Hello! I’m Laura Luchies, and I’m the Associate Director of Calvin University’s Center for Social Research. I have been the research and evaluation partner for CHC for several years and also serve on CHC’s long range planning committee.

You’ve probably heard that May is Mental Health Awareness month. Before this month comes to a close, I think it’s important to reflect on the mental health challenges that may be particularly common among kids, adolescents, and young adults with weakened immune systems, and how CHC helps to address these challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has given the general public a glimpse of what many CHC families have experienced for a long time: months with little opportunity to socialize and connect with other people. Many times, being socially isolated leads to loneliness. And, believe it or not, research has shown that loneliness is a mental health factor that is as big of a mortality risk factor as the physical health factors of obesity, having a sedentary lifestyle, or smoking a pack of cigarettes a day!

The friends you make at CHC will treat you like a “regular” kid.

In most places around the world, young people with weakened immune systems and their families don’t have a safe way to spend time with others—to just be kids, hang out, and play. That’s why it’s so great to have CHC here in West Michigan! We asked CHC members about the impact the Center has had on them in the past few years. Survey respondents overwhelmingly reported that CHC has helped them make new friends, and having friendships is a key to overcoming loneliness.

And, as you know if you are a CHC member, you don’t make just any friends at CHC. You make friends who know what you are going through. The friends you make at CHC can understand and support you in a way that few others can. At the same time, the friends you make at CHC will treat you like a “regular” kid. The Good. Clean. Fun. that CHC makes possible helps keep both germs and loneliness at bay. Which of your friends did you meet at CHC? Next time you are feeling lonely, reach out to that friend or visit CHC to make a new one.