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Western Pennsylvania Chapter Volunteers

3 Jun 2021 — 6 min read

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Western PA Volunteers

All of our chapter operations are made possible with the dedication of volunteers across the Western Pennsylvania Chapter! Join us in our mission to #StopSuicide!

Below is information about the different levels of volunteer engagement, depending on how much time you are able and ready to give. We welcome you, whether it is just for the day or for much more! Don't forget to keep scrolling to read more about our chapter committees, whether you hope to join one now or simply learn more about everything we do here at Western Pennsylvania Chapter.

Complete our online volunteer application to get started!

Volunteer

Levels of Engagement

Day of Event Volunteers

Sign up to help during the day-of at a chapter or tabling event! There are numerous opportunities throughout the year to help us with events. From set up and tear down to running stations like event registration, pickup for prizes, craft tables, resource distribution and more, we need your helping hands! Our busiest time of need for day-of volunteers is in the fall during our Out of the Darkness Community Walk season.

Committee Participation

If you are looking for more consistent and ongoing participation, join one of our chapter or walk committees. Get to know fellow volunteers and chapter leaders and share your ideas to help us shape the future of this chapter. We have a range of committees, described below, some of which are seasonal planning committees while others are active year-round.

Chapter Leadership

Individuals with a desire for a higher level of involvement are encouraged to pursue leadership within the chapter.  Chapter leaders develop and steward our strategic plan and serve as a source of guidance and support for fellow volunteers.  We offer leadership opportunities that vary by level of responsibility and time commitment, including both board and non-board-level positions. All leadership roles require application to be reviewed by the Nominations Committee and subsequently voted on by the chapter Board of Directors.  It is never too early to start exploring your leadership goals within the chapter! We want to support your endeavor to become a leader in suicide prevention.  Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Robert Searfoss, at volunteer.afspwpa@gmail.com to discuss your interest in leadership.

Western PA Board

Chapter Committees 

The AFSP Western Pennsylvania Chapter is working hard to bring suicide prevention resources to as many people as we can across Western Pennsylvania. It is through volunteer-run committees that we are able to do this work, and we hope you will consider joining us!  The following chapter committees are described in more detail below:

  • Community Walk Committees
  • Public Policy Committee
  • Prevention Education Committee
  • Public Relations Committee
  • Fundraising Committee
  • Loss & Healing Committee
  • Project 2025 Committee
  • Nominations & Development Committee

Community Walk Committees

The annual Out of the Darkness Community Walks would not be possible without the hard work of our volunteer walk chairs and planning committees. Each fall, the Western Pennsylvania Chapter hosts walks in Pittsburgh, Erie, Lawrence County, Cambria County, and Elk County. These committees are a great place to start for new volunteers looking to gain a broader understanding of our role in the community. As a committee member, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Raise awareness and funds to serve our mission;
  • Aide in the planning of a meaningful event that attracts thousands of local attendees;
  • Recruit and support walk participants;
  • Grow community & sponsor support; and
  • Set the groundwork for new partnerships with organizations, schools, and community leaders.
Erie Walk Volunteers

Public Policy Committee

Advocates looking to engage in meaningful dialogue with others about suicide prevention can apply their passion to shape changes in policy at the local, state, and federal levels.  Join this committee to:

  • Learn how to engage in advocacy (no prior experience is required!);
  • Recruit Field Advocates to take advantage of easy ways to weigh in on policy issues;
  • Work with chapter and national leadership to identify advocacy opportunities at various levels of governance; and
  • Plan, coordinate, and attend the annual State Capitol Days in Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.; and
  • Build and maintain relationships with community leaders and elected officials to update/enact policy to enhance suicide prevention.
PA Advocacy

Education Committee

AFSP offers a number of free education programs to the public to increase awareness and understanding of this complex health issue. Members of this committee will become trained to distribute educational materials and present our programs. Whether you learn to present a presentation, find opportunities to educate new communities, or table events, there’s a place for you on our education committee! Let us know what you’re interested in here! Here are just a few ways to be involved:

  • Talk Saves Lives Present our introductory suicide prevention program and its specialty modules to a range of audiences aged 18+. 
  • More Than Sad Present this teen-specific program to adolescents aged 14-18, parents, and educators. Work with schools and youth-based programs to implement regular trainings. 
  • It's Real: College Students and Mental Health to high school seniors and college students to encourage help-seeking with this unscripted documentary and facilitated discussion. Collaborate with schools and universities to incorporate this program into their curriculum.
  • Tabling:  Attend a variety of community and mental health fairs to share resources and information about our work.

Public Relations Committee

This committee is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of internal and external chapter-wide communications. Volunteers play an essential role in chapter marketing and public relations activity through:

  • Website Updates
  • Social Media
  • Email Communications
  • Newsletters / Online Blog
  • Press Releases
  • Public Speaking & Interviews
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Graphic Design

Fundraising Committee

Get involved planning some of our chapter fundraising events and help us develop new ones! This committee helps to:

  • Raise awareness and funds to serve our mission;
  • Support our Campus and Community Out of the Darkness Events;
  • Recruit event participants and sponsors;
  • Manage event logistics;
  • Organize Silent Auctions;
  • Apply for grants; and
  • Plan and organize non-walk fundraising events.
RMU

Loss & Healing Committee

Support for survivors of suicide loss can make a big difference to those who are grieving. If you feel ready and wish to share your compassion and empathy with those who are navigating their grief journey after a suicide loss, the Loss & Healing (L&H) Committee needs you. L&H volunteers are active in planning meaningful events and activities for loss survivors and reaching out into the community to share our resources after loss.  As a member of this committee you may:

  • Help plan remembrance activities for our major community events (i.e. Out of the Darkness Walks, Hike for Hope, etc.);
  • Connect with relevant community partners to raise awareness about the resources available to loss survivors;
  • Create and distribute Survivor Resource Packets;
  • Plan our annual International Survivors of Suicide Loss (ISOSL) Day events in the area;
  • Facilitate small group discussions at our ISOSL Day events; and
  • Become a trained Healing Conversations volunteer to provide direct peer support to other survivors of loss.
Healing Conversations

Project 2025 Committee

Get involved with our local efforts to support this national initiative to reduce the annual rate of suicide in the U.S. 20% by 2025. Learn more about Project 2025 and work with us on the four critical areas identified to save the most lives in the shortest amount of time:

  • Firearms;
  • Large Healthcare Systems;
  • Emergency Departments; and
  • Corrections Systems.

Nominations & Development Committee

We strive to build a strong volunteer community and need your help to welcome and support other volunteers! Work with our Volunteer Coordinator to create a positive volunteer experience through:

  • Direct outreach to recruit, welcome, onboard, and thank volunteers;
  • Planning and coordination of events to recruit, onboard, and steward volunteers (i.e. new volunteer orientations, social events, appreciation events);
  • Oversight and communication of chapter volunteer opportunities to registered volunteers;
  • Help support our chapter DEI initiatives;
  • Select, interview and onboard potential new board members;
  • Identify and pursue opportunities for chapter growth;
  • Make connections in the community to strengthen our volunteer base; and
  • Establish and steward partnerships with other community leaders, organizations, and businesses.
We Need You

Still have questions about getting involved?

Contact our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer.afspwpa@gmail.com

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