Helping Works

Helping Works by Anna Webb: Treasure Valley group offers support to families who have lost members to suicide

Steve Ferguson and Kristi Hendry share something that few people would want to share, but that is all too common in the Intermountain West. They both have lost loved ones to suicide. Ferguson’s son Jake took his life in 2014. Hendry was among the group that found Jake’s body after he died. She reached out to Ferguson to offer support. She could empathize. Her husband Kenny had died by suicide 10 years earlier.

The two started talking about ways they might channel their grief into something positive. They created a support group for others who had experienced this particular and profound loss. The support group, Not One More Suicide, or NOMS, held its first meeting in the summer of 2014. The group continues to meet on the last Sunday of every month from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Baker Room at the Public Safety Building, 820 2nd St. S in downtown Nampa.

The next meeting is Sunday, June 28.

Both Ferguson and Hendry have full-time jobs, but they see their work with the support group as a mission. Since beginning this work, Ferguson learned that six employees at his workplace had lost family members to suicide. And the calls keep coming, said Hendry.

“One thing that’s different about NOMS that sets us apart from other support groups is that if we get a call from a family we will immediately meet with them, even if the support group is weeks away. We will stay in contact, let them know there’s hope and one-on-one support,” said Hendry.

Not One More Suicide is not a hotline, but it is a connection to support services in the community, Hendry said.

Myra, one attendee, lost her 31-year-old daughter to suicide last year. She has friends in the group from high school whose children also took their lives. In addition to NOMS, Myra goes to counseling. She knows that other NOMS attendees haven’t found counseling like she has and they rely on the group as their sole support.

“We go there and we can cry and share and feel safe about it,” she said.

She has attended other support groups in the Valley, such as Compassionate Friends. That group is for families that have lost a child from any cause (it meets on the second Thursday of each month at 7:15 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hospital, West, at 520 S. Eagle Road in Boise). But NOMS is specific to suicide. It welcomes friends, families and anyone else who has lost someone.

Myra said she was nervous the first time she attended a NOMS meeting. Ferguson picked her up and drove her there.

“And he’s done that for other people,” said Myra. “You get to the point where you need someone’s help to get there. After the first time, it’s a little easier. You might want to walk away, but you say, ‘I came here,’ and you walk through those doors to start healing.”

Ferguson and Hendry say the community has made great strides toward suicide prevention. The prevention hotline recently acquired enough resources and volunteers to open its phone lines 24 hours every day. A news story about NOMS on 6 On Your Side brought more support and helped spread the word about the group.

Still, suicide and mental illness remain taboo subjects in many families and segments of the community. Ferguson recalled a discussion he had with Nora Carpenter, executive director of the United Way of the Treasure Valley, following a roundtable discussion on suicide prevention.

“She said it was like in the 1950s when a woman got breast cancer. No one talked about it. Now breast cancer is front and center,” said Ferguson. “We need to evolve to the point where that happens with mental illness.”

Ferguson and Hendry share the belief that while the pain of loss from suicide will always remain with survivors, it is still possible for them to live a good life and experience joy. They’re extending an open invitation to anyone in need or in grief, to join them and the other support group members on the 28th.

Connect with NOMS on Facebook. Contact Kristi Hendry at 695-9926 or Kristi.healthyidaho@gmail.com. Contact Steve Ferguson at 866-4958.

Reach the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-273-8255.

FIFTH ANNUAL COMMUNITY PROGRESSIVE

United Vision for Idaho is preparing its annual party, the Community Progressive, which introduces people to a myriad of local nonprofit organizations working for the welfare of the community.

This year, the Community Progressive is from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 27, in Julia Davis Park. The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence is sharing hosting duties. Attractions include dozens of local musicians on two stages, dancers, presentations, a beer and wine garden, docent-led tours of the Idaho Anne Frank Memorial, a kids interactive center with balloon artists, face painters, story time, arts and crafts and interactive learning games.

The Boise Farmers Market, the Boise International Market, local food trucks and vendors, local artists and merchants will also participate.

The celebration will begin with participants taking turns sharing something that represents progress. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has issued a proclamation making June 27 Community Progressive Day in the city of Boise.

10TH ANNUAL MINIDOKA CIVIL LIBERTIES SYMPOSIUM

This year’s theme is “Citizenship: Rights and Responsibilities.” The annual symposium, an event for university students, local teachers and the community, takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, and on Thursday, June 25, at Skaggs Lecture Hall at Boise State University. The cost to attend is $70, which includes breakfast and lunch on both days.

Scholars will examine the roles and responsibilities of citizens and present case studies of how individuals and organizations have responded to constitutional crises, civil liberties and personal rights issues, and to bring focused discourse on the role of citizens and how they can participate in democracy.

The symposium is supported by a partnership between Friends of Minidoka, Minidoka National Historic Site (National Park Service), Boise State University, and the ACLU of Idaho. It happens in conjunction, and dovetails with the annual pilgrimage to Minidoka, the site of the Hunt internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. The 2015 Minidoka Pilgrimage takes place at the camp (now the Minidoka National Historic Site near Jerome) from June 25-28. It will include tours of an original barrack building and mess hall, and the chance to hear and share stories about and from men and women who were interned there during the war.

The symposium may be taken for college credit at Boise State as well as continuing ed credit for teachers.

For more information contact Carol Ash at 208-933-4125 or Carol_Ash@nps.gov.

For questions regarding registration and college credit, contact Ross Burkhart at rburkha@boisestate.edu (Kim Prestwich at KPrestwich@csi.edu ).

GIRAFFE LAUGH EARLY LEARNING CENTER FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN

The goal of the campaign is to raise $20,000 to fill four classrooms at the nonprofit’s new childcare center set to open this summer

The organization introduced its fundraising efforts for the new center, located on State Street in Arbor Crossing, during the statewide fundraising day Idaho Gives. Giraffe Laugh raised $6,200 that day, with half of those funds a matching gift from an anonymous donor.

Giraffe Laugh Director Lori Fascilla said a successful campaign will mean taking 75 children and families off the waiting list of 550.

The campaign ends Monday, June 29.

Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Centers currently has three locations in the Downtown Boise area and administrative offices in Garden City. Giraffe Laugh provides mission-based tours twice a month at its facilities located at the Marian Pritchett campus for pregnant and parenting teens. For more information about Giraffe Laugh and their tours, call 954-5454.

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