A Sip in the Park to Fight Suicide

June 5, 2017 – AFSP’s Greater Boston Chapter held its sixth “A Sip in the Park” benefit earlier this month at historic Fenway Park. There was great food and wine, live music, silent and live auctions, and one of the most breathtaking views in the city.

The fundraising event, which I co-chair with fellow Greater Boston Chapter Board member Kate Eisenberg, is now an annual tradition in Boston. This year, the event brought together 200 guests to celebrate AFSP and honor the work of Boston’s McLean Hospital and the “Deconstructing Stigma” campaign.

In December of 2016, McLean Hospital, in partnership with AFSP, Boston’s Logan Airport and other supporters, launched a high profile exhibit at the airport featuring over 30 portraits of individuals affected by mental illness. The powerful installation, which covers an entire 235-foot hallway between Logan’s Terminals B & C, displays eight-foot tall portraits of people who look just like…well, you and me.  They are mothers, fathers, doctors, musicians, students, bus drivers, and lawyers. In their own words, they describe the complexity of living with a psychiatric disorder, and the sense of shame they have faced as a result. For those who have seen the exhibit (or the accompanying book) it is a powerful reminder that mental illness can affect anyone.

Held in Fenway Park’s exclusive EMC Club high above home plate, this year’s Sip in the Park event included fine wine and craft beer, paired with elegant food (and some Fenway Franks!). The live auction included items like courtside Celtics tickets, luxury box Red Sox tickets and event club seats to see the Boston Bruins.

A short program included AFSP’s Nancy Farrell speaking about Project 2025, as well as AFSP’s partnership with the National Sport Shooting Foundation, an alliance that will put information about suicide warning signs and prevention into the hands of those who use and sell firearms.

McLean’s President and Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Dr. Scott Rauch of McLean, was present to be honored with our Lifesaver Leadership Award, and spoke about McLean’s long and productive partnership with AFSP’s Greater Boston Chapter.

“With our two missions so closely aligned, the relationship between McLean and the AFSP is vitally important, as we both continue to influence public perception through education,” said Dr. Rauch. “On behalf of McLean, I want to express our deep gratitude and admiration for the work of the AFSP. It is a tremendous privilege to be associated with such a marvelous organization. Thank you for everything you do to prevent suicide and fight stigma.

“Through our joint efforts using public education and by speaking openly about mental illness and suicide, we — all of us in this room — are fighting stigma and changing lives. With one in five American adults experiencing mental illness each year, and suicide taking nearly 44,000 lives annually, it is critical that efforts like those undertaken by the AFSP and organizations like McLean continue to educate and engage the public.”

This year’s “A Sip in the Park” event raised over $105,000 for AFSP. It just as importantly brought together 200 people, both old friends and new supporters, to spread the word about mental health and suicide prevention.

** Photo credits thanks to Scott Eisen **


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