The School of Nursing at Saint Peter’s University has already surpassed 54 other teams in its fundraising efforts for the upcoming Out of the Darkness New York City Walk. The event will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and according to team captain Michelle Beckford, the project’s future looks bright.
Saint Peter’s own nursing program currently ranks sixth out of 60 teams actively fundraising for the walk which will take place in Battery Park on Oct 28. Dr. Beckford, an assistant professor of nursing, said the money raised this semester has already exceeded the team’s original $3000 goal by $1000. But despite this success, the fundraising project still remains in its early stages.
Students have not yet begun to fully participate, explained Dr. Beckford.
“As it gets closer, I think we’ll have more. I got campus ministry posting the sign-up sheet. Some people have posted about it on their Facebooks.”
Dr. Beckford said anyone can contribute to the cause just by creating awareness—either across campus or online.
“People can walk, join the team, or spread the word. It’s hard to get the word out for more positive things sometimes.”
“Our professor told us about it, and I went and signed up,” said Nicole Golden, a nursing student. “And with the easy access to post onto social networking sites like Facebook, it made it easy for me to spread the word. I started getting donations, and I felt good about supporting a good cause.”
“It started out of my vision of service learning, giving back to the community,” Dr. Beckford said.
Her team consists primarily of students in her senior Mental Health Nursing class and the decision to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention ties in with the course’s subject matter.
“What can be more appropriate to mental health nursing than trying to support suicide prevention?” Beckford asked.
Proceeds from the Out of the Darkness New York City Walk will help fund study, education, and advocacy programs dedicated both to preventing suicide and to supporting survivors, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.
But raising money is not the only way to support the cause, explained Beckford.
“I’m telling students I don’t need them to contribute money,” she said. “Some have raised a little bit of money. I want them to walk.”
She hopes that increased participation will bring some recognition to the university as a whole.
“I have 35 people ready to walk. And there’s visibility with 35 people, I presume. There’ll be recognition to teams placed on the top five.”
A sum of less than $100 currently separates the School of Nursing’s fundraising team from the fifth place spot. However, despite the possibility of bolstering the university’s reputation, the project’s real goal remains supporting others, said Beckford.
“It fits with the message of Saint Peter’s, I think,” she added. “Being men and women for others and contributing to the community.”
Erich Berkowitz Sekel, Saint Peter’s associate director of campus ministry for community service, expressed a similar view.
“Any time you’re raising awareness for when people are in need connects to the cura personalis, care for the whole person,” he said.
“I think there should be a foundation out there that supports prevention of suicide and aid to those in need like AFSP,” Golden explained. “Everyone should have someone to turn to, even if it is a total stranger.”
“Anyone who is struggling with or even thinking about suicide certainly could use love and care from others” agreed Sekel.
Dr. Beckford has not limited the fundraising effort to nursing students alone, and developing a large support system to support others has been instrumental in the fundraiser’s early success.
“We don’t exclude to just the school of nursing,” Beckford said. “We’re reaching out to family and friends as well.”
Nicole Golden also stressed the importance of teamwork.
“I don’t think it’s the hand of one person who makes a difference,” she said. “I think everyone plays a part, and I’m just glad to be able to help.”
Anyone interested in getting involved can visit the School of Nursing’s “DonorDrive” page on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website. You can sign up to take part in the walk at the Office of Campus Ministry or even start your own fundraising team online.
The Internet continues to be a major vehicle for drumming up support.
“I’ve been doing a lot of emailing for sponsors and support systems, family and friends,” said Dr. Beckford.
“All you can do is try,” added Golden. “I’m certain most everyone has a Facebook and it isn’t difficult to just post a feed on your wall in hopes of any return at all and to ask others to repost and spread the word.”
Click here to visit the School of Nursing’s donation page.