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Friday, January 31, 2014

A quiet end to Columbia's most tragic week

   I am headed out of town tomorrow for a break from our Winter weather.  What I normally do with this blog is to have a group of blogs prepared that I can just post on the day that I want.  Being out of town next week I thought I would just post all of them today.  So here goes.


   I attended last night's candlelight vigil for the people killed at the Mall last Saturday. This event was the culmination of the most traumatic week in Columbia's history.  


   Representatives for the families impacted spoke very personally about the the lives of Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson.  A fund is being set up with the Howard County Community Foundation in memory of Tyler Johnson.  You can't donate to that fund through the Foundation's website but only by doing it directly with the Foundation.  Contact the Foundation for more details on donations.


      While the deaths of these two innocent young people I had the feeling that there should have been some mention of the death of Darion Aguilar who also struggled with his mental health issues and also now has a grieving family that carries the burden of trying to sort out what went wrong with Darrion that led him down this deadly path.


   Seeing the large number of new media satellite trucks at the vigil my hope is that the next time we see their presence it is for something less tragic happening in our town. 

P.S.


    Petit Louis Bistro did a soft opening this week and from the number of diners it seems to be an early hit.  I stopped by the cafe at 6:30 pm just to check out the pastries and found the helpful staff to assist my choices.


   The cafe opens at 7 am and will stay open until customers stop coming.  They will have a clear closing time in a couple of weeks.  This will soon be a popular place to meet for coffee and a pastry and enjoy the view of the lake. 


   I did have to mention to them about anything food related becomes known in our community through HowChow.  They didn't seem to know that yet.

P.S.1


     Three singer/songwriters defined the antiwar/peace movement of the 1960's----Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary.   For many of us coming of age during this time it gave voice to much of our growing sense that the world was unsettling.  The protected family environments that had sheltered us up to that point gave way to the realities of a world that had many morality questions.  Solving issues with violence and confrontation seemed to be the road travelled in addressing how we treated our fellow humans in our Country and around the world.  We idealistically thought that we saw a better path in resolving conflicts. Unfortunately my generation has followed the old path in resolving conflicts.  Maybe our children's generation will have more success in transforming the world in the way we wanted.
      With Pete Seeger's death this week I wanted to remember his songs that spoke to a generation that thought we could try to create a different world. This Land is Your Land,  Where have all the Flowers Gone,  If I had a Hammer, Turn, Turn Turn and We Shall Overcome.

P.S. 2

     This week the gun manufacturer Beretta decided that the climate for gun ownership wasn't strong enough in Maryland and decided to locate their new plant in Tennessee.  It seems that with the actions of the Maryland Legislature last year to limit the ability to purchase assault weapons and gun clips that held more than 10 bullets, Beretta felt unwelcome in our State.  This is one time that the loss of potential jobs is a winner.  Tennessee seems to me to be the loser in this case.  Good riddance Beretta.
     With the complexity of any issue as complex as gun violence it is never easy to evaluate the impact of any legislation.  As gun rights advocates like to point out "guns don't kill people, people kill people" and that the issue is one of a mental health problem.  And that is true up to a point.  No one denies that having better, more available mental health services would be helpful in reducing gun violence.  However the shooting at our Mall last week showed that the type of weapon and the amount of bullets that a gun can fire quickly can spell the difference between 26 innocent people killed in Newtown and 2 innocent people killed in Columbia.  If our Mall shooter had been able to obtain an assault weapon and a clip that held 30 bullets as Adam Lanza  did in Newtown, the tragedy could have lasted longer and had many more people killed.  I am glad to live in a state that at least makes some reasonable laws to limit gun violence than in a state that closes its eyes to gun violence and was more attractive to gun manufacturers.  Maybe that is something to think about in visiting a mall in Tennessee.

P.S. 3
    I light of the killings at the Mall I thought it would be good to give some information on a couple of counseling groups for teens in Howard County:
   Congruent Counseling will be offering 2 separate mental health groups for teens ages 13 to 17 in Columbia.
- One for Boys run by a male therapist
- One for Girls run by a female therapist
     These groups will be for teens struggling with depression, anxiety, social issues, family concerns, etc. All group members will be screened prior to group by the group leader. These will be open groups so members can start at any time and end as they are ready/when goals are met. Groups can be a very effective way to help teens learn new skills, receive support, and practice new skills in a safe environment.
     These groups will be covered by most major insurances: CareFirst/Blue Cross, Magellan, Aetna, Cigna, Johns Hopkins, United Healthcare, Value Options (commercial), and many smaller insurances. call us or your insurance company to see if we are in network. Interested clients can call: 410.740.8066 and ask about the "Teen Mental Health Group"
     Additionally the Maryland Coalition of Families (MCF) is offering a course in "Youth Mental Health First Aid."  It's an 8 hour course for adults who work with young people (ages 12 - 18), including teachers, coaches, leaders of faith communities, and other caring citizens. Youth Mental Health First Aid teaches a 5-step action plan to offer initial help to a young person who is showing signs of a mental illness or is in crisis. Participants also learn to connect young people with the appropriate professional, peer, social, or self-help care.  For a limited time, MCF's trainers are able to offer this course free of charge to interested members of the public. To schedule a training, please contact Ann Geddes at MCF at 410.730.8267 x106 or ageddes@mdcoalition.org.
    That's all folks. Be back in a week.

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