Thu, 05/28/2020 - 7:30pm

Help is a text away

To the Editor:

So far, Block Island is one of the safest places to be as the world fights against the Corona Virus. Being trapped in paradise, however, does not mean that our lives are less stressful. Many of us have not been able to visit our loved ones, especially those in nursing home facilities. We also worry for the safety and well-being of our workers in the front lines: police, firefighters, rescue team, healthcare workers, grocery store attendants, and postal workers. In addition, the response to the Virus has given us an X-ray view into the inequalities which have long existed in our society, laying bare a picture of those who are the most vulnerable: our Hispanic community, people of color, and the disadvantaged. All of us are facing an uncertain future: what will the new normal look like for our families and community? When will it be safe to work, go to school, visit friends and family? It is no small wonder that our mental health is under attack. Fortunately, Block Island has behavior health services available, both in-person as well as through Telemedicine. At this time, however, I wish to highlight a lesser known service, one that is free and available in all 50 states. It is easy to use, immediately available, regardless of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc. It is called the Crisis Text Line.

The service was created in 2013 as an outgrowth of DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people and social change. CEO Nancy Lublin came up with the idea after observing the large number of texts for personal help from its members. Crisis Text Line is a free, 24/7 crisis support by text message. Its counselors are trained volunteers who, with the support of full-time Crisis Text Line staff, use active listening, collaborative problem solving, and safety planning to help texters in their moment of crisis. The priority is helping people move from a hot moment to a cool calm, guiding them to create a plan to stay safe and healthy.

In her email to me, Beth Lamarre, Executive Director of NAMI-RI, stated that NAMI “absolutely recommends and endorses the use of the text line” which is also listed on their web site. She defines a crisis as any painful emotion, including immediate danger to self and others. On its web site, the Text Line lists the following conditions as examples of a crisis situation: abuse, anxiety, bullying, depression, eating disorders, gender and sexuality, grief, isolation, relationships, self-harm, substance use, and suicide. It may not surprise you to learn that schools are the #1 location mentioned by texters. The top issues for college-age texters are depression, anxiety, and relationships. Now more than ever, students, teachers, administrators, and parents need mental health support during the COVID 19 pandemic. To learn more about the service, visit www.crisistextline.org.

To use the Crisis Text line, simply text any word, such as School, or Home to 741741. A trained crisis counselor will respond quickly through a secure platform.

Please share this information with your friends, family, school, workplace, as well as places of worship. In the meantime, keep yourself and others safe and well.

Shine On.

Socha Cohen

Chapel Street


The following was sent to the Block Island Town Council and copied to The Block Island Times:

To the Editor:

I hope you and your families are all safe and healthy at home.

With respect to loosening the Covid-19 Emergency Ordinance restrictions, there is the good news that the number of new cases and deaths are declining from the levels of a month ago, but the number of new cases per day in Rhode Island has plateaued at about 200 and the number of deaths rises and falls. This is an appalling toll. The number of new cases and deaths in our neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are respectively six and 10 times higher. It is not luck that has prevented an outbreak on Block Island, but the state and municipal public health policies that were thoughtfully put in place to prevent the spread of this disease. Absent a cure or a vaccine, the only way to stop this virus is to starve it by preventing the infection of new people with social distancing, protective clothing, and by identifying and isolating those infected, and locating and identifying anyone they have come in contact with by tracing and testing.

Some states such as Montana and Vermont have successfully reduced the number of new cases a day to less than five, and their populations feel much safer to go out into the community without becoming infected by COVID-19 with a painful sickness and the possibility of loss of life. I respectfully request the Town to keep the present restrictions on visitors to the Island in place until the number of new infections in Rhode Island and our neighboring states falls to a more manageable level or until we can test everyone coming to the island who might infect others.

My biggest concern is that anyone who wishes to visit the island for leisure is clearly not thinking about the risk involved. Would you consider taking your family to a resort destination like Hilton Head, for example, to stay in a hotel or a B&B and go to the beach during the day and out to dinner at night? Probably not. So it goes to reason, that if you open the island to visitors, the ones who will come will be less concerned about their safety, and our safety, than we are. Without testing and tracing resources for all our visitors, we are inviting an outbreak, and as we have learned from the latency period of this disease, an asymptomatic person can infect many people before the source of infection is identified and isolated.

Please keep us safe by extending the current restrictions on the short term rental of rooms to visitors for non-essential purposes until the number of new infections in Rhode Island, and our neighboring states, reaches a manageable level.

Thank you in advance for your consideration,

Stay home. Stop the spread. Save lives!

Henry duPont

Block Island


Update from Harbor Church

To the Editor:

In these uncertain times, Harbor Church has done its best to safeguard our island community and congregation. Our sanctuary and buildings have been closed for all group activities since the initial government ordinances were put into place. We will continue to observe these directives in the days ahead. As they begin to change, we will offer ministries as we are able. Most exciting for us will be the return to a limited, live worship experience on Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. beginning in the middle of June. This will be an outdoor service, weather-permitting, on the lawn around the pergola.

We invite you to attend this celebration, and ask that you continue to observe all social distancing guidelines, and wear masks as well. We will also be refraining from any congregational singing for the present, and ask anyone in attendance to observe this practice for the good of all. We are delighted that so many of you have tuned in for our “Virch-Church” and we will continue to offer live-streaming via Facebook Live and Zoom, as well as other online ministries through our website, Instagram and YouTube. Please check them out if you haven’t had a chance to do so yet.

A difficult policy decision was made by our Leadership Team, as well. For the current season, Harbor Church building will be locked except for approved and sponsored events. Once Phase Two of the governor’s plan is implemented, we hope to make our facilities available once more to the many community groups which enjoy using our campus. Each group should contact the Pastor for prior approval and to arrange access.

We earnestly desire to continue to serve our wonderful community in every way that we can, and hope to return to a more opendoor practice in the future. Thanks for your understanding and continued support,

Be well and blessings!

Pastor Peter Preiser

Harbor Church