My connection with the Foundation of Hope came together like karma. There’s no other way to explain it.

I was meeting with a friend, and I shared that I had been working to support the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in New York. She paused and asked me why I wasn’t choosing a local cause, and I responded that I didn’t know of any.

This was March 7, 2018. That very day, not long after that meeting, my daughter took my heart by deciding she didn’t want to live any longer. Depression had overcome her. That afternoon, she was admitted into the E.R. at UNC Hospitals.

Two days later, I was in the Starbucks of the UNC Neurosciences building waiting on my other daughter to come visit her sister. She was late, so I thought I would do some work. I googled “mental health research north carolina”—and there appeared The Foundation of Hope and The Walk for Hope.

I had heard of the Walk, as a friend of mine volunteered most years. Until that day, I never knew what the Foundation was or what the cause was for. And I happened to be sitting in the very building where the funding for research was happening.

I emailed the contact from the website, but then I decided to call. On the phone, I talked to the most delightful Jennifer. I shared that I have a startup business, that my mission is to help make a difference in mental wellness, and that I would like to meet and share my story. She asked me to hold while she checked the director’s schedule, and she came back to say that Shelley was in the office and would talk with me.

That conversation was the opening of the most amazing relationship. I will forever be a supporter.

My daughter is now fine, and I have learned so much about her, and depression, and the side-effects that medication can have. She was in the percentage of those for whom medication exacerbates depression, and can lead to desires of self-harm. I also learned that the hospitals don’t have the capacity to take care of the numbers coming in the emergency room for mental health related causes.

Something has to change.

We’re all only a few degrees from someone in our life who is struggling with mental illness, whether it’s mild, moderate or severe. There needs to be less stigma and more awareness. I will forever be a voice with the Foundation of Hope to help build that awareness, and the funding for research.

The work I do is healing. I see it every single day I teach. It can’t cure mental illness, but it sure can help. It’s my quest and mission to continue to seek answers and help others.

The book I wrote, “Move with Meaning,” is a how-to on developing the Conscious Strong habit and learning to find happiness through mindfulness, movement and journaling. Proceeds from the book sales will forever go to the Foundation of Hope!

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