February 19, 2019

You Matter concert, auction supports suicide prevention awareness in North Bay

Because ‘You Matter,’ a host of musicians, artists and supporters of suicide prevention in North Bay are throwing a fundraising party at The Raven and Republic Friday night (Feb. 22, 2019)

There’s a silent auction to beat all silent auctions upstairs while Jake Thomas and the Fundamentals headline a concert that boasts a string of talent, including JW Stevens at 10 p.m. with Jen Chevrier, Jodi Taylor, Ben Hermann, and Rose-Erin Stokes also featured. Dave Dale, a local media personality, is the MC.

As an extra highlight, the new music video I Need Angels by Adrian Sutherland and Midnight Shine will be screened. Sutherland and Midnight Shine are in the midst of a breakout year with their spirited work rooted in their Northern Ontario Cree homeland of Attawapiskat, which has suffered high rates of suicide.

All proceeds go to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Nipissing.

Melissa Robinson initiated the ‘You Matter’ event to help Mark Caldwell’s most recent ‘For the Love of Woody’ campaign to support the local CMHA branch’s awareness campaigns, specifically the Safe Talk and Assist Programs.

Robinson, whose niece Cyrah King, died of suicide Jan. 1, 2018, said she wants to help those who are struggling with mental illness and depression.

“There is so much stigma surrounding these issues, I feel like people don’t take people seriously when they say they want to hurt themselves,” Robinson said, adding that the response to the event has been “overwhelming” with so many musicians, artists and businesses donating either time, money or items for the auction.

Mark Caldwell, son of the late Ellwood ‘Woody’ Caldwell, started fundraising a couple years ago after his father inexplicably died by suicide Nov. 30, 2016. Through his efforts, included the selling of baked goods every day, he found many supporters and raised $34,000 for the ‘One Brave Night’ campaign for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health(CAMH), a Toronto treatment provider.

He said residents of this area go south for help when it’s not available here.

“Just last month, a woman contacted me in crisis, she ended up at CAMH and it helped her a great deal,” Caldwell said, adding a local awareness boost might help save lives here too.

Beginning in October, Caldwell decided to help raise money for the CMHA of Nipissing, which welcomed the opportunity to heighten the profile of existing services including a boost to their awareness programs.

Donations have been going through the CanadaHelps.org website with the CMHA the registered charity. On Family Day, the counter showed just over $13,000 has been raised toward the $20,000 goal that’s listed. Caldwell said Fabrene will add another donation of $1,000 and with other contributions dropped off in person, they are at $17,294.

Fabrene has been a regular contributor to the cause, he said, noting his father had worked there his entire life.

Caldwell had taken the Safe Talk program to help recognize when a person is asking for help, with the primary advice being to help them get to a hospital for professional medical assistance.

“A quiet man in general,” Caldwell, who didn’t have a ‘regular father-son bond’ because of his parents’ divorce, said he’s unsure if he would have confided in him anymore had they been closer because his dad’s death took everyone by surprise. “Nobody knew he felt so sad.”

Caldwell wears a T-shirt with hand-writing telling people ‘I am here, I will listen’ because he supports efforts to help people understand how important it is to be open to the needs of others and be there for them when they are down.

He had considered starting up a charity to do its own work but decided it’s more efficient to assist existing efforts.

“We just need to improve the services we have,” he said.

Robinson said she was inspired by Caldwell’s efforts, which her husband Matt discovered while dropping by the Sub Place on McKeown Avenue where the ‘For The Love of Woody’ founder has worked for more than a decade. The T-shirt sparked a conversation where Matt shared his own family’s losses to suicide, including his father and uncle.

“My part in this has been small, Mark has raised almost all of the money on his own and has almost reached his $20,000 goal … but if I can help him with that last small amount, I’m glad to offer my help and my time,” she said.

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Tickets for ‘You Matter’ concert and silent auction are $10 and available through Melissa Robinson: [email protected] and Mark Caldwell: [email protected] with donations accepted online through www.fortheloveofwoody.com and at the door beginning at 8 p.m.

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