Wellness Wednesdays – 5/8/19

Featured photo: Francisca Sierra and her daughter, Dolores Sierra, who bought a house with the assistance of the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership.


How the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership Helps with Financial Wellness

Financial wellness is just as important a factor in one’s overall health as any other aspect. In fact, as research has shown, finances are one of the top stress factors, aligning financial wellness with mental and emotional wellness (and thus physical wellness).

It’s all connected, and the Merrimack Valley Housing Partnership (MVHP) is one organization doing diligent work to help the region’s residents with their financial wellness. Specifically, the organization offers Home Buyer Training Workshops that offer instruction on mortgages, home inspections, household budgeting and more.

Two residents to benefit from these services were Dolores Sierra and her mother, Francisca Sierra. Dolores grew up in Lowell, got her college degree from Southern New Hampshire University and works as a program coordinator for the Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA) in the city.

Purchasing a house was no easy task for the Sierras, but with the help of MVHP, who kept the family’s application for down payment assistance on track, they were finally able to buy a home in the Mill City in April 2019. Dolores says her mantra throughout her home buying process was “You’ve got this.”

If you don’t already own a home and want to purchase one: you got this, too! For more information on MVHP and its Home Buyer Training workshops, visit MVHP.org.

Tips to Protect Your Skin During Skin Cancer Awareness Month

by All Care Laser Center

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and as we are approaching warm, sunny days ahead, it’s important we protect ourselves. Every time our skin gets tanned or burned, it’s being injured. This cumulative buildup of injury to the skin and damage leads to premature aging and potentially skin cancer. 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Follow these tips to help protect your skin.

– The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., so seek shade.

– Wear a wide-brimmed hat.

– You can get sun through windows and while driving, so even if you work inside all day, wear SPF sunscreen.

– Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. (Hint: the amount that should go on your entire body should be enough to fill a shot glass.)

– Reapply every two hours if outdoors, and take extra caution if on the sand and water, as it reflects UV rays.

– If you want the look of feeling a little more bronzed, choose a self-tanner!

At All Care Laser Center, we have many different options for professional and effective sun protection, along with treatments to reverse the signs of damage already done. Call (978) 208-0284 to set up a complimentary consult for us to help you choose the appropriate products and plan for you.



Health Center’s Recovery Coach Academy Graduates Locals Prepared to Take on Opioid Crisis

On Wednesday, April 17, the Merrimack Valley Area Health Education Center (AHEC), a program of Greater Lawrence Family Health Center (GLFHC), celebrated the graduation of its first Recovery Coach Academy class, made up of 22 students from around the Merrimack Valley, at the health center’s administration building at 1 Griffin Brook Drive in Methuen. The 60-hour course, taught by professional recovery supporter Steven M. Chisholm, trained participants to provide strengths-based recovery for those fighting alcoholism, drug addiction and other addictive behaviors.

The program was supported through a grant from Massachusetts Area Health Education Center, which addresses the concern of health disparities in the Commonwealth with a focus on workforce development.

Though the academy’s class came from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences — including employees of The Psychological Center in Lawrence and first responders from the Lowell fire and police departments — the 22 students had one thing in common: a commitment to tackling the opioid crisis that has been devastating individuals and families in the region for years.

“I’ve lived in Lawrence since I was ten years old,” said Michelle LaJara, who works as a medical case manager for GLFHC’s Community Support Services program at 100 Water St. in Lawrence. “Every day, I see what the opioid epidemic is doing to us.”

Her job at GLFHC may deal directly with the population hit the hardest by the opioid crisis, but LaJara said her reasons for joining the Recovery Coach Academy were more personal.

“I love being from Lawrence, and I want to see my people succeed and do well. I want the negative stereotypes surrounding our city to be over,” she said.

Newmarket, N.H. resident Tom Whalen works as a program director and case manager at Link House, Inc. in Salisbury, Mass. He says he got into the program because he thought it would bolster the job he already performed, but came away surprised at how much of what he knew was flipped on its head.

“I’ve been in the field for 15 years, and learning the approach that a recovery coach has to take — as opposed to the one I take — it’s almost completely opposite,” he said. “That was an eye-opener for me. It showed me that there are many roads to recovery. We have to meet the recoveree right where they’re at.”

Exeter, N.H.’s Stephanie van Kleeck, a 40-year senior social worker who works for the state Department of Mental Health and a local homeless shelter, described the experience as “superlative” and “life-transforming,” saying she truly believes the skills participants learned through the academy will save lives.

Chisholm was singled out for praise by members of the class, who cited the way he injected humor and relatable lived experience into a subject that is deadly serious.

Henry Cabrera, of Derry, N.H., found Chisholm’s humorous role-playing exercises the highlight of the course — and said the instructor alone was worth the price of admission based on “how knowledgeable he is and how much fun he makes the course … especially when you have to sit in a class for eight hours.” As a peer navigator at GLFHC, Cabrera feels he’ll be able to directly use what Chisholm taught him to improve patients’ health outcomes.

Whichever way each of the graduates chooses to use what they learned through the Recovery Coach Academy, it’s clear that having 22 more people trained to address one of the most pressing problems facing the region can only be a successful achievement.



May 9

Join Holy Family Hospital‘s Diabetes Care Program for this series of support groups focused on practical information for people living with diabetes. Support groups are free and open to the public. Methuen, Mass. | HolyFamilyHospital.org

May 16

At Sea Grass Therapies’ Blue Spring Event, representatives will be on hand to answer questions and inform you about trends and treatments including CooLift Facials, Celluma and Ultrasonic Cavitation. Methuen, Mass. | Mailchi.mp

May 19

Lowell General Hospital will hold its 20th annual TeamWalk for CancerCare starting at 7:30 a.m. at LeLacheur Park. Each spring since 2000, TeamWalk has brought together thousands of Merrimack Valley residents to walk the streets of downtown Lowell and raise money to support local cancer patients, including those undergoing cancer treatment at Lowell General Hospital’s Cancer Center. Lowell, Mass. | TeamWalk.org


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