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Director's Message
Dear Friends:

As 2021 comes to a close, it’s hard not to wish for a better 2022—a year without pandemic, a year without war and strife, a year where children and families and all people are safe and secure, with their basic needs met. I feel so fortunate that despite the world’s challenges I live and work and play in a community like ours, a place where people still care about both their neighbors and friends and the strangers among us. CFS could not have existed for nearly 85 years without you. How wonderful that we are partners in this noble work!

We look forward to your continued support in 2022.
Together we make hope possible!

Warmest Christmas/Holiday wishes to you and your loved ones,
Gina Aranki
Executive Director
Year-End Update
As the year comes to a close, we reflect on what we’ve learned as we plan, evaluate,
and make improvements for next year. We know that change is inevitable and how the wind will “shift your sails” and make it difficult to “stay the course.” We also know that not everyone is “in the same boat” and when we’re experiencing a collective (COVID) storm, strong supports in life (relationships, job security, financial stability, etc.) do make a big difference in how you’ll “weather the storm.” Unfortunately, many families don’t have that kind of support and advantage.

COVID has opened many eyes and hearts to those who are struggling to have their basic needs met. This includes many in our community who recognize the growing mental health crisis and are responding by asking what they can do to help. Some of them are spending their time and talents in meetings that address
these big issues—looking for solutions to solve systemic problems. Others are calling us to say they would like to make a donation to help those who have housing or food insecurity. Whether it’s a gift to our homeless youth shelter, Pete’s Place, or Thanks-giving meals to our families in need, we are seeing a tremendous outpouring of support.

We just finished our 16th annual Paper Angels campaign, which matches donors to our kids’ wish lists each Christmas. This year we had donors fill over 400 wish lists, and many more gave to our Angel Fund, which helps with client needs all year-round. It certainly is a wonderful way to end the year. It makes us happy to know we can count on your support to help so many children and families in need.
Our year-end impact report (that was just mailed out), highlights some of the ways your gifts have helped us achieve some great successes. I hope you’ll take the time to read this quick report and click on the QR code, or the ad below to learn more. 

We are grateful for all of you who want to support our work, mission, and vision. We have big goals for 2022 for helping people heal from their past traumas and overcome their current crises to lead healthier lives. There’s no greater joy than watching someone realize their potential and then share their own gifts to make this world a better place!
We hope you’ll continue to read
our monthly eNewsletter stories throughout our 85th year, as we’ll be highlighting many individual and family success stories with updates from our various programs.

All of us at CFS thank you for your generous hearts and wish you and your loved ones the best this holiday season.

Linda Sommerville
Development Director
A very special thank you to all who donated, volunteered, or helped promote our Paper Angels program! This year, generous donors filled over 400 wish lists for kids and teens in our community. And so many others graciously donated to our Angel Fund which helps buy gifts for kids that come into care close to the holidays, and also helps all year long with birthday gifts, sports equipment, supplies, or any other items some families desperately need.

This year we had some special, heart-warming pay-it-forward stories. Leanza, who was in foster care, adopted two children's lists, giving to the very same program that she was once a recipient of! Shari, an Usborne book rep, decided to hold a fundraiser for Paper Angels, and donated 100 new books! Her daughter and grandson were clients of CFS and benefited from our services. Shari wanted to do something special with her grandson to give back to CFS.

We would also like to thank two of our board members that ran this year's program. Amber Jaeger McKenney and Nicola Philpott volunteered to be in charge of the event. They gave so much time and effort and did a great job. We appreciate all their hard work, and we know all the kids and families who are helped by Paper Angels program do too!

The many stories, along with the experience of hearing from so many kind and generous donors, truly warm our hearts. Thank you to all!
Leanza with Board Member Nicola.
Board Member Amber.
The Santa crew.
Toys gathering under the tree.
Children that came to donate the Usborne Books!
A family affair! This family came together to drop off their donations.
CFS volunteers.
PetSmart donated a huge bag
of stuffed animals!
Santa Visit and Winter Music Show!
Santa (aka Jack O'Malley) stopped by to help plan the Winter Music show that will benefit CFS and two other non-profits!

Be sure to check out this free virtual concert on Saturday, December 18 at 7pm. If you can't watch it at that time, you can access anytime using the same link.

Click below for information from Christal Frost the concert host.

Thank you to Freshwater Events for producing the event. Click here to learn more and join the event:
Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday
The holidays are a time for family, friends and cheer, but making sure the house is clean, the food is ready, and the presents are wrapped can be overwhelming and bring on unwanted stress and depression.

These practical tips can help minimize stress, and keep the holidays stress free.

1. Plan ahead.
Between co-workers, friends and family, it's inevitable that some commitments will end up on the same day. Make sure to plan on what you can attend in person or virtually. If you're hosting the holidays, create a menu to help you stay organized and make grocery shopping easier.

2. Say no.
With holiday commitments, it is OK to say no to a few or all of them. It also will help relieve some stress.
Try sharing your to-do list with other family members.

3. Plan spending.
The holidays mean spending money. Make a budget and stick to it. Spending money on your loved ones is important, but it's also important to pay your energy bill. Don't buy gifts that you'll be paying off for the rest of the year.

4. Create relaxing surroundings.
Turn on some music, light some candles or open the windows on a sunny day. Research has found that listening to music and the scent of citrus can boost feelings of well-being, and vitamin D is always a happiness booster. 

For a nice entertaining break of music, watch the Winter Music show which starts December 18. You can watch it anytime from the comfort of your home and it benefits CFS! Click here:
5. Maintain healthy habits.
The holidays are notorious for ruining healthy habits. A short workout each morning will help your decision-making throughout the day. Encourage your family to try snow shoeing or sledding to get in extra exercise. Eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit or vegetables throughout the season and to fill up before a dinner party or celebration with tempting, but unhealthy, foods. 

6. Share feelings.
Spending a holiday after a loss in the family, or not being able to see family can be difficult. Accept your feelings and open up about them to others. It will make you feel better to talk to someone. Also, try to switch up old traditions to ease the loss or loneliness. 

7. Respect differences.
Family members will have different viewpoints than your own. Try your best to forgive and forget this holiday season. Focus on your similarities, and replace tension with something productive. 

8. Be realistic.
You are only one person, and you can only do so much. Be realistic with how much you can handle this season. Forget about perfection, and relax and enjoy the company surrounding you.

9. Take a break.
Don't forget about your own needs. Take a nap, go for a short walk, read a book or watch a funny movie. Laughing relaxes the whole body, and can relieve physical tension
and stress.

Lastly, remember to reach out and check in on family, friends, and neighbors that are in need or alone for the holidays. They will be grateful, and helping others actually improves your mood and outlook.

Source: Mayo Clinic Health System 12/21
CFS has achieved a 2021 Platinum Seal of Transparency with Guidestar, showing our commitment to integrity and accountability. By providing information about our goals, strategies, capabilities, and vision, we are highlighting the difference we help to make in the world.
Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan
3785 Veterans Drive, Traverse City | (231) 946-8975
3434 M-119, Ste F, Harbor Springs | (231) 347-4463
Third Level/Pete's Place | (231) 922-4800