Donation Goodies!

We are offering some of our resources as gifts for donations of $25 (8×11 poster), $50 (book: Safety or ALL Brochure), $100 (poster and book).  The picture features your options! Click the donate button below and you will be redirected to PayPal.

Gifts for your generous donation!
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So many things to be grateful for!

December Newsletter

We want to thank everyone who has generously donated to our #GivingTuesday fundraiser.  Feel free to hop on board; it is still going for at least another week.  So far, your charitable giving has brought in over $2500!

Other ways to support us in supporting families:

Turn your great ride into a great gift this holiday season!  Grow a Strong Family accepts cars, trucks, boats, RVs, and other vehicles as a form of support— and we provide free and convenient pick-up within 72 hours of completing the donation.

Call 855-500-7433 or click here to contact a Donor Representative to learn more about how easy it is to donate a vehicle— but hurry! Give your vehicle a chance to drive cheer and support to those who need it most before it’s too late to qualify for a 2018 tax deduction.

Donations in honor of or in memory of are now accepted being accepted through:

Another way to give is to buy and give to people you know, copies of “Safety Procedures for Families to Defuse Mental Illness Crises at Home,” by Nancy Pizzo Bucher:

For quick and easy resources: there is now a GASF Brochures page: here is the link .

The module on, “Defensive, not Offensive,” in the Family Strategies section of the Care4Carers tab is complete!  Reframing the behaviors, we experience enables us to identify symptomatic behaviors.  Reframing what we experience from our loved ones, frees us to use our strategies for communicating concerns and implementing the safety plans in place.

A module has been developed on “Crisis Management and Safety Protocols”.  As the title suggests, this is the nuts and bolts of creating an implementable crisis management plan, including a portfolio for emergencies.

This month, we are completing the module on “The 7 C’s.” This answers the “why” of self-care and offers some ideas for the “how.”

FREE COACHING OPPORTUNITY!  Volunteers are needed to participate in a televised coaching session on “Developing a Safety Plan.”  Date for the taping at Bedford TV is W Jan 9 from 1-2:30. There will be a complimentary private session prior to the taping. Please let us know ASAP your interest!

Replanting Lives has been moved the morning group on the second Tuesday from 10:30-noon to the New England Center for Healthy Minds in Acton.  It is still in session on the second Wednesday from 7-8:30 pm at the Bedford Council of Aging.  This is a support group which offers effective tools and strategies, humor, and relief to family members uprooted by mental illness in their loved ones.

We hold Board Meetings every 4-6 weeks.  In these meetings, we discuss development and growth for Grow a Strong Family, outreach, marketing, fundraising, and programming.  All are welcome.  The next meeting with be held on Jan 27 from 4:30-6 in our home offices.  Call 781.405.8376 for more information.

Thanks Giving!

This is a time of harvest, joyous reflection, gathering with friends and family.  This is also a time when so many are triggered and become unwell.  With that in mind, do what you can to take good, loving care of yourself.  Give to your Self the gift of companionship, as best you can.

Don’t look the other way!  Grow a Strong Family has many resources to share, especially around the holidays!  Visit us!  Consider donating on GivingTuesday, Nov 27, or any time!

Thank you and have a warm holiday.

A Snippet of what Grow a Strong Family Offers

Our panel discussion on Aug 29, 2018 went off without a hitch!  Oh, there were hundred degree temperatures outside.  Inside, however, there was cool air and a panel discussion with very knowledgeable  people.  Visit our “Panel” page ( to see and hear the conversation in its entirety.  For now, enjoy the opening which features the founder of Grow A Strong Family succinctly detailing the many benefits to families that are offered by this organization!



Panel Discussion

Why do families uprooted by mental illness need support?
Wed. Aug 29 from 4-7 pm at the Bedford Council of Aging
12 Mudge Way (Park in the back)

The event includes an Open House from 4-5pm in which folks can browse the tables, see the programs that are available to them, take handouts, and meet Max the Therapy dog! Program staff will be available to answer questions. Light refreshments will be available!

From 5:30-6:30, there is a panel discussion about why families uprooted by mental illness need support, tools, resources.  We will answer the following questions and questions from the audience!

1) When do you know your loved one is going through more than a phase?2) How can you obtain help for a person that refuses help?

3) When do you call the police, or section a person; how bad is bad?

4) What if your loved ones with mental illness have minor children; how can we provide help for them?

Although the panelists will be taped by Bedford TV, audience members will notbe televised.The 50/50 raffle will be in full force!  There is a link on the website for participants to acquire a raffle ticket:

Registration for the panel event is preferred but not required:  Event URL is

July Newsletter

Replanting Lives Uprooted by Mental Illness: Support for Families –

 Mara Briere and Susan Doyle of Grow a Strong Family, Inc., facilitate a morning support group at the Gleason Public Library, Carlisle, Ma. on Tuesday, July 10 from 10:30 – noon and an evening support group at the Bedford Council of Aging on Wednesday, July 11 from  7 – 8:30 PM. This group focuses on strategies for managing when loved ones have mental illnesses and other brain disorders. Folks of all ages/from all towns welcomed. No registration required.  FREE!!!


Grow a Strong Family Showcase

Wed. Aug 29 from 4-7 pm at

the Bedford Council of Aging

Grow a Strong Family supports families uprooted by mental illness and other brain disorders.

The showcase is our way of introducing family members and the community to the resources and information that is being developed and made available through our website and coaching programs.

There will be light refreshments; educational information on communication, managing symptoms, caring for caregivers, creating a safe home, and other topics; a raffle (for door prizes); and many opportunities to ask questions and make suggestions.

There will be a panel discussion at 5:30 that will be televised by Bedford TV, which discusses WHY it is SO important to support the supporters for better health and wellness for ALL!This event will be the last opportunity to participate in our ongoing 50/50 raffle:

One last thing.

We have updated our website and we would love your feedback.  Try starting at the Pet Therapy page.  You can meet Max and get a sense of what pet therapy is and how you might tap into it.

We have also posted a new blog post about the changes in DMH service delivery here in Massachusetts.

Happy to help.

Visit us at or call 781.405.8376.

The Re-Formed Community Care

There is a shift going on in the delivery of services for adults (age 19+) in our state, Massachusetts.  In addition to being more clinically focused with evidence-based programs, there is a bona fide “family focus approach and emphasize role of peer support.”

The new model intends to promote (my comments in italics):

  • Active engagement and assertive outreach to prevent homelessness; since the vast majority of individuals with serious mental illness make up the largest quantity of homeless individuals
  • Clinical coverage 24/7/365 days a year because symptoms and illness do not have a time schedule nor a predictive reckoning other than cyclic episodes and patterns; these come when they do and it is good to recognize that sickness comes when it comes.
  • Consistent assessment and treatment planning Keep the focus on what is best at this time and consider what may be needed based on current behaviors or concerns.
  • Risk assessment, crisis planning and prevention Best laid plans do not always work.  Prevention increases the odds for improved outcomes.  Having a plan and a go to increases everyone’s confidence in managing crises.
  • Skill building and symptom management, The most essential skill for individuals with serious mental illness.  Their families and loved ones need assistance with this also.  Again, let’s look for improved outcomes, safety, and connection for all.
  • Behavioral and physical health monitoring and support Collaboration is key and this model depends on it.  Including family and loved ones needs to be emphasized, however, since we know that their loved ones matter to them.
  • Addiction treatment support;  So many of the seriously ill have co-morbid substance use disorders.  They are part and parcel of the same human system.  One cannot be treated without the other.
  • Family engagement; WE know how valuable our input it.  All of the research indicates improved outcomes when family is engaged.  It is nice to see this vital component of care added to the re-forming of service delivery.
  • Peer support and recovery coaching  With the additional training that these like-minded individuals have, they are often in the best position to engage an individual with serious mental illness to move forward on managing their symptoms and embracing recovery.  Like family members, tThey are an important bridge in treatment.
  • Reduced reliance on emergency departments, hospitals and other institutional levels of care.  With fewer beds, less restricted environments, and humane solutions, seriously mentally ill people can be offered the best opportunities for managing their chronic illnesses with the level of support and educaiton that they, and their loved ones, need.

The video below explains how the reforms were identified and the shift to this model which promises to be more effective than the previous community based model.  Let’s hope so, anyway.