• Health Ministries Network

August 2020 Newsletter

Director's Note, Community Events & Info, New board member Melanie Cool, and Devotional from Pastor David Weasley, FCCB

Dear health ministries community,

First, I’m grateful for all of you and the renewal I find in our monthly connection. I also have newfound appreciation for the technologies, new and old, that are keeping us connected. The phone has gained a new place in my life during COVID-19 and this month’s lovely devotional by Rev. David C. R. Weasley highlights the importance of phone ministry during this time.

We are also thrilled to welcome our dynamo new board member Melanie Cool. A mental health counselor, life coach and so much more, Melanie has led an inspired life and is a testiment to endurance and the power of positive thinking. Scroll down to read about her journey recovering from a dehabilitating neck injury and the role of FCNs in her healing. Thanks to Sampson for this final profile!

As many of your know, our wonderful Communications Coordinator Sampson Alvarado has moved on to new opportunities. Thank you to each of you who signed Sampson’s farewell card. His are big shoes to fill and we are working to post a position in the coming months. In the meantime, please excuse any mistakes or delays on my part as I navigate these systems on my own.

Finally, our monthly August meeting will not have an educational speaker. Typically, we do not meet in July and August, but in light of the value of connection during COVID-19, we will hold a social meeting on August 21. I hope you’ll join!

Thanks for all that you do,

Amelia Vader Executive Director amelia@healthministriesnetwork.net

Upcoming Events

HMN August Meeting

Friday, August 21, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Zoom Video Conference Call

Social meeting this month!

Join us on Zoom using the meeting link sent out in our email newsletter. Didn't get a link? Email sampson@healthministriesnetwork.net.

For those who have not used Zoom before, watch this in-depth instructional video on how to set it up.

HMN Fall Kickoff Meeting

Friday, September 18, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Zoom Video Conference Call

Tentatively planned to be via Zoom. Stay tuned for updates!

Community Events & Info

In an effort to connect our volunteers with relevant resources, we publish community events and information in our monthly newsletter and on our website. Email sampson@healthministriesnetwork.net to add your own.

Virtual Advance Care Planning: Best Practice for Crisis and Beyond.

From Respecting Choices

Learn about what is different when preparing for, having, and following up after a “virtual” ACP conversation. A one hour discussion among experienced program leaders.


Learn more in our blog post, "COVID-19 Info & Resources for Faith Communities."

Whatcom medical corps volunteers needed!

We need your help! Health care provider olunteers are needed to revive the local medical corps. For more information and to sign up go to whatcomcovid.com/volunteer.


UW Survey: Health Ministry during COVID-19

Faculty at the University of Washington are researching how health ministry programs are operating during COVID-19. The results will be used to assess how to collaborate on grant opportunities from federal, state or local funders to develop and evaluate health ministry programs during this pandemic. Please take a moment to take the survey by clicking here.

Exploring Equity and Cultural Humility

Thursday, Aug 20th from 1-4pm

Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center with Whatcom Community Health Worker Network

This intensive 3-hr workshop inspires and empowers participants to grow and engage in activities that honor human diversity, promote cultural self-awareness and understanding, engage in cross-cultural learning activities to gain in-depth knowledge of the history and culture of ethnic and cultural groups, and examine historical and institutional power of the “isms” - racism, sexism, classism, etc


Diabetes Prevention Program

July through September, 25 total class sessions - Zoom Video

Whatcom Family YMCA

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduce their risk for developing the disease by taking steps that will improve their overall health and well-being. Research by the National Institutes of Health has shown that programs like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program can reduce the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58% and 71% in adults over the age of 60.


Foundations of Faith Community Nursing Course

Sep 12, 9 AM – Sep 26, 5 PM - Online Course

Pacific Lutheran University

Are you an RN interested in providing a health ministry within your church and community? This fall offering will be taught by Annette Stixrud.


Move 4 A Cause

Every Friday, 4 - 4:30 PM - Zoom Video Conference Call

Dementia Support Northwest

Motivation can be hard to find these days, so every Friday from 4 - 4:30 PM Dementia Support Northwest will be moving and grooving to a different decade, beginning with the 1950s!! Register for this free event. $10 suggested donation to benefit Dementia Support Northwest.


Monthly CHW Meeting

Friday August 28, 9 - 11AM - Zoom Video Conference Call

Whatcom Community Health Worker Network

Join other community health workers for networking and resources. Email WhatcomCHWNetwork@gmail.com for the meeting link.


COVID-19 Support for Caregivers

Weekly - Zoom Video Conference Call

WWU Palliative Care Institute

The Palliative Care Institute has initiated a weekly on-line support group for staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, providing in-home care, and/or hospice care, creating a virtual space for them to come together to talk about the impact of the pandemic on their work and their clients and residents -- a kind of ‘COVID coffee break room,’ a place to sit down to talk for a few minutes with others who are also struggling to reconfigure all aspects of care. By gathering their thoughts, PCI hopes be a vehicle for sharing these stories more widely with those outside their worlds. Anyone who would like to join this support group can email pci@wwu.edu to request the Zoom link.



Melanie Cool, MA

HMN Board of Directors

Tell me about yourself.

I wear a lot of different hats! I am a Well-Being Coach, Inspirational Speaker, Educator, Workshop Coordinator, Level One CrossFit Trainer, and Licensed Mental Health Counselor just to name a few!

I can balance all these roles because I practice what I preach: the life-changing tenets of Positive Psychology, the science of well-being. I have over 30-years’ experience managing, teaching, coaching, and counseling, providing me with purpose and meaning.

I use what I have learned to help others, thus far well over 1,000 people, to increase their well-being by guiding them to process and have gratitude for their past, celebrate the present, and embrace the abundant possibilities of their future.

My Bachelor in Arts in Psychology is from Western Washington University and my Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University. I grew up in Hawaii and have lived in Bellingham, Washington for 35 years. I love all my roles especially Daughter, Mom, and Tutu (Grandma).

Tell me about your connection to faith community nursing.

Years ago, I experienced a devastating neck injury and lost the use of my right arm. As a single mother of three boys, I needed a lot of help! As a member of Christ The Servant Lutheran Church in Bellingham, I had the blessing of Tisch Lynch, who started faith community nursing in this area, and Carol Ham and Jeanne Brotherton, two other amazing faith community nurses (FCNs), to support me.

During my recovery they were my heroines, providing everything I needed. I would not be where I am today without them. It is because of them that I was eventually able to go to graduate school for positive psychology, which I absolutely loved. Even after my time of great need I enjoyed wonderful connection with my FCNs and was invited to be a guest instructor for the foundations course, guest speaker at two or three HMN retreats, and now I'm on the board.

Melanie and her grandkids

What is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology is the science of well-being. It differs from traditional psychology, which focuses on what is wrong with us and how to fix it, in that it is centered on what’s right with us. Positive psychology asks, “what can you do,” instead of, “what can’t you do.” It is interested in what you have instead of what you do not have. It is about discovering strengths to improve wellbeing, improve relationships, which improves communities, which improves our society.

Why does Positive Psychology matter?

Everybody wants to be happy; everybody wants hope. Positive psychology is wonderful and matters because we all need to be the best versions of ourselves, to be happy and enjoy our lives as much as possible. Positive psychology embraces spirituality and holds that there is always light in the darkness, there is no darkness that light cannot overcome.

I have an uncle who consults with Fortune 500 companies who told me, “you sell hope.” I am not selling it, but I am sharing research that has proven that positive psychology is effective in helping us lead happier lives. Who doesn’t want hope?

Depression and anxiety are so rampant, especially now during C-19 crisis, and the cure for negative emotion is positive emotion. It is scientifically proven when you practice positive psychology, such as making a gratitude list or changing perspective, things like depression and anxiety fade away.

Interestingly, the little-known term post-traumatic growth (PTG) was coined the same time as the term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This illustrates our cultural focus on the negative.

What challenges have you encountered over the course of your positive psychology practice?

The primary challenge has been people thinking positive psychology is just positive thinking. Once people find out what it really is, they like it better.

One of my first clients came in and said, “how do I know you’re not a quack?” I said, “you can look it up, there’s scientific studies, plus it’s not new. The study of happiness has been around since Aristotle, who wondered what it was to live a happy life, then there was Maslow, with the hierarchy of needs, and Martin Seligman developed learned helplessness and learned optimism. The term positive psychology was coined in 2000, but this research has been happening for centuries.” I told that guy, "give it three times," and the next session he came back with a copy of the Harvard Medical Review. The cover revealed “The Science of positive psychology.” He said, “I guess you’re not a quack!”

I had another client who came and said, “it’s not working because I left your office feeling more hopeful and happier. Whenever I’ve had therapy in the past it’s really difficult and it takes days to recover.” Positive psychology believes that traditional therapy is flawed. You don’t ignore the yucky stuff, there is always processing in order to grow and move on, but the focus in on what you can do. Furthermore, we’re not done once we relieve suffering, we move on to thriving. The goal is to build resilience so that when we experience difficult things, we can recover more quickly.

How has COVID-19 affected your practice?

When the lockdown happened, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to work because people didn’t want to do telehealth, but instead I was able to take referrals from other areas and now I am fully booked with a waiting list.

I had worried that telehealth wouldn’t be as effective because you don’t have the intimacy that happens when you’re in the same room with someone. Obviously, it can be difficult because of internet connection, like if the screen freezes in the midst of a difficult moment. But telehealth is providing opportunities that didn’t happen before, such as people wanting to show me their house, meet their kids or animals, and even sharing their crafts. In many ways I feel more connected with my clients because I get to see more of their personal lives.