Cumberland Cornerstone, promoting mental health through giving


May 19, 2016 PHONE: (865) 719-7221

Cumberland Cornerstone, promoting mental health through giving

LaFollette, TN — Recent research validates what many know to be true: volunteering and giving of oneself can promote health and wellness. The New Economics Foundation cites a set of five evidence-based actions which promote people’s mental health and wellbeing through life: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give. These activities are simply-stated, memorable, and broad enough in scope to be flexible while remaining true to the evidence-based activities individuals can do in their everyday lives.

At Cumberland Cornerstone, a program of Ridgeview Behavioral Health Services in LaFollette, giving has taken on a uniquely therapeutic benefit. Rachael Wright, Program Assistant for the psychosocial rehabilitation program, wanted to incorporate volunteerism as part of the health and wellness services offered for its members. Wright reached out to Mary Bruce, then Campbell County Animal Shelter manager, where she found a warm and willing community partner and animals aplenty in need.

Carrie Muse, current manager of the shelter, celebrates the perfect, timely fit between the needs of 36 to 40 abandoned dogs and cats and the Cumberland Cornerstone members, who derive great value and meaning from spending time with the animals or lending a helpful hand around the kennel. Carrie said, “With over 200 intakes a month, there’s plenty to do. Walking dogs, petting the animals and simply spending time with them are always beneficial.”

On one especially chilly spring morning, Jim, a Cumberland Cornerstone member who volunteers at the shelter said, “Giving of my time helps put a smile on my face that will last all day. It’s a win, win situation all the way around, I don’t see a down side,” while Susan, another member, offered, “If I can help one of these animals, then it’s worth it. I believe helping those in need helps me be happier and healthier.”
Rachael added, “Volunteering in the community builds communication skills, team-building, and pre-vocational skills. These are necessary tools to reach goals and sustain healing and recovery for individuals living with a mental illness. We’ve also adopted a section of Highway 63 as part of our care for the community.”

There would be no rest on this morning, as a man arrived with a litter of newborn kittens. Sadly, the kittens’ mother had been killed by a dog during the night, he said. Carrie quickly stirred Jim and Susan to action by having them ready a warming pad for the kittens to lie on, while formula was prepped for feeding. Once the kittens had been fed, Jim and Susan held them close to keep them warm.

Jim and Susan know through their experience what research and evidence-based actions confirm, giving makes a difference; it promotes mental health and well-being; and it sustains recovery. Look no further than the Campbell County Animal Shelter for evidence of how giving makes a difference.

To learn more about Cumberland Cornerstone visit or call 423-562-2637. To learn more about Campbell County Animal Shelter call 423-566-1892.


Michael Yates is Director of Development for Ridgeview

Ridgeview is a private, not for profit community mental health center with locations in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan, Roane, and Scott counties. To make a referral or schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-834-4178 or for more information, you can also visit our website at Ridgeview’s walk-in clinic hours at the Campbell County Clinic are Monday – Friday 9:00 – 10:00. Regular office hours remain 8 – 5 weekdays. If you have an emergent need please do not hesitate to contact our 24 hour crisis line at 1-800-870-5481. Follow Ridgeview on Facebook.