By Shelagh Talbot
ABBOT —The JD Foundation, a nonprofit organization serving as an educational tool to the state of Maine to bring suicide prevention through awareness and education located on the corners of Routes 15 and 16 in Abbot, Maine is ramping up for their biggest Yard Sale of the year July 4 – 7 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during those four days and the Auction of the season will take place on July 6 at 4 p.m. Maine House Representative Paul Davis has graciously accepted the role of auctioneer for this exciting event. All kinds of wonderful items will come up for bid, including a magnificent photograph of Mt. Katahdin taken by photographer Sandy Snide. The framed photo is huge – measuring at least 24” by 36” and would be a centerpiece for anyone’s wall. “This photograph is valued at $250.00,” said Cheryl Morin, who with her husband Vic run the foundation. There are also beautiful porcelain and stoneware bowls – all hand made, a stunning Art Deco clock, two beautiful antique coverlets from the 1800s, many other exciting objects and Gifts Certificates from local businesses – from Balsam Woods Campgrounds to Hollywood Slots in Bangor. Additional donations are coming in but the Morins still have time to accept more. Even the local Abbot Superette is generously chipping in by donating 10 percent of their sales during the three-day event. Baskets donated by Tastefully Simple, “31” and Sentsy and more are also slated to appear on the auction block, The area around the Morin house will be sprouting tents for the big event – seven large ones, four smaller ones, some flatbeds and a separate tent just for the auction and Butterfields Ice Cream, as always, will be on site.
The folks at the JD Foundation started with something unspeakably tragic and turned it into a force for good. The non-profit organization specializes in bringing about suicide prevention through awareness and education. “If people contemplating suicide could realize the heartbreak and suffering of the loved ones they leave behind, they would no longer consider it an option,” according to Cheryl Morin, a founding member of the JD Foundation in Abbot. Morin, who lost her talented son William Jody Day to suicide when he was only 19 years old, has taken her grief and turned it into a life mission to prevent other suicides.
According to the Maine Suicide Prevention Program website, Suicide claims more lives of young people than cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease combined, and it is the fourth-leading cause of years of potential life lost in Maine. And the state’s worst months for suicide are typically April and May.
Although Maine has a program under the Department of Health and Human Services, it is limited and thus Cheryl’s tireless work traveling throughout the state to speak to groups is invaluable. She addresses the warning signs, depression in the case of her son, and has spent countless hours offering suicide awareness training and education and organizes activities that aim to improve the health of mind, body and soul. “My son had attempted suicide twice prior and I still didn’t think he would die by suicide,” she said. “If I had had some knowledge, things possibly could have been different.” Her passion to create awareness is unstoppable. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” she said. “It is preventable. And, to those who might be thinking about suicide, Please talk to someone first,” she added. “Time does change the issues. So hold on.”
Recently the state has taken notice. State Rep. Paul Gilbert introduced a bill (LD 609), aimed at increasing suicide awareness and prevention for all school employees in the state’s public schools, something the Morins have been championing for years. The bill sailed, with unanimous agreement, through both Maine’s House and Senate and was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Paul LePage in May. Gilbert called it the most important bill of his legislative career. LePage has also pledged to cover the cost of training programs with $44,000 from his contingency fund. Sadly for 15-34-year-olds in Maine, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. And Cheryl Morin’s son was still in his teens.
The upcoming Yard Sale and Auction is the biggest event the JD Foundation holds and it helps fund all the good work the foundation does throughout the year – including warm winter clothing for those who have none to the highly successful sessions of Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) and LSR (which addresses chronic depression) that can actually help people of all ages cope with those terrible feelings. JD Foundation also offers 90-minute workshops covering the all-important warning signs, risk and protective factors involving someone contemplating suicide and offers practical steps to deal with that person in addition to many resources available. These trainings are all free of charge although donations are gratefully accepted.
It’s not too late to bring items to the JD Foundation for either the Yard Sale or the auction. Visit them online at the jdfoundation.org; they have a Facebook presence as well Contact them at 207/876-2295 to see if they have any special requests or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is something every one of us can do to help. So mark your calendars for the upcoming Yard Sale and Auction for the JD Foundation from July 4 – 6. It’s a cause and a foundation well-worth supporting! See you there!