Coffee Hour with Beat

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and as I began writing this Coffee with Beat, I was reminded of the findings AdventHealth made several years ago through a community health survey. AdventHealth and Avalon Park Group were trying to determine what additional medical specialists Avalon Park needs in its goal to become the healthiest community in central Florida and the conclusion was that we need more psychologists, psychiatrists, and counselors. The resounding cry was that above all other needs mental health was one of the most critical and where any community, including ours could improve. Not so long after that study, I had breakfast the Principal of Timber Creek Highschool, who echoed the same need for the students in her school.

While we are not counselors at Avalon Park Group, although my wife Jill holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and is my closest advisor, we believe in MENS SANO IN CORPORE SANO, and understand the importance of mental health.

We believe that the composition of a healthy community has a direct impact on the both the physical and mental health of its stakeholders. Building communities that are holistically strong includes a focus on establishing a place where the residents have a strong sense of belonging and safety. When you know your neighbors, they often become friends that you can relax with and check in on you in good and challenging times.

That sense of belonging and safety is also complemented with outlets for mind, body and spirit. And understanding not all people respond to the same outlets, having a diverse offering is important for the health of the entire community. Avalon Park is built and programmed to provide outlets for all. For the body there are activities like yoga in the park, YMCA youth sports. For the mind there are counselors, music and dance performances, art classes, and more. For the spirit there are several churches of all faith bases right in the community. In Avalon Park, everything for your daily life is at your fingertips, you do not have to leave the community, and that the sense of belonging and safety becomes real. We continue to look for ways to improve the mental health opportunities for our community from adding additional mental health doctors to one of the latest additions, the ProjecThinkForward non-profit, which helps connect community members with local mental health doctors.

I also truly believe giving back through community service helps with positive mental health. There are countless opportunities to give back and help in the community. Right in this community there is the Avalon Park Foundation, a multitude of schools, Encore Assisted Living Community and just next door is Bithlo, all of which are thankful for help and community interaction.

As we think about mental health and how that fits into community, I reflect on our commitment to help our neighbors in Bithlo. We continue to work on our promises to help our neighbors in Bithlo, which are outlined below:

1. We have committed to order and pay for the needed sewer system investments for Transformation Village.

2. We will continue to assist Pastor Dale provide quality nutrition opportunities in Bithlo through community dinners and any other means to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry. WE will pay for food and help with associated logistics, including new infrastructure.

3. We will help United Global Outreach “UGO” in the planning, design and building at our cost a minimum of 10 small homes to ensure that safe, quality affordable housing is available in Bithlo.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the inaugural church service started by our long-time friend Pastor Dale Brooks in Bithlo. In his sermon, he reminded the congregation that first and foremost Bithlo needs God. And while there are many needs, such as clean water, enough food, and shelter, the foundation should remain routed in faith.

Over the past month we continued correspondence with engineer on updated tank installation pricing and timing. The weekly meals still are continuing to feed local families. Additionally, talks continue with UGO and builders to begin construction on the next set of tiny homes. UGO has also implemented a mentorship program, where members of the community can volunteer as mentors to the youth. You may also support the community through their monthly Freedom Market where local vendors share their creations. The next market will be held Saturday, May 29th, 10 am to 2 pm and can find more information online here. Additionally, a weekly church service is also being held at Transformation Village on Sunday afternoons at 2 pm.

Again, we encourage you to get involved and to reach out to Tim McKinney at 407-810-2214, Dale Brooks at 407-497-8545 or myself at 407-658-6565 for any additional ways to get involved.

Beat Kahli