Our second Texas display at Alvin Community College certainly got off to a unique start. Things started off mostly standard—We woke up, grabbed breakfast, and hopped in our truck to head towards campus. The sun was just coming up and we could feel its warmth (always a good sign for the day) right away. We met with a few organizers from the campus and asked what kind of volunteers we could expect to help set up the display.
“Well, the police cadets will be here shortly,” we heard. We’ve had a lot of different things happen during these tours, but this was a new one. Within a few minutes we had not only the help of students and faculty members, but also of dozens of eager police cadets.
The new volunteers began placing backpacks and within 15 minutes the display was ready to go. This incredibly fast timing worked out to our advantage, because within minutes, professors began sending entire classes full of students out to see the display.
A lot of students at once means a lot of questions coming in at once, and we love being there to answer them with the help of our volunteers. Whether it’s listening to visitor’s stories or exploring their questions, we’re there to give people a space to begin talking about mental health and to give them tools to take away at the end of the day to continue their own conversations. Talking about mental health can be difficult sometimes, but the effects of these conversations can save lives.
Alvin is a community college, which means it’s a little smaller than some of the other schools we visit. The impact, however, is just as grand. The word community really comes out in places like this—not only did we reach students and faculty at this display, but members from the community that came to share in our message as well.
The cadets that helped in the morning didn’t just show up, carry some bags, and disappear, but rather they took time to read the stories and ask their own questions. One in particular pulled me aside and asked me for as many details as I could give about how he could be involved in this movement. We exchanged questions and ideas, and he eventually told me that this is so important to him because it has already affected his life in huge ways in the past and he didn’t know what to do about it. We never got into specifics of what he had experience—and we didn’t need to. The important part came in the what to do next. I was happy to see him leave with an entire stack of reading material for him to use on his own journey in learning how to talk about mental health—something we can all continue to do ourselves.