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Being Aware

Val Rowe
by GO Magazine October 2007

DISSATISFIED by the lack of Government grants and funding for suicide awareness, Val felt a strong desire to start doing something practical to help.

"At the time there wasn't help out there and I could see a ot of people suffering in different ways and I just wanted to get involved and raise awareness," Val said.

It has only been four years and in that time Val has indeed raised awareness of the early warning signs of depression and mental illness. Val admits that in the last twelve months alone people are more open and feel free to talk about it and more people are going to counselling.

"It's not a bad thing to have a mental illness - it's no different to any other illness. Sure there are complications and hard roads to go down, but I don't think people have to hide behind doors anymore."

Val has started some extremely worthwhile projects for the region, including "Bricks for Life," a fundraising initiative to build a 24 hour suicide safe house for low risk patients and for their families to be able to find support and advice. Bricks are just $2 each and can be donated through all leading retail stores.

The Christmas Tree is another project which is close to Val and her families heart. For the past two years young people who are on their own receive a Christmas gift. Last year through the Christmas Tree Val helped 128 young people and 7 farming families with food hampers and gifts.

"A lot of those kids had no family to share Christmas with that day or home life at all - the tears that flowed over a pair of socks. For a couple of the youths we did give them hope and now they have jobs. It's amazing to think that something so small to us means the world to someone on the street."

Val credits her strong family unit as her support network and admits that they all pitch in to help. It's not always easy working seven days a week. She said without her family she wouldn't get half the things she needs to get done.

"I think its good that people can ask for help. The most rewarding thing is to see someone going through a hard time and to see them come through it with a smile at the end," said Val who gets excited about the progress of projects and the people involved, "every single person who we've helped in this town has come from our community."

And that really is what drives Val. Her family thinks the world of her, her sister Kim says she literally always puts someone else first and every night is always doing something for someone.

"Val does a lot of great work. She's a very dedicated person and she's always there to run an extra mile - she's an angel," said Kim.

Val is certainly good at getting people involved and recently held the "Walk Away Your Worries" with over 26 walkers raising funds to help Val fund the Christmas Tree appeal and other programs to make people more aware of Suicide Awareness.

Her involvement in assisting the Youth Speak Out Team voice their concerns has allowed young people to be heard and City leaders have acknowledged and implemented all of their requests. Her family is her cornerstone and every saturday night is a family tradition in the Rowe household where all the family gather to enjoy each other's company. Val says sadly family get togethers are missing in a lot of families homes, but rain, hail or shine the Rowe family makes time for this.



Suicide Awareness .com Inc

PO Box 8039, Griffith
NSW 2680, Australia