Upcoming Latino Mental Health Conference offers Hope, Tools for Churches

By Joe Padilla

One of the ongoing challenges church pastors and lay-leaders face today are the mental health issues and illnesses affecting individuals and families. Why? Because research reveals that 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 5 children in a given year deal with mental illness. In addition, mental disorders are twice as frequent among the poor and low-income communities which tend to have higher risk factors for severe mental illness. Overall, about 25% of people in need of mental health support first seek help from the church before going to a mental health or medical professional.

It is confusing for church leaders because these problems are disguised as a personal problem, family crisis, divorce, financial challenges, addiction, etc. Congregants are coming to their clergy asking for spiritual guidance on these kinds of issues. The pastor has a huge heart and is willing to help but can be quickly overwhelmed, not knowing how to recognize a mental health challenge, or knowing the mental health resources for more help.

The church is a gateway to mental health needs and can have the necessary tools to respond with simple and adequate support. Thankfully, all the resources are available and can be incorporated TODAY!

The Latino Mental Health Coalition (LMHC) is a collaboration of both Christian and community mental health organizations that can make mental illness a topic and solution of living hope!

On August 13, the Latino Mental Health Coalition will be hosting a FREE conference for Latino clergy and congregants to discover new insights, the available resources, and upcoming trainings for your congregation.

The conference will consist of:

  • Free continental breakfast
  • Short Keynote presentation from someone with a mental illness and has hope
  • Workshops on suicide prevention, youth & mental health, hispanic culture perceptions and more
  • Ending with a panel discussion with church leaders addressing new mental health support

Many groups will be represented for all the resources you need to know!

Share and pass this on to many in your church and community … hope is here!

Here are the details…

Mental Health: Tools for the Church

mental health Tools for the churchThis is a FREE opportunity for practical training and networking with a focus on how local congregations can effectively support Latino individuals and families affected by mental health challenges.  Detailed agenda and list of speakers will be available soon. Please RSVP by August 7, 2016. For questions, please contact Ana Chatham at achatham@mch.org or at (412) 855-5912. It is not necessary to print your ticket.

Saturday, August 13, 2016 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (CDT)

Diana R. Garland School of Social Work – 811 Washington Ave, Waco, TX 76701

We are asking that you register for the Conference by going to the EventBrite RSVP site at   http://mhtoolsforthechurch.eventbrite.com

Don’t worry if you are unable to register at the site-just let Ana Chatham or Dennis Myers know that you are planning on attending. Also, if you have questions about the conference, please feel free to contact one of us.

Joe PadillaJoe Padilla is a Baylor University graduate and is a licensed and ordained minister who has extensive ministry and non-profit development work in Asia, Africa, Europe, and in the U.S. Currently, Joe is the co-Founder and CEO of Mental Health Grace Alliance an international mental health recovery support organization providing programs and training for those affected by mental illness and for clergy and community leaders. MHGA is an organization that came from Joe’s extensive research in clinical and biblical mental health views and helping his wife have long lasting mental health recovery. Joe and Dr. Matthew Stanford (neuroscience and psychology) founded in Mental Health Grace Alliance in 2010 and has grown to both a national and international impact.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.


Going Green is a Black and Brown Issue

by Lucas Land

We are at a watershed moment in history. We face multiple ecological crises, and time is running out. Transitioning to a sustainable society is THE issue of our generation, the greatest challenge that the human race has ever faced. It is a truly global crisis and therefore unites us, because we are all in the same boat, a small blue marble hurtling through space. This is what I am passionate about and why I work tirelessly to improve our little corner of this blue marble.

Yet, I feel awkward writing those words as our country continues to wrestle with the highly publicized deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and many others in recent years. The list of victims of police brutality continues to grow. The violent actions of individuals towards law enforcement has only heightened the tensions.

How can we focus on the ecological crises we face when our brothers and sisters are dying in the streets? I believe we can build a bridge between these two issues. This bridge depends on two things: recognizing and getting involved in the struggle of people who continue to face inequality, violence and prejudice, and recognizing that the consequences of the ecological crises we face are suffered disproportionately by minorities and the poor.

First, if we want people who are the victims of police brutality, inequality and prejudice to join our movement, then we MUST get involved in theirs. I cannot recommend enough Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow for a thorough history of the policies that have led to this era of mass incarceration, militarization of the police, and systemic disenfranchisement of minorities. People are not likely to get involved in the movement for a sustainable future when they fear for their safety and struggle to thrive.

The second half of this bridge I’m suggesting we build is recognizing that environmental pollution and climate disruption disproportionately affect people of color. More African-Americans will die this year from environmental causes than police brutality, but environmental racism is less dramatic and the threat of violence feels more imminent than the effects of climate change. [1]

According to Dr. Robert Bullard, the father of the environmental justice movement, “African Americans are 79% more likely than whites to live where industrial pollution poses the greatest health danger. People of color make up most (56%) of those living in neighborhoods within two miles of commercial hazardous waste facilities, and over two-thirds (69%) of those living near clustered facilities.” [2]

I had the pleasure of hearing a lecture by Dr. Bullard in 2014 at a conference on Environmental Justice at Texas Lutheran University. In his talk map after map revealed that the most vulnerable populations (people of color and the poor) in the United States are concentrated in areas with the highest risk for the effects of climate change, and they are the least prepared for those potential disasters. [2]

The water crisis in Flint this year is a recent example of the continuing effects of environmental racism. Officials are slower to respond to the concerns of poor, minority communities. In the case of Flint, state officials and the EPA attempted to cover up their lack of response. [3]

The affluent neighborhood of Porter Ranch in Los Angeles was affected this year by the largest methane leak in US history. The response by officials was swift to address the situation. Yet, residents of L.A.’s poorer neighborhoods have complained about the effects of drilling for years without receiving the same response. [4]

I’m thankful for the recent responses of Dr. Peaches Henry and Robert Callahan to recent cases of police brutality as well as violence towards officers. The NAACP, Community Race Relations Coalition (CRRC) and many others have worked tirelessly for years to make Waco a community where all of us can prosper and feel safe. There is a lot of work to be done to make Waco a community that is sustainable and to combat climate change. Let’s build a bridge between these movements and realize that they are not separate and isolated from each other. This is work that we can and must do together.

Here are some tangible things you can do to build this bridge:

  • Attend the Justice Forum at Greater New Light MBC on Wednesday, July 27 at 7:00pm.
  • Attend CRRC’s Celebration of Cultures on Thursday, July 28 at 5:30pm at St. Alban’s.
  • Like Sustainable Waco on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/sustainablewaco/) to find out what’s happening and connect with others working on sustainability
  • Come to the next ACE CenTex (http://www.acecentex.org) meeting to work on transitioning to renewable energy August 18 from 6:30-8:30pm at 1721 Sanger Ave.

Lucas LandLucas Land is an eco-theologian, urban farmer, activist, aspiring master naturalist, facilitator, musician, and writer. He is avoiding growing up by constantly learning and trying new things. He also works in Grants Management for Waco ISD. He lives with his wife, three children, flock of chickens, dog, and cat in the Sanger Heights Neighborhood in North Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

[1] Ellison, Charles D. “Racism in the Air You Breathe: When Where You Live Determines How Fast You Di” (http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2015/08/environmental_racism_when_where_you_live_determines_how_fast_you_die/)

[2] Bullard, Robert.  “Mapping Environmental Injustice and Then Doing Something About It”. Presentation, January 31, 2015 at Texas Southern University. (http://www.dscej.org/images/pdfs/2015TRIRegionalWorkshop/RobertBullardPresentation.pdf)

[3]  Mathis-Lilley, Ben. “Michigan Knew Last Year That Flint’s Water Might Be Poisoned But Decided Not to Tell Anyone”. (http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/01/11/state_of_michigan_flint_broke_law_and_covered_up_lead_levels_in_water_expert.html)

[4] Bliss, Laura. “L.A.’s Slow-Moving Oil and Gas Disaster”.  (http://www.citylab.com/politics/2016/02/california-porter-ranch-gas-leak-oil-environmental-justice/425052/)

Entrepreneurs of Waco: Uncommon Healthcare

(Note: This post is part of a series called “Entrepreneurs of Waco.”  The series is collaboration between the McLennan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the Professional Writing program at Baylor University, and Act Locally Waco.  The McLennan Small Business Development Center offers technical assistance, business mentoring, training, and resources for all stages of small business. For more information, visit their website: www.mccsbdc.com.   To see all the posts in this series, click here: Entrepreneurs of Waco.  – ABT)

By Kellie Fawcett

As you enter the Uncommon Healthcare office you don’t see tile floors or fluorescent lights. There aren’t dozens of people in the waiting room sniffling while they flip through year-old lifestyle magazines. There isn’t a TV playing cooking show reruns.  The carpeted waiting area includes plush chairs and a soothing water feature. Complimentary drinks are available. In fact, if anyone is in the waiting area, it is because he or she has arrived early. When Dr. Macik schedules your appointment for 10:30, she’ll be with you at 10:30.

stethoscopeDr. Felicia Macik, the founder, owner, and physician at Uncommon Healthcare, is the only direct primary care family physician between Austin and Dallas. When she greets her patients, she is not in a hurry. She greets each one with a smile and usually a hug. She is in casual clothes, not scrubs. The only way you would know she is a doctor is the stethoscope draped around her neck.

Aside from being owner, founder, and physician at Uncommon Healthcare, she is also the accountant, manager and marketer. None-the-less, when you meet with Dr. Macik in her office she sits next to you, ignoring the office chair she has at her desk.  In doing so she lets you in on her secret to success: relationships.

Dr. Macik used to work for a hospital system but left employed practice after 17 years.” She had expectations of herself as a physician, the hospital system had expectations of her as an employee, and the insurance companies had their own expectations set by government regulation. This presented an obvious problem. Her solution: to pursue a new career path that she discovered via talk radio.

“My husband actually discovered it,” she says chuckling, “I was miserable in the system and was trying to figure out if I was going to leave medicine. I really thought, ‘If I can’t find another way to do this I’m not going to be a physician any more. I don’t want to continue to do this for the rest of my career.’ My husband was listening to talk radio and some physicians came on. They were leaders in the nation in direct care and were talking about their model of practice and how physicians were looking into this. So he came home and said, ‘Felicia, oh my gosh, you have got to listen to this and check this out. This is so who you are, this is exactly what you need to do.’ And so that was on a Friday afternoon and I will never forget, I went home and the entire weekend listened to podcasts about direct care and listened to those guys.”

daltonThis was a week before her sons’ spring break. She sat the family down and asked them to forgo their previously planned ski trip in order to road trip to Wichita, Kansas, to meet with the direct care physicians from the radio.

After meeting with six other well-known primary care physicians, interviewing their patients, and extensively researching direct primary care, Dr. Macik learned that roughly half of direct primary practices fail the first year. “So going into it I knew that was the case and that was a risk for me and my husband also knew. But, I also knew that this is who I am as a doctor.”

Dr. Macik feels strongly that healthcare should not be a source of physical or financial stress.  Earlier this year she partnered with another entrepreneur to establish a pharmacy program to help her patients receive prescription medication at wholesale prices. “I have a patient who is a small business person. She just launched a business and her son developed a seizure disorder and the medication was so expensive that they literally could not afford it. We put them on the pharmacy program and now they’re only paying $47 per month for the medicine that was going to be right around $300 per month retail. So yeah, its life changing…”

At Uncommon Healthcare patients pay a monthly fee to receive high quality care tailored to each specific patient. Patients don’t go through insurance companies or hospital hierarchy.  They are promised at least 30 minutes of personal questions and care each time they see Dr. Macik. Hospitals discourage their doctors from spending more than 10 minutes at a time with a single patient.

Dr. Macik makes herself available 24/7 through an after-hours phone number that allows patients to text pictures or Skype her if there’s an emergency.  “I had a patient that had an abscess and she sent me pictures of it on my phone and those pictures dropped right into her chart so it’s all integrated. It prevented her from having to go to the emergency room because she was able to access me. We were off on Good Friday and I was kayak fishing with my son, and I was on my phone treating an abscess while we were kayak fishing because I can do that.”

Right now, Dr. Macik is living her dream. She has a loving and supportive family, she has started her own business, she is doing what she loves, and she’s succeeding in it. “It is still very stressful, but I know that if I stayed in the system it was never going to get better… this at least offers me the opportunity to ultimately have stability and to have satisfaction with what I am doing every day.”  Success for Dr. Felicia Macik is not about cutting costs or maintaining a strict schedule, it’s about loving and serving her patients.

Felicia MacikThe entrepreneur… After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Tarleton State University with a BS in Biology, Dr. Felecia Macik attended medical school at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.  She completed family medicine residency training at UTMB Conroe and then a women’s health fellowship at the University of Tennessee at Memphis. She previously served on the faculty of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and as the Assistant Program Director of Texas A&M’s Brazos Family Medicine residency training program.  Dr. Macik has received numerous awards including being twice named Faculty of the Year and being honored with the Waco Tribune Herald’s Reader’s Choice Award for primary care physicians.  She has a passion for patient care and has enjoyed serving the patients of this area for over 10 years. Uncommon Healthcare, 1000 State Hwy 6, Suite 100 Waco Texas 76712, 254-339-1360, www.uncommonhealthcare.com.

Kellie FawcettThe writer…Kellie Fawcett graduated from Baylor in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing.  She is from Brentwood, Tennessee.  While at Baylor she participated in Baylor Buddies and Baylor women’s Lacrosse.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Teaching the Value of Life to my Baby

By Anastasia Roberts

analeeLife is such a beautiful anomaly. Three months ago I was blessed and honored to give birth to a little baby girl named Analee. She took my world and flipped it into a disarray…in the best way possible. After giving birth to Analee, I began to think a little more critically about the precious gift we call life.

For me, at one end of a spectrum life is a beautiful new born child and the other end an individual encountering death and contemplating afterlife. There are also all of the complexities, examinations, and enjoyment life has to offer in between. Along with engaging in the excitement of a new life, recently I have felt the sadness from the modern day strange fruit embedded in our nation of violent death.

The past few weeks, we have dealt with life ending through violence, anger, hate. These deaths make me question how life escapes us suddenly and why? Again, I began to evaluate life and this time I think about how I want to teach my daughter the value of a person’s life. This is somewhat of a cathartic process for me and hopefully will benefit my daughter in the long run.

As a Christian, I believe we have life in the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (NIV, 2013). In my eyes, alone, being created from God, I choose to value life. Having the unique breath of life makes an individual worthy of love, care, compassion, justice, and freedom to live with others. Being made in God’s image, I believe we can live courageous lives.  (Side note: Specifically, I am talking about human life.)

I would like for my daughter to have courage to believe all things are possible and that her value is beyond material possessions. Her value has no market price. She is a richness that is intrinsically found. Maybe my daughter will not have to see death as we have seen it recently in the news, but as a form of love in her life. She will love and refuse the enticing shallow means of living. She will actively live with all the people around her and deny and die to all inadequate means of viewing herself and others.

She will see humanity as a beautiful creation. She will love the skin she is in and the skin of others. How she values her life and that of another will affect the kind of neighbor she is, the community she will be involved in, and the type of advocate she will be. My daughter will know how to have an ABUNDANT LIFE. We are gifted as humanity to have a world filled with diverse groups of people. These diverse groups are in Waco, Texas, also. I believe I can start this journey with my daughter Waco by showing her different people and areas in Waco.

Go to the other side of town and enjoy! I want to surround her with different people groups, the rich and poor, and loved and unloved. I want to surround her with life. We decided the first church she would visit would be Church Under the Bridge. We wanted her to be surrounded by different types of people. I have also taken her to the Farmer’s Market, Downtown Waco, Cameron Park, Carver Park Baptist Church, Antioch, HEB, WALMART, community meetings at the Dewey, many more places, our neighbor’s house, and introduced her to the mail man.

Analee has precious jewels in her life like her father, Roy (her best male advocate), and all of our wonderful friends and family that pour endlessly into her life through wisdom and love. I think introducing her to all those who are around her and engaging with them, will allow her to feel safe and help her value others. I hope, we together, can teach our younger generation how to value and love each other in Waco, Texas. I believe it is our responsibility to love our children enough to target them and help them see the capacity they contain in valuing themselves and others. Waco has a wealth of people and places that help build up our younger generation and teach them how to embrace each other. Let us live Waco!

anastasia robertsAnastasia Roberts is a native Houstonian that has lived in Waco since 2003. She is married with a newborn daughter. She works with Communities In Schools at La Vega High school.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.