus, or their mission is entirely unrelated to the current crisis, your dollars will make a big difference.

6. Give Thanks

Take some time over the month to give thanks in your office or home, decorate a box or plastic pumpkin and encourage staff and or family members to place those notes in the container. Share those thankful notes at your next office staffing or holiday get together.

7. Thank Your Local Small Businesses by Posting Your Love for Them Online

One way you can show your gratitude for your community this Thanksgiving is by supporting your local small businesses with your money and your praise. If you haven’t given them a five-star rating on the top search engines, take five minutes to write them a review or donate to their website. Tag them in your social media posts and spread the good word. The owners will always appreciate organic publicity, so be generous with your praise, and keep small businesses alive and thriving.

8. Write a Thank-You Note to Someone You Haven’t Properly Thanked

The practice involves writing a letter thanking someone to whom you have never fully expressed your gratitude. It could be a teacher, a friend, or coworker, or anyone else you want to thank.

Studies have shown that writing and delivering gratitude letters increase happiness significantly for the person writing the letters. So not only will the person receiving your note feel appreciated, you will feel happier too! Spend 15 minutes writing a gratitude letter and experience long-lasting results.

9. Decorate Your Office/Home with Festive and Gratitude-Themed Decor

Does your office or home look welcoming? Put your decorating skills to the test. Consider a flag or sign that spreads happiness and cheer. Plant some fresh flowers. Display a happy pumpkin or two.

10. Take care of yourself!

The best thing you can do to help your community and give back is to stay healthy! Practice good hand hygiene and follow social distancing guidelines to slow the tide of the virus.

*Credit for information in this article from Idealist (Alexis Perrotta), Positive Psychology, Giving Tuesday and Make It Ok in Iowa.

Meaning of Thanksgiving - Expressions of Gratitude

The meaning of Thanksgiving has undergone numerous transitions -- an expression of gratitude for survival, a council’s recognition of its flourishing community, the defeat over the British, resulting in a collection of our nation’s traditions and values. Over the centuries, families added their customs to the Thanksgiving celebration, preserving that which they held most precious.

The Region wanted to share a few of our staff's favorite Thanksgiving Traditions and favorite Thanksgiving Recipes:

My favorite part of our families Thanksgiving, other than the wonderful meal, has always been the activities that follow. As long as I can remember we have had the traditional “family football game”. Unfortunately, this year it now has turned into the “family kick ball game”. This is primarily due to our “age” and the children (young adults now) are in their prime. I discovered that in order to return to work that following Monday, it was in the older generation’s best interest to revamp the family fun time. Regardless of the activity, a fond memory is made. ~Shelley W

A Thanksgiving tradition that our family started several years ago is a gratitude pumpkin. I purchase a pumpkin or gourd (from hobby lobby or anywhere) and using a marker ask each person to write down what they are thankful for that year. Everyone knows the tradition and I can put a grandchild in charge of passing it to any adult that thinks they can get out of the task! I put the year on the pumpkin before storing it away for the year. Every year as part of the Thanksgiving decorations, I put out the previous years’ pumpkins and the family enjoys reflecting back on what was going on with our lives from different years. ~Barb
The tradition my family has known the longest, is simple: my dad’s Thanksgiving Prayer. Dad always said the same prayer every Thanksgiving, and it never failed, my brother, sister, and I would be snickering by the time he finished. Our snickering caused Dad indignation; he would say one of us had to give the prayer next year. Thanksgiving 2003 was our first gathering without Dad. I have prayed Dad’s prayer each Thanksgiving since, and it never fails, my brother, sister, and I are tearful by the time I finish.  Remembering Thanksgivings past, how we snickered at Dad, wishing we could hear him give thanks once more. This year, my family will not be together, but I know we will all recall Dad’s Thanksgiving Prayer in our hearts. ~Kim 

My favorite thing about Thanksgiving for the past almost 7 years; is that my granddaughter was born on Thanksgiving day ~Kris R

When my daughter was in high school, we were unable to travel to spend Thanksgiving with family because her basketball team had practice the morning after. Because we were homebound, we started a tradition of spending the day watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade and football, cooking and eating in our pajamas. If we aren’t able to be together in person with family because of Covid this year, we will host a virtual Thanksgiving dinner for our extended family. We will stick with our traditional dress code!! ~Molly

The SWIA MHDS Region's Crisis Stabilization Services

Mental Health Crisis Response Team

Provides multiple crisis service

Precommital screening for residents of the SWIA Region

Assessments for court ordered committals

Telehealth Crisis Response available to SWIA Region residents. Services include assessment, stabilization and referrals to community services. This service can only be initiated by Law Enforcement

These services are expanding into all counties in the Region

For further information, Law Enforcement can contact Jenny Stewart (Director) at 712-325-5619

"To avoid the need for an Emergency Protective Custody hold or inpatient psychiatric hospitalization"

Service provided by Heartland Family Service

Harbor Point Crisis Stabilization Residential Service (CSRS)

Call 712-303-7066 to make a referral

Referrals accepted 24 hours a day

A screening set up within 24 hours

Accepts referrals from friends, family, emergency departments and outpatient providers

Accepts referrals from Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties

"Provides a safe, caring, and home-like environment to those with a mental illness in crisis while modeling skills needed to successfully navigate in the community"

Service provided by Zion Integrated Behavioral Health Services

Additional Info regarding Harbor Point

988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be:

  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Mental health or substance use crisis, or
  • Any other kind of emotion distress

People can call or text 988 or chat for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the United States, you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.

Your Life Iowa provides free, confidential support and connects you to resources meant to help you get your life back on track when derailed by alcohol, drugs, gambling, suicidal thoughts or mental health. 

Available 24/7 at (855) 581-8111 or text (855) 895-8398. 

Have a question? You can also live chat with a representative on 

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please dial 911