It Starts with Me
Update on Be Well Do Well Mini-Grants
In June 2020 when BeWellPBC launched its first Be Well Do Well mini-grants to put small grants in the hands of people with a passion to improve behavioral health and wellness, we hoped that the funds would also serve as a catalyst for long-term positive change in individuals, communities, and workplaces. Two of our recipients, Rhonda Rogers CEO and president of Lake Worth West Resident Planning Group/BRIDGES at Lake Worth West and Kenyon Link, director of BRIDGES at Riviera Beach, shared how our funding helped plant the seeds for growth and progress.
It Starts with Me
Kenyon’s idea to create a program to educate and empower Riviera Beach participants with tools and skills to afford them better opportunities began with a simple principle that became the name of his program: “It Starts with Me.” He saw too many residents let circumstances hold them back. “Your mental lens—how you see the world around you—is the springboard to your life,” said Kenyon. “Life may not be fair, but what are you going to do about it? How are you going to create change? It starts with you.”
With joint funding from Healthier Neighbors and BeWellPBC, Kenyon launched the 12-week program in September 2020. Twenty men and women between the ages of 18 and 55 first engaged in three weeks of intense “mindset reset” to shift perspectives from external barriers to inner strength and resolve to change—the foundation for the program and a way to introduce mental health without calling it “mental health.” According to Kenyon, “There is a huge stigma around mental health in the Black community,” said Kenyon. “We approached it by using different words that would resonate with our community and wove it into the program through the social determinants of health.” Sessions covered self-care, dress and presentation, understanding social norms, resume building and financial literacy. National guest speakers were attracted to the program, including a Harlem Globetrotter.
What has moved Kenyon the most are the significant advancements in personal lives because of the program. A single mother of three was so inspired she finally took a step toward her life’s dream of becoming a nurse by registering for nursing school. And Carlos Edwards, a therapist with a master’s degree, has become chair of BRIDGES at Riviera Beach’s advisory group, a facilitator for a national men’s focus group, and received his own Be Well Do Well mini-grant for “I See You,” a program for African American men to understand and cope with trauma.
While the pilot program ended in December, Kenyon stays connected with the graduates and other residents who want to go through the program once he is able to raise more funding. “It meant so much to have others support the program and believe in my vision,” Kenyon said. “I’ve gained so much insight and now I have a great springboard for helping people change their mindsets and their lives.”