Suffolk guild provides crane quilt

Published 6:52 pm Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Suffolk group will provide a centerpiece raffle item for an event next month that raises awareness for good mental health and honors loved ones lost to suicide or battling with depression.

Thousands are expected to attend the annual Out of the Darkness community walk at Mount Trashmore on Sept. 10. Last year, more than 8,000 people registered for the event.

Now in its 11th year, the walk is sponsored by The Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Group.

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Every year, a quilt is prepared and raffled off to an attendee. This year, the Suffolk Quilters Guild was chosen to prepare the quilt.

Nena Piner, president of the guild and a nurse at Waverly Medical Clinic, has had patients who battle with depression and has lost some to suicide.

“We feel this is worthwhile and a great opportunity to give back,” Piner said. “We hope the quilt will bring comfort.”

Like previous years, the quilt will feature an array of colors and crane patterns. The crane was chosen because it is an international symbol of healing, hope and peace.

At the beginning of the walk, attendees will walk through a curtain of cranes, in accordance with an ancient Japanese legend. The legend states if 1,000 cranes are prepared, prayers will be answered.

Chris Gilchrist, founder of the Hampton Roads SOS Group, said mental health is a stigmatized matter.

“There isn’t a stigma with other disease or physical health walks,” she said. “But you can’t raise awareness without countering the stigma.”

Several mental health awareness walks had already existed around the nation. But Gilchrist wanted to host one of her own in the Hampton Roads area. To date, it is one of the largest mental health awareness community walks in the country.

“It’s amazing to see individuals from all walks of life come together for a cause,” said Dr. Sheronda Farrow, clinical administrator of psychological services with the Western Tidewater Community Service Board.

During the day, several community and military leaders will address the crowd. In addition, counseling clinicians will be on-site. Farrow has volunteered as a clinician for the last four years.

“We get to talk with them right then and there,” Farrow said. “We are able to connect and be a conduit for them.”

The clinicians also recommend various counseling services for those seeking further assistance and treatment.

Just prior to the walk, attendees can request ribbons to wear to honor loved ones. Each ribbon color pertains to specific family members or friends lost to suicide.

To register for the walk, visit sos-walk.org or contact Gilchrist at 483-5111 for more information.