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Maintaining Mental Health in a Crisis

Choosing Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty

 written by Olivia Kemp, MSW, Pebble Tossers Program Manager

Over the last several days, I have spoken with many people in regards to our current health state with COVID-19. Statements that I continue to hear from friends and family sound like this, “I’ve never experienced a situation like this,” or “I wonder when we will finally be in the clear?” Living in this unknown state that we are in, can not only be anxiety-provoking but isolating. Because of those reasons, it is important to take care of our own mental health during this time while also supporting others in theirs as well. 

Up onto this point, the CDC has done a great job providing virus prevention information like washing hands, using hand sanitizer, social distancing, and even routinely disinfecting different surfaces. Without taking these types of measures, we all would be in a much worse state of physical health. A similar process can be considered for our mental health too. Being a social worker, I would love to provide you all with different suggestions that you can implement into your daily lives that keep you mentally strong.

Pebble Tossers’ Mental Health Tips for COVID-19:
Social Connection

As humans, we are wired and created for community with others. The reality of our normal routines that consist of going to school, work, sports, and clubs being postponed can be hard to accept. So how do we fill this gap of connection and belonging in a new way? First, we can set up designated times to check-in with friends or family on the phone each day. We can play board games, set up video chats, start a virtual book club, and even create a craft that can be sent to your friend via mail. By keeping our communication going, but in different ways, it can reduce loneliness and stress.

Emotional Health

Watching the news and or logging onto social media accounts daily to see COVID-19 updates can drain our emotional capacity. By creating healthy boundaries, a family or individual can limit their exposure to COVID-19 news and decide how often they will watch TV, be on social media, or even discuss the topic with others. If your children express fear or anxiety around the topic, validate what they are feeling and let them know it is okay to be upset or confused. Share with your child different ways that they can cope and express their emotions during this time. Whether it be through art, exercising, or playing games.

Create a Routine

During this time, many people are either working remotely, not working, and or helping their kids do school work. These new and unfamiliar patterns can bring an additional layer of stress to a family. By itemizing time for different activities for your children, you can help their schedule to become goal-oriented for school and fun during downtime. Challenge yourselves as a family to create food recipes, discover a new hobby, or make a unique craft.


The beauty of self-care is that we need it in every stage or season of our lives to continue healthy patterns. There are several activities and outlooks that we can utilize throughout our days that infuse self-care. For example, any form of exercise gets you moving and increases your endorphin level. You can do indoor exercises or venture out and take a walk in your neighborhood, while still social distancing. Meditation, prayer, and utilizing grounding techniques in this time can also provide a sense of peace. Through grounding techniques, you can establish what is happening presently in the moment by identifying what you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. This technique is especially helpful when someone crosses into a fear/anxiety response. Self-care can also be as simple as taking a shower, listening to music,  journaling, or making yourself some tea. The end goal is to seek rest for yourself as we navigate this season together.

If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis at this time please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 anywhere in the state. A counselor will connect with you via the crisis line and be available to assist you 24/7 and 365 days out of the year.  


If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or is in need of services like food please call 211 and you will be connected to a representative of United Way Atlanta.

Local nonprofit committed to youth receives $10,000 grant for COVID-19 Projects

Pebble Tossers to disperse $10,000 to ten groups or individuals

(Atlanta, GA, March 2020)…Pebble Tossers, Atlanta’s leading youth development nonprofit organization, is one of 36 recipients nationwide of a $10,000 grant from Halle Tecco, an entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist. The grant will be used to provide immediate assistance to low income/at-risk youth and their families in greater Atlanta affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pebble Tossers will mobilize youth volunteers and provide ten individuals or small groups with “mini-grants” of $1,000 each to create innovative solutions to problems resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. Through these grants, Pebble Tossers will mold a new generation of servant leaders, philanthropists, and community activists.

“We are honored to be able to offer this leadership opportunity to greater Atlanta’s youth. Our goal is to equip and empower youth to reach their leadership potential through service,” said Jennifer Guynn, Founder + Executive Director, Pebble Tossers. “Our world has dramatically changed over the past four weeks and our youth need positive and impactful opportunities to create ripples of giving that will last their lifetime.”

To apply for the Pebble Tossers COVID-19 Youth Impact Grant, please visit:

Based on grant recipient guidelines, the time period for the projects is short.

Application Due Date: Friday, April 3rd
Grants Awarded Date: Monday, April 6th
Project Completion Date: Monday, April 13th

About the Grant

The grant program, quickly organized by Halle Tecco beginning March 19th, started as an initial investment of $50,000 by Ms. Tecco and quickly grew to $400,000 additional donations poured into the fund. Within days, 362 applications for the grants poured in and Pebble Tossers was one of 36 recipients. The proposals were based on the following criteria:

  • The non-profit is solving an emergent problem created by COVID-19 vs. supporting ongoing operations stretched by COVID-19.
  • The use of funds is clear, compelling, efficient, and measurable.
  • The non-profit has a leadership team and board which is diverse and representative of the population they are serving.
  • The organization has already shown commitment to ameliorating the impact of COVID-19 (e.g. this isn’t a new program they invented to get a grant).
  • The non-profit is a registered 501(c)3 or is working with a registered fiscal sponsor.
  • More details: https://medium.com/@halletecco/supporting-the-helpers-during-covid-19-7cd506ec219d

About Pebble Tossers

Pebble Tossers is the premier local youth service organization focused on providing families with a comprehensive path to youth development through service to others, from preschool to graduation, or “nap to cap.” Customized programming empowers youth to lead by providing them with resources and age-appropriate opportunities. With Pebble Tossers, volunteers sign up, show up, and serve to create a ripple of giving in their community.

News Coverage

CNN Article


leadership through service: resources for continuing to serve

Due to overwhelming response and an ever-growing list of projects and resources this page has moved!

But don’t worry, clicking on the links below will take you right where you want to go!
Also, be sure to bookmark the following page www.pebbletossers.org/serve-from-home

Please Note: The new page will continue to be updated daily.

serve at home
serve with social distancing
discussion resources
continued learning
how to guides

Coronavirus + volunteering: keeping you safe

From our Founder + Executive Director:

In light of the recent reports of the Coronavirus diagnosis in Atlanta, we want to address how this might affect our upcoming volunteer opportunities. As a trusted nonprofit, we are committed to ensuring a safe + healthy environment for our volunteers and the clients we serve.

We are keeping a close watch on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) reports on risk and guidance, especially since we serve many vulnerable individuals. While the risk assessment is still considered low, we want to be proactive in our actions to reassure our volunteers. Even before the Coronavirus concerns, we have a policy to clean + disinfect all toys, tools + supplies before + after use at a service project. We will continue to take preventative measures to ensure that all supplies which volunteers + clients come in contact with are thoroughly cleaned + disinfected.

Your volunteer efforts are needed now, more than ever! However, in case one of our nonprofit partners feels the need to cancel a project, we will alert you as soon as possible. We are in constant contact with our nonprofit partners and some have also enacted additional protocols for virus prevention.

Important Reminders

Here are some important reminders to ensure we all do our part in keeping our volunteers and clients safe and healthy:
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth + nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose + mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap + water. Use hand sanitizer when soap + water aren’t available.

These are good precautions to take to avoid the flu and other bugs, not just the Coronavirus. We want to ensure you that, with your help, we will work hard to maintain a healthy environment for everyone during this time. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email me at jguynn@pebbletossers.org.

Thank you for your service to our communities.

Jennufer Guynn

Founder + Executive Director