Part of HYPE’s mission is to help young professionals become better engaged in community life, expand professional and social opportunities, and become ambassadors for the Hartford Region. HYPE encourages cross-collaboration among agencies and organizations that offer opportunities to volunteer in the community. The Community Conversations series focuses on interviewing professionals in a local nonprofit to bring awareness to their mission, highlight their impact in the community, and to provide information on how to get more involved with the organization. For the first blog in the series, HYPEster Meredith Newman interviewed Matt Riley of the Jordan Porco Foundation.
What is the mission of your organization?
The mission of the Jordan Porco Foundation is to prevent suicide, promote mental health, and create a message of hope for young adults. We aim to break down barriers around the stigma associated with mental health. It is important to be open and not be afraid to have honest conversations on the subject of suicide and depression, which are sometimes seen as taboo. The foundation accomplishes its mission in several different ways, primarily by providing programming based on peer-to-peer communication and education to college students. Our programs are able to educate them about the warning signs a young person could be displaying that indicate distress and that they may be in need of help.
What is your role within the organization?
I am the Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation and as such, I wear many different hats. As is true of most non-profits, our staff members tend to be engaged in a variety of responsibilities. Much of my workload falls into the categories of financial management, human resources, and development, but I often pitch in in other capacities as needed.
How do you implement your services or programs?
We have three primary programs: Fresh Check Day, Nine Out Of Ten, and 4 What’s Next. Fresh Check Day is our signature program and the largest of the three. The program is a celebratory fair like event made up of interactive booths that takes place on college campuses around the country. The aim is to create a safe environment where students can come, interact, and learn about mental health related issues and suicide prevention, including where to get help. When we first launched the program, our staff members were attending and facilitating the events. We realized that wasn’t scalable and switched to a consultative model wherein we provide highly detailed guidance to the universities with step-by-step instructions on how to carry out a successful Fresh Check Day on campus. This has worked very well; last year there were fairs at 60 colleges across 28 states.
In what ways has your organization been impactful to your cause?
Since the ultimate goal of our organization is prevention, it can be difficult to to measure our results. We survey participants after every event asking the students questions to gauge their understanding and what they have taken away from the day. We also receive a lot of powerful testimonials from students and faculty at the universities and many student report feeling better as a result of their experience at Fresh Check Day.
How does someone get more involved?
The primary way an individual can help to further the mission of the Jordan Porco Foundation is by spreading awareness and having the courage to open the conversation around suicide and mental health. Know the warning signs, look out for your peers, and be aware of what resources are available in your community. We are always greatly appreciative of any and all financial contributions our supporters can make. We are also currently looking for new colleges and universities to become involved in the program so would love any connections and help spreading the word!
For more information on The Jordan Porco Foundation or how to get involved, send them an email!