Grand Haven

Emergency grant funding keeps mental health services going

Before the COVID-19 pandemic prompted mass closures in March, Mosaic Counseling provided free counseling to students at more than 33 schools across Ottawa County. 

Now, the Grand Haven-based nonprofit is quickly figuring out how to bring that mental health support to students and others in the community with social distancing rules in place that prohibit in-person sessions.

"We have children and teens who haven't been able to meet in-person with their therapists since the schools have closed. Our therapists are trying to reach out to the students and families to provide teletherapy," said Sarah Lewakowski, MA, LLP, executive director of Mosaic Counseling for the past 17 years.
‘More important than ever’
A  $20,000 emergency grant has been crucial to the organization as they continue to provide counseling services remotely via teletherapy during the pandemic. 

“The need for affordable and accessible mental health services is more important than ever,” said Lewakowski. “Most of our therapists are doing teletherapy, and so far, Mosaic has been able to refer everyone who has called via a phone intake.”

Mosiac Counseling website has information about the nonprofit's services.Even before the health crisis, Mosaic Counseling experienced significant growth in clients in recent years. The organization’s spring fundraiser, which helps fund counseling for the uninsured, underinsured, and School Outreach Program, had to be canceled because of the pandemic. Mosaic Counseling’s commitment is to provide mental health services for anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Ottawa County.

Calls initially fell during the first few weeks of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, which closed schools and many businesses to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the sometimes fatal COVID-19. But in the past week, there has been an upswing in requests for counseling. 

“I attribute that to people just trying to figure this out, and maybe not knowing that we are offering teletherapy,” Lewakowski said. “Our physical offices are closed, but we're doing all of our intakes over the phone to continue our mission of offering hope and healing for all by providing accessible and affordable professional counseling services."

Community coalition

The emergency funding came from a community coalition created to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. It was part of the third round of grants — totaling $80,160 — from the Emergency Human Needs Fund to 14 area nonprofit organizations that are helping the greater Ottawa County community in this time of crisis. Overall, the fund has allocated nearly $200,000 in emergency grants, said Hadley Streng, president of Grand Haven Area Community Foundation (GHACF).

The foundation is responsible for overseeing the grant distribution as part of a consortium, which includes Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) and the Greater Ottawa County United Way.
Hadley Streng is president of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

“Nonprofit agencies in Ottawa County have committed to keeping people fed, housed, and healthy as best they can. But these organizations face challenges as they balance their missions with the additional workload of managing the threat of COVID-19,” Streng said. 

Grant distribution

In response to this need, the third round of emergency grants given out to assist with food, housing (or shelter), and health included:
  • $5,000 to Arbor Circle
  • $5,000 to Beacon of Hope
  • $7,500 to Bethany Christian Services
  • $1,500 to Bridge Youth Center - Zeeland
  • $2,500 to Children’s Advocacy Center
  • $5,000 to Community Action House
  • $8,160 to Midtown Counseling
  • $2,000 to Extended Grace/Momentum Center
  • $2,500 to Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates
  • $5,000 to Love in Action of the Tri-Cities
  • $20,000 to Mosaic Counseling
  • $1,000 to Muskegon YMCA (Veggie Van: brought to Ottawa County in collaboration between the Grand Rapids YMCA, the Muskegon YMCA, and the Tri-Cities YMCA)
  • $10,000 to Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence
  • $5,000 to The Salvation Army - Holland
The community coalition has created a website to help with the rising need for volunteers, donations of both goods and funds, and ongoing updates:

“Donations have already begun coming in, and the generosity of our community will allow us to continue to respond to this crisis,” Streng said. “This is a time of great need, and the natural human impulse is to help our neighbors, so join us in helping in any way that you can.”

This article is part of The Lakeshore, a new featured section of Rapid Growth focused on West Michigan's Lakeshore region. Over the coming months, Rapid Growth will be expanding to cover the complex challenges in this community by focusing on the organizations, projects, programs and individuals working to improve conditions and solve problems for their region. As the coverage continues, look for The Lakeshore publication, coming in 2020.
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