Meeting of the Minds to add open mic night

Meeting of the Minds to add open mic night

Image Credit: Teri Stein

The Meeting of the Minds group that meets at the Midvale Park Pavilion on the first and third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. will try something new in 2023. Organizers will offer open mic night on the third Monday of each month. Speakers will be scheduled each month, and when they are finished, others in attendance will be able to take the mic to share their stories if they wish.

Meeting of the Minds organizers Brenda Stafford and Jim Ford are excited about the new activity. The group not only helps people with addiction problems, but also those suffering from anxiety and depression.

Ford’s daughter, Olivia, will be one of the featured speakers; the teenager has spoken at the group’s meetings before.

“She’ll be giving her testimony about how she has struggled with anxiety and depression,” Ford said. “In the midst of life, people don’t think that anybody who’s an honor roll student or a really outgoing cheerleader would have things they would be dealing with like hurting or depression.”

Stafford agrees reaching out to all groups of people is essential.

“We need to reach out to the young people that are suffering with depression or being bullied at school,” Stafford said as she recalled one young man the group helped. “He was bullied almost every day, and he did try to hurt himself.”

The group donated a small amount to help with his medication, and they help people as much as they can with securing services to get their lives back on track.

Being able to hear how someone else has overcome their problems at the new open mic night gives people hope.

“They understand that there are more people out there that are going through what they’re dealing with, and it helps them to cope and to understand there are others,” Ford said. “There are people that have been through this and come up out of the depths of whatever they were dealing with — depression or anxiety or addiction.”

Hearing other’s testimonies has helped Stafford to know to never give up.

“Hearing these speakers always inspires me, and it gives me hope,” Stafford said. “If you help one person, it’s worth it all.”

Ford said you sometimes never know when something you’ve done has helped. It also helps to know how others get started on a path to wellness.

“With my testimony, the reason this was even started was because of what I went through trying to get help for my granddaughter. I was lost. I had nowhere to go. No, I was gone,” Stafford said. “That lonely feeling, constantly calling, looking up numbers in the phone book, calling people I knew.”

Ultimately, it was a family member who was dealing with a daughter who also was an addict that gave Stafford the information she needed to start her granddaughter on the path to recovery.

Stafford spoke of the relief she felt after enrolling her granddaughter in a program.

“I remember going home that night and thinking that it’d be the first night I could sleep and not worry that I was going to get a phone call that she was dead, overdosed or something,” Stafford said.

Addiction does not discriminate; it can happen to anyone.

“You shouldn’t say it would never happen to me or one of my family. I never thought it would,” Stafford said.

People shouldn’t be afraid to address the problems of addiction, depression and anxiety.

“It’s all around us,” Ford said.

Tifanie Kukwa, a counselor who is associated with Living Tree Recovery Center in Uhrichsville, has joined the group as a volunteer.

More volunteers are needed to help with committees, meetings and activities for the group. Anyone with a willing heart to help others is encouraged to volunteer and be a difference maker.

Stafford feels her volunteer efforts with Meeting of the Minds is something she was meant to do.

“I knew God wanted me to, and I’ve got members now that have the same vision,” Stafford said. “Now we have a connection with getting help for people via Tifanie (Kukwa) because of her group. She can point them to the right direction. She’s a wonderful person.”

Anyone who needs help or would like to find help for a family member or friend is welcome to attend Meeting of the Minds meetings. Those seeking help do not have to be from the Midvale area.

The organization is pleased with what they have accomplished this year including helping with Share-A-Christmas, participating in Midvale community events, donating a wreath for the Warther’s Christmas Tree Festival, helping with History Day at the Park in Midvale, and helping to distribute bags containing a blanket and personal items to those in need. They also are making a donation to the Tuscarawas County sculpture tour in support of the village of Midvale.

Meeting of the Minds will hold a quarter auction in March to raise funds to provide assistance when needed. Look for more information after the first of the new year.

For more information about the group, visit them on Facebook.