Lines of Love First Annual 2K Walk For Wellness Event

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Lines of Love will be hosting its first annual 2K Walk for Wellness event on Saturday, May 17, 2014 at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, MD. The event begins at 9 a.m., and the walk commences at 10 a.m.

Proceeds from the event will go to SPEAK (Suicide Prevention Education Awareness for Kids). For more information, go to www.speakforthem.org.

The event will include representatives from area organizations promoting wellness, crisis and suicide prevention, and stress and anxiety management. In addition, information about preventing bullying and cyberbullying in schools and communities will also be available.

We are looking for established, not-for-profit vendors in the field of mental wellness who are interested in setting up a table or booth in our start/finish area of the walk. There is no charge for this opportunity. Please contact Rus at linesoflove@gmail.com if interested.

Registration for individual walkers is only $20. This includes a free Lines of Love T shirt, a handmade Lines of Love bracelet, free food and water, and free chances for door prizes. Teams of 6 or more walkers are only $16 per individual.

The course is 1.25 miles for individuals and teams alike. Join us as we walk for wellness and bring awareness and education to our community about the issues that matter so much to our children, family members, and friends.

You can download the Registration Form HERE.

You can also download the Walk For Wellness Flyer HERE to print out and post in your school, workplace, or organization.

Contact: Rus VanWestervelt, linesoflove@gmail.com; 443.834.9489.

Categories: Bullying, Conferences and Events, Inspiration, Suicide Prevention | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Are Not Alone

you-are-not-aloneI have been reminded, in recent days, how important it is to remember this simple statement: You Are Not Alone.

It doesn’t matter if you are struggling with mental illness, if you are sad about the physical illness of loved ones, or if you are having any kind of hardship: You Are Not Alone.

We see individuals in need all the time, wherever we go: at the grocery store, in our school, in our workplace, in our home. We even struggle with how to help, or we feel bad if we don’t do anything at all.

This morning, I needed to run to the store to pick up some cream. I arrived about 3 minutes before the doors opened, and I was joined by a handful of people who were waiting as well. Most of us talked about the usual things: weather (of course) and how much we love Trader Joe’s. One woman, in her mid-40′s, stood a little off to the side, silent.

When the doors opened, I stood to the right while the others walked in. She hesitated and gestured for me to go ahead, but without looking at me. I smiled, did not budge, and simply said, “after you.”

She caught my eyes then, and seemed a little surprised. She thanked me with genuine appreciation, and walked through the open doors.

I have no idea if she is struggling with anything in her life, but I do know that those 3 seconds that we shared carried with them a message of support, of understanding. “You Are Not Alone” resonated, and I hope she carries it with her, as I will as well.

At Lines of Love, we are here for all individuals, young and old. We do not question what is troubling you. We do not judge you. We do not have any expectations for reciprocity.

It’s just pretty simple and straightforward: You Are Not Alone. With those four words, we have the strength of a thousand sunrises to carry on, together, no matter what challenges we might face.

 

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The Most Important Number That Should Be On Your Phone

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

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Drawings in this post are original and created by a 15-year-old teen.

Before you do anything else — and that includes reading the rest of this post — put that number in your phone’s contacts list.

Go ahead. I’ll wait. First name: Hotline. Last name: Suicide.

Here it is again.

1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

Deaf Hotline: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)

This is the most general number — besides 911 in immediate or urgent situations — that will get you, a friend, or a family member the quickest help that might be needed in a time of crisis or uncertainty.

Who should call this number? Let’s dispel a few rumors with a few facts.

Help is needed not just for teens struggling with bullying and cyberbullying issues. No one is immune from depression, anxiety, or having thoughts of suicide.

According to The Department of Veterans Affairs in February, 2013, 22 U.S. Veterans are committing suicide daily. That’s one suicide every 65 minutes. And, the shocking thing about this statistic is that it is based on information provided by only 21 states, comprising just 40% of the U.S. population.

Also, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults (that’s 18% of the population).

Anxiety disorders do arise from very stressful situations that teens and adults face every day: school, tests, college, work, acceptance, success. When you combine the daily stresses with the fact that these disorders also arise from genetics, brain chemistry, and personality, we begin to get a clearer picture that it isn’t something that we can just “get over” or “deal with.”

So, if you are calling a crisis center because you are concerned about a friend, they will understand that. This hotline is for people who are having a crisis AND for family members and friends who are concerned about another individual.

As well, there is no magical line regarding depression, anxiety, or thoughts of suicide that you have to cross to call this number. If you notice that you are uncommonly depressed for a few weeks, call. If you notice a friend is suddenly withdrawn and you don’t know what to do, call. If you have a son or daughter that is under a lot of stress and is showing signs of anxiety or depression — and you don’t know how to respond, call.

If you are NOT in Maryland, and you are looking for specific help in your state, try http://suicidehotlines.com/. They have crisis numbers and information for every state.

Here are a few specific national hotlines that might be suitable for your specific needs, regardless of where you live.

Youth America Hotline: Counseling For Teens By Teens
1-877-968-8454

Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Youth (The Trevor Project)
1-866-488-7386

National Graduate Student Crisis Line
1-800-GRAD-HLP (1-800-472-3457)

Vet2Vet Veteran’s Crisis Hotline
1-877-VET-2-VET (1-877-838-2838)

Veteran’s Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255, then press 1

Postpartum Depression Hotline
1-800-PPD-MOMS (1-800-773-6667)

If you are in Maryland, scroll down. Counties and some university systems are listed. If you have updated information or would like me to add your information to this list, email me at rusvw13@gmail.com.

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MARYLAND HOTLINES AND CRISIS NUMBERS

Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-422-0009; TDD Line for the hearing impaired: 410-531-5086

Baltimore First Step Youth Services Center (www.firststepmd.com): 410-521-3800

Baltimore Suicide Prevention Hotline/Crisis Response: 410-752-2272

Baltimore County Crisis Response: 410-931-2214

Columbia Grassroots Crisis Intervention (http://grassrootscrisis.org), 24/7/365: Hotline: 410-531-6677

Frederick County Hotline (http://www.fcmha.org/hotline.htm), 24/7/365: Hotline: 301-662-2255

Frederick County Local Youth Crisis Hotline: 301-694-8255

Frederick County Parent Stress Line: 301-662-2255

Frederick County Senior Reassurance Program: 301-663-0011

Montgomery County Hotline (24/7/365): 240-777-4000; 240-777-4815 (TTY)

Prince George’s County Hotline & Suicide Prevention Center (serving Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and St. Mary’s counties) (http://www.communitycrisis.org) 24/7/365:

PG Suicide Hotline: 301-864-7130

PG General Crisis and Referral Line: 301-864-7161

PG County Crisis Response System: 301-927-4500

Salisbury Life Crisis Center: 410-749-4357 (HELP); 410-749-4363

COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

University of Maryland

HELP Center (University of Maryland – 3105 South Campus Dining Hall)
Telephone: 301-314-HELP
Hours of Operation:

◦ Monday – Thursday, 2:00 pm – 2:00 am
◦ Friday, 2:00 pm – 10:00 pm
◦ Saturday and Sunday, 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

Active Minds at Maryland: http://www.sandmadventure.com/Active_Minds/Home.html
They have a great counseling center at http://www.counseling.umd.edu/

Numbers and hours for emergency services—

University Counseling Center (University of Maryland — Shoemaker Building)
Telephone: 301-314-7651
Hours of Operation:
◦ Monday – Tuesday, Thursday – Friday — 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

◦ Wednesday — 8:30 am – 9:00 pm

◦ Saturday & Sunday — CLOSED

Mental Health Service (University of Maryland — Health Center)
Telephone: 301-314-8106
Hours of Operation:
◦ Monday – Friday – 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

◦ Saturday & Sunday – CLOSED

Towson University

Here’s the link to the Counseling Center: http://www.towson.edu/counseling/

Hours: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Phone: 410-704-2512

E-mail: counseling@towson.edu

Active Minds If you’re interested in Active Minds at TU, you can contact their president Chrissy Richardson at cricha9@students.towson.edu. You can get information about their weekly meetings, their upcoming events, or suggest other ways that we can all work to erase the stigma around mental health and treatment. You can find the Towson chapter of Active Minds on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_150898604967673

UMBC

University Counseling Services
Student Development & Success Center
(between Chesapeake and Susquehanna Halls)
410-455-2472
Monday-Friday 8:30am-5:00pm
The UMBC, University Counseling Services is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, Inc.

For emergency during hours above: Call 410-455-2472 or walk-in

For immediate assistance during all other hours:

On campus, contact:

  • Residential Life staff (Resident Assistant or Community Director) or
  • call Campus Police at 410-455-5555.

In addition, area crisis hotlines include:

  • Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center: 410-531-6677

Salisbury University

Guerrieri University Center
Room 263
Salisbury University
Salisbury, MD 21801-6860

Contact: (410) 543-6070 (phone)
(410) 548-4052 (fax)
counseling@salisbury.edu

Monday through Friday

8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Fall/Spring semesters, Winter term
8:00 am – 4:30 pm, Summer

Active Minds at Salisbury

Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=71698514948

Location: Student Counseling Center

Don’t hesitate to make the call. These resources are here to help all of us. Let’s eliminate the stigma attached to depression and realize that we’re all in this together.

Make a difference. Make the call.

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Categories: Bullying, General Info, Suicide Prevention | Leave a comment

Lines of Love, Rus VanWestervelt on Because Hope Matters Radio

Rus VanWestervelt was the featured guest on Because Hope Matters Radio tonight (March 4, 2013). You can listen to the entire show here:

Listen to internet radio with Because Hope Matters Radio on Blog Talk Radio


Rus spoke a great deal about Lines of Love, bullying, cyberbullying, the power of writing, and creating communities founded in wellness, self-confidence, and respect.

Categories: Bullying, Inspiration, Suicide Prevention, Support Groups | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lines of Love National Bracelet Campaign Update: Bracelets Will Be Hand-Delivered

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lol ny photo 2

We continue to receive bracelets from all over the country, and we are grateful for the care and love that has gone in to each bracelet, each note, each tag. When we open each envelope and package, we feel the compassion, the love, and the support that you are giving the Newtown community. We will never be able to say “Thank You” enough.

Recently, there have been numerous reports in the published media that Newtown has been overwhelmed with gifts of love and support. Warehouses are being filled as items are catalogued and stored. Some of you have contacted us directly and have asked, “What will happen with our bracelets? Will they ever really reach the people who need them the most?”

In a single word, Yes.

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a Howard County, MD resident who grew up in Newtown, CT and is an alum of Sandy Hook Elementary School. This individual has agreed to carry all of your bracelets that you have so graciously made and hand-deliver them to the teachers and residents affected most directly by this tragedy. We offer this individual our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for making sure your bracelets reach the people who need them the most.

From your hearts to theirs, line by line, person to person, our collective Lines of Love will reach Newtown.

Please continue to send your bracelets, notes, and tags, and please do your best to have them postmarked by January 7, 2013. If for some reason you will be a day or two late with putting them in the mail, we will certainly wait for your package to arrive.

Once again, the address is:

Lines of Love
PO Box 9738
Towson, MD 21284

Thank you, every one of you. We are grateful for your lines of love.

Rus
linesoflove@gmail.com

Categories: Sandy Hook Community | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Five Ways You Can Help Lines of Love and the Newtown Community

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Although our National Campaign is only 4 days old, we are making great strides in gaining support from all corners of the country. We are grateful to supporters in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington state. Thank you so much for being lines of love to the Newtown Community.

I have received emails from people all over the country wanting to help in a variety of ways. Some are not too sure how to make bracelets, others want to organize statewide rallies and events to make 100 or more bracelets. And, we have a few people who are not too sure exactly what this campaign is all about. I want to take this opportunity to explain exactly what we are doing, and how you can participate in five different ways.

First — What Is This National Lines of Love Campaign All About?

Simply put, Lines of Love, a group comprising teens in Ellicott City, MD, connects people (who are struggling) with the resources they need. Sometimes, that means other teens or young adults struggling with anxiety or depression. At other times, Lines supports victims of bullying. In everything we do, we believe in promoting wellness, kindness, and compassion for others in and beyond their respective communities. For the grieving members of the Sandy Hook community, we are providing Lines of Love from all over the country to remind them in this time of need that they are not alone. And, as time moves on and the rest of the country begins to resume a “normal” way of life, we hope that the bracelets made by friends from around the country will continue to provide a reminder that they are still not alone, and they never will be.

Here are five ways you can be a part of that lifelong reminder.

  1. Make Bracelets. We provide instructions for our “classic” Lines of Love bracelet here. You can vary your pattern, as well as your colors. All we ask is that you do your best to include yellow (for Lines of Love) and green and white (Sandy Hook’s school colors).
  2. Plan An Organized Event. This can be as simple as getting a few friends together to watch a good movie and make bracelets for a couple of hours. Or, you can plan a college-wide event with a sorority, sports team, or organization/club to make special bracelets that, in some way, weave your group with Sandy Hook. Maybe you add your own school color to the bracelet, or you add a charm that shows unity and support.
  3. Donate Green, Yellow, and White Embroidery Floss/Thread. Find a group that is making bracelets, or if you have children, simply buy the thread, print out the instructions, and encourage them to make bracelets for this community.
  4. Make Bracelet Tags. This is a very easy way to get involved if you don’t want to or can’t make bracelets. We made tags that were of a heavy card stock, 1 inch wide by 4.25 inches long. We then punched a hole in one end and decorated the tags with quotes, phrases, and plenty of colors (see the sample in the picture at the top of this post). Each bracelet will have a personally handwritten tag attached to it. We have about 100 already made; we need 900 more!
  5. Contact Your Local Media. You can download a copy of the press release here. Contact them through Facebook, their own media websites, or via fax to the TV or radio station. If you know of an event going on in your area, invite the media to attend, and give them a background of Lines of Love and the purpose of the campaign.

All materials should be postmarked by December 31, 2012 and sent to LINES OF LOVE, PO BOX 9738, TOWSON, MD 21284. However, we plan on sending more “waves” of bracelets as they come in to us. If you miss this deadline, please don’t feel like it is too late to get involved. Drop us a note and tell us what’s coming, and we’ll get you scheduled for the next shipment.

Finally, some people have asked me, “How can I stay involved in Lines of Love?” At Lines, we believe the following: Once a member, always a member. You will forever be a part of our national team of Lines, connecting people to the resources they need, offering hope, faith, and love in all ways.

Lines of Love Newtown

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Lines of Love Embracing Newtown: Original Artwork by Alicia Townsend

Lines of Love Newtown

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The First Bracelets For Newtown Are Made

lines of love bracelets

I was running a bit late to school this morning, and when I turned into the hallway and headed toward my classroom, I noticed a box by my door. It was wrapped in shimmering paper, and on top of the box — instead of a bow or ribbon — were three stacks of sticky notes. On top of each stack was a single number:

9 9 6

Somebody had written “Lines of Love Bracelets” on the side of the box in a pink marker. I picked up the wrapped shoebox and opened the separately wrapped lid. Inside the box were four Lines of Love bracelets, huddled in a corner, together.

I reached into the box and delicately removed one of the small bracelets and held it in my hand. It was at that moment that I thought the magnitude of the tragedy would consume me.

Soon, this little bracelet would be around the tiny wrist of a young child, still grieving in her own way, trying to understand what has happened to her world. It was as if all of the sorrow, all of the emotions we have been feeling as a nation, rested in the palm of my hand.

The innocence of childhood, enveloped in fear and confusion, woven together with a heavy desire to save, to protect, to love.

I placed the small, handmade Lines of Love bracelet back in the box, closed the lid, and leaned against the wall in prayer.

Those poor, poor children….

As the day moved along, more students offered bracelets, and the little yellow numbers on the box peeled away, one by one.

The first bracelets for Newtown are made, and the process has begun to offer some solace to those in need. It is a very therapeutic thing to make the bracelets, weaving the threads of love one by one. Earlier this afternoon, I found myself saying the names of the children as I tied the knots, keeping them in my heart, and knowing that the bracelets that are now being made all over the country will soon be close to the hearts of the grieving children and families.

Below are the instructions for how to make the traditional Lines of Love bracelet. Please, feel free to make variations of this design. We ask that you use the colors green, yellow, and white in your design; please use other colors of significance as well, and write a little note with your bracelet to let the Newtown residents know the personal story of why you made that bracelet for them.

I am grateful for everyone who is becoming a Line of Love for the Sandy Hook community. Thank you, one and all.

Rus

You can read the introductory post about this campaign here.

 

LOL Bracelet instructions

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Lines of Love Launches Nationwide Bracelet Campaign for Grieving Newtown Community

lines logo for Newtown
In light of the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012, Lines of Love is responding with a nationwide call for Lines of Love Friendship Bracelets.

One of Lines of Love’s signature items is the green and yellow friendship bracelet, woven in various ways. Each line of thread symbolizes the lines of love that connect us in times of need, no matter the reason, no matter the distance. It is a reminder that we are never alone.

Lines of Love is calling all schools, churches, and individuals across the country to make Lines of Love bracelets for members of the Newtown, CT community. Our goal is to make at least 1,000 bracelets, representing all 50 states, to support the Sandy Hook Elementary School community. (Read the official Press Release here: Lines of Love Press Release 121712)

Also, we are asking that each person who makes a bracelet write a brief, personal note to include with the bracelet. We will attach your note to your bracelet before we send it to Newtown.

Lines will take care of shipping the bracelets so that they arrive in Newtown in the beginning of January 2013.

To be included in our first shipment to Newtown, all bracelets must be postmarked by Monday, December 31, 2012 (single bracelets can be sent in a regular First Class envelope).

Bracelets and personal notes should be shipped to Lines of Love, P.O. Box 9738, Towson, MD 21284.

Bracelets can be made in small, medium, and large sizes. Colors should include green, yellow, and white. See below for variations. Instructions on how to make the bracelets can be found here: Instructions for Bracelets.

We recommend that you buy your friendship bracelet thread at a local craft store. If you have a chain store (such as Michael’s Arts and Crafts), you can easily get a 40% off coupon just by logging on to their website and joining their email list.

If you have any questions, you can contact the project director, Rus VanWestervelt, at linesoflove@gmail.com.

Please join our Facebook Event Page Here.

Recommendations for teachers and organization leaders:

  1. Each bracelet takes about 45 minutes to make. You can use group time to train your students or club members how to make the bracelets, and then allow them to finish at home and return in time for you to send them along to the address above by 12/31/12.
  2. If your group would like your bracelets presented together (from a specific class, for example), simply let us know in the mailing, and we will honor your request.
  3. If you would like to include another special color into your bracelets, that is perfectly fine with us. It strengthens our support from community to community. Please provide a short explanation with your bracelet(s) so the members of Newtown understand the significance of the additional colors.

We ask that you share this with other schools, educators, spiritual leaders, churches, and other organizations and individuals to make this a nationwide effort. Remember: We want to have Lines of Love from all 50 states supplying lines of support to the Sandy Hook community.

Thank you. May love and peace bless each of you, Rus

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Launching Our Latest Campaign: Becoming The Eyes Of Love

Lines of Love is initiating a new campaign, and we are encouraging everyone to take a stronger stand against bullying by supporting victims and reporting abuse.

We call it

SEE. SUPPORT. REPORT.

The tragic completed suicide of 15-year-old Amanda Todd on October 10, 2012 is a reminder that we all need to be more vigilant about reporting cyberbullying. It is our responsibility to reach out to reliable resources that are going to follow up and help the victim being bullied. We also need to make a greater effort to reach out to those who are being targeted and let them know that they DO have support and are surrounded by love and courage.

We can do that. Right now.

This new initiative must be enacted at the small community level, preferably within each specific school. At Centennial, we are working hard to implement this program within the next five school days. We are working cooperatively with the administration and the counseling team. Both departments are fully committed to doing whatever is necessary to end the senseless abuse of bullying — online and in person.

Here are the three main steps in our new initiative, encouraging you to become the Eyes of Love:

SEE.

Social media networking is a part of our lives, and we have become rather detached from the information we see on our newsfeeds. Unfortunately, too many people are sending out cries for help, or are being bullied online,and we skim right by it, thinking that somebody else will take care of it. The truth is, there is nothing “innocent” about being a bystander. If you SEE something that concerns you, take the initiative to be that somebody who will take the effort to make a stand.

SUPPORT.

Supporting an individual that is being attacked through social media or in person is easier than you might think. Let that person know that you support them and that they are not alone. Publicly or privately, reach out and stand confidently beside them. Just making positive, supportive contact in some form is so important, and it takes just a few seconds to let them know that they are not alone.

REPORT.

At Centennial, we are in the process of establishing several convenient and anonymous ways to report signs of bullying, especially through social networks. We are working closely with the webmaster at our school to create a “dropbox” for anonymous screenshots of cyberbullying. We are also working on establishing a mailbox for screenshots to be sent via text. Students are encouraged to provide any specific details that might assist in ceasing the attacks.

We are just in the initial stages of developing this new campaign, but there are several things I want to stress here:

  • Our administration and counseling department are fully behind any and all efforts to protect individuals from being bullied, and to hold the aggressors fully accountable for their actions. This empowers Lines of Love to reach more students, more faculty members, and more community leaders to support our initiatives and to help our students.
  • This is a pilot initiative that we hope is modeled soon in other school systems around the county, the state, and the nation. See. Support. Report. addresses the needs of everyone involved and provides a thorough response to every aspect of the problem.
  • This program is unique because it encourages bystanders to take a more active role in reaching out to the victim AND reporting the abuse. We believe this takes very little time to do, yet the benefits can literally be life-changing.

If you choose to adopt this program into your school system, or if you are already doing a variation of See. Support. Report., please don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to share your strategies here for all of us to strengthen our nets of kindness and wellness for all students, of all ages, for all reasons.

THE RESPONSIBILITY IS ON EACH OF US. BECOME THE EYES OF LOVE AND SUPPORT THOSE IN NEED.

Categories: Bullying, Suicide Prevention, Support Groups | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment