Fall Prayer Dinner helps support behavioral health services in the schools


Fall Prayer Dinner helps support behavioral health services in the schools

Mercy Community Healthcare has expanded its school-based counseling program to include 21 schools in Williamson and Marshall counties, and the non-profit is focusing its fall fundraising event on raising awareness and engaging the community in proactive solutions.

Mercy’s second-annual Fall Prayer Dinner, “Bringing Mercy and Hope to our Schools,” will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, November 9, at St. Philip Catholic Church at 113 Second Avenue South in downtown Franklin.

Dr. Sharon Moore-Caldwell will serve as the emcee, and Williamson County Schools Executive Director of Secondary Schools Dr. Juli Oyer will be the featured speaker. Music will be provided by renowned artists John Angotti and Greg Walton, and a silent auction will precede the seated dinner. Tickets are $100 per person, or $800 for a table of eight, and are available www.mercytn.org/prayerdinner.

According to the nonprofit, counseling and behavioral health are vital services. Kids growing up in the Digital Age face more challenges than ever before, and most will be affected in some way by bullying, depression, violence and suicide before they graduate from high school, according to the agency.

Moore-Caldwell, a medical doctor and ordained minister who saw pediatric patients as a full-time provider at Mercy Community Healthcare for more than 12 years, now serves as a medical director for the BlueCare Division of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee.

“Health is about the mind, body and spirit, and children these days have so much more to deal with that can affect them emotionally,” she says. “The electronic tools that are wonderful resources for teaching, learning and communication can also be dangerous, and their young
minds aren’t ready for everything that can be facilitated by instant networking and access to all that exists on the world wide web. Cyberbullying is a big challenge, and even the news they see online about school violence can be traumatic. The school-based counseling program that Mercy provides puts trained staff in a position to reach those kids, both proactively and in times of crisis.”

As the featured speaker, Oyer plans to share her perspective from years as a high school principal and administrator. Before joining the Williamson County Schools central office, she spent 14 years in leadership at Fairview High School and Independence High School.
“I have seen first-hand the impact of the school-based counseling program on the lives of many students, especially because it’s offered on campuses and so accessible. It’s rewarding to see the partnership between Mercy and the school systems continue to expand,” Oyer said. “Everyone can play a role in helping our children grow into young adults, and this event gives us all an opportunity to learn and to be inspired.”

With support from the United Way of Williamson County, Mercy piloted an on-site mental and behavioral health program with Williamson County Schools in 2011 that has since expanded to place counselors in 21 schools, and now covers part of the Franklin Special School District and all of Marshall County Schools.

As a non-profit community health provider, Mercy depends on the support of private donations to operate. For more information or to get involved, please visit www.MercyTN.org.

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