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.

Day Support gets spooky for Halloween

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Last week, Day Support hosted their annual Halloween party. Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities from our Residential and Day Support programs attended the party in their best and most creative costumes. Loud music and dancing filled the festive building while individuals let loose and spent an evening full of fun and socializing. The event also featured delicious meals, drinks, and desserts!

Check out some photos from the event below. Which costume is your favorite?

Christy came dressed as a nurse!

Christy came dressed as a nurse!

Several burglars snuck in!

Several burglars snuck in!

Jamar looking good with his Batman jacket!

Jamar looking good with his Batman jacket!

Masquerade mask!

Masquerade mask!

Karl wore a sombrero!

Karl wore a sombrero!

Douglas dressed as a police officer!

Douglas dressed as a police officer!

Shanticia dancing!

Shanticia dancing!

Tom and Virginia danced the night away! Tom dressed as 2 Chainz!

Tom and Virginia danced the night away! Tom dressed as 2 Chainz!

Spider-man and Captain America made an appearance!

Spider-man and Captain America made an appearance!

Stephanie wore a wizard hat!

Stephanie wore a wizard hat!

Thanks to all our staff and individuals who made our Halloween party a night to remember!

Special guests inspire and challenge at management meeting

Last week, we were honored to have two special guests join us at our quarterly management meeting. B.K. Fulton and Jacquelyn E. Stone took time out of their busy schedules to spend lunch with our managers and share their inspiring stories.

B.K. is a entrepreneur currently serving as Chairman of Ario, LLC and J&F Alliance Group—a venture that was awarded 2017 Minority Technology Firm of the Year by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Previously, he held top positions at Verizon, AOL Time Warner, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the National Urban League. He recently founded a feature film and TV company designed to promote an inclusive narrative in major media and in 2015, he authored a popular children’s book, Shauna, about his little sister who has Rett Syndrome. He currently serves on the boards of Norfolk State University, Bon Secours Health Systems, Towne Bank and numerous other civic, social, and business boards. 

B.K.’s wife, Jacquelyn, was the first female African American Partner of a major Virginia firm. She is currently a Partner at McGuireWoods, LLC and serves as chair for the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She is also a former member of the firm’s Board of Partners. She previously served as the firm-wide hiring partner for over 25 years and concentrates on general business matters on behalf of corporate clients, private clients, and legislative matters before the Virginia General Assembly.

Can you say power couple?

B.K and Jacquelyn ate lunch with us before B.K. began his presentation. He opened by telling a story of recent heartbreak. Thirty days earlier, Jacquelyn had level 10 (out of 10) open brain surgery to treat an aneurysm and AVN. “It scared the hell out of me,” B.K. admitted. “But it was an important lesson. Tomorrow is not promised. So the best you has to show up every single day.” 

Despite the odds, Jacquelyn made a miraculous recovery.

B.K also talked about his little sister, Shauna. She was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome and expected to only live until about two or three years old. As child, B.K. helped take care of her—learning empathy and compassion along the way. She is now 47 years old.

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After sharing his own story, B.K. talked about the importance of sharing inspirational stories. “One of the things that Jackie and I do is we live our lives out loud.” Recently they decided to start a film and TV company. ”We decided that it was important to tell the stories of people that are successful,” he said. 

“Very often you hear stories from minorities or women that are from a deprivation narrative, or a prison of sorrows, and you don’t hear the stories that lift us up, that inspire us.”

He gave the example of Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint-Georges. In the 1700s, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was the champion fencer in all of Europe. He was also one of the lead virtuosos with the violin—eventually being asked to lead Marie Antoinette’s private symphony. 

Chevalier de Saint-Georges was black. 

“We don’t tell those stories,” B.K. said. “You get the Hidden Figures story every now and then. But you’re more inclined to get the slavery story… I am here to tell you that as you counsel your clients, as you talk to your own family, make sure you tell them the stories that inspire.” 

B.K. challenged us all to tell inspiring stories and make the most of our time. “You have to put your ass on the line,” he said.

“I woke up this morning. It’s a good day. If you’re on the right side of the dirt, you have an opportunity to do whatever. Be a better husband. Be a better friend. A better boyfriend, girlfriend, colleague. “And there is always a higher gear. Do not accept mediocrity. Not because you get paid for your job. But because you are a live human being. And tomorrow is not promised.”

B.K. and Jacquelyn’s stories inspired us to do great things. Our managers left with a renewed feeling of hope and determination. Their stories resonated with each of us in unique ways.

We are enormously thankful for their time, stories, and life lessons.

B.K. and Jacquelyn pose for a photo with Matt Marek, Executive Director at Good Neighbor

B.K. and Jacquelyn pose for a photo with Matt Marek, Executive Director at Good Neighbor

Below is B.K.'s full presentation and Q&A session.

You can follow B.K. and Jacquelyn on B.K.'s Instagram.

In addition to hearing B.K. speak, our managers broke into groups to brainstorm ways to improve how we work. We discussed how to better develop leaders and how to foster a culture of storytelling. But most importantly, our management meeting was a time to meet coworkers and build bonds between departments. Our time together reminded us all that we are a part of a cause, not a company.

Kevin and Lauren lead a discussion on leadership

Kevin and Lauren lead a discussion on leadership

Our team discusses meaningful ways to tell our stories

Our team discusses meaningful ways to tell our stories

Peace and healing at Checkpoint One

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This week, Ashley, our I/DD Program Development Manager, and Doug from our Community Engagement program were invited to spend a calm, autumn day on thirty-three acres of farmland in Doswell, Virginia. The farm, called Checkpoint One, was founded by Andy Kaufman and Kristin Fitzgerald to provide animal therapy. Friendly animals and beautiful scenery help treat trauma and foster mental health.

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While at the farm, Doug got to know several horses, and even named three of them! Cocoa, Coconut, and Trouble Maker.

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Doug and Ashley pose for a photo with Checkpoint One's co-founder, Andy.

Checkpoint One opens their doors mostly to military and first responder families in need of healing and wellness, but others are welcome, too. We're thankful to Checkpoint One for inviting Ashley and Doug to visit, and we hope to return soon!

Good Neighbor joins the Virginia Association of Health Plans

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Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
— Hellen Keller
 

Earlier this year, Matthew Marek, Executive Director of Good Neighbor, and Rich Shelton, Director of Strategic Engagement, presented at the Virginia Association of Health Plans (VAHP) annual conference thanks to the VAHP’s generous invitation.

The presentation focused on innovation within the space of intellectual/developmental disabilities and behavioral health. Matthew and Rich spoke about the unique ways in which Good Neighbor provides care and the next frontier in the industry as technology continues to be a welcomed disruption. 

They also shared our commitment to creating access to data-driven insights, implementing new technologies that advance the quality of care, and designing services that meet people where they are.

We were honored to have the opportunity to share our story at the conference.

Today, we're excited to join the Virginia Association of Health Plans as an affiliate member and are eager to collaborate with the association and the many forward-thinking organizations involved.

Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” In order to achieve true innovation and progress we have to do it together. Incredible things can happen when we challenge the status quo to put people first, and this partnership is another step in that direction.

New Anthem Integrated Community Care Pilot For Adults

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Good Neighbor has partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to provide a new in-home service for members called Integrated Community Care (ICC). 

ICC meets individuals where they are and helps them gain stability and manage their mental health during especially difficult periods. In this program, individuals learn tools and receive specialized counseling to stabilize their mental health symptoms and optimize overall health and wellness in their own homes and communities. 

This comprehensive treatment approach includes a detailed clinical assessment, individualized service plans, care coordination, linkage to community resources for ongoing support, and crisis support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Call (855) 519-CARE to learn more about the program or refer an Anthem member.

Learn more about all of our Community-Based services here.

4 new homes 🏠

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Good Neighbor is excited to announce the opening of four new homes in Culpeper, Warrenton, Henrico, and Hanover.

"We really looked at how to design these new homes as someone’s forever home," Heath Pond, Director of I/DD services, said about his team's approach. "We didn’t want it to just be a group home, but to be a home."

With lots natural light and multiple living spaces, Pond and his team created a space where individuals can have guests and friends visit and still have the privacy that they need.

See below for a look inside two of these homes.

 

New Henrico home:

New Hanover home:

 

For more information about the new homes or our Residential program, please contact Heath Pond at (804) 479-1023, hpond@goodneighborcs.com or Luke Lemon at (804) 835-1802, llemon@goodneighborcs.com.

Now offering Community Engagement & Community Coaching!

Good Neighbor is now offering Community Engagement & Community Coaching services!

Community Engagement & Community Coaching assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in accessing and participating in the community outside of their homes, employment, and day programs.

For more information, head over to goodneighbor.care/cecc!