Winter 2009

From the Director

Welcome to our first issue of HOMEtown News.  It is my desire to keep family, friends and clients up to date with what is happening with the House of Mercy and Encouragement .  We have a lot to thank God for during this holiday season.  His blessings have been bountiful.

I am so thankful for the many volunteers who have spent time giving and collecting items for our garage sale.  Many hours were spent in categorizing, pricing, setting up and taking down.  The most exciting thing for me was to see my friends coming together and meeting new friends working for the common goal of helping children and families through the House Of Mercy & Encouragement. I am also grateful to all who helped with our Open House.  Joyce Mikles did a beautiful job making HOME look welcoming and beautiful by planting the mums and adding her decorative touch to the outside of the building.  Please read the column “My Volunteer Angels” to learn more information on the help that has been given just since August!

Each issue of HOMEtown News will contain feature articles on various topics of interest relating to mental health, children and families, communication issues and marriage.  It will also feature websites of interest and information about where help can be found on a variety of issues.  Different referral sources will be listed with each newsletter.  Two other featured topics for each newsletter will be “God Stories” which will address how God’s presence has worked in the life of a local individual and “My Story” how the House Of Mercy & Encouragement has helped a child, individual or family.  These will be written by the individuals who have experienced the situation or event.

I hope you enjoy this first issue of HOMEtown News.  I am excited to present it to you!  God bless you and your family and have a peace-filled holiday season.

In His Peace,

Dolores Mortimer, LMHC, #5480,

Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor

Director, House Of Mercy & Encouragement

My Story

As a parent, you try everything you can to help your child.  After a year of our child not speaking in preschool yet freely talking at home, it was time to find answers.  The pediatrician stated she was shy and would outgrow it eventually.  Once she started kindergarten, we knew this was not something she would outgrow. My husband and I saw a news program dealing with selective mutism that caught our attention. This is what our daughter is dealing with! Now we can get her help! We spoke to the school’s social worker and realizing there are not any programs dealing with anxiety based problems at the school level, we were referred to House of Mercy and Encouragement. (HOME).

Upon meeting with Mrs. Mortimer, we were put at ease that play therapy at HOME would be something that would help our daughter. With encouragement from Mrs. Mortimer and us, Morgan started to deal with the anxiety of school and started to reach out to her friends, slowly speaking to the teacher in whispers, to finally talking in front of the class. This process did take the entire school year…a gradual process that was so rewarding and comforting for us and our daughter.  Once the school year ended, we continued meeting with Mrs. Mortimer over the summer. We made sure to keep an appointment right before the first day of school.  To our surprise, our daughter did not regress and spoke to her friends the first day of school; she spoke to her new teacher within three days!  Our daughter still continues to work with Mrs. Mortimer; however her visits have gone from every week to every three weeks.

We are overjoyed and very grateful to have found Mrs. Mortimer and HOME. It is a comfortable and safe environment for our daughter to learn how to deal with her anxieties. She still looks forward to her visits and has grown so much over the last year. We could not have done it without the help of HOME and Mrs. Mortimer!

“My Story” will be featured with each HOMEtown issue. It is a true story written by a parent or caregiver who found help through the House of Mercy and Encouragement. My deepest gratitude to the author!

Wish List for HOME

  • Digital camera to use for newsletter pictures, marketing and for children to use to capture their precious work they have made during the sessions. (sandtray creations, journals, All About Me books)
  • Printer to print the photos (eg, Polaroid PoGo Instant Mobile Printer)
  • Gift certificate to Michael’s
  • Gift certificate to Staples or Office Depot
  • Gift certificate to Barnes and Noble
  • Gift Certificate to Oriental Trading Company
  • Rolls of paper towels, toilet paper (septic tank safe),
  • Monetary donations
  • Small “treasures” for the treasure box
  • Boxes of Juicy Juice (apple, fruit punch, grape)
  • Individually wrapped animal crackers, pretzels, Cheez-It crackers

God Stories

The Bible is full of God stories.  You can see the extraordinary works of God unfold through the ordinary people and events of the day.  It is no different today.  God is continually working through the people and events unfolding around us. “God Stories” will be a regular feature of the HOMEtown News.  If you have a God Story you would like to share with others, you may submit it to [email protected].

The following story is submitted by Dolores Mortimer.

There was a time I was in doubt as to whether the ministry of the House Of Mercy and Encouragement was my own crazy idea or the will of God.  I have always found discernment a challenge.  I fretted over whether there would be the emotional, spiritual and financial support I would need to move forward with the idea.  After all, a month before we got the ok from the IRS as a charitable organization, I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB breast cancer.  Not a good sign and certainly not a good time to be embarking on a new ministry.

What I had particular difficulty with was the thought, “Maybe I am just a grieving mother and aunt.  Perhaps this is not God’s will at all, but my own attempt to ‘make things right’ after the devastating accident that killed my son and Godson.”  Even with the illness, I decided that moving forward was the only direction to move.  I didn’t like where I was physically, spiritually or emotionally so I didn’t want to “stay there” and I really didn’t want to look back because the pain was too great.

I have a quote from Martin Luther King hanging in my kitchen facing me as I get on the treadmill.  It says, “Take the first step in faith.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  What I found was that as I took the first step in faith to develop this ministry, I often had to be helped with taking other steps.  At times as I stumbled, I had to be carried by my husband, my family and my friends.  I soon realized that God works through the words and actions of those around us.  The encouragement and support I received from my husband, Sr. Deborah, Phil and Cindy Signore, and Rob and Jill Faw was inspiring! It was the Holy Spirit anointing this ministry through the prayers, generosity, encouragement, and kindness of many, many people.

In August, I had a breakfast at my house with about 20 friends.  A surprise came after they had left.  Many had given Allen checks donated to the House Of Mercy & Encouragement.  I wasn’t asking for money, but $450 was collected!  I decided to earmark the money for a retreat sponsored by HOME for parents who have experienced the loss of a child.   I wrote a thank you note to everyone and told them the money would be earmarked for the retreat.  I had no idea of when, where, or how it would be given.  I just knew that sometime a retreat would be given.

The following Saturday my telephone rang at 8:00am.  It was Sharyn Gildea, sacristan and friend from Our Lady of Lourdes.  She wanted to know if I would attend a workshop with her at the Bethany Center.  She wasn’t sure what the workshop was about …it had something to do with “mercy” so she thought she would call and invite me.  I was reluctant to go, but since I couldn’t come up with an excuse, I said “OK.”  Besides, Sharyn has done a lot for me and my family.

Many blessings came from that meeting.  However, the biggest blessing came when we looked into having a retreat at the Bethany Center for parents who are grieving due to the death of a child.  The reservation specialist showed us around but was not optimistic.  I wanted to have the retreat in the Spring of 2010 but everything was booked.  “If it weren’t booked, how much of a deposit would you need?” I asked.  Well, there were many variables to that question, too.  How many people, how many rooms, parish or non-profit rates and so on…  I took my best shot at the answers with Sharyn by my side.  There was much calculating going on.  I thought there would be no end to the pushing of buttons on the calculator.  She came up with a deposit rate, exactly $450.  The amount that was earmarked for the retreat from the unexpected donations of friends!  I was amazed!!  God works down to the penny!  Oh yes, and a weekend was found in Spring.  It is the weekend of May 7th, 8th and 9th – Mother’s Day Weekend!  I expect many blessings to unfold.

Who Have We Helped

Since January 2009, HOME has helped 107 children and 72 families with counseling needs. Over 500 sessions have been held, not including tutoring sessions. A wide range of challenges have come through our doors, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, separation and divorce, selective mutism, Aspergers spectrum, ADHD, attachment disorders, and abuse issues.

* Please pray for our children and families *

Stages of Stress

As described by Dolores Curran in Stress and the Healthy Family

  1. “I can do everything!” (leads to built-in failure and guilt)We move to:
  2. “I can’t do everything.” (Self-acceptance)
  3. “I don’t want to do everything.” (Choice – this is where we want to be)
  4. “I don’t want to do anything!” (Burnout)

What stage of stress are you?

10 Ways to De-Stress

  1. Pray.
  2. Talk to yourself in a positive way. You deserve to be kind to yourself.
  3. Breathe.
  4. Take time to rest. Put your feet up and look at a magazine. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate, a cup of tea, or some hot chocolate.
  5. Listen to music.
  6. Plan the use of your time and allow yourself more time than you need to get a job done.
  7. Keep your sense of humor.
  8. Talk to a friend.
  9. Take a hot bath or a longer shower than usual.
  10. Pray some more.

HOME’s Volunteer Angels:

Thank you for your donation of time, talent and treasure:

Laura Guttery  – office help

Sharon Gardner and Linda Bennett – tutors

Ann Crum and Judy Blanton – mail outs

Laura and Bill DeWitt – making and hanging window treatments

Jetta Hennings, Trudy White, Linda Castorino –lots of miscellaneous but important work!

Guardian Angels Catholic School – loaned tables and chairs for Open House

Don Chill – canopy loan set up and take down for open house


Call HOME at 786-7951.

Our vision is to compassionately serve as a resource for those children who are affected by mental health and/or learning issues.  We are a faith-based provider who believes in the God given dignity of every child and family.  All families are treated with respect and kindness.

Next Issue:  Upcoming retreat for parents who have experienced the loss of a child, how the Girl Scouts are helping HOME, a featured article on children and families and much more.