The Hope Squad of Carbon and Emery Counties recently received national recognition from Safe States for the work the organization does in the local community. Debbie Marvadakis and Diane Lodeserto, members of the squad, traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to received Safe States’ Innovation Initiative Award.
The Safe States Alliance is a non-profit organization and professional association whose mission is to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention. According to the organization’s website, members of the Safe States Alliance have unparalleled opportunities to discover, connect, empower and grow as leaders in public health.
Each year, Safe States honors organizations that practice injury and violence prevention. This year, the Hope Squad entered the innovative initiative category. For two weeks, Safe States members and people from throughout the nation voted for organizations entered into the category. Not only did the Hope Squad make the top four, along with three hospitals, but the local organization received the most votes, earning it the innovative initiative award.
“They said we won by a landslide,” Marvadakis said. An organizer of Safe State’s annual conference also praised the Hope Squad. “She said she had never seen so many people vote for one program. She said it was overwhelming how many safe states members voted for us. It’s nice to get recognized for a program that is just a grass roots program.”
The Hope Squad of Carbon and Emery Counties was developed in 2013 to bring awareness and provide suicide prevention activities to benefit individuals in the community who need it the most. In 2013, there were 23 suicides in the local area. In 2014, that number was reduced to 12. The statistics encourage the Hope Squad to continue their programs to assist everyone in the community.
“What makes us different from other suicide prevention programs is that we partner activities with prevention,” Marvadakis explained. “It strengthens families when you provide fun, cost-free activities.”
In September, the squad plans to host the Color of Hope walk. Then, in December, the annual Hope Festival will take place.
In addition to fun, free activities, the Hope Squad continues to educate the public through various classes. According to Marvadakis, the squad has trained over 1,200 people in the community in QPR (question, persuade, refer). The training teaches people how to help prevent suicide until an individual can get professional help.
“It’s like CPR, you are just there until professional help gets there,” Marvadakis said. “You don’t have to be a counselor to save someone’s life, you just have to care.”
QPR classes have been taught to in multiple settings, even preschools and mines. Marvadkis explained that one miner expressed his gratitude to the Hope Squad, stating that its class helped him save his brother’s life.
Those interested in learning more about the Hope Squad or attending a QPR class may call (435) 637-3671. If a suicide attempt seems imminent, call a local crisis center, dial 911 or take the person to an emergency room. Remove guns, drugs, knives and other potentially lethal objects from the vicinity but do not, under any circumstances, leave a suicidal person alone.