Suicide prevention non-profit JD Foundation is closing its doors
For nearly 15 years as a recognized non-profit organization the Abbot Village-based JD Foundation has worked across Maine to bring down youth suicide and bullying rates through awareness and education.
JD Foundation founder Cheryl Morin said the difficult decision has been made to close the organization. Morin has been working on suicide prevention for 17 years and the foundation will have had non-profit status for 15 years as of Oct. 8, the date of formal closure.
Any leftover foundation monies — which would not be a lot — along with any other money that comes in — will be donated to another non-profit organization, Morin said. There is no decision yet on what group will get the money, she said.
“I’m really proud of that and I’m really proud of all the people, from donating to coming to our workshops and learning what they can so they can help others even the high schools that we have taught in,” Morin said on Aug. 30.
“I’m forever grateful to every single one of them,” she said referring to all the volunteers and businesses and private donors who have contributed over the years.
The JD Foundation began after the loss of Morin’s son, William Joe Day, who died by suicide on Nov. 18, 2005. His initials represent the JD in JD Foundation. Morin soon turned her grief into action.
She said there are several reasons for the organization’s closure. “We never came back from COVID, financially we didn’t have the number of people at our walks, we didn’t have the help to do the big, big yard sales and auctions,” Morin said.
Her age and health — which in recent years has made her unable to go into schools for presentations and programs — and that of her husband Victor are also factors. “He’s done a lot of the heavy, hard work and I don’t want to put him through that anymore,” Morin said.
JD Foundation volunteers are also aging out and new people have not been coming in.
“It’s a bittersweet time but we have been trying to make this decision for a year and here we are,” she said.
For Morin there is a lot to be proud of over the last decade and a half-plus, such as “getting the word out by talking and teaching” about mental illness and suicide so people can know that it’s okay to discuss these subjects.
“When we started this people didn’t talk about suicide, they didn’t even say the word,” she said. “I’m not saying the JD Foundation has changed this by ourselves, it’s taken all the organizations that are out there, but I am proud that we have had a part in making it a very important subject – a health issue, a disease from mental illness.”
“To go from not knowing what it really was to making an impact in the state and helping others is just phenomenal,” Morin added.
The organization has taught more than 1,000 students across Maine, helping them learn the warning signs and where to get help, she said. Other programs included over 200 Connecting with Nature walks, hikes, and kayaking trips with those taking part ranging in age from 2-92.
Morin said some of these participants have married, divorced, and started their own hiking, walking groups while making many friendships and this helped some of the participants with depression, anxiety, and loneliness.
The organization has conducted more than 50 trainings, seen more than 100 clients for one-on-one help, visited families all over the state who have lost loved ones, offered several women’s retreats, and made referrals when applicable.
The JD Foundation founder wants the public to know, “Whether we have an organization or not, we are always here. Our door is open and I will continue to do one on one traumatic incident reduction and life stress reduction (sessions) with people. We will continue to talk about suicide out loud.”
“I also don’t want people to forget this started with my son and my son’s suicide,” Morin said. “Part of this is really bittersweet because it’s like the loss of a connection to him.”
To reach a suicide prevention hotline, call 888-568-1112 or 800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.