Community Champions: Heads Up Guidance Services

Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 1:09 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Most healthcare professionals agree that the pandemic has created an unfortunate contrast of more people feeling the need for professional counseling with fewer being able to afford it.

Heads Up Guidance Services, or HUGS, has maintained and grown their low-cost service during the last 13 months. More than ever during the last year, people have needed HUGS. “Right now, we’re seeing 150 clients a week and I think we served about 250 individuals, couples and families last year.”

The pandemic health crisis has also created a mental health crisis through isolation, separation, and pressure - just some of the issues Heads Up Guidance Services has helped address with the low-cost counseling HUGS has provided in Savannah for 12 years.

“A spotlight was really shown on mental health and the importance of caring for your mental health and what are our social needs and what are the needs for the community. The services we provide are from volunteer professionals all providing pro bono work to the community out of the goodness of their heart. Some of the people do have the focus of child and adolescents, some of the people have the focus of marriage and family, some of the people have the focus of addiction

And HUGS has not just continued those services, but expanded them - individually and in groups, virtually and in person - even as donations to the non-profit slowed.

“We don’t work with third-party payers. We don’t receive any government funding.”

So, as the organization continues to be busy, the WTOC Community Champions at HUGS are bringing back fundraising efforts that were halted in 2020, starting with a $10,000 raffle it hopes to complete in June.

“We have a goal of $155,000 that we need to meet annually to be able to operate. So, we want people to get involved with keeping our doors open, keeping our lights on, equipping us with tele-mental health to continue to meet the needs of locals and for expansion - minus fundraising, I definitely think HUGS came out of the pandemic better and wiser and stronger in a lot of different areas.”

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