HOPKINTON – The First Baptist Church of Hope Valley will be hosting Chariho Basic Needs Network meetings every month beginning Jan. 15 from noon to 1 p.m.

“The idea for this was brought to our Missions Committee by church board member Lori Roeleveld,” said pastor Chip Northup. “She works with the Tri-County Community Action Agency and she talked with us about hosting a basic needs network.”

Northup said the church has hosted four such meetings thus far and the interest has been so high that the original plans to hold meetings only quarterly have changed.

“We invited first responders to attend because they really know the needs in the community,” Northup said. “First responders; police, fire ambulance, this was an opportunity for everyone to share available resources. We also had lots of social workers and clergy in attendance.”

One of the initial meetings concerned mental health first aid.

“We had a lot of fireman and teachers at that meeting,” said Northup. “It took away a lot of taboos. If someone is suicidal, intoxicated, having a panic attack, people need to know what to do.”

In addition to teaching people what methods work in such cases, Northup said its also been helpful in letting people know what methods, often employed in such situations, do not work. The information can also help to determine whether what appears to be a mental health issue might actually be a physical problem.

“It’s important to understand certain things,” Northup explained. “For instance, if a person is acting strange, it may be a reaction from Diabetes. It may be a reaction to a urinary tract infection. There are many things that can affect a person’s behavior. The firefighters loved it so much they want to make it mandatory to take mental health first aid. They found it very valuable.”

Northup added that a meeting concerning the mental health of children is in the near future.

“Kids feel things differently than adults do,” he said.

The purpose of the organization is to bring together all walks of life, from professionals to concerned citizens, to identify needs in the community, share knowledge on available resources and form a cooperative relationship where awareness is created.

“The nice thing about hosting this at our church is that we have the room,” Northup said. “I put on coffee. We have the space and the time. But, also, I think its good for us to bring all these people together.”

The First Baptist Church of Hope Valley is located at 1059 Main St. in Hope Valley. The meetings will be open to the public and all are invited to attend. Social service organizations are encouraged to send representatives.

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