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Making a Difference Doesn't Mean You Can't Have Fun

July 16, 2013

Making a Difference Doesn't Mean You Can't Have Fun

Anna Ruth Williams is a host committee member for Southern Shindig, an event geared toward and organized by young professionals in Atlanta. Anna Ruth talks about her involvement with Skyland Trail and why young Atlanta professionals should come out for  Southern Shindig on August 16, 2013.

How did you get involved with Skyland Trail?

I first learned of Skyland Trail through my involvement with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Atlanta Chapter.  I had the opportunity to experience Skyland Trail’s beautiful facilities and interact with its passionate professional staff.  Since then, AFSP and Skyland Trail have teamed up to co-host events, like May’s Living with Bipolar film screening.  I was thrilled when Skyland Trail’s team asked me to get more involved by co-hosting this year’s Southern Shindig. 

You are active in the community and with other organizations. What makes your involvement with Skyland Trail so special?

I lost my dad, Rev. Mike Williams, to suicide in 2008.  At the age of 24, I was faced with never having a father to walk me down the aisle and no dad to guide me through my career and adult years.  Inspired by his life of compassion and determined by his battle with depression, I decided to dedicate my life to raising awareness of mental illness in hopes of preventing suicide among at-risk individuals. 

I am so passionate about helping Skyland Trail because its holistic approach to recovery is exactly what my dad needed.  If I had known about Skyland earlier, perhaps we could’ve gotten my dad in this amazing treatment.  It’s too late for my family, but it’s not too late for the thousands of families currently affected by serious mental illness. 

How would you describe Southern Shindig to someone who has never attended – or what would you say to encourage them to attend or sponsor the event?

Raising awareness and making a difference doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.  Southern Shindig is going to be a great party that raises the funds necessary to give mentally ill adults and young adults a chance at true recovery.  More importantly, it’s an opportunity for you to talk to your friends about Skyland Trail’s mission and mental illness in a way that raises awareness and reduces stigma.

What makes it a unique fundraising event?

To my knowledge, Southern Shindig is the Atlanta mental health community’s only young professional event.  Interestingly, most mental illness symptoms manifest between the ages of 19 and 27.  Therefore, its really important for young professionals to support mental health programs like Skyland Trail – and Southern Shindig is the perfect opportunity! 

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