The 2016 Out of the Darkness Overnight Walks will be in San Francisco on May 21 and New York City on June 4.
How long have you worked for AFSP?
I have been with AFSP for over three years. This year will mark my 6th (San Francisco) and 7th (New York City) Overnight Walks.
My first walk was in DC. Since then, I’ve gone to Seattle, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Boston. But there’s something really special about having the Walk in my own city, and I am genuinely looking forward to seeing the Overnight take over NYC on June 4th-5th.
How do you describe your job to other people?
It’s hard to describe my job in a few words: it really just becomes a conversation. Every time I tell someone where I work, it leads to a much more in-depth discussion about their own personal connection to mental health, or how they’d like to get involved. I love that I get to share such a deep, personal topic with people when I’m asked the simple question of: “What do you do?”
What is your favorite part of your job?
For me, it’s really two things. First, it’s seeing everything come together at the Overnight. As coaches, we each work with thousands of walkers every season to help them with their fundraising, training, and overall prep. Come the day of the walk, we feel very proud to have been a part of that journey. Second, it’s those everyday conversations. We get the rare opportunity to speak with people who may have never told someone about their personal connection to this subject, or even a loss they’ve experienced. We don’t just take that for granted, when people share their stories with us: it means a lot.
Tell us about a favorite moment on the job
It genuinely is hard to pick one. I keep a little folder in Outlook called “Why I Love My Job,” and it’s filled with walker emails and exchanges that are really meaningful to me. If I had to choose, though, I think my favorite moment would be my very first Overnight in Washington, DC. I remember my manager, Jason, told me to run over to the stage because the opening ceremony was about to begin, and he wanted me to be able to see it. One really special part of the opening of the Overnight is what we call the Honor Bead Ceremony. If you’ve never checked it out, I’d encourage you to take a look at our video, because it’s one of those moments that just fills me with every kind of emotion, and is really hard to put into words. We wear honor beads at the Overnight to symbolize our connection to the cause. It’s a way to immediately feel a connection to those around you without having to even say the words aloud. I see it every year at the walk, that moment when two strangers look at each other, and with a nod, just “get it.” I remember Melissa d’Arabian (Celebrity Chef and Food Network Star) led the bead ceremony in DC my first year, and it was a very powerful moment to see walkers each representing a different connection clasp hands across the stage. Because, that’s what this is all about: a community that lets you know you’re not alone.
Why should people do the Overnight Walk?
Quite simply, because it will change your life. No matter your connection, I urge everyone to take part in this amazing night in some way. It will leave you changed for the better. I sincerely believe that.
Fun fact about you!
I am a big Phil Collins fan. The other coaches (Erin, Rebecca and Melissa) indulge me by listening to the Tarzan soundtrack at work.
What are your honor bead colors?
Like what you're reading? Go to our Sharing Your Story page, where you'll find resources for sharing your own story, including story ideas, blog submission guidelines, tips for sharing your story safely and creative exercises to help you get started, and assignments for upcoming topics.
Write a blog post for AFSP! Click here for our Submission Guidelines.