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04/20/2017 12:01 AM

CFMC: Celebrating Community Compassion

We often talk about the importance of community. The community knows that basic needs need to be met, education provided, and job security is crucial; all of great importance. Just as crucial is our community’s mental wellness. Sometimes we find ourselves, or someone we love, lost and without any answers. Here at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County (CFMC), we work with organizations to increase mental health awareness, advocacy, and opportunities for recovery throughout Middlesex County.

Mental health issues affect everyone, not just those struggling with these challenges. Just ask Cathy and Jim Probolus of Portland. Cathy Probolus’s nephew, Daniel Howe, grew up in New Jersey, spent time exploring the Rocky Mountains and went on to study engineering in San Francisco. Howe’s life path would bring him to a passionate study of world religions and finally a career as a spiritual and life counselor. Yet, throughout this adventurous life, he lived with mental health issues. Howe’s personal struggle touched Cathy and Jim Probolus deeply. They became long-time supporters of and volunteers for Gilead Community Services, a nonprofit organization providing housing, support services, and clinical treatment to individuals with mental illness throughout Middlesex County. When Howe passed away, the Proboluses wanted to do something to honor his life. Working with CFMC, they established the Daniel G. Howe Memorial Fund for Gilead Community Services. This endowed fund will help Gilead meet the needs of their clients and their families for years to come and honors the life’s work of an inspiring individual.

We can all contribute to our community’s mental wellness by listening and learning from each other, and working to support mental wellness with meaningful action. With that shared belief, a group of community organizations and individuals formed a collaborative group with the goal of bringing the issues out in the open and creating a dialogue for action. One outcome is the Compassion Counts Conversations, a series of free, public forums intended to bring together community members, mental health professionals, and panelists for discussion and exploration of mental health issues and services in our communities today. To date, this series has addressed addiction and recovery, adult trauma, stress, and anxiety. CFMC appreciates the dedication of these partners and the larger community to continue raising awareness, breaking down barriers, and developing services for our families and neighbors.

We thank all those individuals who become aware of a community need and take the initiative to help where they can, in whatever way they can. One anonymous donor chose to work through the community foundation and create the Mental Wellness Fund. Our donor was inspired by the vision of the Compassion Counts collaborative and wanted to help ensure similar efforts and initiatives will continue well into the future. The Mental Wellness Fund is a means to do so by providing financial assistance given for raising awareness, for support services, and for outreach.

CFMC invites you to learn more about the great things happening in your community—give a call at 860-347-0025, drop an email at, or keep up with the latest Community Foundation of Middlesex County news on Facebook.