January 19, 2017 – This week, 350 AFSP volunteers and staff from across the country will converge in Irvine, California for our 12th annual Chapter Leadership Conference. The conference provides an opportunity for chapters to hear from AFSP’s National staff and volunteer leadership, showcase new programs, hear the latest in research, build skills through training, network, see old friends and meet new ones.
The first Chapter Leadership Conference was held in Philadelphia in 2006, with 56 attendees representing 22 chapters. The event has grown over the years as AFSP’s chapter network has grown, and this year, volunteers from each of AFSP’s 85 chapters, representing the 50 states, will be at the conference.
The conference culminates with the Saturday night awards banquet. Chapters are recognized for excellence in fundraising, program delivery, advocacy and more. While the competition is fierce, there is a palpable sense of comradery as chapters cheer for themselves and their fellow chapters in an evening of fun and excitement.
Even though the work we do can sometimes be emotionally difficult; it helps to share our experiences with others who have walked a similar path and understand why we spend so much of our time on suicide prevention. While we work hard in our few days together, and the schedule is intense, all of us leave the conference feeling reinvigorated to do the important work of saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide.
At these events, a network of volunteers becomes a family bound not by genetics or geographic proximity, but by a fierce passion for suicide prevention. People who have never met before form friendships that last a lifetime, and create a vital support network.
I love this event because it provides me the opportunity to see our incredibly dedicated volunteers and staff, and thank them face to face for all the work they do on behalf of this organization, and feel the energy and passion they bring to our cause.
Our chapters play a vital role in the work of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and have been a primary driver of our dramatic growth. They are our “boots on the ground” that carry out our mission on a daily basis delivering programs, advocating, raising funds and awareness. Together, we can reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025 and save lives.
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