Douglas G. Baber, MBA, DBA(c)
2019 Conference Charity Chair, HR Florida State Council Inc.
Barbara Matsumoto, Secretary for HR Florida State Council, Inc., recently asked me how we ended up with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) as our Charity of Choice for the 2019 Annual Conference in Orlando Florida, on August 25 – 28, 2019. We thought we’d share the details with all of you via our HR Florida NewsWire!
This is my first year on the HR Florida Conference Team and I was selected to be the 2019 Charity Chair. I really love giving back to the greater good and supporting an amazing cause. Now, how did we pick a worthy cause? The process started by choosing three worthwhile charities and then presenting them to the team to decide. The search was on!
Given the breadth and varying passions of our members, this needed to be special and it needed to be one that people could really get behind. First, I needed to be sure the charity selected was one that is highly regarded and, specifically, maintains high scores for Accountability and Transparency on the independent Charity Navigator website. Second, the charity needed to be one that was well known, had a good support system and a user-friendly website to assist in the implementation or promotion of our fundraiser and 5k. Lastly, the charity of choice needed to be one that touches everyone in our profession, whether it was through work or family life.
The AFSP stood out as the organization’s mission is to help people that struggle with suicide. The AFSP also markets themselves in the public sphere to spread the word and create awareness related to peoples' struggle with mental health issues. Suicide has touched us all in one way or another. As HR Professionals, we may work with employees that are struggling with thoughts of suicide themselves or have a friend or family member that has been affected by this disease. Suicide can be part of our lives in many ways and HR Florida is ready to band together raising money and awareness for AFSP.
AFSP, our 2019 selected charity, is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education/advocacy, and by reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. As the 10th leading cause of death in Florida, AFSP is out there battling suicide every day to help change this ranking. While it's hard to believe, one person dies of suicide every three hours in Florida, which is eight people every day in our state. Imagine what this figure is on a global level?
As I write this article, I am getting the chills. I think about the pain that leads to losses and the recovery left behind. I think about the impacts to families, friends and colleagues. I think about the families that tell their stories and advocate for suicide prevention and I think about how we can support them through this effort. Let’s all try our best to help bring these individuals that struggle with suicide and mental health issues, out of the darkness and into the light!
The AFSP’s mission is to save lives and to communicate to those affected by suicide that there is help available. AFSP has set a bold goal called Project 2025 that is aiming to reduce the annual suicide rate in the United States by 20% come 2025. It is our hope that HR Florida will assist in raising awareness for this goal and contribute to it.
To aid in accomplishing this goal, HR Florida is working with its 28 SHRM Chapters throughout Florida to raise money and awareness in every region of the state this year. Chapter Presidents have invited speakers from AFSP to their monthly meetings to raise awareness and to inform our leading HR Professionals that there are organizations out there that can help. These efforts are intended to remove the stigma around talking about suicide and mental illness. We at HR Florida feel strongly that suicide and mental health need to be discussed openly in an effort to not only to help raise awareness, but to save lives.
In closing, please remember that suicide and mental illnesses do not discriminate, it can affect anyone at any time.If you would like to learn more on how to donate to this amazing cause or to participate in our annual 5k at Falcon’s Fire Golf Course located just minutes away from the Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Florida on August 25th, 2019, please select this link http://hrfloridaconference.org/charity/.