To share the background about our inaugural Halloween Fest, Rick Pearson, Board Member and Fund Development Committee Chair, interviewed Caroline Nersessian, Senior Director of Programs and Event Chair.
Q: Rick Pearson – How long have you been at CFGC? What roles have you had?
A: Caroline Nersessian – I started at CFGC in 1993 as a USC Social Work intern. I was lucky to actually get hired back then. There were few positions available and they were coveted. I started as what we now call a Hybrid therapist: Outpatient/school based clinician. In 1997, I moved to the Quality Assurance Coordinator role in what was then the Northpoint School and Day Treatment Services. I became the Clinical Director of Northpoint in 2000 and loved my role in that position. I am now the Senior Director of Programs and I oversee the clinical programs.
Q: Rick Pearson – What’s your background? Expertise?
A: Caroline Nersessian – I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a focus on working with children and families who struggle with mental health challenges. I also teach in the Social Work program at California State University Northridge where I have pursued my love of Social Work and teaching. In 2010 and 2011, I received two grants to become a LivingWorks trainer of suicide awareness and prevention. In 2016, I was one of 15 LivingWorks trainers to be granted the opportunity to become a trainer for their international Suicide to HOPE program. It is incredibly gratifying to be able to educate our community on the signs and responses to someone who may be thinking about suicide.
Q: Rick Pearson – Why did you launch CFGC’s Halloween Fest? What was your original vision?
A: Caroline Nersessian – For many years, Northpoint School hosted a Haunted House for our students and the staff of CFGC. In 2019, we thought; why not open this haunted house to the community? Fast forward through the Covid pandemic… This year we commemorate CFGC’s 60th year, and what better way to celebrate but to have a child-focused community event for our stakeholders, community members, and employees. Very young children have few options for a safe and less-scary Halloween and we hope to offer an opportunity to bring the community together, dress up, and play games. We are very excited about our Trick or Treat Village.
Q: Rick Pearson – How do you envision the Halloween Fest growing or evolving?
A: Caroline Nersessian – We hope the first Halloween-fest is a successful event; one we may replicate in the future. We envision making this an annual tradition, so our participants would look forward to attending year after year.
Q: Rick Pearson – Why are community events like the Halloween Fest important in our community?What do you hope the Halloween Fest will foster for the community?
A: Caroline Nersessian – To some degree, the Pandemic separated us from the world and we missed out on so much social activity. For many, the return to school, work, and social engagements has been a challenge. We see more anxiety and depression impacting our youth as they return to in-person school and work. Even adults are having a hard time. Events that bring communities together help to improve a sense of belonging which positively impacts mental health. As a community mental health agency, CFGC strives to reduce the stigma around mental health, encourage people to find balance, and promote an overall sense of well-being. Events like Halloween-Fest encourage fun and strengthen our bonds with each other and as a community.