ENGLEWOOD — After going to a few Holly’s Hope meetings, Realtor Mitch Mesenburg knew one way to help reach first responders suffering from PTSD is money for resources.
Mesenburg, a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Company, lost his son to suicide while in the military. Mesenburg and his wife Shannon recognize there is more to be done to help local firefighters, paramedics, police and dispatchers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which is often abbreviated to PTSD.
Mesenburg learned of a Charlotte County firefighter Tony File, who wasn’t doing well in September. File decided he needed psychological help, long-term counseling and new coping skills if he wanted to keep working in his profession. PTSD made him angry, scared, lonely, mentally exhausted and at risk for harming himself. The firefighter went to an out-of-state rehabilitation center strictly for first responders.
“We can’t keep losing these men and women,” Mesenburg said. “It’s time to say ‘I’m not OK, and I need help,’ but there has to be some place local to get the help.”
Mesenburg recommended Holly’s Hope for a grant from the Michael Saunders Foundation. Each Realtor picks a nonprofit to sponsor for a grant. Mesenburg recently learned Holly’s Hope was one of the company’s recipients for $1,800. This will help launch the program in the new year.
Then there was even more good news for the group.
“In lieu of office Christmas parties this year, Michael Saunders decided to let each office donate the money that would have been spent to a local charity,” Shannon Mesenburg said. “Mitch and I nominated Holly’s Hope. After hearing us tell Tony’s story and our plans to help our first responders — Mitch’s office unanimously voted for Holly’s Hope — as long as the money is only earmarked for this new program.”
Saunders gave each office $2,500.
“Mitch’s broker Mary Smedley got a matching fund from Kristina Watts with Englewood Bank,” Shannon said. “So Mary will be presenting Holly’s Hope with a check for $5,000 for our first responders program.”
Members were overjoyed.
“We are grateful to Michael Saunders, Kristina Watts, Mary Smedley and the Mesenburgs for helping Holly’s Hope,” said the group’s president Cory Hutchinson. “We have received $2,500 in grants from the Boca Cares Fund allocation recently as well. We really will start 2021 great with new financial resources to get people the help they need.”
Other Michael Saunders Foundation grantees were Englewood SKY Academy, sponsored by Mary Smedley; Englewood Boys & Girls Club, sponsored by Harvey Long; Charlotte County Habitat for Humanity, sponsored by Ron Paul; Tri-County Counseling, sponsored by Ellen Baker; C.A.R.E, sponsored by Misty Raines; and the Fund for Charitable Development, sponsored by Yvonne Wolf.
“This year has been very difficult for so many first responders who have seen people die from COVID-19 in addition to so many other things like suicide and overdoses, we really have to help them,” said Joan Morgan, who along with her husband founded Holly’s Hope.
“We have so much to do. We won’t stop. We know we can help people who are hurting. The new funding is so helpful because we haven’t been able to have in-person fundraisers this year. We are so grateful people want to help us with realistic, meaningful suicide prevention programs.”