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#OneRouge Friday Community Check-In (Week 62, 63)

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in EBR, The Walls Project has been hosting weekly video calls with leaders of nonprofits, foundations, city government, and local businesses from a

cross the parish. The intention of these weekly community check-ins is to share information and resources to help the Baton Rouge community respond and recover from the pandemic. Weekly topics range from access to basic needs such as food, medical care, and safety to thought-leaders' insights on equitable opportunities for youth enrichment, nonprofit financial solvency, surge in unemployment, and the disproportionate impact on impoverished neighborhoods in regards to accessing fresh food.


Part I: 'English Proficiency and Cultural Differences'

Meeting Notes Prepared by Zoë Haddad (Walls Project)

  • Baton Rouge native, founder of The 821

  • The 821 Project is very rooted in my upbringing - 821 was actually the house number of my birth place in North Baton Rouge

  • I felt a sense of empowerment from my family and my small circle to take advantage of all that the world offered - its culture, history, traditions, to see the world as my oyster, as a place where I could make a difference

  • Very significant because for a lot of people who grow up in working class and working poor communities, you’re often made to feel like your world is smaller and there’s not much you can do with your life because you’re dealing with levels of trauma and marginalization

  • To be told as a young Black child that the world was mine to explore and make a difference in was very pivotal in me growing up and becoming an adult

  • Created the 821 Project about 5 years ago in an effort to promote global citizenship and social justice education in the Baton Rouge community and later expanding to Southeast LA and the rest of the country

  • Our organization works to decrease polarization in our community by way of dialogue and authentic conversations about the issues that impact us across cultures to be a part of a movement to dismantle institutional racism and other forms of systemic oppression; trying to confront a narrative that LA is not a diverse, globally connected place in which people care about the community by expanding our virtual interview series interviewing activists that focuses on everything from people of different countries (38 people so far from nine countries); and looking to promote global citizenship and social justice and foster community collaboration through fairs and community events

  • Hosted 50+ events virtually and in-person, presented at 3 national conferences, won 2 awards from the community and been on federal grants as well

  • It’s important for us to acknowledge that this is the Fourth of July weekend and in many different ways, people have different opinions about the Fourth, how and if they celebrate…I think it’s important to acknowledge as we celebrate the establishment if this country by way of the Declaration of Independence, whether you think of this country as founded on stolen land or a country that was founded on land that was previously occupied, it’s important for us to acknowledge that this land was not ours when we established it. It was in many ways built through the exclusion and oppression of Native people and Black people

  • Highlighting that to acknowledge that we have a deep history of exclusion, discrimination, and oppression. We have to confront that history while envisioning a future for our country that is inclusive.

  • There is a lot of tension and backlash against any form of education that forces us to acknowledge our past. But as the saying goes, those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. And in many ways, if we don’t know where we’ve been, we don’t know where we’re going.

  • To connect back to the Nine Drivers of Poverty, one of them being Cultural Differences and English Proficiency, it’s important to also note poverty is intercultural which means our solutions need to be intercultural. One of the ways to eradicate poverty as it relates to addressing cultural differences and English proficiency is to acknowledge the diversity of our community, that we have these problematic elements of our history but can work past that by acknowledging that we are globally connected, by working to address systemic racism and injustice, and working to empower people in our community who are helping us to expand the reach of the work

  • The guest speakers we have today all in their own unique way work to foster global citizenship, multicultural education, community service, global service, and entrepreneurship rooted in authenticity both culturally and personally

Bea Gyimah (Founder of the America, My Oyster Association + Professor of English, BRCC)

  • Seek to preserve the diverse histories, recognize the various struggles, and celebrate the victories of all individuals residing in America both those born here and those who immigrate here as well

  • Our very basis is established in promoting multicultural awareness and education as a means to eliminate, combat, and address racism, prejudice, and discrimination to create a more culturally inclusive America

  • AMOA wanted to figure out how to honor the class of May 2020 who were now completing their education during a pandemic and weren’t able to have the traditional commencement ceremony. So we decided to celebrate these graduates from all levels from Pre-K and Head Start all the way to Medical School graduates. The reason I’m going back to tell you this is because we wanted to have small salutes to them, to invest in these young people in aw way that lets them know that America, that the world is their oyster and they are the magnificent pearl. They can obtain those educations to make their families’ lives better as well those in their community in terms of their daily interactions. We wanted to do something even greater to show the investment we had in their diverse experiences which is why we decided to do a documentary series on the class of 2020 to let them know they have the power within themselves to make America more culturally inclusive in hopes of allowing America to one day be the country it professes to be but has yet to become. The future is within our youth. We wanted to capture their unique sources and experiences in a two part series which will debut in Fall 2021. First part deals with pursuing their education during the pandemic and the stress, tension and trauma for those who contracted the virus, those who may have lost loved one, family or friends, or felt the emotional and economic burden. The second part deals with race in America and how the students were actively able to pursue their educations while witnessing police brutality and racial injustice as well as gender discrimination and how they are wanting America within this next decade to be the America they were taught that it could become.

  • Leads to our current program which happens to be Building A Better America Today with AMOA. Partnered with the EBRP Library System to promote their professional development resources in their digital library that specialize in diversity, equity and inclusion. Three part process to first acknowledge the graduates for graduating during a global pandemic and the racial injustice and public outcry against it, celebrating these grads by documenting their stories, and then introducing them in a greater way to the fundamentals of diversity, equity and inclusion. From May 1 - June 17 we hosted these professional development class where they received certificates with participation at different levels - middle school all the way up to young professionals.

  • I’m proud to say that on Juneteenth we had our AMOA graduating DEI class of 2021 where we were able to have 21 graduates celebrated and honored for their efforts.

  • One of the mandatory courses was on Empathy. We believe at the AMOA that empathy is the source for it all - a sense of understanding, appreciation, being compassionate to each other, and having a listening ear to what we all face. We all face things that are unique but that doesn’t mean that our voices shouldn’t be heard and acknowledged.

  • As you all know, you have the power to either build someone’s world up or take someone’s world down. You can uplift and you can destroy based on your interactions with others.

  • Through empathy, we can come together to create something greater, the ability to let all people know they have value and matter. That all people and cultures have greatly impact American life and culture for the better. Each and every one of us has to continue that legacy to contribute meaningful work to eliminate some of the social and racial disparities and injustices that plague this country.

  • With our DEI program, we are still accepting students who want to be a part of it until August 1st. Started the first half at the Goodwood Library. Continuing with the goal of increasing enrollment and graduates. Let me know if you know someone who wants to be an advocate and AMOA champion.

  • We want individuals to recognize that cultural differences do exist but our differences are often not nearly as great as our similarities, and we are all in pursuit of life, liberty, and justice for us all.

  • There are different societal systems, barriers, and obstacles that often get in the way of that. We want individuals to be aware that as these different systems were created, these different systems can also be dismantled so that we can a truer representation of America and it’s different ideologies, beliefs, and values

Pama Barber (Edward Jones Financial Advisor + Past President of the Capital City Rotary Club)

  • We are a “small but mighty club” of about twenty members

  • The Rotary International is a global organization that has its areas of service, which our local chapter works to promote: peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economies.

  • We do that through global and district grants. Globally, we’ve partnered with other Rotary chapters in places like Haiti or the Congo to provide resources and services (for example, building desks, providing generators, providing cooking supplies, etc.)

  • Each year we do at least two grants to support our local community. Recently worked with The Safety Place, which does bicycle and car seat safety. We provide them with helmets but also work as a service project and become volunteers in those organizations. Some of our other grants include the Food Bank - again we go and support them with our hands. The model of Rotary is service above self. All of our grants include us going out, not just donating money.

  • Also partnered with the Council on Aging, St. Vincent de Paul, provide backpacks and uniforms for students, Choices Program to educate teens to stay in school

  • One of the big things we do every year is Global Community Day every fall, usually in October, at BREC on Highland Road. We come together partnering with local citizens from outside of the United States. We have communities from Haiti, China, South Africa, all over that come and set up booths so people here can learn about other cultures that live in Baton Rouge. Usually there are about 20-25 booths.

  • This year’s Global Community Day will be October 17, 2021. If you know anyone here who wants to help others learn about their country, notify us. There’s space for everyone.

Coalition Questions and Discussion

Casey Phillips (The Walls Project): Thank you both for the work you do relentlessly and with such empathy. You’re not going to bring people into the future and amore equitable mindset by beating them over the head. It’s going to be through kindness and opportunity to learn from one another. Bea Gyimah, the work you’re doing to build young people’s confidence...I think people underestimate how powerful that is, to have that genuine hope that others are in it with you. What I’m really hearing from this conversation is this globalism mentally. Does anyone have any perspectives on how the city could benefit from a more global mindset be it from education, workforce development, any of those sides?

Pat LeDuff (CADAV): I think this should be a city initiative. I believe Bea Gyimah is on the right track. The Rotary Club is on the right track. The more of this training we get, I think this will be the thing that will bring us together. We all want the same thing. How do we push this through the school system? It should really be a part of the curriculum across the city in any way we can make that happen.

Reginald Brown (Gardere Initiative): Just wanted to make sure you saw my comment to connect with LORI. They did the World Refugee Day on the 27th. I think that would be a great opportunity there.

Manny Patole (Co-City): Thank you, Jahi for a great session. As an outsider from New York, it’s interesting these stories I’ve heard about exclusion, whether it’s from Uber drivers or small business owners. It’s not always a conversation that’s black and white. In conversations I’ve had, yes, you may be inviting folks but it’s how you’re inviting that may prohibit them from participating. It’s not just about ethnicity, you’re also looking at religious backgrounds, also looking at gender and sexual orientation which I’ve seen as a huge stumbling block. How are those communities’ voices being heard? Just keep in mind that you can have all the DEI you want but if no one feels like they belong, it’s useless.

Morgan Udoh (The Walls Project): Will there be another DEI cohort for the adults this year?

Bea Gyimah: Yes, we had a wonderful response from the community in terms of the graduates that completed the program that ended on Juneteenth. The library was very receptive and is ready to do this again in 2022. We want to challenge you all to see if you want your children, siblings, friends, interns, or any recent graduates to take part so that we can increase our enrollment and graduation rate. Young people are tired of online classes. You have to let people know that they’re welcome, that this is a welcoming community that cultivates them.

Monica Guient: I’m from the Ag Center, so I’m representing 4-H right now. Bea I’d like to hear more about how to have these conversations in spaces where people want to do better but don’t know how. And because of the online component, is it restricted to people who live in EBR or is it open to people in other areas of the city?

Bea Gyimah: All they need is a library card to participate. If they have a library card for a different parish, they can still participate. They just have to fill out a form at their library and bring it to an EBRP library. Just have to have an active library card with no fines over $35.

Reverend Anderson (PREACH): The East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition partners with the Baton Rouge Immigrants Rights Coalition and one of their biggest issue is the fact that the Sheriff has signed a 287G agreement which we believe has a chilling effect particularly on the safety of immigrants, legal and undocumented. Do any of the presenters want to speak to this issue?

Jahi Mackey: In regards to the question about the number of people in our parish that are foreign born, according to the most recent census 5.7% of the parish population is foreign born. Of course that may not be completely accurate because the census doesn’t count all folks including undocumented folks. In regards to other questions I’m seeing in the chat regarding different actions, the EBRP Sheriff’s agreements with ICE, actions for undocumented people…the organizations on this call focus more on the education and service side, so most of our work does include understanding those social issues. For The 821 Project, a lot of our work involves elevating stories from immigrants and refugees, both documented and undocumented. The 821 is supporting the humanization of undocumented people and actions calling out the xenophobia in our legislature and community.

Pama Barber: One of the biggest ways you can help is to get the word out about our Global Community Day. We are a small group of about 20. A lot of the members in our group are not technically savvy. So help us get the word out. One of the things we do with our club is having presentations - having other community members come speak at our weekly meetings, we would be interested in having other organizations come speak to us. Every year we do a grant so if there’s an opportunity to partner, that would be awesome.

Jahi Mackey: I wanted to answer a lot of the questions in the chat...I want to respond to all of them at once in bulk, and if anyone wants to reach out individually please do so. I’m seeing a lot of questions in regards to addressing persuasion with regards to talking about social justice issues because there is a big push against that particularly from some politically advantageous groups who are critical of things like Critical Race Theory. I want to point out that Critical Race Theory is not taught in K-12 schools or even undergrad. It’s a unique focus in the law profession. You’re seeing a lot of disinformation right now. With regards to institutional racism and social justice, the best way to support these organizations is to show up for them, to donate and amplify their work. And to focus on the people who don’t have a voice. We just need enough people for a tipping mass. Simply having backlash to the backlash is the best way to support that. I am not advocating for violence or anything illegal. What I’m advocating for in terms of backlash is showing up for these organizations.

Also, there a lot of questions addressing the rise of anti-Asian violence and the marginalization of other community groups. As far as The 821 Project goes, we are expanding our interview series and platform to people from marginalized backgrounds including ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identity. We believe amplification is very important as it relates to confronting this backlash because oftentimes when people don’t have a voice and feel voiceless, they forget their own power.

John Lewis: The key thing about it is we still have institutions that need their funding and get it by having prisoners in there, right? We still have the issue of them trying to keep those institutions afloat. When they’re cleared and released, they’re just dumped outside these facilities. What people have been doing, local churches and organizations are stepping in, providing transportation, so they can get different things they need especially if they have been separated from their families or speak English as a second language.

Reverend Anderson: One of the things I often think gets confusing is the dual narrative around immigrants, the idea that they’re so successful they don’t need any help and the other piece which is not understanding the culture or legacy that brought people into this country. One of the things for instance that we do with Court Watch, a non-English speaker will end up in jail longer because there aren’t interpreters available. Oftentimes when we are talking about inclusion, we’re not looking at what invitations are we offering? How multi-lingual are our public safety officials? How much of our community is reflective in our education communities around not demonizing or criminalizing cultural legacies that they simply do not understand? Mass incarceration is the largest industry in Louisiana and specifically in EBRP. It’s an economic decision that literally puts bodies into ICE facilities. When we talk about not having public safety officials who are not multilingual, who don’t have any training at all in cultural nuance…what cultures do we have here? Is there something I need to know about those cultures? We have different nuances in every community and yet we’re asking people to come here, especially employers, to bring a global workforce in to a community that either spends a huge amount of time demonizing, criminalizing, and saying you’re fine for these few occasional days where you can where your native dress but in terms of the actual running of the community, how engaged are we in building that? On the criminal justice side, it’s reflective of what our values are. Whatever we do to the least of them, that’s what everyone else is getting.

Bea Gyimah: With the AMOA, we invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have some of the footage of our dynamic speakers who congratulated our DEI grads on June 19th. One of the comments in the chat that really fascinated me was the issue of double consciousness. I’m a professor at BRCC and one of the prevalent themes of my courses is the issue of double consciousness and how Dr. WEB Dubois first coined this phrase, that you have an understanding of who you are as an individual but then an understanding how others seek to define you and what definitions you’ll allow to dictate your existence. In 2013 and 2015 published in a nationally recognized journal and some of the students had been incarcerated previously. They talked about their upbringing, how certain things were conducive to their choices and that by later realizing there was a different way by recognizing they had talent and potential. The same energy they had used to partake in criminal activities could be used in an even greater way to contribute to society. It’s key we understand how people process and view themselves and even more so the rhetoric they have heard throughout their life and how that will condition them to become those definitions, particularly if those are disparaging. We all have the power to look at individuals as individuals and not to attach preconceived notions to them as we would want others to do that to us which then creates a better America. If not, it creates the same cycles that have plagued this country.

Pama Barber: I would like to invite you and anyone interested in finding out more about the Rotary to contact me…If you’re interested in what we do, if you want to learn more about Global Community Day, it’s a lot of fun. It’s just one piece of what we can do to help increase the knowledge of our community and the people in it. The more that each of us is doing a little bit, the more we can continue to have an impact. Things are not the way they were 100 years ago. Let’s hope the change we’re doing can happen a little bit quicker. And I think we can with this group.

Jahi Mackey: Before we transition to our community announcements, I want to take the time to synthesize everything that has been shared because one of the Drivers of Poverty is Cultural Differences and English Proficiency. Baton Rouge is becoming more globally connected. In order for us to rise to the occasion of eradicating poverty and imitational racism, we have to work to become more globally connected and socially conscious. Poverty is isolating and disconnecting. We need to support organizations that bring our community together, to put a spotlight on the different cultures often underrepresented and ignored in our communities. Everything is connected because systemic exclusion and oppression is multilayered which means our approaches have to be multilayered. In oder for us to address poverty and any form of systemic oppression, we have to be willing to empower, educate, and enlighten. We have to make sure America is fully living up to the values on paper. Our country was established as a democracy, even though it is extremely fragile and imperfect. To fully strength our democracy, we have to acknowledge all the people in it and their experiences, and pay special attention to the fact that in this country there are many groups of people who have not had their stories told or expressed in the greater narrative of America.

Reverend Anderson: I know that when I first came here, it was very apparent that Florida Blvd is the dividing line racially here. Is that also true as it relates to immigrant populations? Are there dividing lines, places where they are welcome and places where they are not?

Bea Gyimah: There’s definitely dividing lines. When I was an undergraduate taking a course in African American literature, and I mentioned how one end of LSU is very affluent and one is more impoverished. There’s key markers in Baton Rouge where there’s a racial divide and as a result there are economic disparities where you see growth, affluence, and development in one area but not too far from that area you see a decline in interest to develop certain areas so they can also have that same level of growth and success and opportunities and resources. Part of the reason why we named it the AMOA is the old adage “the world is your oyster”. Despite the disparities and inequalities and challenges in America, it’s still the land of opportunity. There are certain strategic limitations placed on individuals to make it even that much harder for them to achieve what they seek to do. We also named it after the great Zora Neale Hurston in her essay “How it Feels to be Colored Me” where she addresses that she does not have an inferiority complex despite the limitations placed on her, that she is too busy sharpening her oyster knife. One of my African American male students said, “Professor Bea, no matter what I must always remember to sharpen my oyster knife.” And I said…yes. But even if you don’t have the proper utensils to pry open that oyster, you can pry it open with your bare hands. So for those areas in Baton Rouge that have those apparent disparities, it is up to us to let individuals know they’re just as deserving of the pearl.

Jahi Mackey: That dividing line is a manifestation of intentional systemic racism and the racial narrative we talk about in this country, the idea that there are more immigrant communities visibly popping up…that’s not a part of the narrative that we talk about as a city government or parish. The issue is to talk about how this dividing line is no longer a binary black and white but is also a line of whites and non-whites. These dividing lines are ugly scars of Jim Crow. My hope is that the government as an entity can find ways to integrate more services and initiatives that fully embrace the growing globalization of our community whether it’s by providing more multilingual services, by collaborating with immigrant communities be it hurricane evacuations, poverty programs, mentorship programs…Also embrace your discomfort. We have to fully embrace that we live a global existence and seeing how these things are connecting to the existing racial narrative that often disenfranchises Black people, the global/local binary is a false binary. Everything is intercultural, everything is intersectional.

Liz Smith: One of the things I always heard when I was at the Chamber of Congress is that companies are looking for our city to demonstrate its inclusiveness...we were in favor twice of moving a Fairness Ordinance and were unsuccessful doing that. Demonstrating that inclusiveness is really important. Companies are always trying to bring people here or persuade them to say here. The more inclusive your city is, the easier it is for your companies to do that. We went up to Cincinnati back in 2017 and one of the things that struck me there was they had an Immigrant Welcome Center put together by their municipal government. They had a Visitor Center as well but the Immigrant Welcome Center where they could provide information, connect you to people in the city who would welcome you and help you acclimate. They also had community conversation around something funny we do in Baton Rouge where people always ask you what high school you went to and make assumptions about you. In Cincinnati they do the same thing. They were having a conversation about…maybe we should stop that. Maybe we should come up with something else that doesn’t try to fit you into a box.

Gwen Hamilton (NSBR): In Week 63, I think we are called to remember that education does not just occur within the walls of a school building. We are constant learners. Our children should be constant learners, not just reading writing and arithmetic. But all of the services each of you provides and the experiences and opportunities you provide beyond those walls make us all richer every day.

Reginald Brown: The Gardere Initiative summer program is going very well. In previous years, we had adults come in to teach K-5 kids with teenagers through MYWE and Big Buddy as assistants. This year, no adults - the high school students are the teachers, they have to plan their lessons, complete their lessons, and then they teach MTW two topics for two hours and on Thursday we assess the kids. The group with the most right answers gets $100...and they split that amount. There are challenges, obviously, because they are teenagers. But they’re learning. We’re planting some seeds. In August we’ll have our ‘Back to School’ event August 7 at 9:00. We’re doing it all year long.

Jan Ross (HAWF): The Out of School Provider Coalition which has now become named the Baton Rouge Area Youth Network (BRAYN) came together in January to address youth engagement and quality of services, recruiting students, and focusing on the field altogether to build organizational capacity. It built great momentum in reaching out and working with the superintendent this spring and working towards coming up with a collaborative means of providing resources this summer. There’s always somebody who says, I’m in this or that field but I didn’t know about BRAYN. If you work with youth in any type of way, please reach out and we’ll get you connected.

Dr. Alfreda Tillman Bester: I want to announce that after a COVID-hiatus Perspective is returning to the air this coming Tuesday. If you are not local or are traveling, you can listen to us at This Tuesday from 5:30-6:30 PM. We are not a legal show per se, we are an interactive community interest program. The things you do are the things we cover. Call in, join the conversation, we’re tying to integrate more technology into the show.

Reverend Anderson: EBRP is going to have a new Chief Public Defender for the first time in 30 years. Attorney Lisa Parker out of St. John the Baptist will be starting next week. The coalition did a wonderful community forum where the candidates got to talk about their vision for the parish. You can go to the EBRPRC Facebook page if you want to learn more. I want to make an invitation specifically to organizations working with any type of services for those who involved with the jails or prisons. Transportation is a huge problem here. We’re looking for a way to host an event once a month to get people resources they need. Everybody from people who help get drivers licenses restored, people who help with expungements, youth development, anybody in that area.

08:31:16 From jennifer carwile to Everyone:I was just going to mention THE Ohio State U!

08:31:24 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Yup!

08:34:20 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Our featured speakers today are:

08:34:22 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:

* Bea Gyimah (Founder of the America, My Oyster Association + Professor of English, BRCC)

* Alejandro (Poet, Creator of Brown Butter)

* Pama Barber (Edward Jones Financial Advisor + Past President of the Capital City Rotary Club)

08:38:13 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: All of that my friends…powerful Jahi

08:38:33 From David Summers to Everyone: I want to be like Jahi when I grow up!

08:50:45 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: That was so awesome Bea! Thank you!

08:51:04 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Bea, please put the signup info for the August youth cohort in the chat

08:51:45 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: Also put AMOA's website as well!!!! Profound comments

08:55:05 From Gardere Initiative to Everyone: Please connect with Louisiana Organization For Refugees and Immigrants, there seems to be opportunities to network and assist each other. Dauda Sesay,

08:55:39 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Good Morning Positive Social Change Agents: On behalf of AMOA, I am SO excited to be before you all today! Please consider finding out more about the America, My Oyster Association at:

08:55:58 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone:

08:56:51 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Finally figured out how to attach a file so I may put reports that I have previously referenced.

08:58:15 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: If you have any questions for our speakers please put them in the chat. Raise your hand if you would like to speak

08:58:45 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: The registration for AMOA's Building A Better America Today with AMOA is:

09:00:47 From Morgan U to Everyone: @Bea are you offering another DEI cohort for adults this year?

09:01:41 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: What is the immigrant population of EBR Parish? If anyone knows what percentage of this population is impacted by poverty?

09:02:05 From Morgan U to Everyone: Agred=ed

09:02:10 From Morgan U to Everyone: Agreed*

09:03:11 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Good Morning Mrs. Pat & Director Zanders: Ladies, thank you for the kind remarks...I want to be like you all when I grow up!

09:04:04 From Esperanza Zenon to Everyone: It is always a pleasure to be in the company of such powerful *love warriors*

09:04:11 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Absolutely!

09:05:25 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Great job, Jahi, Be a, and Pama :-)

09:06:18 From Jahi Mackey to Everyone: Thanks y'all for the positive feedback thus far.

09:06:30 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: The East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition partners with the Baton Rouge Immigrants Rights Coalition and one of their biggest issue is the fact that the Sheriff has signed a 287G agreement which we believe has a chilling effect particularly on the safety of immigrants, legal and undocumented. Do any of the presenters want to speak to this issue.

09:06:41 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: How can we support your efforts? Manny brings up a great point so how can we assist in these organizations branch out and broaden their reach?

09:06:41 From Esperanza Zenon to Everyone: that's odd because my online classed are running over

09:06:47 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone: Thanks for raising our awareness about your work to elevate the cultural diversity in our community. picking up on Bea's comments and specifically the idea of dismantling systems of oppression, are any of these groups in loved in advocacy to discourage the EBRP Sheriff's 287g agreement with ICE?

09:07:14 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone: involved in advocacy...

09:09:07 From Manny Patole to Everyone: How language accessible are EBR public services? Perhaps there is a way to work with those populations to make them accessible (ie Spanish, Hmong, Creole, ASL/hearing impaired, etc)

09:09:22 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: One of the most amazing things about the Green Book exhibit is the larger conversation about what continues to divide us. What work is being doing to work through issues such as non-English speakers, targeted Asian hatred, etc?

09:09:59 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Not sure how accurate -

09:10:07 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: Is there any strategy to persuade skeptics of these ideas, such as DEI? With society become increasingly polarized, one side sees the benefit of this type of thinking, or at least is open to it. The other side is crusading against CRT in K-12. Any work to both fight misinformation from the far right, while still maintaining a positive message of inclusivity?

09:10:40 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: file:///var/mobile/Library/SMS/Attachments/03/03/5E92159D-5DB0-4731-840B-A1538336AF24/IMG_8922.png

09:11:14 From Gardere Initiative to Everyone: Foundation for Louisiana, does advocacy for refugees and fought for various rights

09:11:20 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Hello! Is there a way to pay down fines of those who have over $35 in library fines?

09:11:24 From Manny Patole to Everyone: @Chris… This is also the issue behind Critical Race Theory and how many understand what it actually means vs what others tell them.

09:11:26 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Mr. Brown put the contact in the chat for LORI.

09:12:08 From John Lewis to Everyone: The American Immigration Council also has plenty of information and resources:

It's also important to note that as Louisiana has been reducing its prison population it has been filling those cells with migrants in ICE custody. Local churches, volunteers and organizations have been assisting them with transport and housing as they are released largely from facilities in north and central Louisiana. With nothing but clothes.

09:12:20 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: I love the Capital City Rotary Club! I was a member and it is amazing!

09:12:47 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: Please put your email address in the chat

09:12:54 From Gwendolyn Hamilton to Everyone: Do you Partner with the other Rotary Clubs in the area?

09:14:12 From Pama Barber to Everyone: Pama Barber,

09:14:14 From John Lewis to Everyone: CRT is specific to legal studies right

09:15:03 From Pama Barber to Everyone: We do partner with other Rotary Clubs, especially on local service projects

09:15:24 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Blacklash to the backlash! I like that!

09:16:01 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: Yeah, that’s why I brought it up. It’s a straw man argument. The typical culture war from the right. The legislation states, Louisiana included, will have a major effect on K-12 curriculum including blocking campaigns like ADL’s No Place For Hate. Real life consequences here

09:16:53 From Judith Rhodes-LSU-SREC to Everyone: Nifty data tool about immigration issues from the New American Economy. Bipartisan advocacy org.

09:17:07 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: One of the challenges in speaking about immigrants is the dual story that is told. They are stealing jobs, etc. versus the reality that immigrants have a wholistic role in their narrative and why the live in Baton Rouge. Can any of the speakers address this issue.

09:17:14 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Hi Bea - my info is and cell phone is 225-964-0228.

09:17:15 From Manny Patole to Everyone: We forget about WEB DuBois and understanding the application of double consciousness applies for everyone. And this too:

09:19:59 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Yeah the Model Minority Myth.

09:20:01 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: TODAY: Dialogue on Race Louisiana free event

09:20:07 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: In 2018, English professor Syreeta McFadden wrote a think piece for NBC News dissecting the mythology of American independence. In a 2020 video by the Movement for Black Lives, Daveed Diggs demands we ask what the Fourth of July means to Black people in America right now.

Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" speech, originally penned in 1852, asks questions that still remain unanswered. How can anyone celebrate the founding of this nation when civil liberties and systemic injustices yet persist?

Join Dialogue on Race Louisiana for a free Race in Conversation event discussing Douglass' speech and the sources above this Friday, July 2nd at 5:30 PM CST. Register here:

09:22:06 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Amen Sister !!!

09:22:23 From Manny Patole to Everyone: +1000 on Rev Anderson and tokenism

09:22:43 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: What a ‘moment’

09:22:48 From Morgan U (she/her/they) to Everyone: Thank you so much for that Rev.

09:23:01 From Zoë - Walls Project (she/her) to Everyone: So true. Tokenism and the larger conversation around appropriation vs. appreciation

09:23:45 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Good morning, my angel! Love you!

09:25:16 From Manny Patole to Everyone: For all not familiar, make sure you understand the idea of Model Minority myth. (Last week tonight on Asian Americans and that history in the US:

09:26:17 From Manny Patole to Everyone: @ Zoe the 4 A’s (appropriation assimilation acculturation adaptation)

09:26:17 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: Any chance to get a zoom link for this? says registration has ended

09:26:48 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: "Perspective" is returning to the air on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. on WTQT 106.1 FM or at Join me, and Attys Joyce Marie Plummer & Taryn Branson as we give voice to our community from your perspective.

09:26:49 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone: The Orphan Train Museum in Opelousas is very interesting if you haven't been... CRT from ABA:

09:26:52 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Preach Sister!!

09:27:45 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone:

09:28:37 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Good Morning Jen: With AMOA's limited funding we don't have the resources to pay off all of the fines, but we can assist interested DEI students by reducing their fines from 35.00 to a lesser amount.

09:28:50 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: Pama please restate your email address....

09:29:14 From Pama Barber to Everyone:

09:29:25 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Yes it is very relevant!

09:29:26 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Everyone please feel free to contact me at 979-204-9252

09:29:53 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone:

09:30:20 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Good Morning Prof. Zenon!

09:30:44 From Gardere Initiative to Everyone: Foundation for Louisiana advocacy for 287g agreement -

09:30:54 From Esperanza Zenon to Everyone: Good morning to you too!

09:31:28 From Dartez, David K to Everyone: excellent information sharing this morning! thanks all!

09:32:45 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Great conversation and would love to have more cultural education as part of this and perhaps a way to include those other groups as speakers?

09:32:49 From Morgan U (she/her/they) to Everyone: heard that exact thing when i moved here 11 years ago.

09:34:46 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: I wish it was Irony, but the divide is the manifestation of intentional systemic racism.

09:36:09 From Ann Zanders to Everyone: Alleluia!!!!!!! Ms. Bea

09:38:53 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Move from the Safe Zone, into the Learning Zone (a la Jahi’s comment)

09:39:18 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Thanks to Jahi, Bea and Pama for an informative forum. So happy to see you working in this space.

09:39:38 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Err comfort to learning zone, and shrink your panic zone.

09:39:47 From Jahi Mackey to Everyone: Thanks again for the support Y'all.

09:40:51 From Pama Barber to Everyone: It's an honor to be included in this dialogue.

09:44:31 From Luke St. John McKnight to Everyone: Well Done, Jahi

09:44:34 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Jahi please put your contact in the chat

09:44:51 From Christopher Spalatin to Everyone: Great panel and discussion. Thanks, Jahi!

09:44:51 From Jahi Mackey to Everyone: My email address is jmackey@the821project, and my organizations website is

09:45:07 From Jahi Mackey to Everyone: *

09:45:18 From David Beach l Wilson Foundation to Everyone: I have to transition to another call. Thank you all for sharing your stories. This call is very enriching.

09:45:19 From SK Groll to Everyone: Thank you to all the presenters this morning! Thank you Jahi for facilitating this excellent conversation!

09:46:47 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: How Awesome!

09:47:18 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: I need that gig!

09:47:41 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Great work, Mr. Brown!

09:48:39 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Good morning Mrs. Hamilton: Thank you for your comments, may I have your contact information!

09:50:12 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: If interested in engaging with the youth coalition work you can email

09:50:58 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Super excited about Perspective!!!

09:51:25 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: Yes you are!

09:51:26 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Please enter in chat

09:52:30 From Jahi Mackey to Everyone: Perspective was one of the FIRST radio shows I was on when I started 821 five years ago. This was way before I even hosted my first event with the organization. I appreciate them for giving me my VERY first platform.

09:53:24 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone:

09:54:48 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Thank you, Jahi! We look forward to having you back.

09:55:01 From Manny Patole to Everyone: News of sorts: for Rachelle Sanderson, Tom Douthat and I were awarded one of 10 case studies for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy -

09:55:09 From Bea Gyimah to Everyone: Everyone, Thank you SO very much for the information on how to assist immigrants.

09:55:51 From Manny Patole to Everyone: Looking at the intersection of Affordable Housing, Local Governance and Resiliency efforts in CRPC LWI Region 7

09:56:33 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone: If you would like to participate in a discussion about building a once a month event to help people impacted.

09:56:36 From Jan Ross - Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation to Everyone: Jan Ross - Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation - 0 225-292-1344


'Mental Health in the Capital Region'

Meeting Notes Prepared by Zoë Haddad (Walls Project)

Esther Sacshe (Executive Director, Grief Recovery Center)

  • Feeling, like many of us, overwhelmed by the amount of work needed in the community right now. After COVID hit, the amount of work has been overwhelming. Went from doing 20, 25 sessions a week to trying to squeeze in 40 and working Saturdays and Sundays because there is such a demand at this time.

  • One of the challenges is that we don’t have the same resources - a lot of our clients who once had insurance no longer do due to job changes or loss

  • Many of you know what we do, but we are a non profit agency, been around since 1991, provide counseling services, individual counseling, support groups, crisis intervention, educational programs in the community

  • Looking at some of the challenges we have faced or seen our clients facing, we start with our children. We always have a lot of demands for services for children - not a lot of service providers for Medicaid children, especially the younger children. We have a lot of children on Medicaid who have experienced tremendous trauma - lots of instances of violence and horrible things our families have gone through. There are not a lot of child therapists who provide that type of service.

  • Try to provide a model that brings in the parents as well...that takes even more in demand of staff but it’s so much more successful

  • Working with the children one of the things that’s crucial for them is a lot have not been developing social skills as we traditionally would. The change in their normal activities mean their needs aren’t met as far as developing socially

  • With the adolescent population, more and more are coping with pretty severe depression. I’ve never had so many I’ve actually referred for hospitalization, and I do not like referring for hospitalization if I can work with my kids in house but there have been so many in critical situations that we’ve done more referrals than ever.

  • We started an unofficial IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) program because I could not get services for my teens on Medicaid

  • We initiated a support group for teens with suicidal ideations so they have safe place once a week to come and share their concerns

  • The demand has been so dramatic that we’ve actually had to hire someone to be our adolescent program coordinator because it was just overwhelming

  • A lot of our adolescents are coping with academic issues - many who were good students have been struggling and it has affected their self image of always doing well. COVID and the changes in schools has really changed their attitudes and images of themselves

  • A lot of adults are thinking they’re going to return to a normal world post-COVID...there is no normal world, even now. Everything has and will change.

  • A lot of adults coping with career changes, going back to work, retiring, adjustment issues related to that

  • More of a demand than ever for services to go out into the community because of the amount of violence.

  • What we need more than anything from the coalition, first referrals - please let people know what we have available. We are constantly adding services.

  • Second, any ability to coordinate information and services together...We just started a new support group for people coping with general mental health issues. We would love to have partners in this coalition to help get people into the program. There are not a lot of groups that allow someone with general mental health conditions the ability to have a place to talk and share, so partnering is an important thing

  • Anyone who is aware of available resources to help provide programs and funding for the huge increase in clients who no longer have’s a big hit financially. We don’t turn anyone down because of inability to pay.

  • Also going to be partnering more and more in terms of providing educational programs and resources in the community. We really want to provide education at the top so it can filter down through the community.

Melissa Silva (Executive Director, Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge)

  • Executive Director for 23 years, have seen how mental health is one of the issues with our legislature for example that can really be cut at any time so that it’s sometimes difficult to provide these services

  • One of the things we do is continually advocate and educate community members, legislators, and funders in regards to what mental health means to this community

  • Serve anywhere from 1000-1200 people a year

  • 50% of our dollars come from fundraising as well as state dollars

  • None of the services we provide are at a fee for our clients. We pride ourselves in providing services to populations that do not always have Medicaid or private insurance

  • Target Health is one of our peer run programs. Mental health is about peer support. We believe in people helping us provide services with lived experiences that folks can connect with.

  • Also one of the things that MHA prides itself in during the pandemic is supporting the first responder. During the pandemic many of our therapists and counselors were deep, deep in the ditches providing services to those folks most in crisis.We just recently became the Louisiana Affiliate of Mental Health of America. We got this report that they did during COVID - they took the results of about 726,000 depression screenings, and it was amazing to see what happened. 38% of those people that responded reported self harm thoughts within a period for at least two weeks at a time. Of that 38% the top age groups reporting was 11-1718-24 was second.

  • We started The Fisher Project, a suicide prevention program staffed by peer case managers and clinical psychologists. It’s case management for a period of six months at a minimum. Folks that have either chronic suicidal thoughts or have an unsuccessful completion of suicide can enroll in this free program to work with case mangers to ensure safety planning which is a big big issue with these folks. We’ve seen that depression and anxiety are the two biggest increases in diagnosis in COVID. We’ve also seen a connection in domestic violence and suicide. So part of our Fisher Project works with those folks with domestic violence histories.

  • It’s been a great, great program supported through our partnership with OBH (Office of Behavioral Health). Working to extend to go past the end of this coming fiscal year. It’s been a terrific program with over 100 referrals. It’s a voluntary program.

  • The key component is keeping those people safe and out of the hospital. We do not want people in a more restrictive level of care.

  • We’ve also seen a lot of direct responses to how poverty relates to mental health. There is a direct correlation. Research and studies have said people with mental health issues often have lower incomes, lower economic status, unemployment...sometimes that is all wrapped up in compounding the effects of mental health. They’ve recently started calling this the Triple Disaster - Mental Health, COVID, Economics working together

  • Is this a social issue and how does this relate to poverty? They are all wrapped together in this sense.

  • OBH is about to roll out this new crisis plan in 2022. In terms of that they’ll be rolling out mobile crisis teams, urgent care centers, short term stabilization, all to keep clients out of the hospital in a home-base setting

  • Louisiana ranks 45th in mental health care. We’ve got to do a better job.

  • We can help that by continuing to partner, by continuing to educate our legislature because policy makes change and we need change systematically.

  • We talk about mental health, we talk about the stigma, and we make it okay to talk about it. The stigma is a big issue in how people do not access mental health care.

  • Just wanted to say that 41% of Louisianians during COVID reported increased depression and anxiety in an October report.

  • Big issues. Take care of you. There’s no health without mental health.

Chelsea Borruano (Executive Director, You Aren't Alone Project)

  • The project is about changing the conversation on mental health

  • Started in 2019 with a live art event that allowed local artists to interpret their mental health journeys through both visual and performance art

  • The goal of the non profit is to continue providing spaces where people can connect with each other so that no one feels alone in what they’ve been going through

  • We are launching the second live art event October 15th at Gallery 14

  • Putting out calls for artists, looking for supports and partners for the project

  • A lot of the mental health providers, we would love for you to come out and provide resources so that we can provide a platform for these artists and continue changing these conversations around mental health making it easier for people to talk about it however they’re comfortable doing it

  • Art is a really powerful way to do that

  • We’re giving people the space to do that, to let people see there’s others out there, there’s hope, there’s help

  • Want to bring in an audience too that maybe doesn't understand what some people have gone through, to give them a space to see that through art allowing them to go back to the people they care about who are dealing with these things with empathy and understanding and resources to share

  • I’m also in graduate school for mental health counseling with a background in marketing so I’m figuring out how to merge the two to continue erasing that stigma

  • We are building this active and engaged audience that can then have these larger conversations through their own platforms providing educational programs so that they can do trainings and then give back to the community by making mental health more accessible

  • It’s about mental health equity, how do we make sure people who need it the most get what they need?

  • You can support by spreading the word about what we do. If you have opportunities for partnerships, we want to collaborate within the community, to support people like MHA, like the Grief Recovery Center

  • We plan to provide more in addition to the live art event such as first aid training, providing people with the resources to support their communities and their own networks.

  • As far as the event goes, we’re looking to get artists, get resources, if you have people within your network interested in being an advocate or receiving these trainings send them our way

Melissa Silva: I want to give a couple facts that are eye-opening to where we are in our community. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death: 50 million Americans complete suicide every year. Right now it’s the second leading cause in our youth. Part of what MHA is doing is trying to address those needs. Traditionally we haven’t worked much with youth and teens out we are developing strategies to include youth, teens, and college age students in the services we provide. It’s very important to get to these younger kids. We’re seeing more and more mental health problems. In EBRP alone in 2020 we had 50 suicides. We have 700-750 suicides every year in Louisiana. More women attempt, but more men are successful and that’s because of our firearms. Firearms are the most deadly method of suicide in our state. The goal for us is to start to identify the biggest need in our communities in terms of mental health support. Collaboration and partnerships are important to best serve those in our communities with mental health, addiction and behavioral health struggles. Talking to our legislature, they were able to give OBH these additional dollars to roll out this crisis plan. There will be dollars available for mobile teams, staff for crisis centers. It’s very important. We have the Bridge Center that our tax dollars pay for working hard to take the extra work off our local ERs because it’s so easy for a person to vocalize being in crisis and send them to an ER. A big thing this committee can work on is keeping folks well and out of the hospitals. We want to really start bringing down that immediate need where hospitalization is needed. That’s the great work of our peer professional staff. Support those folks, keep those folks employed, they’re your best providers in that lived experience. In terms of MHA we love volunteers, we have policy summits and we are responsible for Behavioral Health Day which will happen next May 2022. We host an awesome Policy Summit that actually gives you guys information on how you can affect policy and therefore affect services for mental health, addiction, and behavioral health needs in our community.

Coalition Questions and Discussion

Pat LeDuff (CADAV): Great presentation, well needed. A lot of the ills and the needs, the things causing stress...just doing a better job in continuing to build on having resources available when individuals come to you. Are there current intentional efforts that can immediately satisfy some of that stress? Melissa Silva: We work directly as a referral and resource organization as well so if we can’t handle the issues that someone presents, we have partners and other collaborators we work with directly. One of the key services we have is our Day Program for Chronically Mentally Ill where folks are in our programs all day long where they are provided therapies and interventions to keep them well and healthy. We work closely with all the community mental health centers so that we can get intervention as soon as it is needed. One of the things we see in this community is many people not having financial means to get therapy. We pride ourselves in providing all our services free to the client. Not all the clients who attend our programs have any types of financial means even in regards to Medicaid. We are very able to handle a crisis or quickly get our partners to intervene.

Jen Tewell (Grief Recovery Center): I am a counselor with Grief Recovery Center and therapist with Red Stick Mental Health. We’re hosting a documentary screening on the Wisdom of Trauma with Dr. Gabor Mate, free and open to the community. The support groups we have are free and hybrid with several locations across the Greater Baton Rouge Area and virtually. I put a link in the chat that has a list of our groups - we have groups for teens that are closed and screened, our general grief groups for adults are open and you can drop in, no commitment, just show up. Just want to highlight we’ve been doing a lot of critical incident debriefing so if somebody passes away on site or there’s violence, working with the people directly involved and the staff as a whole as needed and grief education. How do we reach the most marginalized populations in Louisiana with access, stigma, intersecting identities, socio economic do we scale this? For all the food access stuff, that’s how mental health needs to be. Personally, my work with the LGBTQIA+ communities is really important. And there is a program in Portland, OR called CAHOOTS, a community crisis response model not necessarily in place of the police going out but maybe with them to de-escalate the situation and get appropriate resources instead of sending people off to jail. A lot of the time it’s a trauma issue.

Raymond Jetson (Metromorphosis): We did host a series of webinars around the framing Mental Health Matters. The audience was largely African American. There are few takeaways I would offer for the group. First and foremost, as the professionals recognize, I believe this is going to be the long term remnant of COVID and its impact on communities. Especially as people are now being forced to resume life like everything is well, as if they have not endured all kinds of things from personal loss to death in families that they never had the opportunity to fully grieve over to children and family issues...this will be the long term impact, especially as we are so driven with returning to some new sense of normalcy. The second thing I’ll say is that there is a great risk in understanding trauma as a strictly individual experience. For so many people, what we understand to be trauma is based upon a persistent set of conditions faced in their communities just navigating life. Unless and until we understand the persistent trauma that is on communities and begin to understand how we dismantle those, we will keep picking the baby out of the river instead of figuring out why they were thrown in in the first place. The last two things I’ll say that emerged from our series of webinars is that one, people were thrilled in embracing a safe space where they could come and share with others. For our last two webinars, probably the most embraced part was when we allowed people to go into breakout rooms with a prompt and no facilitator just to allow them to talk and share with one another. Lastly, people expressed a concern that it was challenging for them to find professionals of color who understood their plight and experiences in an experiential way rather than a clinical framework.

Edy Addison (CAUW): 211 is available for information and referrals. We also have live crisis counselors available 24/7 by phone, chat, and text. What we’re seeing is an increase in callers this year. We’re one month shy of having a full year of data that includes COVID but just in looking at the 11 months of data it’s really interesting because about a third of the callers are frequent or repeat callers, majority 55-64 years old, of our 2500 callers almost 700 identified as having disabilities, most callers are white and male or don’t identify. We’re also seeing not as many direct suicide prevention calls, though we do have them, and the majority are emotional support. We’re seeing a big uptick in veteran callers, not always the easiest population to reach. About 25% of our callers have identified as veterans. For them to even identify themselves is a huge win. There’s a lot that goes into somebody reaching out for help. When you talk about clients that come in your door...if you don’t have a crisis counselor available, if you have a cell phone or a phone in your lobby, have a space that person can sit down, there are trained professionals available that can work with that client. We get walk-ins and we often sit down and call 211 with them so they can identify the best resources available. To shift gears to UniteUs and UniteLouisiana, we did a lot of outreach and sit on a coordinating council for UnitesUs and are hoping to see more and more providers on the platform. I’m unaware how often it’s used in the mental health space for referrals.

Melissa Silva: Edy was talking about our 911 system being so overloaded with crisis calls. There’s a 988 coalition in the works which will be a national suicide prevention hotline. The state is working to create funding for that. We’re working on marketing, the transition plan to get that information out. That will be effective June or July of 2022.

Jennifer Dobies (LCCR): I work with kids who are court involved through the Public Defender's Office and so many of them come to me with trauma and clinically significant PTSD but are unwilling or unable to engage in treatment. Many of them come to me with a history of treatment from MHRs, wonderful resources but not always the best way to treat complex trauma in kids. If y’all have ideas for how to get kids access to counseling that is appropriate when there are barriers such as lack of transportation, lack of commitment to therapy or distrust of systems I would love to hear that.

Chelsea Borruano: To answer Pam Wall’s question for best practices for locating mental health providers, that is something that the Healthy BR Mayor’s Initiative is working towards, bringing in mental health providers into the primary care system and making sure it’s a seamless process of working together.

Jan Ross (HAWF): When it comes to mental health, MHA and Grief Recovery are organizations we fund and are very competent in the services they provide especially in their ability to make adjustments based on community needs. When it comes to youth, Grief Recovery does serve the youth. A lot of the organizations that are more youth residential programs are what we’re seeing and they’ll provide their level of mental health services within their programs. Lois, are there programs you’ve seen that are direct services for youth you can think of? Lois Smyth (BRAF): When there is a need, Melissa Silva is my go to person. Jan Ross: I see that Edy put in Family Services and Catholic Charities...Liz Smith put THRIVE Academy. They’ve become qualified to get Medicaid reimbursement for mental health surfaces and that has provided great benefit for the students. There are some organizations helping schools create that model. If it can happen at the schools, let’s see if we can get it done…One other thing we’ve collaborated with Pennington and BRAF to fund is the Center for Mind Body and Medicine Trainings. Today they’re on the second day of four day training. If you’re interested, please contact me. This is a four day training and they will have additional trainings this year all about learning to use the techniques for you as a person and to use those techniques to help anyone you come across, be it professionally or in working with other individuals whether it be youth or adults. Anything to help that person work through their moment of stress, of anxiety. Using different techniques. Lois Smyth: One other organization is the BR Children’s Advocacy Center if there’s abuse involved. They also provide therapy to children and youth.

Pam Wall: One of my issues...three years ago I went to two days of training where they brought in a lot of people from Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, for three or four years, every public school is a trauma informed school. We have wonderful resources here, and you hear about more and more all the time. I keep saying housing, transportation, and child care are some of the biggest barriers. I don’t know what the solutions are but hopefully people are thinking about that. I hear a lot about counseling, and I know that ICARE for instance is a rush in if there’s something traumatic that happens in a school or neighborhood. But...the CDC and OJJDP have researched and posted for public information these research based trauma programs for schools and for children evaluated and published by race, age, income...One thing I would like to see...the new superintendent has said he wants to have trauma resources. A lot of providers are doing social emotional learning of high quality that does impact children who are traumatized in a positive way but the concept of a counselor and a child or young adult experiencing stress...we seem to have a lot of resources. The issue seems to be connecting people who need them with the resources that are there. Another thing I would really like to see is entire schools where everyone is on the same page and practicing the same strategies. If we could only start with alternative schools, because when a five year old goes ballistic and gets in a fight then gets kicked out of school...this isn’t fixing or helping anything. But if every adult and every child at the school understood how they could be of help...there are these group sessions. Kids who keep getting in trouble are in a group and develop a camaraderie about these things that have happened to you. It’s not your fault. But you can’t let this shape the rest of your life. So we’re going to sit here, work together, and talk through it. The kids in the school that are in these groups can call on each other for support. Intense at first but as time goes on and the kids and teachers learn different strategies to diffuse situations, they don’t have to meet as often anymore. Casey Phillips: First, imagine if detention in schools wasn’t with a PE coach and was actually with a mental health specialist...Number two, my favorite director has the David Lynch Foundation that spreads transcendental meditation to schools around the world. The idea that we could stop repeating this ineffective negative and positive reinforcement disciplinary approach with young people and actually try to elevate their mind, body and souls to dive deep within for answers is something we don’t teach young people yet we wonder why they continue to repeat the pattern of bad behavior.

Reverend Anderson (PREACH): One of my real concerns here, just like we know Florida Blvd is the dividing line racially here, I feel like one of the things we’re missing is that racially we get treated differently. We have a lot of families in crisis who are also low-literacy, low or no wealth communities...They don’t get these sources. They get police. They get terror and terrorizing. When there’s a shooting in their communities, they don’t get a sea of counselors. They get police coming in and treating them like they are co-conspirators. We have to acknowledge that there is trauma based on some of our very racialized policies and implementations and if we don't address them they are going to be a big problem.

Dean Andrews (SU): When you send the police, they don’t have the right training. They escalate a mental issue into a prison issue, a criminal issue. So we’ve got to find a way to de-escalate this whole process.

Alfreda Tillman Bester (Dept. of Children and Family Services): We’re doing a de brief of the legislative session and as a very important part of that, we’re going to be looking at redistricting. All of the issues we are talking about today boil down to public policy and we have to rethink the people we are electing. We keep electing the same horrible people thinking we are going to get a different answer at the LA legislature and we’re not. We have to get involved in the voting process. I know I’m speaking to the choir here. But we have to encourage others in our community to be a part. The hardest thing is to get someone in trauma, who is housing insecure, food insecure, who really needs to be involved but is just treading water trying to get through life...We have to get people in office who care about people. We talk about it to the legislature, we tell them over and over and we bring our babies and we show them how they are suffering...they don't care. So we have to start electing people who do. This austerity crap we’re doing does not work. We don’t resource any one thing enough to do it well. We have to start thinking about putting people in place who care.

Pat LeDuff: I posted in the chat about the $5 million we have for housing, rental, and mortgage assistance. Some of this mental stuff...we’re about to do the cut off and that’s just going to add to the stress of life so there are funds available. Just want to push that resources out, that they can apply and get up to $15,000 per person for two or three months to hopefully at least keep them in the place they’re in.

Melissa Silva: There’s so much we discussed, so many more topics that can be linked to the services in our communities...what we need to do is identify where individuals are currently in need and target those communities. A lot of what we heard today is the difference between our Affrican American communities and getting those folks the help they need in those communities. So identifying and providing support to the resources that already exist and growing from that, to create a systematic policy change to prevent future mental health concerns.

Chelsea Borruano: I will just echo that. This was my first meeting with this group, and it’s overwhelming but encouraging. Being siloed from a group like this, you wonder what your impact can be, but it’s bringing all these resources together and addressing these issues. Commit to doing that.

Zoom Chat

08:31:09 From Walls Project to Everyone: Missed you yesterday Manny!

08:31:29 From Kim to Everyone: Good morning all!

08:35:30 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: Yes, it was hard not to attend yesterday! I will have a project to present to folks next week :-)

08:36:22 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Our distinguished speakers today:

* Esther Sacshe (Executive Director, Grief Recovery Center)

* Melissa Silva (Executive Director, Mental Health Association for Greater Baton Rouge)

* Chelsea Borruano (Executive Director, You Aren't Alone Project)

08:43:27 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Esther, Dr. Maxine Campbell-Flint has done a lot of work with Children dealing with ACEs, including PTSD. She is at

08:43:36 From Jennifer Dobies to Everyone: Does Grief Recovery Center have an EMDR provider?

08:45:03 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Thanks @alfreda tillman

08:45:29 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Hey Jennifer - we have three counselors currently being training in EMDR

08:46:28 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Here is a link to all of our support groups and services:

08:46:29 From Jennifer Dobies to Everyone: That's amazing; its such a needed resource.

08:46:36 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone:

08:47:04 From Edy Addison-CAUW to Everyone: We receive a ton of mental health/crisis calls via 211 and always need updated resources to connect these individuals to immediate, short, and long term services. If you are a service provider, please update your 211 listing at Individuals in need reach us by call, text, and online chat mental health/crisis services.

08:55:06 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Please begin dropping your questions in the chat for our speakers.

08:56:48 From Alfredo Cruz to Everyone: Housing instability impacts mental health.. See this article from mental health foundation: .

08:58:16 From Pam Wall to Everyone: I have been contacted by someone returning to BR, and is a certified trainer in Mental Health First Aid. Is anyone currently offering this to corporations and other groups in BR?

08:58:21 From Donald Andrews to Everyone: This is a major issue in that we are using the prison system as the solution to mental health problems.

08:58:36 From Chelsea Morgan to Everyone: How do you address generational trauma through your resources? So many older generations are struggling with stigma and lack of recognizing mental health as a disease state.

08:58:36 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: What resource connect do you provide in terms of social and everyday needs that cause stress

Rent utilities food childcare in-home care for elderly and ill

08:58:41 From Rev Anderson to Everyone: There is such a stigma in the African American community for addressing behavioral health issues that I wondered Chelsea if you have been able to engage artists of color in participating?

08:59:09 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: MHA will in coming months offer a training for trainers in mental Health First Aid

09:01:05 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Grief Recovery Center will be hosting a doc screening, The Wisdom of Trauma. Details coming soon. Will be free to the public and virtual. Here is the trailer with Dr. Gabor Mate:

09:01:07 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone:

09:01:13 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Thank you for joining today Karen Austin, welcome to OneRouge!

09:01:25 From Kim Mosby (IWES) to Everyone: The Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies in New Orleans does a lot with mental health and trauma informed care. I actually have to go to a training on trauma's impact on the relationship with the body. I look forward to the next part of this series. Always looking to partner and increase assess for youth and communities of color. Feel free to reach out. I look forward to seeing all of you next week!

09:02:07 From Chelsea Morgan to Everyone: Mental health and the connection to the #1 killer of all Americans, Heart Disease.

09:02:41 From Karen Austin to Everyone: Thank you for the invite! This is very helpful information and I happy to be a part if the collaboration.

09:03:12 From Jennifer Dobies to Everyone: Most of the youth who become engaged with the juvenile court have experienced significant trauma and face immense barriers to treatment (lack of transportation, cultural thoughts/feelings about therapy, past treatment failure, and lack of trust in systems). What are ways that we can help youth get engaged in GOOD mental health counseling?

09:03:15 From Chelsea Borruano to Everyone: @rev anderson Yes, absolutely. Our goal is to be intentional in having as much diversity as possible among our artists, especially within populations where stigma is high. If you know of anyone who might be interested, they can apply at

09:03:25 From herstory to Everyone: What do you suggest as first actions for people who want to be trained in mental health first aid? Are online classes acceptable? Is there an actual certification process. I am a teacher with a BA in psychology teaching in a school with vulnerable high school students. Thank you!

09:03:27 From Pam Wall to Everyone: The new superintendent has mentioned more than once that schools and staff need to address trauma in our students. Does anyone know where we are on a comprehensive, system wide approach, using research based student focused programs?

09:04:10 From Jennifer Dobies to Everyone: NCTSN has a good course on psychological first aid, but it is definitely a first step class.

09:04:21 From Rev Anderson to Everyone: I would like to hear from any individual or organization interested in working in the jail setting or formerly incarcerated persons. There is so much to do and we have just had another death in the jail #47 confirmed. Rev. Alexis Anderson @

09:04:32 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Melissa, would you please give more info on dates for Mental Health First Aid training?

09:05:35 From Rev Anderson to Everyone: Melissa, what bills were you advocating for this legislative session and what happened to those bills?

09:06:32 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: Sure. I expect these dates to be confirmed soon. I can share with Casey once those are confirmed, but hopefully by year end.

09:06:45 From Chelsea Morgan to Everyone: Additional workplace mental health resources and already generated campaign materials that you can utilize:

09:07:33 From Edy Addison-CAUW to Everyone:Is anyone using the Unite Us/Unite Louisiana platform for those immediate referrals?

09:07:37 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: See you Jenn

09:08:06 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Thank you, Melissa. Many of us encounter persons who are obviously in mental health crisis, but because we don't know how to help, are afraid to try to intervene.

09:09:14 From Edy Addison-CAUW to Everyone: You can call 211 24 hours a day/7 days a week all year round and talk to a licensed mental health professional immediately.

09:11:00 From Esperanza Zenon to Everyone: unfortunately many times children are misdiagnosed and given medication that makes them less functional and that doesn't solve thier real issues

09:11:31 From Joanna Hynes to Everyone: For Grief Recovery Center groups, email me at . I'm happy to connect people with groups!

09:12:30 From Rev Anderson to Everyone: That is exactly what mental health access should be but it isn't.

09:12:44 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: my emails is . I am happy to chat and continue these conversations.

09:12:50 From Karla King - concerned citizen to Everyone: This documentary aired on LPB this week. Most informative.

09:14:04 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Jen Tewell - - 225-935-8322

09:14:20 From Zoë - Walls Project (she/her) to Everyone: Amen Raymond

09:14:35 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: YES - all of this.

09:14:36 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: I will send the OBH Crisis Plan once converted to JPeg

09:14:37 From Chelsea Borruano to Everyone: Happy to connect as well with anyone interested in collaborating -

09:15:20 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: YES, yes yes. This.

09:15:34 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: And generational trauma

09:15:47 From Rev Anderson to Everyone: Say that Pastor Jetson!

09:17:04 From Chelsea Morgan to Everyone: Other local resources and extensions from the Mayor's office: ReCAST (Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma

09:17:24 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Yes!!! Awesome response!!

09:17:59 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: MHA's website is

09:22:34 From Pam Wall to Everyone: Is anyone aware of a local site following a best practice of locating a mental health provider under the same roof as primary care providers so that mental health is viewed as primary care, and all patients have easy access....

09:24:01 From Chelsea Morgan to Everyone: I-CARE in EBR Schools

09:24:23 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: I wonder if there are consent issues with children and those services.

09:24:42 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: Bringing primary care and mental health as an integrated system is a key issue within the OBH system.

09:25:11 From Gardere Initiative to Everyone: Empower 225 - I think provides youth transportation

09:25:58 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Pam, It is unfortunate that medical practices are also PROFIT DRIVEN and Mental Health is not covered under many health plans. Something we MUST CHANGE.

09:26:48 From Edy Addison-CAUW to Everyone: Family Services of GBR and Catholic Charities both have great behavioral health counseling services. Family Service especially is seeing a huge uptick in college students seeking mental health services and are meeting that need.

09:26:52 From Liz Smith to Everyone: THRIVE Academy does a TON on mental health with their students and faculty

09:27:56 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: Family Services has a sliding fee scale based upon income.

09:27:57 From Rev Anderson to Everyone: Dr. Jeremey Blunt should be included in this discussion. We need powerful providers of color in the planning space.

09:28:18 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: I love listening to Jeremy Blunt!

09:28:19 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Thank you Rev. Anderson, please connect us via email

09:28:21 From Chelsea Borruano to Everyone: The Reilly Center under volunteers of america umbrella also offers more affordable services for youth, adults and families

09:28:34 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: And thank you everyone for lifting up so many incredible resources

09:28:52 From Liz Smith to Everyone: THRIVE's Medicaid reimbursement levels way surpass what normally takes place, so they've hugely expanded their services.

09:29:02 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: To confirm, all these services/resources are provided by local NGOs in coordination with EBR Parish or independently?

09:29:52 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: MHA provides both local and statewide services.

09:29:53 From Edy Addison-CAUW to Everyone: Emerge Center and McMains have behavioral health services as well- more specific populations, but often serve families of their children clients as well via counselors and social workers.

09:30:04 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone:

5 Million in Rental assistance available

All apps now must go through the online portal:

15k max per tenant for rental assistance


09:31:18 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: GRCBR services are available to all residents in Louisiana (we offer telehealth counseling, in-person and in various parishes in BR and surrounding areas.

09:32:14 From Jan Ross - Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation to Everyone: Center for Mind Body Medicine trainings.

09:35:06 From Tristi Charpentier to Everyone: Manny - I think your question was whether the city coordinates these services. No, the city does not have a traditional health department coordinating these services.

09:37:10 From Zoë - Walls Project (she/her) to Everyone: Just like our discussion last week regarding disabilities. Children are not “bad”, their specific needs just are not being met.

09:37:19 From Donald Andrews to Everyone: Thanks Casey ,I have a leave for a 10:00 AM meeting that I have to attend.Ms. Wall covered my point very well.

09:38:26 From herstory to Everyone: You are absolutely correct. We need this in our alternative school!

09:39:54 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Equitable mental health is needed to make any large scale impact. A huge issue is how disconnected we are and so many great programs/services are great on paper but don't take into account systemic oppression, poverty, racism, sexism, disability, gender, sexuality, intersecting identities, trauma.

09:40:07 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: YES Rev. Anderson

09:40:44 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Woo woo you are correct- intentionally add this subject as part of the curriculum

09:41:04 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: There's a school in BR---- Scotlandville High maybe, that uses meditation or at least has SEL practices as part of their curriculum

09:42:18 From Chelsea Morgan to Everyone: Recommend learning more about Child Mind Institute and their research. More mental health education resources for educators: They also have a Symptom Checker for Children:

09:42:26 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: What is that saying, doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome?

09:42:43 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: And that applies across the board around 9 drivers

09:43:43 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Next week Jahi Mackey from the 821 Project will be co-facilitating a conversation on the 9 Drivers of Poverty series with a focus on English Proficiency and Cultural Differences. Since the call will take place on the Fourth of July weekend, we'll also be focusing on how to fully realize the vision of America being an inclusive, multiracial democracy. We will bring in diverse perspectives and community leaders to be a part of this conversation while also sharing their current work and projects with the rest of the coalition.

09:43:55 From Melissa Silva to Everyone: Hi everyone. I as well have a meeting beginning at 10 am that I am leading. I am happy to continue this conversation with you. Thank you all for sharing today on this important topic which affects all of us either directly or indirectly.

09:44:04 From herstory to Everyone: Yes ma’am!

09:44:07 From Sherreta Harrison to Everyone: Also, I think we have to build this on both ends. Children need SEL, meditation and counseling but so do teachers---- and parents. When I worked as a in home therapist with adjudicated youth, the thing that drove me back to adult education is that I grew tired of equipping kids to use tools that might not align with the context in which they exist.

09:44:25 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: Real talk - yes, political officials are an issue, but not the issue. People lie about what they do vs Actually do and we see this in the polls. We have seen that more people than you know have cognitive biases and prejudice across the board and that is what makes these things happen, like those elected officials.

09:44:26 From Karla King - concerned citizen to Everyone: Thank you Alfreda.

09:44:40 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: Yes to everything you said Alfreda

09:46:12 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: Cultural barriers and how others are invited to conversations

09:46:23 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: Its not always black/white folks.

09:46:36 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Thank you guys

09:46:42 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: YES manny….nuanced and layered

09:46:50 From Flitcher R. Bell to Everyone: As we enjoy our weekend, families, and time off lets take a moment to remember the unfortunate people in Surfside, Fl and the building that collasped!

09:47:09 From Daffaney Webster to Everyone:

Daffaney J Webster PMHNP

Executive Director

Requesting to joint

09:47:18 From Lou Guthrie to Everyone: Great Meeting, Thanks Casey and all the speakers.

09:47:28 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: YES Melissa - we need to let our communities tell us the needs not the other way around.

09:47:33 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Announcement - It's Futures Fund JOLTCon Day! If you are free today between 9-1 pm or for the whole time, join us!

09:47:33 From Daffaney Webster to Everyone: Requesting to join future meetings

09:47:57 From Zoë - Walls Project (she/her) to Everyone: I see you Daffaney! Will add you to the guest list.

09:48:04 From Pat LeDuff to Everyone: Yes! Great wrap up

09:48:08 From Casey Phillips to Everyone: Daffaney, please drop your email to us

09:48:27 From Jen Tewell (she/her) to Everyone: THANKS everyone!

09:48:41 From Manny Patole (he|him, Co-City Baton Rouge) to Everyone: Casey, JoltCon looks great… should have added art of collaboration and storytelling too

09:49:57 From Zoë - Walls Project (she/her) to Everyone:

09:50:01 From Zoë - Walls Project (she/her) to Everyone: JoltCon link ^

09:50:12 From Tristi Charpentier to Everyone: Shameless plug announcement - Junior League of Baton Rouge Hollydays raffle tickets are now on sale! $10 for a chance on a Mercedes and $50 for a chance on a Rolex. Drop my name in the League member who sold it box. :)

09:50:17 From Alfreda Tillman Bester to Everyone: Have a great week everyone!

09:50:24 From Lois Smyth to Everyone: Thanks everyone!

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