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Spend 2 Days on the Connecticut River for Paddle Power 2015

Aug 09, 2015 04:34PM ● By Erin Frisch
One stroke of a paddle may seem insignificant, but thousands of strokes together can be enough to turn the tide. At PADDLEPOWER, the people of the Upper Valley aim to do just that. Since its inception 13 years ago, the paddle-a-thon has raised money to support suicide prevention and awareness outreach through West Central Behavioral Health Center. You and your family or friends can join forces with other paddlers who dedicate two days to this important event highlighting the fight against suicide and depression.

PADDLEPOWER is two days of kayaking and canoeing down 25 miles of the Connecticut River. Participants come with their vessel of choice, life vests, camping gear, and a passion for raising awareness about depression and suicide prevention. This year, 2015, the event will take place on Saturday and Sunday, August 15 and 16. Between the launch site in Orford, New Hampshire, and the journey’s end in Wilder, Vermont, the banks of the river will be filled with supporters and volunteers as well as food stations with tables laden with snacks and meals for hungry paddlers. The closing ceremony at the finish is a time for celebration, awareness, gratitude, and reflection, as folks remember those lost and look forward to many more years together with those who have benefitted from the work of West Central Behavioral Health Center.

PADDLEPOWER is much more than two days of energetic people paddling furiously. At its core, it represents a dedication to human life. Money raised by groups and individuals participating in the event goes to support the work of West Central Behavioral Health’s Emergency Services Program—a community mental health agency located in Lebanon, right off the square, and with outpatient clinics in Lebanon, Newport, and Claremont. Heidi Postupack, director of marketing and development, says PADDLEPOWER is indispensable for providing much-needed resources for the program. “[PADDLEPOWER] is West Central’s most important fundraising event and raises awareness of suicide prevention efforts and emergency services provided by West Central,” she says.

The effects of this event are profound—to date, the program has raised over one million dollars. The power of donations can be seen in the services that West Central provides. For example, 365 days a year, its Emergency Service responds to calls from schools, businesses, or individuals alerting them to mental health crises. The hotline operates 24 hours a day at (800) 564-2578. In addition, West Central provides therapeutic treatment to those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide. Therapy ranges from managing daily stress to treating severe mental illness. West Central’s Adult Outpatient Programs ensure that positive effects are long lasting. Substance abuse treatment, Couples Therapy, and the InSHAPE Wellness Program are just a few of the programs that funds go to support. These are complemented by Child and Family Services such as Child-Parent Psychotherapy and Play Therapy. The money raised by PADDLEPOWER often has unseen yet indispensable effects.

PADDLEPOWER offers more than fundraising benefits. While the funds go toward providing support and therapy, the event itself is a chance for community members to bond. Heidi Postupack notes that much of the dedication and enthusiasm for the event comes from those who have lost loved ones to suicide. “PADDLEPOWER gives them a way to grieve, heal, and then do something very meaningful and effective to help prevent suicide from devastating other families,” adds Heidi. The sight of hundreds of paddlers, some in colorful costumes, making their way between the wide banks of the river is truly moving. It’s enough to remind everyone that there’s always a network of support for them or their loved ones who might slip into troubled waters.

To make a splash in suicide awareness and prevention, visit the PADDLEPOWER website now to volunteer, donate, or register to paddle.

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