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Smiles for Jake launches SMILE program; artwork sought

Program fights for suicide prevention.

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What if a simple act of kindness or expression of concern could save a life? That is the question at the core of a new program being launched by Smiles for Jake.

Supporting, Mentoring, Inspiring Life in Everyone (otherwise known as SMILE) is a program that has four main components: Caring Letters, Tool Kits, Community Education, and Outreach. This research-based program is focused on reducing suicide rates, depression, anxiety, and mental health stigmas in the region.

“We’re thrilled to grow our organization and launch a formal program,” Kristi Westbrock, Smiles for Jake president, said in a news release. “The partnership we have with local medical staff is invaluable and provides the basis for SMILE. If anyone is experiencing depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder we believe that at least one aspect of our SMILE program will give them hope and positivity in their life.”

SMILE is a partnership with staff at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center and is supported by an initial $75,000 grant from Sourcewell.

“We’re so grateful for the partnership with Smiles for Jake and funding from Sourcewell,” said Jennifer Podsiadly, charitable fund and community relations coordinator at CRMC. “Given that physicians are twice as likely to die by suicide, this is a topic that profoundly affects the health care community.”

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The volunteer board is requesting the community’s help. The printed notecards used for the Caring Letters will feature the work of local artists. These notecards will then be used by local mental health providers, school leaders and “SMILE advocates” as they work with children, adults and families throughout the area.

Artwork submissions are due by Sunday, Nov. 14.

For information about the call for art or how to get involved in the SMILE program, visit www.smilesforjake.org/smile.

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