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.

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.