Here Tomorrow’s mission, which opens in late 2021, is to transform lives by building a community where mental health care is acceptable and accessible. In other words, the stigma has been eliminated from their program.
In Florida, suicides have nearly doubled over the past 20 years. In addition, the rates in Duval and St. Johns counties are higher than the national average.
It defies the logic that people with a medical condition can stay in the hospital for as long as necessary, while those with a mental disorder are limited to 72 hours. From first-hand experience, we can tell you that time is not enough and timely follow-up care is simply not available, which often proves disastrous.
Barriers to mental health care include waiting lists, insurance issues, and a national shortage of mental health practitioners. The Here Tomorrow people can provide same-day support, which is a response time that can make the difference in success or failure. In addition, many services are free.
But the key to the success of this organization is the staff.
Services are provided by highly trained and certified peer support professionals. Many of them are people with “live experience” who understand what others are going through in crisis, because they’ve been there themselves.
The average cost of serving one “friend” for a year is $1,695.44, with an average of over 400 calls received per week. Local hospitals quote the cost of a patient’s three-day stay at about $6,000.
Here’s Tomorrow is receiving grant support from several organizations, including a three-year challenge from J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver to match every gift donated—up to $2 million—through 2024.
If you are an individual or have a loved one who needs help, or have other questions, visit HereTomorrow.org, or call or text (904) 372-9087. Walk-in accepted at 910 Third St. in Neptune Beach.
Richard and Kathleen Marquis, St. Augustine
Beware of manipulative campaign ads
A letter dated January 7 commented on an ad by Daniel Davis that didn’t even mention he was running for mayor. When thinking skills were considered important in education, I taught a unit on advertising to gifted fifth graders. They have learned that most ads show the power of manipulation through content or lack of content, lighting, color, music and other techniques.
Campaign advertising has barely begun here, but we already have stragglers. At one end of the spectrum, we have the loving family man with the beautiful wife and children. Ads like this are always bright and sunny with upbeat music. Unfortunately, their qualifications are often low but they focus on making you feel good about the candidate.
On the other end of the spectrum are ads meant to make you hate an opponent, often used against Leksha Burton and now LeAnna Cumber. With ominous music and dark visuals, they remind me of serial killer movie trailers. There is usually an intense red somewhere, which provides color contrast but also indicates an apocalyptic scenario that might ensue if this candidate is elected. In this type of advertisement, facts are often omitted or distorted to make the candidate something he or she is not.
Cumber’s declaration even makes her sound like a Democrat – but a Republican.
So far it seems that both extreme cases come from a certain mayoral candidate. My letter does not endorse any single candidate but is intended to remind us all to take stock of the countless ads we will see in the next few months on TV, in our mailboxes, and elsewhere. As the election approaches, I hope we’ll see ads that focus more on qualifications and less on manipulation.
Rhoda T. London, Jacksonville
New rules for balloting by mail
All Duval County voters must now re-apply for mail-in ballots. Even if you’ve received mail-in ballots for the past 10 years or more, you must now comply with a Florida Legislature’s decision requiring you to reapply after each general election. If you do now, you will have your ballots for two years.
You can apply easily online:
- Go to the Superintendent of Elections website DuvalElections.com
- Choose Vote by Mail, the third blue box from the left in the top row.
- When this screen opens, choose the second item “Mail Vote Application Form (Electronic Ballot Application)”.
- This brings up screens for entering your identifying information. Know that even though it refers to your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social account, you’ll need both.
- Make sure you select “All Election” to get a ballot for every election through November 2024.
You can also go to the election office supervisor and apply in person, but make sure you have your driver’s license, Florida ID, and Social Security number with you. You may also contact the election office supervisor to file an application by phone at (904) 255-8684 (255-VOTE). It is also a good idea to check the current voter registration status.
Remember that your vote is your voice and a valuable asset. Use it in every election.
Pat Wojciechowski, Jacksonville
Crime is going in the wrong direction
I rarely follow the news anymore because it generally hurts, saddens, and upsets me, but I saw something in the paper on January 8th and had to comment. Sadly, Jacksonville is notoriously notorious for having a “death grip” (pun intended) on the title, “Florida’s Official Capital of Murder,” and the citizens seem very proud of that.
The article mentioned that Jacksonville had 163 murders in 2022, according to unofficial data from the Times-Union. The previous year saw a significant drop of about 27% in homicides with 129, after a shocking 177 cases in 2020.
Doesn’t it make you choke with pride?
According to Sheriff TK Waters, “We’re heading in the right direction, even though it may not feel like it,”
How could a 26% increase be in the right direction? Unless you’re talking about holding onto the Murder Capital tournament title, those are not good numbers.
Dale Vickery, Orange Park