Shrewsbury walk to support mental health services

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‘It’s okay to not be okay…’

By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Zoe Wolfus
Photo/submitted

Shrewsbury – The community is invited to show support for those suffering from mental illness by taking part in a weekend of activities, Saturday, Oct. 31 and Sunday, Nov. 1. 

The events to be held virtually will include a community walk on Saturday and vigil on Sunday evening and benefit Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Team – “Be a Bro, Walk for Zoe.”

Zoe Wolfus was a young Shrewsbury woman who died Aug. 27 after struggling with depression.  

The goal of the weekend, organizers said, is to help eradicate the stigma around issues related to mental health and to affirm that “it’s okay to not be okay.”

And the walk/vigil is truly a coming together of the community as two groups were planning similar but overlapping events, but then decided to join forces. 

SYFS board member Kathleen Keohane shared that they were planning to revive a Community Walk for Mental Health that was forced to cancel last spring. 

Shrewsbury resident Lisa Abair Vuona said that she and her friend, local Realtor and philanthropist Andrea Castinetti had wanted to do something for the Wolfus family. 

“We wanted to bring some exposure to what teens and others might be struggling with when it comes to depression and mental illness,” Vuona remarked.

“…I wanted to do something to show support,” Castinetti said. “We want to end the stigma; we want to raise awareness and we want to see all walks of life come together so it’s not such a hush hush thing that these kids are battling.”

Keohane said that a lot of teens are struggling but no one wants to talk about it.

 “You aren’t alone, you can talk about it. It’s okay and there shouldn’t be a stigma,” she stressed.

“Every day, and particularly during this demanding year of challenges and changes, it’s important to us to let people know that they aren’t alone, they never will be, and that SYFS is here to help ease their pain and get them through difficult times. We are here in the community and accessible to all,” added Christine Mowry, executive director of SYFS.

During the pandemic Zoe would paint “Kindness Rocks” with uplifting messages that she then placed around town.

“The Wolfus’ are grateful for the walk and the opportunity to extend the idea of the rocks and supporting Zoe’s cause,” Keohane commented.

The Garden of Sweet Remembrance at Prospect Park is a favorite spot for the Wolfus family and that is where they go to find solace. As such, the Friends of Prospect Park will be creating a rock walkway there. 

Keohane noted that there are some friends of Zoe’s that also plan to hold safe rock painting parties via Zoom in her honor.