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Community Foundation fund established for Project Mental Wellness

In a few years, a new Sarnia Community Foundation fund for a mental health initiative could be helping people pay for therapy.

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In a few years, a new Sarnia Community Foundation fund for a mental health initiative could be helping people pay for therapy.

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That’s one of the longer-term visions Leanne Fera, with Project Mental Wellness, said she’s considering.

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“Insurance benefits, $1,000 if you’re lucky, or $1,200, barely get you started if you need regular counselling,” said Fera, who established Project Mental Wellness to raise awareness, encourage conversations, and provide support for people affected by suicide.

Her husband Len died by suicide nearly two years ago.

“It’s something down the road we’d like to entertain is, ‘How do we provide funding for families that have experienced trauma?’” she said.

The fund, established Feb. 8, has about $3,500 so far from past Project Mental Wellness fundraisers like a beer branding campaign with Imperial City Brew House and a documentary, both titled Things We Should Say and designed to encourage openness.

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“We certainly have lots of different outlets in the community wanting to make donations and such, so we really needed to be able to have this options for the donations,” Fera said about setting up the fund.

More fundraising initiatives are planned to build the fund, which could also potentially function as a scholarship or bursary fund, she said.

Options are open, said the foundation’s Mike Barron.

“As it grows, we’ll be able to determine if it goes into giving back to a scholarship, or if it goes back to support programs for the community,” he said.

The foundation has returned $10 million to community organizations and projects in Sarnia-Lambton since it was established in 1983, officials said in a news release, notice funds include leadership initiatives, scholarships, endowment funds and grants for various projects and programs.

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Details are pending but the next Project Mental Wellness fundraiser scheduled for May 25 and called Dining with the Dead will feature tickets to a psychic medium event, Fera said.

“A big part of the healing process is being able to talk about those people (who have died), and yet death makes people uncomfortable,” she said.

Hopes are having the dinner event, which also features readings, helps with that, she said.

A one-day retreat for suicide loss survivors, not a fundraiser, is  planned April 27, she said.

Details for that too will be posted at projectmentalwellness.com when they’re available, she said.

“Suicide grief is tricky, very different than other grief, and it’s difficult to explain,” Fera said.

“Being able to support those people who are on the same journey as you is necessary.”

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