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Connecting and Sharing Healthcare Concerns and Resources in our Community

One of SEARCH’s missions is to connect: to create bridges between organizations and make healthcare information accessible to the public. So, on the evening of May 18 SEARCH held a Public Forum on Healthy Aging and Adolescent Mental Health at the Burnsville Town Center. After a welcome and introduction by Board Chair Dr. Tom Kaluzynski, featured speaker Dr. Sia Beasley, Health Promotions Specialist at High Country Area Agency on Aging, gave a presentation on strategies to promote healthy aging. A group discussion with attendees followed.

Attendees were then invited to visit tables hosted by local organizations and enjoy refreshments generously provided by volunteers. Rebecca Cerese, Policy Advocate for the NC Justice Center, hosted a table and publicly thanked SEARCH for its efforts in gathering community members to urge state legislators to pass Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina earlier this year.

Organizations Represented at the Meet & Greet Tables:

- Friends of Dementia Caregivers

Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Round Table

M-Y Neighbors

Images by Steven Paul Whitsitt Photography

PATH’s Meet & Greet table, hosted by Hannah Robinson Michael and Jacquie Lopez, featured many of the organization's programs, including Home Remedies and the Cougar Fit Club.

Top Image by Steven Paul Whitsitt Photography

After the break, attendees were presented with a feedback opportunity via three response cards. A yellow card asked for concerns and ideas related to Healthcare Access in our community, a blue card invited guests to share topics they would like to hear about at future SEARCH meetings, and a pink card included a brief survey regarding primary care received outside of Mitchell and Yancey Counties. The feedback collected will be used to inform the work of SEARCH’S Community Engagement Project and Team Access to Care.

SEARCH Committee and former Board Member Karin Rolett presented recently retired Board Chair and co-founder Susan Larson with a fitting gift of brown-eyed Susans on a trellis, recognizing the critical scaffolding she built during her time leading the organization. Susan continues to serve on some of SEARCH's committees.

Image by Steven Paul Whitsitt Photography

Our scheduled speaker on Adolescent Mental Health, unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute, but Karin Rolett and Victoria Hicks of SEARCH’S Community Engagement Project stepped in to share some of the methodology used in their project’s Community Listening Sessions and shared some of the information this group has been gathering related to teen mental health and suicide prevention. Over the past two years, the growing concerns voiced in the community related to adolescent and teen mental health has led to the formation of an Adolescent Mental Health Round Table and a Work Group facilitated by PATH Addressing Suicide Prevention and Mental Health. The aims of this group are to identify mental health needs and create actionable plans to address such needs.

Even if you weren’t able to attend the May 18 meeting, please feel free to reach out with your concerns and ideas related to Healthcare Access in our community or topics you would like to hear about at future SEARCH meetings by emailing

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