PAULDING – It takes like minded people determined to make a difference to create a collaborative group with the objective of changing the narrative. Three Paulding County residents have done just that - Lisa Clinton, Beckie Bennett and Jillene McMichaels have formed BEL;EVE, an organization created to educate the community on mental health and suicide awareness and prevention.

All three have experience with suicide and understand the profound effect it has on lives. They also understand that it is a complex subject and that mental health is equally important. They also have observed the stigma that surrounds mental health and suicide; that is easily dismissed or pushed aside due to negative reactions from people.

Clinton, Bennett and McMichaels are determined to change that narrative. Their first step to do that is hosting an event collaborating with Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and United Way. At thier event they will also be hosting guest speakers from Maumee Valley Guidance Center, NAMI and The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation. B.J. Horner, from Maumee Valley Guidance Center, will be a speaker and recently received the Advocate of the Year Award.

McMichaels, Clinton and Bennett are determined to change the narrative by building the bridge between residents of Paulding County and resources that are available not only locally, but statewide.

They also have a goal of creating an environment where people feel safe and understand that not only are they not alone with their feelings, but that those feelings are valid. To create that environment they are creating and connecting people to peer support groups.

BEL;EVE will be hosting an event on November 27 at the Paulding Eagles beginning at 5 p.m. Live music presented by Ed Paul Fry and Rapid Fire, a silent auction, raffles, and a bake sale will be a few of the draws for the entire community. A candle-light vigil will be held beginning at 6 p.m. Purchase of a luminary for this will be available onsite.

The hope is that this event is the first stepping-stone of a county wide action to develop and implement improvement in how mental health and suicide prevention in Paulding County is worked with, viewed, recognized. They hope to see residents from the county attend.

Please contact Lisa Clinton at 419-506-1426, Beckie Bennett at 419-670-3027 or Jillene McMichaels at 419-769-5504 for further information or to make monetary/auction/bake sale item donations.