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Give an Hour & The Importance of Showing Up for Our Community on Juneteenth 

By June 19, 2024Blog

As we approached June 19th, I found myself reflecting on the significance of Juneteenth and what it means for our national community. We encourage all individuals to pause, take a moment to recognize and value the significance of this moment in time and why we celebrate today. Juneteenth, officially known as Juneteenth National Independence Day, is a pivotal moment in American history. It marks the end of slavery in the United States, a day that signifies freedom and a new beginning. This day commemorates June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued two and a half years earlier. 

While Juneteenth celebrates the liberation of enslaved people in Confederate states, it also serves as a stark reminder that true freedom for all wasn’t realized until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865. The journey from the first celebrations in Texas in 1866 to its recognition as a federal holiday in 2021 has been long and filled with struggle, resilience, and a relentless pursuit of justice. 

Juneteenth is not just a day off from work or a chance to gather with friends and family; it is a day of profound reflection and action. It is a time to honor the past, recognize the present struggles, and commit to a future where equity, equality, and justice prevail. This day challenges us to show up for our community, to be present, and to make a difference. At Give an Hour, we believe in the power of community and the importance of mental health support. Our services, such as Peer Support and the Wellness Ambassador program, are designed to provide the care and connection that are essential for individual and collective healing, no matter your background or identity; and we believe in mental health equity. Healing from injustice has no timeline. Honoring everyone’s journey and the nuances within their experience can connect us if we choose to pause and listen to each other. With this reflection– it helped me connect to how Give an Hour’s programs and services have been developed so well from these nuanced perspectives; serving the greater good.  

Peer Support is at the heart of what we do. It is built on the simple yet powerful idea that those who have walked similar paths can offer unique understanding and support. Peer Support Facilitators are trained to listen, empathize, and provide guidance to those navigating their mental health journeys. The facilitators are deeply connected and attuned to unique challenges within each support group, specifically from experiencing the challenges themselves. They can speak from a culturally informed perspective, understanding the unique barriers to mental health equity because they have faced them first-hand. For example, Mindy Pace, our rare-care facilitator, is both a caregiver for a rare disease and a rare disease patient herself. This is particularly important for those who feel isolated or misunderstood. Statistics show that peer support can significantly improve mental health outcomes. According to Mental Health America, individuals engaged in peer support services experience a 50% reduction in hospitalization rates and an increase in their overall quality of life. By showing up for each other, we create a network of care that is both impactful and enduring. 

Our Wellness Ambassadors play a crucial role in our mission. They are the champions of mental health within their communities, advocating for awareness, education, and stigma reduction. Wellness Ambassadors are empowered to share their stories, facilitate workshops, and create spaces for open dialogue about mental health. The importance of being involved cannot be overstated. Research from the National Institute of Mental Health indicates that community-based mental health programs are more effective when they are driven by individuals who are part of the community they serve. By being active participants, Wellness Ambassadors help to foster environments where mental health is prioritized and supported. 

Juneteenth reminds us of the importance of showing up. It calls us to be present in our communities, to offer our support, and to advocate for justice and equality. At Give an Hour, we are committed to this mission every day. Our services are designed to meet people where they are and provide the tools and support, they need to thrive. As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, let us remember the journey that brought us here and the work that still needs to be done. Let us honor those who fought for their freedom by continuing their legacy through our actions. Showing up for our community means being there for each other, advocating for mental health, and creating spaces where everyone can feel safe and supported. 

I encourage you to join us in this important work. Whether it’s becoming a Trauma Informed Peer Supporter, a Wellness Ambassador, or simply being a supportive friend, your involvement makes a difference. Together, we can create a community where mental health is valued and everyone can learn which tools help them live a fulfilling life. 

For more information on our services and how you can get involved, visit GiveAnHour.Org. This Juneteenth, let’s commit to showing up for each other and making a lasting impact.