Seen and Heard: Veteran mental health provider makes a difference

December 17, 2018

Earlier this month, Marie Davidiak, a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) at the Zumbro Valley Health Center, was honored with the NAMI Southeast Minnesota’s Provider of the Year award at the Making a Difference Celebration.

Marie, with over 30 years of counseling experience (20 of those at the Zumbro Valley Health Center), was nominated by a client, who felt deeply grateful for Marie’s work and support.

While in college, Marie herself was positively impacted by crisis workers. A family member was in the midst of a mental health crisis and Marie was alone at the hospital. She said, “I was distraught” and “moved by their emotional support. It made a difference.” The personal experience led Davidiak to pursue a career in counseling.

There is no typical work day. Marie may work with children, adults, or families. She counsels clients individually and also co-facilitates two Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) groups.

Zumbro Valley Health Center provides support to the underserved in our community, offering a sliding scale for clients. Unfortunately, obstacles and challenges arise. Marie shared that “many families don’t understand mental health issues, clients have housing, transportation, and insurance issues, and people get discouraged.”

But the rewards are present when Marie witnesses “seeing people get better, seeing people have hope that they can get better, seeing people have courage.”

Zumbro Valley became a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic in July 2016. With this designation, Zumbro Valley has adopted an integrated treatment plan for clients. Marie said, “Now the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.” This care model combines chemical dependency treatment, primary care, case management, and therapy, which Marie said “serves our population more effectively.”

Singer-songwriter has many outlets

Local singer-songwriter Amanda Jay Fuller is busy sharing her music with our community. Whether in the capacity of her day job as worship director at Homestead Church, where she selects songs for the service and plays in the church band, or playing with Sterling and the Silver Lining or performing on her own, Amanda is passionate about connecting through music.

Growing up, Amanda began piano at age 5, but “that didn’t really take off.” She began playing guitar in high school and also sang in choir. Along the way, Amanda learned drums, including the djembe, an African drum, and bass. She began writing songs as a teenager.

Things began to come together when she started college, and Amanda was “bit by the (music) bug.” However, loving music didn’t mean she was always comfortable. High school choir allowed her to hide in the crowd. The first time she played music in church, Amanda was scared.

Whether she is playing covers or her own original music, connecting with her audience is important. Amanda said, “not everyone loves covers” but she likes “peppering in songs they know.” Amanda said her music has “a big emotional range.” She describes it as “indie, folk, alternative but kind of moody.”

Amanda is recording an EP slated to be released in the spring. Meanwhile, you can hear her live the first Friday night each month playing acoustic music at Color Me Mine.

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