May 3, 2021
Peer Spotlight: Manny Hernandez

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I am from the inner-city of Lawrence. Growing up in my community was a beautiful experience, but it was also very challenging. My mom is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic and I am a first generation American. Coming to the States was what she dreamed of, to be able to provide for me and her family. Over the years we’ve overcome some extraordinary challenges and met a great number of people who were willing to give us a hand.

What made you want to work as a Peer Coordinator for The NAN Project?

During my first year of Community College, I met an amazing mentor. He taught me so much about the struggles my community and I were facing and why it’s so important to overcome them. I was inspired to learn more about social services and community work. I was determined to help others build connections and maybe become a mentor myself someday. 

What strategies do you use to deal with your own mental health?

When people learn about my mental illness I often get “nah, you don’t got that.” As if I am supposed to look a certain way if I say I struggle with psychosis. I gladly, reply back and say “well, what do you know?” Mental health is something that can affect anyone. Sometimes the struggles we go through push us to unhealthy coping mechanisms and not everyone you meet is willing to talk about these things. The truth is, if we were more accepting and more open as a community, we could break down many barriers for individuals in need of service.

What is an example of something you did to help a student or a friend?

Whenever I talk to friends about their challenges, I come from a mindset of curiosity. I simply want to learn. Most people have the answers they’re looking for somewhere inside of themselves. By having a conversation with them and being open, vulnerable and non-judgemental, much of what they’re searching for can come to the surface.

What hopes do you have for your own future?

I think someday I’d like to write a book on my experiences. I believe that it could truly help someone who is struggling with psychosis understand that there are other people out there who’ve been through it too.

What commitments do you have for the year?

This year I am focusing on one thing. Finding healthy ways to cope and be a better resource to those who may be searching for an answer.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Some of my interests include sports. I love playing basketball with friends I’ve made through work. It has been a great way to meet people and get to know the Greater Boston community better. Some of the folks I play with also have jobs in which they’re giving back. Knowing that I am surrounded by individuals who care about the kids is truly rewarding. Hopefully in the future we can collaborate on projects together and do some awesome things.

What advice do you have for our Peer Mentors?

One thing I always say to myself is “We gon’ be alright.” Kendrick Lamar couldn’t have said it any better. We have seen some amazing obstacles in our lives. But, as long as we stick together as a community we gon’ do just that.

September 9, 2020
A Different Kind of Summer with The NAN Project

While COVID may have slowed down many industries and left folks physically isolated, The NAN Project and our Peer Mentors kept hard at work and socially connected all summer! One of our major initiatives during the typically slower, sunny months of school vacation was our 2020 Senior Peer Mentor Training! The goal of these 8 weeks of workshops was to support our Peer Mentors, while also keeping them active and engaged, and prepping them for what was sure to be a very different school year ahead. It was also an opportunity to provide educational development to our incredible young adults by bringing in an array of outstanding guest speakers that helped us all build skills for use both at work and in our everyday lives. We invited a different guest speaker to each Wednesday of our two month training to talk about different topics related to mental health, social justice, emotional intelligence and much more!

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Greta during our IFST Zoom training

Two of the outstanding presenters were current and former NAN Project staff – Rachely and Greta! Both covered different therapeutic methods that our Peers might find helpful in their recovery, and can also teach others about. Rachely introduced us to Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAP), and covered how to identify stressors, create a wellness toolbox, and develop a daily plan to maintain strong mental health. Greta educated us about Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFST), a type of therapy that looks at ourselves as different parts, and focuses on healing the wounded parts as a part of recovery. Learning about IFST helped our Peers think about their own recovery in different ways. 

We also invited Jon Mattelman to present about anxiety, specifically, what it can look like in middle and high schoolers and how to support them if they are struggling. This was valuable because we work with young adults and knowing more about how they can experience anxiety will help us get them to the support they need. 

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Additionally, we had speakers talk about topics that were relevant to the pandemic and current events. We had Hannah, a grad student from Salem Statem, present a workshop titled “Beyond the Rectangle,” which covered what Peers can do to feel alive and happy during a virtual presentation (skills just about everybody can use these days). Thinking about self-care activities that they can do before, during, and after a virtual presentation will help our Peers approach their work in a way that feels rewarding and prioritizes their mental health. We also had Maryanne, a longtime friend from the Department of Mental Health’s YouForward in Lawrence, present a social justice training with the help of our Senior Peer Coordinator, Lizzie, and our Peer Coordinator, Shilpa. They spoke about how COVID-19 affects Black people disproportionately in what is called the Double Pandemic, what systemic racism is, and how to be a better ally to people of color. We had a really engaging group discussion with our Peers and they had many personal experiences to share.

In light of this pandemic, the importance of developing emotional intelligence and strength is important now more than ever. We brought in inspirational speaker Kurt Faustin to introduce us to the concept of emotional intelligence through a training titled “Learning the Ingredients to Become a Better You”. This covered the importance of how developing a supportive community and helpful coping skills can affect our lives positively and help us develop emotional intelligence. Our Peers really enjoyed Kurt’s enthusiasm and we look forward to having him back!

Another important piece of the training was our weekly small group work, where we created projects for Suicide Prevention Week. Each of the four groups did a wonderful job producing very unique ways of promoting mental health education and suicide prevention. Our first group focused on the importance of a trusted adult, and our Peer Mentor, Margaret, created a story about how a trusted adult impacted her life. Group two decided to examine how mental health is portrayed in the media and we will be posting their reviews on our social media in the coming week. Group Hope! created inspirational social media posts and a personal story about mental health and recovery, and our fourth group made beautiful artwork to raise awareness for suicide prevention. We are so grateful to our Peer Mentors for all of their creativity, hard work, and commitment. Make sure to keep a lookout on our social media over the next week so you can see all of their amazing content!

June 22, 2020
Nanner Virtual Hangouts

Our staff has been hard at work with a lot of different virtual projects over the past couple months! Our twice-weekly Zoom hangouts have been one of the more fun projects, allowing us to stay connected with our Peer Mentors during this period of physical distancing. Most times, we get between 15 and 20 folks to join for the one hour sessions, each of which has an intentional theme such as boundary setting, connection, creative expression, self care, and movement.

These Nanner Hangouts are more than just a time to hang with our team; we’re also piloting lesson plans each time. Using surveys our Peer Mentors fill out, we seek to ensure the content and objectives are both engaging and helpful. Once we have refined the lesson plans, and made changes based on the feedback, we upload the plans and accompanying slide shows to our website so that teachers can download them for free. We have also run a couple lessons for students, and expect this may be one of the main ways we’ll interact with schools in the fall.

If you know of a school that might benefit from using our lesson plans, point them to this page and they can check them out for themselves! Keep reading below to learn more about what these lessons cover and how we run our Nanner Hangouts.

Boundaries

This multi-session lesson covered a few different types of boundaries – rigid, porous, and balanced. A person with rigid boundaries tends to keep others at a distance, be hesitant to ask for help, and very protective of personal information. The lesson teaches that porous boundaries apply to people who tend to overshare, and who are dependent on others for opinions and put others’ problems before their own. It is often difficult for people with these boundaries to say “no.” Healthy, or balanced, boundaries are somewhere in the middle of all three types – a person with healthy boundaries will value their own opinion while considering those of others, communicate and assert their needs, and is able to accept when others say, “no.”   

When Lizzie and Fernanda ran this Hangout, they also went into how boundaries can fluctuate between rigid, porous, and healthy, depending on the situation and type of people you are with. For example, if you are in a college interview, your boundaries might be more rigid – you wouldn’t necessarily talk about the meltdown you experienced last week because of stress. But if you were having the same conversation with a friend, talking about your struggles would be helpful and it can evolve into a deeper conversation.

There are many different domains of boundaries as well – physical, emotional, material, intellectual, and time. This Hangout focused a lot on interpersonal communication and emotional boundaries. This type of boundary focuses on when to share personal information and feelings, and communicating desired responses to those feelings. A balanced emotional boundary is one where everyone’s feelings are validated and respected. Finally, we reflected back upon our own balanced boundaries, and used what we had learned to have a discussion about creating and maintaining boundaries, which can become even more challenging during a period of physical distancing.

Connection

One of our Senior Peer Mentors, Greta, led us in a fun Nanner Hangout using the “clap” response emoji to answer questions. We answered everything from “Clap if you used a coping skill in the past week,” to “Clap if you’ve ever sung karaoke.” The mix of funny, lighthearted and more serious questions was great, and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard since that day. Getting to know each other is something that we’ve all missed from our usual Nan Project work and I am enjoying learning the things I have in common with others that I was not aware of.

Creative expression

I led a creative expression activity where I posed two prompts and had participants answer in any way they wanted to. The prompts were focused on how our past experiences have shaped us and helped us grow. We gave advice to our younger selves and we thought about how we have grown in the past few years. Utilizing the Breakout Rooms feature on Zoom, we got into groups of three and discussed our responses. For the last part of the activity, we came back together and answered one more question about things we were looking forward to in the future. We used a cool program called Menti to create a word cloud with all of our responses in real-time. It was fun to focus on future goals, and it was a good motivator and mood-booster for us! Here is a picture of our word cloud!

Movement

We’ve been lucky to work with two art therapists throughout our hangouts, who have incorporated art and movement activities. Alex, led us in a few different movement activities, including yoga, stretching, and bringing awareness to where we feel stress in our bodies. We focused on tension and stress release, relaxation, and deep breathing. We also demonstrated how we walk when we are feeling positive as opposed to when we are having a bad day. That brought smiles to a lot of our faces, and also helped us recognize that our posture and body language can make a noticeable difference in how we feel!

To end our hangouts, we have been doing a variety of activities, like listening to empowering music, answering riddles, and meditating. We have had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit during these hangouts, and we are excited to share them with you!

Please check out our COVID-19 resources page for some great material. From myself and on behalf of everyone at The NAN Project, we sincerely appreciate your support, and we can’t wait to resume in-class presentations in the future.   

April 1, 2020
The NAN Project & COVID 19

Dear Friends,

It is pretty incredible how quickly things have changed for all of us at The NAN Project, and I suspect for most of you as well. I truly hope you have managed to find somewhere safe and comfortable to wait out this storm with loved ones and those close to you. 

At The NAN Project, our work has been directly affected by the coronavirus – all of our classroom presentations are suspended, teacher professional development is postponed, peer mentor trainings are delayed – and though it might appear at first glance that The NAN Project would come to a grinding halt, this has NOT been the case. While this evolving situation has required us to take a giant step back from our typical peer-to-peer, in-class work and rethink how we do just about everything, our goal and mission have not changed in the slightest. We will continue to get our message out there about the importance of emotional well being and mental health supports for young people. I am so proud to say that our team has truly rallied to make the best of a difficult situation.

Pretty soon after Governor Baker, prudently closed down schools for the safety of everyone across Massachusetts, The NAN Project Team was right back at work (digitally) figuring out how we would support our communities and young people in this time of need. It didn’t take long to realize that the isolation and lack of structure many students are now facing would be extremely stressful, scary and unsettling. To combat this, our team is now producing online programming intended to create connectivity and reinforce the sense of routine and self-care among young people. In the coming weeks we will be rolling out both live streamed virtual content, as well as downloadable programs and resources for schools and communities across the Commonwealth (links to resource guides for 1) young adults and 2) caregivers/educators). We have started piloting these 30-60 minute programs with our amazing Peer Mentors (with whom we’ve remained in daily contact) and plan to begin offering it to student groups at our partner schools in the coming weeks.

While this has been a steep learning curve for all of us, I couldn’t be prouder of our team for all that they are accomplishing and the enthusiasm they bring to work each day.  All this is to say that The NAN Project is going strong during this time of uncertainty.

I’d like to end by thanking you, the many friends of The NAN Project, for all the words of encouragement, suggestions, and ideas you have passed along to us. We thrive off of this positive energy and are extremely appreciative of your support during these strange times.

In addition to our beloved mantra There is Help and There is Hope, today I would like to add, Stay Safe and Stay Healthy.  

Warmly,
Jake Cavanaugh
Executive Director – The NAN Project

March 27, 2020
Comeback Story Filming in Arlington

This February, Arlington Community Media Inc. (ACMI) hosted The NAN Project for an exciting day of filming and recording Peer Mentor Comeback Stories!

ACMI is an organization that is “dedicated to providing an electronic forum for the free exchange of information and ideas which reflect the talents, skills, interests, concerns, and diversity of the Arlington community.” They have two studios for filmmaking and a podcast recording booth that are open for the community to use. Additionally, they offer workshops and volunteering opportunities for those who are interested in film and technology. We were thrilled to be able to team up with ACMI for this project!

Our day at ACMI consisted of some basic introduction to videography and tips on filming. We worked with Jeff, ACMI’s Operations Manager, Katie, the Production and Media Coordinator, and some other staff and interns. Jeff and Katie showed us how to operate the cameras and gave us a run-down on how to set up the camera, microphones, and lights in the studio. Our Peer Mentors – Andrew, Shannon, and Evan – took turns practicing their stories in this new format, in front of the lights and cameras. We also had peer mentors helping out in the studio, by running the teleprompter and helping the interns with the audio soundboard. Everything went so well during the practice take that we decided to film the real take immediately after.  The ACMI team filmed the Comeback Stories in a very personal style – it really makes the viewer feel like they’re talking to the Peer Mentor. Our Peer Mentors did a great job adapting to this technology, and having these Comeback Stories captured on film really tells their story of recovery in a creative way. Everyone really worked together very well, and we were excited to return to edit the footage.

The next week, Andrew, Ray Evan and I returned for our follow up day at ACMI, the team tried their hand at editing the footage. We worked with Katie and did some editing on Adobe Premiere Pro.  We all learned how to fill in the green screen with other background colors or images and how to combine two shots into one clip and make cuts to get different angles.  The folks at ACMi also showed us a trick to apply effects like a dissolve to start and end the final video.  During our final session, we finished up the last of our edits and exported all of the files to create the final video.  These videos will be useful examples to demonstrate a Peer Mentor’s Comeback Story, in classrooms, in training, or when introducing our programming to a new school!

The NAN Project really would like to thank Jeff, Katie, the interns and all of the staff at ACMI for working with us and imparting some of their knowledge, so that we now have a new way of sharing our stories!

March 26, 2020
Boston Peer Mentor Training – Jan 2020

In January 2020, The NAN Project held another four-day training in Boston for new Peer Mentors at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.  We had a dozen young adults from all different backgrounds and towns all over Massachusetts sign up for this training.

Throughout the four days, the Peer Mentor trainees learned the QPR a suicide prevention technique, how to craft a Comeback Story and worked on their presentation skills.  QPR is the mental health equivalent of CPR. It is non-clinical and meant to give learners the tools to help someone having a mental health crisis, just like CPR empowers people to keep a person with a critical physical ailment alive until help can arrive. This training teaches young people ways to identify the warning signs in a suicidal person, and how to get them to the correct help. We watched a video about Kevin Hines, a suicide prevention speaker who survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, was also shown. Kevin speaks about his ambivalence towards suicide up until the actual attempt and how important it is to reach out to those who may be struggling. Kevin also talks about his struggle with mental health challenges prior to the attempt. There were many warning signs like how he lied about taking medications or opening up to his therapist. He also dropped his college classes and lost his health insurance. These were all the signs that he was struggling with a lot, and if only someone reached out to him and asked if he was okay it may have prevented his attempt. The meat of this training is the actual QPR – Question, Persuade, and Refer – three steps on how to save a life, after which we did role plays in small groups as a way to practice. Everyone left this workshop feeling a little more comfortable reaching out to a friend or loved one who might be struggling.

Some of the other components were helping the trainees tailor their stories of resiliency to our typical high school audiences as well as working on presentation skills. We also worked on some art therapy project, which is another medium we use when engaging students in the classrooms, when we’re not presenting Comeback Stories.

Peer Mentors usually present their Comeback Stories to high schoolers with the goal of opening up a discussion about mental health.  There are three main components to a Comeback Story. The first is describing their background and experiences, so the audience connects to the presenter. Next we touch upon the “struggle” piece, or what the young person has overcome. By being so vulnerable and speaking frankly about their mental health challenges, the Peer Mentors create a safe space for students to take about this otherwise stigmatized subject. Lastly, the Comeback Stories highlight the strengths and supports that helped the Peer Mentors overcome their hardships and what gives them hope in the present.

The NAN Project hosts about six Peer Mentor trainings per year, with the next ones coming in Gloucester, Lowell, Lawrence and Malden.

Overall the training went very well and we are looking forward to working with some of the new Peer Mentors that have completed the training.

“I Am More” by Amy Kerr

In the winter of 2019/20, The NAN Project was introduced to an artist from Gloucester, Mass whose messaging of overcoming mental health challenges struck a chord with our own mission of getting people talking about this topic. We were asked by the Greater North Shore NAMI chapter to have several of our Peer Mentors attend and present at the opening of her “I Am More” exhibit in Danvers. Since then, we’ve stayed in closer touch and recently attended another opening, this of an expanded exhibit in Peabody’s North Shore Mall.

Amy Kerr, a pastel portrait painter started this journey in early 2017 after her own struggle with depression, which motivated her to begin the “I am More” project. She initially reached out to 16 local people from the North Shore area of Massachusetts and asked them if they were comfortable sharing their stories of struggle and resiliency.  The art showing reminds us that we are more than our current life situation, health diagnosis or physical disability.  Each one of Amy’s artistic and realistic portraits has a good meaningful and story behind it.  Some of the topics that each individual has experienced are depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD and suicide. 

One of the portraits is about a United States combat veteran who suffered from PTSD, depression and alcoholism.  He describes coming back from war and the challenges he faced re-entering civilian life. The store talks about a retreat that he went on for combat veterans where he finally received the hope he needed and ends on the hopeful note of his entry to college and becoming a mentor for other veterans.  This example personal resiliency, finding his purpose and inspiring hope for others very much resembles the Comeback Stories our Peer Mentors share with students.   

The exhibit at the North Shore Mall includes 20 new photo-realistic portraits, each with a story of a Massachusetts resident and their own or their family’s words about their struggles with mental illness, disease or other situations that they have faced and overcome.

Amy has exhibited her show in Lawrence, Gloucester, Danvers, Salem and Worcester over the past year and hopes to bring it to Umass Amherst in Western Mass this spring, with a stop at the State House during mental health awareness month in May. To learn where she’ll be next, you can check out her blog at https://amykerrdraws.org/. We look forward to our next collaboration with Amy and the amazing work she is doing.

December 17, 2019
Fall 2019 Recap

This fall, The NAN Project presented in a few new schools, returned to past schools, and continued expanding our work with middle schools and universities. As we prepare for a new year and some busy months ahead, we can’t believe how much we’ve done in 2019! 

Peer Mentor Nabil Douq presenting to 7th grade students over at The Bromfield School, Harvard

As of this December, The NAN Project has reached over 9,000 students with our Peer Mentor Presentations or other suicide prevention training! Our team of Peer Mentors have traveled all across the state this fall, presenting in:  Harvard, Salem, Melrose, Stoneham, Billerica, Medway, Plymouth, Milford, Hopedale, Somerville, Chelsea, Andover, Lowell, Tyngsborough, and Lawrence!   Our team has returned to Phillips Academy, The Bromfield School, Milford, Greater Lowell Technical, and Andover High School to present comeback stories of resiliency to this year’s health classes! We’ve also began the school year with some new connections at Methuen and Melrose High School, and traveled south to begin work with Medway High School, Hopedale High School and MAP Academy in Plymouth. For a more in-depth article on our last visit to Lowell High School, read Sarah ’s article on the NAN Line Blog!

Peer Coordinator, Elli Peltola, presenting to students over at MAP Academy in Plymouth, MA

Not only have we done our typical presentation to schools, we’ve also provided trainings for faculty and some Peer Leadership students to provide them with more knowledge and skills related to mental health and how to help someone who is struggling. We have provided a non-clinical suicide prevention training to schools called, Question, Persuade, Refer or “QPR” to staff and students, in hopes that it will give them more confidence in finding students help when they need it. QPR is a training that teaches someone how to ask a person if they are thinking of suicide, give tips and tools on ways to help persuade the person struggling, and lastly bringing the person to the right support. We also trained Melrose High School’s faculty in Mental Health 101, which is a training Donna Kausek, our Clinical Director has recently offered to staff in schools. This training provides an overview of basic mental health challenges commonly seen in the classroom. 

Eager 8th Graders in Harvard with many questions about mental health!

We have returned this fall to speak to the 7th and 8th graders over at Bromfield Middle School in Harvard. Our set up for middle schools are a little different from our regular curriculum, as we want middle schoolers to know and recognize the signs of different mental health disorders, and how to help themselves or a friend if they’re struggling.  We adjusted the language we use to cater to the younger audience and made the program a bit more interactive to keep the kids moving. We also provide lots of candy!

Ellen Dalton, Elli Peltola, and Jake Cavanaugh on “5 For Good!”

Our founder, Ellen Dalton, Executive Director Jake Cavanaugh and Peer Coordinator Elli Peltola were featured on WCVB Channel 5 Boston’s nightly “5 for Good” segment, which covers people and organizations around Massachusetts that do uplifting work.! To read more, check out our article here.

We also held two Peer Mentor trainings in Salem and Lawrence where we trained 9 new young adults. These amazing youth learned how to tell their stories of resiliency and strength, while also undergoing QPR suicide prevention training and picking up skills to help them engage students in the classroom on the difficult topic of mental health.

None of these events could have happened without our incredible team of Peer Mentors! Thank you all for your continued efforts to bring your stories to classrooms across the state. If you’re wondering what our team will do over the cold months– we’ll be hosting more Peer Mentor trainings and continuing to spread the word about mental health! Check out our Peer Mentor Spotlight to learn more about these incredible individuals.

Greta Waag – PM Spotlight

This month, The NAN Project has featured Greta Waag in our regular PM Spotlight piece. Greta has been with us for almost a year, having joined us after several years as a Peer Specialist at Eliot. She brings experience, confidence and most of all lots of good positive energy to our team (along with a hint of quirkiness!).

Thank you, Greta, for taking the time to do an interview for the PM Spotlight.  Tell us a few things about yourself and how long have you been working with The NAN Project?

I’ve been working with The NAN Project for just about one year.  I am really motivated to get out in the schools and spread the message that it’s ok to talk about mental health and that there is help and there is hope. I have a strong background in DBT, something I’m really passionate about.

Hobby wise I’m so lame. I go for long walks on the beach (hahaha). I love the ocean I love to sail. I also love to do yoga, that’s a great to ground myself after a stressful week. 

I remember that you were a Peer Specialist for Eliot a few years back.  We knew each other from the Team Meetings and Peer Outings that we had.  What made you get into Peer work back then?

I think peer work was something that I had always had calling for. I bounced around in multiple different jobs and different positions. One working as a mental health counselor with adolescents. Another working at a sober living home for adults. I liked all those jobs, but once I moved into peer work, it became clear that’s where I belonged. I was more comfortable working at the peer to peer level, rather than a hierarchial level (did I just make up that word??) I was able to use my life experience for the better good and to relate to what others are going through.  In other jobs, the boundaries were stricter so I wasn’t able to use my experience.

I have a good memory of you bringing that frisbee game where you are on teams and either team tries to get the frisbee in the center of the barrels.  How did you find out about that game? And have you known about it for a while?

The frisbee game is called Kan Jam and I saw people play it at the beach.  I used to play ultimate frisbee competitively. We travelled nationally. Once I saw this new frisbee I knew I had to have it. It is a great game, because it emphasizes teamwork, which is always fun (giggle). Part strategy and part how you will match well with your partner. The game Kan Jam has strategy and you work together to try and win.

I remember that you were pretty good at Kan Jam and you were very good at explaining how to play it.  It’s a good game that gets people to interact.  Are there any other outdoor games you like to play?

I love Corn Hole which, a bean bag tossing game. Again, you play with a teammate. I used it as a bonding tool. My dad any I made the two ramps that you need to play the game with on our own.  It was a good bonding time with my dad to make the two ramps for that game. It was great to have a common connection. It’s great to interact in a less pressured environment. That was fun. I also like to play Badminton and Bocce Ball. I love games. Being outside, hanging with friends.

I know that you have been with The NAN Project for a little while.  How was it adjusting from being a Peer Specialist at Eliot to working with The NAN Project?

I was a Certified Peer Specialist with Eliot for six months.  It definitely was an adjustment for me going from checking in with individuals one on one that were on my caseload to presenting to larger groups of students at schools.  The good thing is I am able to reach more people with my story through The NAN Project and show that recovery is possible.

I remember back when you were a Peer Specialist for Eliot you always had great positive feedback and good input in the Team meetings.  Where would you say this positive energy comes from and what inspires it?

I think my positive energy comes from wanting to make a difference.  If I can make a difference in one life than that is worth it.  I always wanted to stay positive because I wouldn’t want people to feel alone as I did when I was struggling.

It has been really great to interview you Greta for the PM Spotlight.  Thanks so much for doing this interview.  Lastly, what are your hopes and aspirations for the future both personally and with The NAN Project?

My hope with The NAN Project is to reach as many young students as possible and breakdown stigma that surrounds mental health.  My personal goal is I would like to get back to school and get my Masters Degree in Social Work, so I can continue to help others in their times of struggle. 

December 13, 2019
THANK YOU(!)…. to all our amazing Supporters this Fall

The NAN Project could not continue to provide our innovative mental health educational and awareness programming to students across Massachusetts without the generous support of organizations and funders. This fall, we took part in a fundraiser/awareness walk in Stoneham, a 5K run in Lowell and were honored with Tim Parziale selecting us to be the beneficiary of Cummings Properties annual a holiday employee donation! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We truly couldn’t do this without this support, the generosity of our friends who joined us at the Night 4 NAN, and the grantors from CHNA 6, the Nashoba Valley Community Foundation, Winchester Hospital, the Tower Foundation, the Greater Lowell Health Alliance, Cummings Foundation and the Adelaide Breed Bayrd Foundation!

JL11 Donates Proceeds from Walk to TNP

October 26, 2019 several TNP Peer Mentors participated in the second annual JL11Fund Walk at Stoneham High School.  The Walk honored James Luti, a wonderful young man who touched many lives and was a talented hockey player for Stoneham High School. James died by suicide in 2017. 

The event included several organizations and speakers that promoted mental health awareness and suicide prevention.  More than 300 students and families turned out to support JL11 and walk with the Luti family, including the Bruins mascot, Blades. The proceeds from the Walk were donated to The NAN Project.  We are so grateful to the Luti family and the JL11Fund for their partnership and support in the fight to stop suicide.

Tom hangin’ with the Bruins’ very own Blades!

Cummings Community Giving

Cummings Community Giving recognized The NAN Project again in 2019, for the 3rd year in a row!  Thank you Tim and the Cummings Community for your ongoing support and encouragement in helping us help the communities Cummings Properties serves here in Massachusetts.

Donation from the Lowell Firefighters 5k Run

We are so thankful to the Lowell Fire Department for donating the money raised at their 5k run to support our suicide prevention and mental health education work throughout the Lowell community. We are continuing our partnerships with with CTI YouthBuild of Greater Lowell to train new peer mentors, Greater Lowell Technical High School & Lowell High School where we have been working to promote greater understanding around mental health, and finally the Greater Lowell Health Alliance which has facilitated many of these partnerships. 


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