FARGO — Thanks to earlier success with an online resource made available to parents dealing with the effects of the pandemic on their children, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is expanding the support to expecting and new parents as well as individuals at high-risk for contracting COVID-19.

The support groups are being offered virtually and free of charge through Project Renew, according to a press release.

"Baby Let's Talk" is scheduled for Tuesdays at 1 p.m. and will give expecting or new parents the opportunity to talk about the distinct challenges of having a new baby in the middle of a pandemic. The facilitators include Brenna Guenther, a community behavioral health specialist for Imagine Thriving who had her first son in March, and Tina Jacobs, provider relations coordinator at Abound Counseling who is expecting her second child in December.

All expectant and new parents are welcome, whether biological, foster, adoptive or surrogate.

The "High Risk, High Anxiety" support group, which will meet on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., will help elderly or those with underlying medical conditions navigate life during the pandemic. Facilitators of the "High Risk, High Anxiety" event include Jennifer Boeckel, licensed master social worker with Abound Counseling, and Jade Pakkala, community behavioral health specialist with Imagine Thriving; both have auto-immune disorders, according to a press release.

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Both support groups will run for eight weeks and are free of charge. Attendees are asked to register, and if they become unable to attend the event, they are asked to notify the facilitators so the spot can be opened to someone else.

Project Renew team lead said in the press release the online support groups could continue beyond the eight weeks if community interest is high enough.

Project Renew is a partnership between LSSND and North Dakota’s Behavioral Health Division, and offers phone-in crisis support, education and referrals free of charge to anyone with COVID-related stress or concerns. Contact renew@lssnd.org for more information.