This year has brought its fair share of uncertainty, and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, fear and anxiety about COVID-19 along with social distancing and quarantine orders can leave people feeling overwhelmed and isolated. Concerns about health, finances, politics, social support and more are added to the everyday stresses of work and home life. Through it all, licensed professional counselor Bonnie Baumberger is there to help.
“During COVID-19, so much of what’s happening is out of our control,” Baumberger says. “It has been important to emphasize to my clients to focus on situations where there is control and to find their own sense of peace amid the chaos of our environment.”
Baumberger says this feeling has been the central theme of the collective struggle through the pandemic. She has helped families heavily impacted by COVID-19, whether through loss of multiple immediate family members or prolonged hospitalizations. She has also helped hospital staff and school teachers as they maneuvered the changing landscape.
“Everyone is dealing with something,” she says. “I simply meet people where they are.”
Baumberger has been in private practice since 2004, currently working in private practice with Sante and with Burrell Behavioral Health as a crisis specialist. Throughout her career, Baumberger has worked as a front-line provider, assisting suicidal clients or first responders, in addition to working crisis lines for community tragedies.
“I try to bring awareness to the normalcy of the need for mental health support and do my part in providing that directly to those in need,” she says.
Baumberger is no stranger to personal challenges. When she pursued her master’s degree while working full-time and attending night classes, her oldest daughter was also in college, and her two youngest daughters were still at home. Through proactive communication with professors, Baumberger says she never missed a sports event, choir program or award ceremony.
“I would not be the therapist I am today without the love and support of these young women, my daughters,” she says. “They are strong women combining career with children of their own. What better way to instill a strong sense of self than to be an example for your children?”
Baumberger sets an example not only for her daughters but also for others through her extensive community involvement. Her work with the homeless community includes providing hot breakfasts at Grant Beach Park, preparing meals at the Veterans Coming Home Center, screening women for the Safe to Sleep shelter and providing counseling for the homeless.
Baumberger puts her sewing skills to use, too, altering pre-owned formal dresses for girls for prom and making masks for youth and hospital workers. Baumberger also provides pro bono services to approximately a quarter of her clients and has worked with mentoring and outreach groups for at-risk students and girls exiting the foster care system.
“For me, the irreplaceable role that I play in (the community) is simply empowering one person at a time and being there in the midst of personal crisis to impart hope and strength to help individuals come through to the other side,” she says.
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