Yardi Features Walk for Hope
Walk for Hope: Supporting Mental Health
On a cool October morning, Raleigh community members congregated outside of Angus Barn Restaurant. They weren’t there for the restaurant’s award-winning steak or stellar service. More than 3,800 people gathered to participate in the Thad and Alice Eure Walk for Hope. As Foundation of Hope’s premiere fundraiser, the organization has raised more than $3.8 million for the research and treatment of mental illness.
Yardi Vice President of Client Services Greg Smith recruited a team of 10 representatives from various departments. United by matching gray t-shirts inscribed TKO, the Raleigh office joined Walk for Hope to honor the memory of the late Tim K. Owens.
“Tim was one of the nicest guys that you could ever meet,” recalls Greg. “He was easy to be friends with and he had this great, adventuresome spirit: he rode motorcycles, played guitar, and loved to travel to exotic locations.”
When Tim wasn’t at enjoying his hobbies, he served Yardi as a manager of Client Services. He was an incredibly hard worker, appreciated by his colleagues and popular with clients. But Tim’s momentum ended too soon. “His battle with depression eventually led him to take his own life,” says Greg. Tim’s untimely death shocked the Raleigh office.
Many Walk for Hope participants share similar stories of struggle and loss. It’s a common thread that Shelley Belk would like to see severed. As the Executive Director of Foundation of Hope, Shelley strives to see a community that is united in victory over mental illness.
“One of the biggest problems with mental health is that people aren’t getting the help that they need because of the stigma,” Shelley explains. “We need people to understand that just like a heart that’s not working properly, a brain may not be working properly and there are ways to help. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. They need to take advantage of that help.”
Foundation of Hope aims to remove the social stigma surrounding mental illness by bringing the discussion into the public. Fundraising events like Walk for Hope double as a community support groups where families can share stories and resources. After each event, representatives of the health industry are present to education and assist those with questions about mental well-being.
After 27 years, Shelley is starting to see a difference. “There is still a lot of shame and embarrassment but people are beginning to discuss their family’s illnesses more than they did in the past. It’s a slow process,” says Shelley. “We feel like the Walk for Hope has helped to lift that stigma. When you come out here, you know that everyone around you has been touched in some way. People see that they’re not alone. It gives them permission, in a way, to know they can open up.”
As the public speaks more openly about mental illness, the search for cures and treatment gains fervency. Board members at Foundation of Hope discuss the most promising trial research, channeling financial support to innovative ideas coming out of UNC Chapel Hill’s research facilities. If these three-year trials yield promising insights, the studies pique the interest of the National Institute of Mental Health, leading to larger grants and continued study.
Yardi’s contributed seed money for this year’s breakthrough research. Additional funds will also be used to orchestrate the 27th annual Walk for Hope, which will take place on October 12th. “We thrive on the support of businesses like Yardi,” says Shelley. “Their contributions are a lifeline that can truly save the lives of others.”