Honoring Judge Sara Smolenski at Our Annual Holiday Open House

2018 Holiday Open House - Event Photo2018 Holiday Open House - Food & Beverage TableOn Thursday, December 6th, the Fountain Hill Center presented the Hon. Sara J. Smolenski, Chief Judge for Michigan’s 63rd District Court, with our Porchlight Award for contributions to community mental health and wellness, at our annual Holiday Open House.

As Amy Van Gunst, Executive Coordinator of the Fountain Hill Center, noted during her presentation of this year’s Porchlight Award, “Inside her court room and out, Judge Smolenski models and advocates for the kind of effort and intention that is required for our community to become a place where every person is able to realize their full potential. Judge Smolenski, thank you for showing us what it looks like to treat all people with dignity and respect and for shining a light on how important it is for those of us who have something to give, to make those gifts available—for the good of others, for the good of ourselves, and for the good of our community.”

2018 Holiday Open House - Judge Smolenski Accepting Porchlight Award

In her acceptance of the award, Judge Smolenski asserted that more people need to hear and believe that there’s nothing shameful about seeking help for mental or emotional issues: “If you fell and broke your leg, you wouldn’t take your time getting to an orthopedic surgeon. You’d get it taken care of; otherwise you wouldn’t be able to walk. Mental health issues are no different.”

More About the Holiday Open House

The Porchlight Award is presented annually as a part of FHC’s Holiday Open House, held at our Grand Rapids office in Heritage Hill. Each year, this event provides opportunities for community members to learn more about mental health and wellness options and champions in the Grand Rapids area while celebrating the holiday season in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere.

In addition to the Porchlight Award ceremony, this year’s event featured delicious holiday fare from local businesses, a chance for attendees to win a gift card to Bistro Bella Vita or The Green Well Gastro Pub, live music from guitarist Chris Bursley, self-guided tours of the Center, and mini-seminars from therapists on mental health topics. This year’s mini-seminars included presentations on:

2018 Holiday Open House Mini-Seminar ScheduleHow to Say “No” (Lesley Menhart, LMSW & Carrie Deering, Counseling Intern)

Bilingual Therapy Services (Helen Ceballo-Hernandez, LLPC)

Mindful Self-Compassion (Jennifer Flanders, LMSW & Leigh Ellis, LLPC)

Healing Trauma Through EMDR (Al Heystek, LPC, MDiv)

Counseling Outdoors: Eco- & Equine Therapy (Tracy Thompson, LPC & Sam Lemmer, Counseling Intern)

What is Yoga Therapy? (Jessica Gladden, PhD, LMSW)

The Holiday Open House is always free and open to the public, and free parking is available to all attendees, both on Fountain St and in the Center’s rear parking lot (shared with Central Reformed Church), which can be accessed either from College Ave or from Fulton St.

Thanks go especially to this year’s event sponsors: Bangkok Taste Cuisine, Country Dairy, Essence Restaurant Group, and Nantucket Baking Co.