Chair sale to benefit suicide prevention efforts

CADILLAC NEWS June 24, 2013 By Kris Verhage – (see the full article with photos at (http://www.cadillacnews.coms_story/?story_id=1809870&year=2013&issue=20130624)

Old, castoff chairs are getting new looks and a new purpose to shed light on a dark subject. They’ll soon be for sale at Lake City’s Greatest Fourth in the North festival and at various businesses in Wexford and Missaukee counties. The proceeds from this sale will go toward Northern Lakes Community Mental Health’s suicide prevention and awareness efforts in the two counties. Local elementary and high school students, Girl Scouts and community members have been channeling their creative energy into painting and decorating the chairs, said Leilani Kitler, prevention and community coordinator for Northern Lakes in Cadillac. The agency provides and contracts services for adults with mental illness, those with developmental disabilities and children with serious emotional disturbances in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon and Wexford counties.

Many of those chairs were created by students at Mesick High School and St. Ann and Franklin Elementary schools in Cadillac, Kitler said.

For an end-of-the-school-year assignment, Mesick students in Sarah DeKett’s mixed media and sculpture classes and Scott Morey’s manufacturing class added personal touches to some 16 pieces, such as kitchen chairs, an office chair and even a high chair.

A few of those students knew a young man and recent Mesick graduate who had taken his life last fall, Kitler said. Ashley Cochrane, who just wrapped up her junior year, said she was fairly close to him. Her chair, which featured half a seat and missing one spindle, was painted bright shades of yellow and orange. She painted this saying on the seat: “Every rocky path leads to a sunrise and you are always part of a whole.” “This is what I would have given to him had I known…” Cochrane said.

ther chairs designed by Mesick students featured inspirational quotes and reflected interests such as books and sports. Many chairs were donated to the agency by community members. The Wexford Habitat for Humanity ReStore provided the agency with a gift certificate for chairs, Kitler said. Northern Lakes will accept chairs through June 30. To donate a chair, contact Kitler at (231) 876-3280 or

Chairs are scheduled to be sold Wednesday through Friday, July 3 to 5, at the Greatest Fourth in the North. After the festival, unsold chairs will be located at various Wexford and Missaukee business through August. Flyers will be placed on each chair indicating who to contact to buy it, Kitler said. Prices will range between $25 and $50. Proceeds will go toward the Suicide Awareness Walk set for Saturday, Sept. 14, beginning at the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion in Cadillac. The sale also will benefit students in the coming school year, she said.

“We’ve been working with some of the high school counselors to see what kind of things they need and what we can do to assist them and what materials they need to help their students,” Kitler added.

Northern Lakes Community Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Coalition of Wexford and Missaukee Counties invites those interested to participate in a webinar on suicide prevention on Thursday, June 27. The webcast, “Everyone Plays a Role in Suicide Prevention: Turning Strategy Into Action”, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon in the Dublin Room of the McAuley Center, Cadillac Mercy Hospital, 400 Hobart St. Lunch and discussion will follow from noon to 1:30 p.m. Space is limited. Register by Tuesday by visiting contacting Leilani Kitler at 876-3280 or e-mailing

(Note: The webinar will also be broadcast in Northern Lakes CMH’s Traverse City office at 105 Hall Street.)