Three breweries combine forces to aid the Agora Crisis Center with SereniTEA Now! ale - Albuquerque Journal

Three breweries combine forces to aid the Agora Crisis Center with SereniTEA Now! ale

Guests at Steel Bender Brewyard participate in an adult coloring night benefiting the Agora Crisis Center. (Courtesy of Steel Bender Brewyard)

Caring for your mental health is crucial for a good quality of life.

The subject is near and dear to Shelby Chant’s heart. Chant is the co-owner and marketing director at Steel Bender Brewyard and her father has served the community as a child, adolescent and young adult psychologist. He has been in practice for more than 50 years.

“He’s supposed to be slowing down a little bit, but not retiring because he loves his work,” Chant said. “Every single practitioner in his practice right now has a waitlist. I mean that is COVID. COVID is taking its toll on mental health. So, it’s just really important that people know that there are resources here locally that are really trying to do everything they can to help people through tough times.”

Steel Bender has once again teamed up with Canteen Brewhouse and High and Dry Brewing to create SereniTEA Now! The ale is available at all three locations: Canteen, 2381 Aztec Road NE, and High and Dry, 529 Adams St. NE, both in Albuquerque; and Steel Bender, 8305 Second St. NW, in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. One dollar of each 20-ounce pint sold will benefit the Agora Crisis Center.

“We used a combination of St. John’s wort, chamomile, and skullcap (all chosen for their known benefits for mental health) to create a tea, and then infused with a fruity, light-bodied, softly sweet malty ale to achieve a balanced and flavorful clean finish,” according to Chant.

This is the third year that the breweries have collaborated on a beer benefiting Agora.

“This is the second year it’s been called SereniTEA Now! We did a tea ale the very first year, but I think when we decided that this might become a little bit of an annual thing, we said ‘You know what? Let’s do something that’s really reflective of how people are feeling right now,’ which everyone at that time really needed some serenity. And so, in the middle of the pandemic we decided to pull together again and do it.”

The three breweries have also hosted adult coloring nights this month with the last event taking place at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at High and Dry. Agora representatives will be onsite talking about its services and handing out coloring sheets illustrated by New Mexico artist Abigayle Stokes. Designs include a manta ray, an iguana and parrots. Coloring sheets are $5 and will be available at the participating breweries throughout November. Proceeds from the adult coloring nights benefit Agora.

“That’s been really successful and just a lot of fun,” Chant said of the adult coloring nights. “It’s great to see adults sitting there, you know, they’re bringing their own magic markers or colored pencils, just sitting there with a pint in front of them, and they zone out. They just really get into what they’re doing. And that’s exactly what we designed it for.”

Agora provides nonjudgemental and compassionate emotional support to the public in two forms: by phone and via online chat.

“We’re an all issues crisis line,” said Zoey Leyba, Agora outreach coordinator. “People think of us as the national suicide line. And, you know, we do answer calls from that line, but we have our own number as well. People can call us and talk to us about anything from, you know, something like ‘I’m having a mental health crisis, I’m feeling suicidal,’ all the way down to like, ‘Oh, this is what my cat did today, I just needed to tell somebody.’ So you know, we try to be present for whoever just needs someone to talk to, just a compassionate ear, another human being to listen to what’s on their mind.”

Agora can be reached locally at 505-277-3013 or statewide at 855-505-4505. There also is an instant messaging service where people can online chat with an Agora specialist on the center’s website, agoracares.org.

Agora is based on volunteer availability and hopes to be back to 24 hour shifts soon. It currently operates roughly from 8 a.m. to midnight.

Proceeds from the SereniTEA Now! help maintain Agora’s daily operations and volunteer training.

“All of the breweries involved have been so wonderful and so just beautifully supportive,” Leyba said. “I just can’t speak enough to how wonderful an experience it’s been to work with these folks. A lot of (the proceeds) goes toward different things … It goes toward things like bringing food to volunteer events such as training or volunteer morale things we have. It helps if we need to buy new furniture around the center, new chairs, that sort of thing, office supplies, a lot of those daily costs that start to really add up. So it’s something that really does help keep us moving, keep us going forward and be able to support the community.”

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