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Editor's Note: Happy Father's Day to a generous dad

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 8:10 a.m. CDT

The Ben Gordon Center’s newest initiative is aimed at helping a different audience: people who are not clients of the Ben Gordon Center.

To be sure, clients of the local mental health facility are also welcome to use The Living Room, but it isn’t limited to them. Anyone who is feeling overwhelmed by life is welcome to visit the respite room and take a break. Once there, visitors can relax in the quiet atmosphere. They will be assessed by a clinician and a peer counselor will give them someone to talk to.

It gives people feeling depressed or anxious someplace to go for an evaluation besides the emergency room, marketing director Michelle LaPage said.

The peer counselors are a key part of the equation. They are trained counselors who have been successfully receiving mental health treatment for at least one year.

“I’m not going to say they know exactly what you’re going through, but they do have that additional insight of having experienced something similar,” she said.

Sometimes, the need is situational, LaPage acknowledged. For example, you don’t have to have clinical depression to benefit from talking to someone about a death in the family. If you are about to lose your home, you are going to feel anxious, whether or not you have an anxiety disorder. People dealing with these situational crises can also be helped by this program, and can connect to local resources to help with emergency needs like medical care, food or housing.

You can read more about The Living Room on page 14.

• • • • •

Father’s Day is this weekend. I sometimes think that dads get a bit of short shrift when their day is compared to Mother’s Day. Maybe part of it is because Mother’s Day falls during the school year, while Father’s Day is during summer vacation, so there are no cute crafts coming home. You don’t hear as often about Dad getting breakfast in bed, either.

But there are a lot of truly excellent dads out there, and I hope they feel appreciated on their special day. I’ve asked my husband repeatedly what he wants, and he has repeatedly told me, “Nothing.”

For Mother’s Day, he gave me a day out shopping by myself, so I asked if he would like the same thing – some mad money and, more important, precious alone time.

He thought about it.

“That would be nice,” he said at last.

Then he told me his plan for the mad money: a new bike for our 7-year-old.

“No!” I laughed. “You’re not supposed to use your Father’s Day present to give a present to the kids!”

He shrugged.

“But if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be a father,” he pointed out.

And I was reminded of the first Father’s Day gift he ever got, when I was pregnant with our first child and he was completely terrified. My parents had given him a “father-to-be” gift card – and he spent it on a baby toy.

He gave the same reason then.

See why I married him?

Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Herra.

Enjoy your MidWeek.

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