Good Neighbor offers therapy to family who shared their traumatic story on The Doctors

Healing and sharing go hand in hand. That’s why the Sullivan family recently went on the TV show The Doctors to tell the story of their own family trauma and how they’ve healed since. Last summer, Sean and Melissa Sullivan’s three year old son Roan was accidentally caught underneath a lawn mower his father was driving.

"I didn't prepare myself for what I was about to see," Melissa recounted.

Sean and Melissa immediately rushed him to the emergency room and waited as doctors worked to save Roan. Sean feared that his son would lose his arm, or worse. Doctors were eventually able to save his arm and heel, but Roan had lost his toes.

After months of physical therapy, Roan is doing incredibly well. But recovering from a trauma like this is never easy. "One thing that's helped me is talking about it and being open about it," Sean shared.

After The Doctors told us about the Sullivans’ story, we jumped at the opportunity to help. 

We’re happy to provide therapy to the Sullivan family for the next six months as they continue to grow and heal from this trauma. Their courage to share their story on TV will undoubtedly help keep others safe and encourage us all to share our own stories.

We’re thankful to the Sullivan family for continuing to share their story and for letting us be a part of their healing.

You can watch more of the Sullivans’ appearance on The Doctors below.

Stephen Hawking on finding your way out

Stephen Hawking is a theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. Despite struggling with a rare form of ALS for most of his life, Hawking has become one of the greatest scientists of our time.

Hawking was born in England in 1942. He studied cosmology as a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge and took a passionate interest in black holes (locations in space where nothing, not even light, can escape). He planned to spend a lifetime studying the universe and our place in it. 

However in 1963, Hawking received a diagnosis that seemed to shatter his dreams. 

He was diagnosed with motor neuron disease—which would later be known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—and given only two years to live.

He was only 21 years old.

Hawking fell into a deep depression as his body began to shut down. He slowly lost the ability to speak and write. He started using crutches. Then a wheelchair.

Despite his illness, Hawking earned his PhD and entered the scientific community. 

His estimated time of death came; but Hawking lived on.

He continued his scientific research and eventually became one of the most influential living scientists. His career includes work in black holes, big bang theory, spacetime, general relativity, and much more. His research has continually reshaped how we think about black holes and other phenomena in our universe.

Although he has lost the ability to speak and move, Hawking continues to work and inspire. He now communicates through a computer that he controls by twitching his cheek.

At 76 years old, he is the longest known survivor of ALS.

In 2015, Hawking presented a new theory on black holes at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. 

In his presentation, Hawking argued that escape from a black hole could actually be possible.

“The message of this lecture is that black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought,” he argued, “Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly come out in another universe.”

Hawking ended his presentation with optimism for those who struggle.

“If you feel you are in a black hole, don't give up. There's a way out.”

It turns out, there’s a lot we can learn about ourselves and our mental health from black holes.

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New home in Chesterfield

We are excited to announce the opening of our new home in Chesterfield County.

Like all our homes, Harrowgate House is designed with privacy and safety in mind. The open spaces and large yard provide a place of autonomy and fulfillment for the individuals who will live there.

This home will greet its first residents in February. 

See photos of the new home below.

Meet Waleska Berrios, LPN

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The best nurses can make anyone feel at ease with just a simple look.

They're warm. Competent. Trustworthy.

That's Waleska.

And we're thrilled she's joined our cause.

Last year, Waleska joined Good Neighbor as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in our Psychiatry & Therapy office. This new position has helped fulfill our mission of providing holistic care to all of our clients. In her short time here, Waleska has already made a positive difference in the lives of our outpatient clients. 

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Not many Psychiatry & Therapy offices have an LPN, but we think they're crucial to helping clients create a new way of life.

Waleska cares for our outpatient clients by checking vital signs, administering injections, ordering medications, and much more. She monitors physical side effects from medication and also helps clients observe and improve their non-mental health. As a valuable resource to clients, Waleska is available to answer questions about medication and other aspects of one’s holistic health. With Waleska’s help, our clients are able to better understand and navigate their healthcare.

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Waleska exhibits an infectious smile and friendly expertise sharpened by her long career in care and teaching. 

She moved to Virginia about two years ago after living in New York and Connecticut. Prior to becoming a nurse about nine years ago, Waleska worked with special needs children for sixteen years as a teaching assistant. As a nurse, she worked mainly with elderly individuals—particularly those suffering from dementia and other related diseases.

Her natural passion and empathy shown throughout her career made her a perfect fit for Good Neighbor. 

When Waleska isn’t changing lives at Good Neighbor, she enjoys being a makeup artist for special events and occasions. She also loves latin dancing and music.

We are thrilled to have Waleska provide this new service at our outpatient office. Her excellent work has already improved the experience and health of our clients.

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Why you should break your winning streak

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The New Year can be stressful. We go into January thinking that some far-away clock will be reset—erasing the past and paving the way for an easy future. But that’s not usually the case. Come January, we often find that our same-old problems still persist. We’re still the same person, after all.

In late December, we set our resolutions for the new year. On January 1st, we get started. At first it’s easy. We start counting our success.

One day. Two days. Three days. 

“This is it," we tell ourselves. "This is finally the year."

Then something happens. 

We fail. 

We mess up.

The streak ends.

Then comes the shame. Hopelessness. The winning streak is gone. Erased. We ask, “what’s the point?” and give up.

We’ll try again next year.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Repeat.

Starting a new year comes with a lot of pressure. The pressure to be perfect. To never break that winning streak. To never fail.

But that’s no way to live.

This year, let’s try a different kind of resolution. 

Let’s toss out our winning streaks. Let’s shed the weight of pressure leading to shame.

Let’s take our resolutions one day at a time.

We don’t have to attach the fear of shame and failure to our resolutions. We don’t have to stay down when we fall. And we don’t have to wait for every January 1st to take the first step towards a better life.

The power to create a better way of life is available today and every day.

If we fail. That’s ok. Tomorrow is a new day. 

Tomorrow is always a new day.

Creating a new way of life isn’t about maintaining a perfect winning streak. It’s about waking up every day and taking that next step. It’s about finding the help and support system you need to achieve your dreams. It’s about opening up and accepting yourself for who you are, faults and all.

This year, take life one day at a time. Avoid shame. Speak your struggle. Learn about yourself. 

And most importantly, love yourself.

Start a new tradition

This year, we created a series of short videos to show what Christmas inside of a group home looks like. Individuals decorated Christmas trees, made lists for Santa, and hung lights outside that shone brightly in their neighborhoods.

For many of the individuals in Good Neighbor homes, Christmas in a house and community they call their own is a new thing. And it's our joy to make it a tradition.

What's your favorite holiday tradition? Let us know in the comments below.

Good Neighbor + Meals on Wheels

This summer, we partnered with Meals on Wheels to deliver food to those in need. Meals on Wheels, based in Virginia, is the oldest and largest national organization dedicated to nutrition for seniors and the homebound.

On one rainy day, we followed Byron Baxter, Day Support Program Manager, and the crew from Day Support as they loaded up the van with food and set out to serve the community. 

The people who received the meals were happy to see our staff and individuals and they often invited us in for conversation.

“Even though the weather was bad,” Baxter said, “our individuals still were able to put a smile on their faces.”

Thank you to our staff, individuals, and Meals on Wheels for helping eliminate hunger in our community and demonstrate what it means to be a good neighbor. We look forward to working with Meals on Wheels again next summer.

Check out the video above and some photos below!

Angela and Byron get ready to head out from Day Support.

Angela and Byron get ready to head out from Day Support.

Jamie listens to music and chats with a team member on the way to Meals on Wheels.

Jamie listens to music and chats with a team member on the way to Meals on Wheels.

A Good Neighbor team member holds an umbrella for Tom as they get back into the van.

A Good Neighbor team member holds an umbrella for Tom as they get back into the van.

Five mindfulness apps to reduce stress and improve mental health

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Life is full of distractions. New and old stresses pull us out of our present moment and send our minds elsewhere. That’s where mindfulness can help. 

Mindfulness is an important part of holistic mental health. It’s the ability to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings and focus on what’s important. 

Put simply, mindfulness is about being present. 

Mindfulness can be achieved through meditation. Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not about shutting off your mind or ignoring everything around you. It’s actually the opposite. 

Meditation helps us focus in on the world around us through our senses. The noises around us. The chair beneath us. Meditation also helps us understand our thoughts. When we focus through meditation, we can better pay attention to the coming and going of our thoughts. 

Meditation doesn’t always have to be peaceful, but it does often lead to more peace later. Training your brain to be more mindful can help reduce stress, get better sleep, and be present and undistracted during important moments in your life. 

Another great thing about meditation is that it can be done anywhere. Here are five recommended apps for practicing meditation and embracing a more mindful lifestyle.

Headspace, a free app with guided meditations and emergency exercises for high-anxiety moments.

Insight Timer, a free app with thousands of guided meditations, calming music, and a customizable timer.

Simple Habit, a free app with short guided meditations.

Calm, a free app with guided meditations, breathing programs, calming music, and narrated bedtime stories. 

Meditation Studio, a paid app with guided meditations and courses taught by meditation experts.