Andy’s House to host first event with “The S Word”

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

Now that Andy’s House has a home address, the Berthoud-based organization will host its first event July 31 with the aim to break the stigma around suicide.

Andy’s House, A Healing Center, will show the documentary, “The S Word,” followed by a question-and-answer session 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Grace Place, 375 Meadowlark Dr.

“This is a chance to stop the silence and the stigma around suicide,” said Cheryl Mlcoch, a licensed professional counselor and co-founder and program director of Andy’s House. “Were getting to a point where we’re able to talk about it. … If you talk about it, you open up that secret. It’s that secret that kills you.”

Last month the organization, in the process of applying for nonprofit status, collaborated with Grace Place to have a location to hold events and, once the status is approved, to provide other activities.

The showing of the one-hour documentary will be a way to introduce the organization’s mission of helping teens struggling with thoughts and previous attempts of suicide and offer support for their families. The documentary, released in 2017, presents several stories of those who survived attempts of suicide and family members who lost loved ones to suicide.

“It’s really just to educate and get the conversation going,” Mlcoch said. “That’s why it’s called the S word. No one wants to say the word ‘suicide.’”

Following an introduction about Andy’s House and the showing of the movie there will be a one-hour question-and-answer session, along with information about local resources.

“We wanted to do it now because the school year is getting ready to start,” Mlcoch said.

Mlcoch and Michelle Chavez, a family nurse practitioner and co-founder and executive director of Andy’s House, plan to show the film on a regular basis, along with hosting other events to encourage discussion on the topic of suicide.

Their next event will focus on inspirational stories of hope from local suicide-attempt survivors, followed by a question-and-answer session. That event will be 1:30-3:30 p.m. Aug. 12, also at Grace Place. Four speakers, including Mlcoch, will each speak for 15 minutes to share their stories and then will take questions.

“This is more intimate. It’s from local people,” Mlcoch said. “You can engage with the speakers right there. … We all love stories. That’s how we can create a connection with people.”

Mlcoch hopes the event will give courage to others who may need help and encourage them to not hide but ask for that help.

“They can see there are people who have been through it and come out on the other side,” Mlcoch said. “Most people who attempted keep it a secret. They don’t want to affect their families or jobs.”

Mlcoch and Chavez want to offer a variety of services and community events through Andy’s House, which combines traditional and nontraditional therapeutic approaches in a range of programming, education and support. Grace Place will provide space for Andy’s House to offer some of the initial programs, including animal-assisted therapy with puppies and kittens, trauma-informed yoga and meditation, and music therapy. The scheduling of the programs will depend on interest and the number of volunteers.

“I’m gathering people who are interested in helping us out,” Mlcoch said. “Right now we’re trying to educate the community and let them know we’re coming. “

Those interested in attending the documentary showing are encouraged to RSVP at Cheryl@andyshouse.live and to provide a $5 donation. For more information about Andy’s House, visit www.andyshouse.live or go to the organization’s Go Fund Me page, https://www.gofundme.com/myandyshouse. So far, $1,900 of a $10,000 goal has been raised to cover initial costs.

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