CHS, Inc. provides $2,000 contribution through its 'Seeds of Stewardship' initiative.

    For months the mission has been established and laudable, and stakeholders and experts from a myriad of agencies and organizations have sat around tables and otherwise communicated to make sure that everyone has remained on the same page so everyone can hit the ground running at the opportune moment.

    And now, with a $2,000 donation from CHS, Inc. to the H.O.P.E. Coalition (Help, Outreach, Prevention and Education), coalition members are ready to embark on their mission of suicide prevention.

    “It’s our first donation and we’re very excited for that,” said Northwestern Mental Health Center CEO Shauna Reitmeier, while adding some additional contributions are in the pipeline as well. “(The CHS, Inc. donation) is basically our seed money. Now we can get to work on trying to do some good.”

    NWMHC, a non-profit agency, is the fiscal host for the H.O.P.E. Coalition, but the local, area and regional involvement goes far beyond a single agency.

    With several suicides locally and in the area over the past few years, Reitmeier said a group of people got together with the idea that doing nothing was not an option. Community civic groups like the Lions (of which Reitmeier is a member) and Rotary clubs, Knights of Columbus and Masons joined forces to provide themselves training, and Reitmeier said it mushroomed from there. “It became, ‘Should we bring in other groups?’” she explained. “And the resounding answer was yes, we should.”

    So they reached out to people who’d been touched by suicide, faith-based communities, Polk County Public Health, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, RiverView Health, Altru, Crookston Chamber of Commerce, the eight-county adult mental health initiative, Stanford Behavioral Health in Thief River Falls, LifeCare in Roseau, and others.

    “I think when you see the number of people involved, you realize how important this is,” Reitmeier said.

    The H.O.P.E. Coalition’s primary goal is to bring awareness, education and resources together throughout the entire northwest region of Minnesota to prevent suicide. “There are alternatives to dying by suicide when dealing with challenging situations or mental health issues,” Reitmeier explained. “That’s the essence of the message we want to get out there.”

    In a nutshell, she adds, “We’re trying to do some good.”

    The goal, she said, is to change the “perception in communities around suicide.

    “Through our training, we want to start changing attitudes and beliefs,” Reitmeier continued. “Are people learning and gaining more knowledge? Do they know how to access more services through our efforts? Those are measurables we are going to try and track.”

    The CHS, Inc. donation points to stresses on the farm that have been magnified of late with the sagging agricultural economy, Reitmeier said. “A large at-risk population in our region is our farmers and farm communities,” she said, adding that the H.O.P.E. Coalition applied for the CHS, Inc. grant through its “Seeds of Stewardship” initiative.

    “This is our first large donation, and with it, we’re going to start our marketing and outreach,” she said. “We’re very happy to be off and running on this.”

    If you’d like to contribute your time or money, you can contact Reitmeier, H.O.P.E. Coalition chair, at sreitmeier@nwmhc.org.