Friday, June 12, 2009

Learn to survive the tough economy

St. Luke's to host free family event Saturday in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

St. Luke’s Center for Community Health will offer a number of yoga and meditation sessions at Saturday’s event. Here, in a photo provided by Zenergy, health club members practice yoga outdoors. Photo by

Times are tough for many Wood River Valley residents, so the St. Luke's Center for Community Health wants to help.

In conjunction with several nonprofit groups, the organization on Saturday, June 13, will host a free seminar for people to learn how to weather the emotional and financial burdens of the economic recession. The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Community Campus in Hailey.

The seminar will feature motivational speakers, a bouncy house for kids and small workshops on issues such as anxiety, home foreclosure and finding employment. In addition, seniors from the Blaine County Senior Center will be present to talk about their experiences living through the Great Depression.

Each attendee will be eligible for a free afternoon swim at the nearby Blaine County Aquatic Center, as well as free meditation and yoga sessions throughout the day. Participants will also be eligible for raffle prizes including two passes to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' summer concert series, Hailey Chamber of Commerce gift certificates, a free mammogram at St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center and a free membership to the Air St. Luke's flight-for-life service.

Erin Buell, community outreach coordinator for St. Luke's Center for Community Health, said the event was planned in response to the growing number of people who are facing finance-related problems.

"We are seeing more and more people coming in and asking for help, especially people who have never had to ask for help before," Buell said. "We also hear a lot from social workers in the area who are seeing people with anxiety and stress issues."

Carol Pintler, client services coordinator for The Advocates, a Hailey-based domestic violence counseling and resource center, concurred.

"People are stressed," she said.

Pintler said The Advocates in April received 903 crisis phone calls and 553 walk-ins. By contrast, in April 2008 the organization received 504 phone calls and 280 walk-ins, she said. (Figures for May are not yet available.)

"January through March was insane," Pintler said. "It doesn't seem to be slowing down."

Millie Gaitan-Gonzalez, executive director of La Alianza, a valley-based multicultural center, said the Latino population is also suffering.

"A lot of our Latino people have been out of work since Thanksgiving," Gaitan-Gonzalez said. "We've found that even those who have returned to work have less hours, less pay and less benefits."

La Alianza will offer two sessions in Spanish at the June 13 event. One will focus on how to avoid money traps such as high-interest loans. The second will focus on creating and protecting a good credit score.

"There are just so many great resources in this valley that people don't know about," Buell said. "We want people to know that we really do live in a community that cares."

For more information on the event, call 727-8737.

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