State Farm has named the Thrive Counseling Center in Oak Park a finalist in its Neighborhood Assist grant competition, which gifts 40 causes $25,000 each. Grant awardees will be chosen through a popular vote, and Thrive’s proposal to provide community members suicide prevention training has been chosen as one of 200 finalists. Thrive will compete with other causes in online voting, Aug. 15-24. 

“Suicide is a health crisis in our community,” John Meister, president and executive director of Thrive, said in a statement. “We’re asking for votes — 10 times a day, every day, for 10 days — to ensure our cause is a winner. The Neighborhood Assist grant will further Thrive’s objective to offer everyone who lives or works in our community to get training that can help save a life.”

Suicide deaths are on the rise nationally and locally, with an average of six per year in Oak Park and River Forest. Locally, more than half of those who die from suicide are ages 45 to 64. Thrive operates a 24/7 crisis line at 708-386-7500.   

If Thrive wins the grant, the counseling center plans to use the funds to train another 10 staff members to lead safeTALK suicide alertness and prevention workshops, allowing members to train hundreds of community members, such as clergy, teachers, parents, anyone over the age of 15, in best practices on how to prevent self-harm. 

In June, Thrive trained some 90 River Forest first responders in safeTALK. Eventually, the counseling center plans to train village staff and community members across Oak Park and River Forest in suicide alertness and prevention. Winning the State Farm grant would accelerate Thrive’s effort. 

Any U.S. resident over 18 can vote for Thrive up to 10 times daily at 

Winners of the State Farm Neighborhood Assist grants will be announced Sept. 25. 

Nona Tepper

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