Introducing HRI’s 2021 Kindness Champions

Today, the Healthy Relationships Initiative is recognizing our 2021 Kindness Champions of Guilford County!
These individuals make their community a better place by spreading positivity to the people in their lives through kindness and compassion.
Our first 2021 Kindness Champion of Guilford County is Sonja Frison, who was nominated by a co-worker. According to Sonja Frison’s nominator, what makes Sonja a Kindness Championd is this: “Sonja has worked as a Licensed Psychologist for many years in the field of Juvenile Justice. She is always willing to help and has the patience of a saint. She is a team player and is always willing to lend her time and expertise to a friend or coworker. Sonja has devoted her life to helping others. She is an asset to our community here in Guilford County.”
Thank you, Sonja, for all that you do to make Guilford County a better place!
Our second 2021 Kindness Champion of Guilford County is Stormi Burns, who was nominated by her husband. Stormi Burns’ nominator had this to say about why Stormi is a Kindness Champion: “I may be a little biased, but I’d like to believe that Stormi is a walking light. No matter where she is, light seems to beam from her. She genuinely cares for people and their well-being. By day, she works at a nonprofit called Ready for School, Ready for Life. By hobby, she is always finding a way to do acts of kindness. Stormi is devoted to enriching the lives of others by simply instilling hope through acts of kindness. In 2013, Stormi founded The Sunny Day Project, a pay it forward movement to inspire people to share love, light, and Jesus with others through acts of kindness. Stormi is a true advocate for acts of kindness.”

Tips for Learning to Listen to Your Teen

Tips for Learning to Listen to Your Teen

By Javiette Grant, HRI Program Specialist*

*Adapted from HRI’s Toolkit for Parenting Teens

As a parent with so much life experience, it can be hard to sit back and listen to your teen without pointing out the problem and attempting to give advice. Below are some helpful tips on how to listen carefully and make sure you understand what your teen is trying to say:

  1. Stop what you’re doing and give them your full attention. Multitasking may be the most effective way to make use of your time, but when it comes to talking to your teen schedule a special time to listen. This demonstrates to your teen that they have your undivided attention and may encourage them to disclose more and ask questions.
  2. Display attentive body language. Demonstrate non-verbally that you are there to listen. Look them in the eyes, lean forward slightly, nod encouragingly. Your body language says the most, and so will theirs. Observing your teen can provide insight into how they feel.
  3. Don’t interrupt them. It’s hard not to jump in with opinions and questions when your teen is talking, however, letting them finish can help uncover underlying messages and problems. Decide to be interested in what they are saying not what advice you have to offer.
  4. Restate and summarize their words. Restating helps ensure that you heard your teen correctly. If you didn’t, it gives them the chance to re-explain. It also lets them know that you are following everything they are trying to say.
  5. Reflect their emotions and never ridicule. React sensitively to what your teen shares with you. While something they say may seem trivial to you, in their world every event is big. If you don’t agree with something tell them in an open and understanding manner so that it doesn’t push them away.
  6. Prepare for moments of honesty and vulnerability. While talking, your teen may break down and share everything going on with them personally. Give them all time and support they need to share. These moments may be rarer for some teens than others.
  7. Don’t follow-up with a lecture. It is difficult enough for teens to share their life with adults without being worried about being confronted immediately afterward.


6.3.21 | Talking to Children About Gun Violence

Join the Healthy Relationships Initiative and several experts from UNC Greensboro and the Guilford County Family Justice Center on Thursday, June 3 from 9:00-10:00 am! During this program, we will address how to talk to young children about gun violence, and how to use Sesame Street in Communities resources to facilitate those conversations. This program will take place on Facebook Live. Click here on June 3 to attend this free conversation! 

Dearer Stuff

Have you ever wanted to reach out to a friend going through a particularly difficult time, only to put the phone down and hesitate out of fear of saying the wrong thing? Maybe you don’t even send the text or make the call at all. You overthink the conversation in your head and you decide not to reach out.

Consider an alternate view — You make the call and even if you say something silly or fumble over your words, you make your friend’s day by reaching out.  You can hear them smiling through the phone and you smile back. You hang up and you know you’ve made a difference in their day. You feel a little happier, too.

Don’t let the fear of saying the wrong thing prevent you from reaching out to the people that you love. After all, that’s what makes certain friendships and relationships so special, or of that “dearer stuff.”


5.14.21 | Responding to Family Violence: Best Practices for Mental Health Professionals

Presented by Dr. Christine Murray, Director of the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships and the Healthy Relationships Initiative, this training will provide an introduction to best practices for responding to family violence for mental health professionals.

Topics covered will include understanding the different forms of family violence, risk factors for abuse, mental health consequences of victimization, and an introduction to treatment approaches.

Participants will learn how to identify common features of abusive relationships, understand how mental health services fit within the range of other community resources for victims and survivors, and gain knowledge about how mental health professionals can support impacted clients in the long-term abuse recovery process.

This training is recommended for professionals and students. *UNC Greensboro alumni, staff, and students can received a discounted ticket by selecting the correct ticket and providing additional information.

This training has been approved for 4 NBCC credit hours, 4 NASW-NC credit hours, and 4 NCASPPB credit hours.

Responding to Family Violence: Best Practices for Mental Health Professionals has been approved by NBCC for NBCC credit. UNCG Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships; the Healthy Relationships Initiative is solely responsible for all aspects of the program. NBCC Approval No. SP-3617.

This event will take place virtually on Friday, May 14 from 9-2 pm. Register and reserve your ticket and receive details to connect leading up to the program. In order to earn the appropriate credit hours for this program, you must attend the entire program from 9-2. Participants will also be required to remain engaged through both the enabling of their camera feature and also, by engaging in the chatroom throughout the program. Attendance will be taken in order to correctly distribute earned credit hours.

Please direct all inquiries to Camila at

Click here to reserve your ticket for this professional training today! 

5.11.21 | Lived Experiences – The Journey of Foster Parenting

In this professional training, we will hear from foster parents as they discuss their experiences and insights gained while navigating the foster care system and becoming a foster parent. This professional training is for those who work in mental health and/or social services fields, as well as those who may be interested in becoming a foster parent.

Click here to register for this event and to receive Zoom details to connect on May 11, 2021. 

The Ingredients for a Healthy Relationship

The Ingredients for a Healthy Relationship

By HRI Director, Dr. Christine Murray

Imagine you’re baking some cookies. As you prepare the cookie batter, you may change a few things up a bit in the recipe–who doesn’t like a few extra chocolate chips, after all? But, overall, you need to get the right mix of ingredients in the cookies, or they just won’t taste right. Have you ever added baking powder when you were supposed to use baking soda? Or too much salt? Now, I’m nowhere close to being a master chef, but I can tell you that food doesn’t turn out right when you don’t have the right ingredients in the recipe.

Relationships can be a lot like baking in that way. There are important ingredients to include in a relationship to help it become happy, healthy, and safe. When one or more of the important ingredients are missing from a relationship, the relationship can feel off, or it can start to deteriorate into having a lot of major problems over time. Just like a cookie doesn’t turn out right without the best mix of ingredients, relationships won’t turn out just right if we don’t put in the right mix of positive relationship ingredients.

What are these important positive relationship ingredients? As we’ve planned for the launch of the Healthy Relationships Initiative, we’ve thought carefully about what it means to have a “healthy” relationship. It is not our goal to suggest that there is one ideal way to have a healthy relationship! We know that the “recipe” for healthy relationships can take many forms, and people’s ideas about what makes a healthy relationship are impacted by many factors, including their cultural background, their religious views, and their past experiences.

We’ve worked to identify core features of relationships that we believe are relatively universally accepted as being a part of healthy relationships. We know that our list isn’t perfect–part of the beauty of relationships is that they are each unique, just like the people in them. However, we believe that these characteristics are common among healthy relationships, even across different backgrounds.

4.6.21 | Walking Together Towards Recovery: It’s All About Friendship


Join Fellowship Hall and the Healthy Relationships Initiative as we discuss how friendship is crucial to long-term recovery and wellness.  This event will feature a panel of those with both professional and personal experiences with recovery and a discussion led by HRI Director, Dr. Christine Murray.

There is no advanced registration required for this event. To tune in on Tuesday, April 6, simply visit the HRI or Fellowship Hall Facebook page at 12:00 pm. Eastern Time. 


Give Out Love and Let Love In

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” – Morrie Schwartz, Tuesdays With Morrie
When we experience healthy relationships of all kinds, we experience the joys of life – being loved and loving in return.
Reach out & connect with a loved one today. Make sure they know how important they are to you!