May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness month.  Begun in 1949 by Mental health America, it is the most recognized mental health awareness event in the nation.  This year’s theme is: Fitness #4Mind4Body.  It highlights the importance of Physical Health in achieving Balanced Mental Health.

We are running a fundraiser with the Red Heat Tavern in Bedford MA to support Grow a Strong Family’s mission to partner with families uprooted by mental illness through comprehensive multimedia programs.  The Red Heat Tavern is a gluten-free establishment that provides healthy and delicious food choices.  So, bring this newsletter with the flyer with you and eat in or take out on Tuesday, May 15!  Support Grow a Strong Family and this month’s theme of healthy living!  

Read more here:  May 2018 Newsletter

March 2018 Happenings!

We had a wonderful opportunity to share Grow A Strong Family, Inc with the good people involved with the Bedford Rotary Club.  The local chapter is a member of the International Network of “neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.” The Bedford Rotary meets every Tuesday for a buffet lunch at 12:15 and meeting from 12:30-1:30pm at the Doubletree Hotel Bedford Glen  They are a group of individuals who make a difference and invite others to broaden their scope.  As such, GASF introduced our program model to this wonderful group and received thoughtful inquiries and support for our efforts in improving the lives of families uprooted by mental illness.  If interested in the presentation, there is a narrated slide show on our webpage

This Past Month: Highlights

The group, “Replanting lives uprooted by mental illness: Support for families,” continues to explore the ways that families can strengthen their responses to the changes in the family.  The focus of this past month was on “Silent Agreements.”  These are the unwritten rules and negative expectations that are a part of every relationship, especially family relationships.   The sessions included exercises in identifying and responding to these silent agreements.   For more information, watch our webinar:

This FREE group meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month from 7-8:30 PM at the Edinburg Center, 205 Burlington Road, Bedford.  We also meet once a month at the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle on the second Tuesday morning, from 10:30-noon.  For questions and to register (recommended), please contact GASF at 781-405-8376 or

We taped another presentation with the expertise of Bedford TV on “Avoiding Power Struggles.”  As is our wont, when we tape presentations, we also offer a webinar of the topic.  Both can be accessed here:

Based on a request of the group, “Replanting Lives,” we offered a webinar on “Suicidality,” which explored the language of suicidality, risk and protective factors, attempts, and survivors.”  The webinar along with a great many links can be found here:

This Month!

“Communicating more effectively” is scheduled to be taped on March 5 at Bedford TV and will air by the middle of the month.  Check out the webinar that is a prelude to the TV production as well as the materials and links that broaden your skill sets!

Tues Mar 13: Replanting Lives at the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle, 10:30-noon.  Avoiding Power Struggles  This session promises to offer a minimum of three strategies to step out of the power struggles and step into effective and efficient enforceable statements.

Monday, March 26, 10-11:30 am at the Bedford Council on Aging (12 Mudge Way):  Caring for the Caregiver!  This presentation offers several strategies for promoting self-care for the caregiver.  What does it look like?  How can you build it into your schedule?  What are some strategies when you can’t get away?  Join us in a lively discussion of this topic!  Register at  Bedford Council on Aging at(781) 275-6825.

We are celebrating our Fourth Birthday on Wednesday, March 28th at the Edinburg Center in Bedford!  We are offering light refreshments from 6:30-7 pm with a brief Board Meeting to introduce ourselves and share our exciting growth with you!  We will then turn the evening over to Nancy Pizzo Bucher, the author of the “Replanting Lives Uprooted by Mental Illness: For Families.” And advocate for services for families.  She plans on showing us what she has been doing as an advocate after discussing her journey and creating the workbook.  Please join us for this fun and enlightening evening, the perfect birthday celebration and welcome to spring!  And if you want, bring cookies!  Registration preferred:

We have several pages on our website with presentations you may find useful:

If you want to join our online community, please do!  Our public page is

Our private page is:

When extra support is desired, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at



Nancy Pizzo Boucher, author of “Replanting Lives Uprooted by Mental Illness: Support for Families” is coming to speak at our Replanting Lives Support Group and Annual Meeting on March 28 from 6:30-8:30 pm.

Meet the author who has inspired so many families to develop skills in managing more effectively, with support, and greater confidence.   Ms. Boucher plans to speak about her journey that led to developing the workbook as well where she is currently turning her attention, advocacy efforts.

This event is at the Edinburg Center,  205 Burlington Road, Bedford and it is FREE!  Light refreshments available.  Workbooks can be purchased.

Plan on coming!  This is bound to be inspiring!


For questions and to register, please contact Janet at 781-761-5287

Upcoming Events!

We need your help!  We need your feedback so that we know which direction to move in.  Please fill out this survey (it will only take about 5 minutes):


We are offering FREE webinars!

Wednesday Jan 17: Webinar: ADHD (Attention Differently and Happily Developed), 12-1 pm.  Focus is on what ADHD is, symptoms, gifts, and strategies.  Registration preferred:

Wednesday Jan 31: Webinar: Moving On: Managing Ambiguous Grief.  12-1 pm When a loved one is diagnosed with a mental illness/brain disorder, our loved one and ourselves experience a sense of uncertainty and quite often a sense of loss as everyone grapples with the new circumstances.  This webinar discusses how to cope with this difficult process.  Registration preferred:

LIVE at the Edinburg Center on January 24 from 7-8:30 PM!  Join us  for “Replanting lives uprooted by mental illness: Support for families,”  This is a support group that focuses on strategies for managing when loved ones have mental illnesses. In this session, we are going to explore what “silent agreements” are (Negative beliefs and expectations.  Family rules, roles, and expectations.  When your thoughts go to the “Should’s, ought’s, must’s, have-to’s” you are identifying the silent agreements that may or may not be healthy for you or anyone else),  how they influence relationships (especially once mental illness influences the family), and once identified, options of how to manage them.  We offer a minimum of three strategies for managing silent agreements. Participants will leave the session empowered and confident or, at the very least, with the sense that others share similar experiences. Join us!

Edinburg Center, 205 Burlington Road, Bedford.  For questions and to register (recommended),

We are also offering this in a daytime session on Tuesday, Feb 6 from 10:30-noon at the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle.  Drop ins welcome although  Registration preferred:

If you know of someone with a family member who has a mental illness, please inform them about GASF. Your introductions are vital to helping us continue to serve families in need.

Our public page is

Our private page is:

Deeply grateful for your support,
Mara Briere, MA
Certified Family Life Educator
Founder & President
Grow A Strong Family, Inc.

Our Year in Review

Grow a Strong Family is a non-profit entity whose sole purpose is to address, educate, coordinate, and provide aid & information to support the families of people uprooted by mental illness. Just three years into our official “incorporation”, we are proud to have broadened our outreach through the following:

• Comprehensive website: is more user friendly with links to our presentations, resources, and Facebook pages (both public page and closed on-line support group).
• Dynamic Board of Directors: An active volunteer group committed to growing the organization. We have added two more members in the past year with expertise in marketing and grant writing respectively.
• Community Collaboration: This year, GASF has been awarded two grants, one from the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest and one through CHNA15. There was a lucrative fundraiser from BareSole Yoga. There are ongoing community activities through the Edinburg Center in Bedford, the Bedford Council on Aging, the Carlisle Council on Aging, the Center for Parents and Teachers in Concrod, Concord Youth Services, Concord Family Services, Bedford TV, and Concord Community Access TV.
• How-To Presentations: In addition to live presentations in the community and the implementation of a bi-weekly support group called, “Replanting Lives,” we have expanded through offering webinars and televised specials which can be accessed on our website. Topics include managing holidays & celebrations; parenting children with behavioral health issues; managing symptoms; caring for the caregiver.
• Coaching: Customized service including information, tools, coping mechanisms, and Referrals to live with the new dynamics of daily life with a family member with mental illness. We focus on looking forward and celebrating new relationships and opportunities.
• Pet Therapy: A complimentary service where a certified pet therapy pair reaches out to the community in public and private venues including the Lowell Community Care Program for Veterans, the Bedford Council on Aging, and home visits in surrounding towns.

How can you help? If you know of someone with a family member who has a mental illness, please inform them about GASF. Your introductions are vital to helping us continue to serve families in need. You can also support our efforts through your most appreciated, tax- deductible donations simply by visiting our website,

Grow A Strong Family, Inc. remains dedicated to assisting the underserved, stressed families of people with mental illness. With our sincerest appreciation, it is only because of your ongoing support that we are able to continue. Thank you.

Mara Briere, MA CFLE Founder & President
Grow A Strong Family, Inc.