OHIO VALLEY — The Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Alchol, Drug Addiction, Mental Health (ADAMH) Board is spreading positive messages through the “Your Presence is a Present” holiday campaign.
“We’re hoping it’s not going to just be a holiday campaign,” said Shannon Dalton, community programming coordinator. “[It’s] to spread positive messaging that your presence is a present.”
A campaign flyer “seeking local participation” says the intention of the “Your Presence is a Present” campaign is to “uplift our community through connection and positive messaging during this holiday season. Through this campaign our goal is to appreciate, support and educate our communities in simple actions they can take to bring joy to themselves and others in their community.”
Dalton said the organization understands the importance of self-care and the need of some positiveness after the last year.
“The reason behind this [campaign] is that we recognized that this year has been even more difficult than the previous year for our communities,” Dalton said. “We’ve also seen a lot of noise and negativity that’s come around and even as we’re coming into another pandemic holiday season, we’re just trying to remind people that we can still be mindful, we can apply mindfulness and be aware of, like our stressors,but even more importantly, be aware of stressors of others around us.”
Dalton said the stressors of isolation, environment — with work, school, home and/or the public have increased with the anxiety over masking, vaccinating and the continuous changes related to COVID-19 variants.
“You have all the other stressors that of course, come around with fiances, housing, resources, grief, physical health, mental health and substance use,” Dalton said. “Robin [Harris, deputy director] had been talking with us about [how] we should put out this message where we’re focusing on others during the holiday season, of course, you know, just everyday.”
Dalton said the campaign is about sharing simple acts of kindness with others.
“Those simple acts can be just showing a smile to a stranger, complimenting someone on, you know, something that they’re wearing,” Dalton said. “Having that friendly conversation with the person at the checkout line, rather than complaining or getting angry about that. Overall, just reminding people that even just saying that their presence is a present can be just as meaningful.”
Dalton said they are just easy and simple actions that have great benefits.
“The benefits to those could be physical and mental health benefits for that person, as well as yourself,” Dalton said. “We know that you can reduce stress through things like a smile and during the holiday season, that could possibly even save someone’s life by having those simple, positive actions.”
The ADAMH Board’s campaign involves a number of different ways to spread cheer and positivity.
“We have a whole series of things that are going around,” Dalton said. “Our photo booth was us making a connection with the community members. The photo booth, which is a gift to get people to smile, to enjoy the moment, maybe get away from their cell phone for a little bit and let someone else do the photo for them.”
The photo booth piece involved the ADAMH campaign organizers attending a number of events in Gallia, Jackson and Meigs counties to talk with the community in attendance and take photos.
“We have billboards around the counties that say, ‘your presence is a present’ and ‘thank you for being here,’” Dalton said. “It doesn’t have a whole lot of information on there, but really it’s just to put that message out there and it has our website, so that way if people want to [or] find that they may need resources during this time.”
Dalton said the group is trying to avoid the “crisis focused message” with the warm reminders and positive welcome messages.
Another thing the ADAMH Board has done is put together a “Be present tip guide,” which is available at the ADAMH Board, online and at local businesses in all three counties. The guide is also available in wallet sizes to help people pass it on to others. The tip guides can also be picked up at the Chamber of Commerce offices.
“These tip guides, like this simple wallet version has sort of tips on other care,” Dalton said.
Another piece of the campaign is a postcard, which can also be picked up at local businesses.
“It’s ‘your presence is present enough but loved your gift all the same,’” Dalton said. “The intent behind that is a way for those who are shopping for others to thank someone who gifted them a gift. Just to remind, you know, it’s going back to the way we used to send out a postcard saying thank you for the gift. I think that’s one of the , I know for me it’s been a bit of a lost art, but that’s a whole different thing.”
Dalton said the purpose of the tip guides and post cards was to give people a way to pass on the message to others.
“It’s kind of like a warm hand-off, we are here for you,” Dalton said.
Dalton said along with spreading positivitiy, the campaign hopes to remind people to conscious of others.
“It’s so important to connect with each other and let’s be mindful of the way that we are responding to our situations and around our environment,” Dalton said. “Let’s be more positive and make this holiday season warm. Let’s uplift others and in the process we can uplift ourselves.”
For a digital tip guide, photo booth photos, resources or more information on the “Your presence is a present” campaign, visit the Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Board of ADAMHS – Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Board website, gjmboard.org.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.