Thursday, February 29, 2024

Nonprofit employees, clients can get free counseling through this program

Employees working for nonprofits on the peninsula and their clients might be eligible for free counseling through the Beacon Program. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Unsplash)
Employees working for nonprofits on the Peninsula and their clients might be eligible for free counseling through the Beacon Program. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Unsplash)

Some nonprofit employees and their clients who are dealing with stress related to the coronavirus pandemic or social unrest might be eligible get free counseling.

The counseling services can be offered virtually or in person.

The Center for Child & Family Services started the Beacon Program, a new resource on the Peninsula to provide free counseling services to residents in York County, Gloucester, Poquoson, Hampton and Newport News thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation, according to Sister David Ann from the foundation.

In an email, she defined social unrest as “street violence, looting, toppling of statues, protests, all of those things which have been occurring during the past months and have the capability of causing fear, anxiety, pain, panic, uncertainty, questioning, dread.”

While the CCFS nonprofit has office locations in Hampton and Williamsburg, residents living in Williamsburg won’t be able to access the services because the grant applies to localities served by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation.

“Well part of this was initiative by the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation because I think they realized this is a lot of stress on the community,” said Ellen Williams, director for Behavioral Health and Clinical Director for the CCFS. “We were really excited when they approached us.”

Williams said CCFS deals with clients of all ages from children to young adults and so far, they have seen that “COVID-19 ripples through” the age groups.

Some examples are “kids who can’t go back to school” and are not being “supervised” and parents who are “financially strapped” having either lost a job or need money for babysitting services, she said.

Others are dealing with substance abuse, “slipping because of lack of support,” while domestic violence is increasing, Williams said.

“People of color are dealing with the stress of the social strife that is going on,” she added.

The person providing the counseling services to clients will not be volunteers and are residents in counseling with a master’s degree or second year graduates in clinical social work or the counseling fields, Williams said.

When asked if she had anything else to add about the program, Williams wanted to “acknowledge the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation.”

“I think they have such foresight in recognizing this stress and many people won’t have the finances to seek this counseling,” Williams said.

The Beacon Program counseling services, 2021 Cunningham Drive, Suite 400, are available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Employees of nonprofits can call the counseling services directly at 757-838-1960. Those who are referring clients to the counseling services program must fill out the Counseling Referral form and can fax or email it to Williams at 757-838-3280 or


Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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