'Be here tomorrow' signs put on display in Lake County communities

·3 min read

May 28—As part of Leadership Lake County's Signature Program, the class of 2022 has created a public display for NAMI Lake County, OH to remind community members they are not alone, whether they or a loved one has a mental health condition.

Through the sponsorship of Energy Harbor, the class was able to put up 10 signs around Lake County. The sites are the Madison Village Senior Center, Lakeland Community College, Lake Erie College, the Miracle Field of Lake County in Eastlake, Campbell Park in Willoughby Hills, Wes Point and Osborne parks in Willoughby, Coulby Park in Wickliffe and at parks in Willowick and Kirtland.

"NAMI Lake County, through the support of Lake County ADAMHS Board, is honored to provide free education and support to those who are affected by mental health conditions," said NAMI Lake County Executive Director Katie Jenkins. "We are excited to collaborate with Leadership Lake County and Energy Harbor to bring these supportive sings to the whole county."

The signs read, "Look for something positive in each day, even if you have to look a little harder," with a #beheretomorrow hashtag beneath.

"The purpose of this project was to create a public display that gives people hope, reminds them they are not alone and that a whole community wants them to be here tomorrow," Jenkins said. "Placing these signs in public areas that are regularly traveled allows us to bring mental health into the light."

According to Jenkins, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34.

"We need those who are at risk to know there is a whole community of people who want them to be here tomorrow," Jenkins said.

Annually, Leadership Lake County's Signature Program chooses various community impact projects for local nonprofits that make a difference in Lake County.

"Willoughby absolutely supports healthy living at every single level," said Willoughby Mayor Robert Fiala.

Mental health isn't something that is openly talked about very often, said Jennifer Kirschstein, portfolio manager with ErieBank in Mentor and a part of the class of 2022. Being able to partner with NAMI to bring mental health awareness has been one of her favorite parts of Leadership Lake County, she said.

"Just to be able to remind our community that it is OK to not be OK — something that small can make such an impact on someone," Kirschstein said. "Having these signs around Lake County, especially with a QR code that leads them to the NAMI website to receive help if needed helps me feel that we are taking the initiative to bettering our community."

Willoughby Deputy Finance Director Cher Hoffman said the city is grateful to all those who partnered with the city to get the signs in areas with high foot traffic to be visible to the community.

"We realized the need to reach out to those in need and for them to know they are not alone, and there is help," Hoffman said. "No one should suffer in silence when there are resources to help."

Leadership Lake County's Signature Program is designed for established professionals in preparation for progressive leadership positions within an organization, service on nonprofit boards and as community leaders. The program is an employer-supported professional development program, funded by tuition and corporate sponsors.

The application for the class of 2023 is now open. Applicants should reside or work in Lake County, exhibit a genuine concern for the future of the county and be amendable to the time commitment.