Funding doubled for MUSM professor’s work with Resilient Middle Georgia

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Jill Vanderhoek (left) and Dr. Andrea Meyer Stinson are co-leads on the Resilient Middle Georgia grant.

MACON – An initiative led by Andrea S. Meyer Stinson, Ph.D., LMFT, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences/pediatrics in Mercer University School of Medicine, has received renewed funding for the next two years. 

Resilient Middle Georgia, a trauma-informed community-building organization, was awarded $200,000 per year through 2023, which is double the original grant amount given in 2019. This funding, provided by Resilient Georgia in partnership with the Pittulloch Foundation, will support Resilient Middle Georgia’s mission to integrate trauma awareness and build a trauma-informed foundation in the Central Georgia community.

Dr. Meyer Stinson is an associate professor in Mercer’s Master of Family Therapy program and serves as a liaison between the School of Medicine and Resilient Middle Georgia. Students in the Doctor of Medicine and Master of Family Therapy programs are involved in this work through receiving training and conducting research on adversity and resilience in rural communities. 

“By bringing together our community to talk about and recognize trauma and adverse childhood experiences as an important public health concern, we can move toward a common understanding and language about ways to help reduce the potential impact of these experiences,” said Meyer Stinson. “Resilient Georgia and the Pittulloch Foundation have given us the opportunity to do just that.”

Founded in 2019, Resilient Middle Georgia has more than 80 coalition members representing a variety of sectors such as education, health care, law enforcement and social services. The organization serves 14 counties in Middle Georgia: Baldwin, Bibb, Crawford, Hancock, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Monroe, Peach, Pulaski, Putnam, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson. Its work includes connecting these community partners and building awareness of trauma-informed care among community organizations.

“Resilient Georgia’s funding and support has created more accessible training and educational opportunities to inform providers and the overall community of the importance of understanding trauma and its effects on individuals, families and the larger community,” said Jill Vanderhoek, executive director of Community Partnership Bibb County Family Connection.

L-r: Dr. Andrea Meyer Stinson, Joy Carr of Jones County Family Connection and Jill Vanderhoek during a recent book event hosted by Resilient Middle Georgia.

Dr. Meyer Stinson and Vanderhoek are co-leads on the grant, which is managed through the Community Foundation of Central Georgia. According to Vanderhoek, “Bringing this information to our community has allowed providers to serve the community in better ways, and it is also helping the community become more resilient.” 

By organizing focus groups, awareness presentations, coalition meetings and training sessions, as well as serving as a resource center for its members, Resilient Middle Georgia is informing and empowering community champions to enact long-term change.

Future projects include expanding trauma-informed trainings for the community, building community champions and collaboration in rural areas, creating a trauma/resilience ambassador program for neighborhoods in need, partnering with law enforcement and schools to establish the Handle with Care model, providing financial support for projects aligning with Resilient Middle Georgia’s goals, supporting new family justice center One Safe Place in Macon and more.  

“Two additional years of funding is a great sign that the work Resilient Middle Georgia is doing has been a success,” said Patty Gibbs, executive director of the Family Counseling Center of Central Georgia. “It’s wonderful that we get to use this momentum to build more networks, conduct more training and empower the change we need. Without a doubt we are becoming a more resilient community, and this additional funding will help move the needle on our communities’ growth.”

For more information about Resilient Middle Georgia, visit www.resilientmiddlegeorgia.org.

About Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School’s primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Atrium Health Navicent and Coliseum Medical Centers in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master’s degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences and a Ph.D. in rural health sciences.