Original Publication: Art League of Ocean City / By: Rina Thaler, Art League Executive Director
Every so often, something happens that makes me realize just how impactful our work here is. Last weekend, I dropped into the Ocean City Center for the Arts on Sunday, and a gentleman at the front desk was talking with our staff members. They stopped me and said he would like to meet me. His name was Bill York, and he had come in to thank us for the inspiration he received while attending Free Family Art Day with his wife and daughter in 2016.
Their family had painted kindness rocks that day with our outreach coordinator, Debbi Dean-Colley. Tragically, several months later their 20-year-old son committed suicide. They found themselves painting rocks with positive messages for suicide awareness and prevention as a way of dealing with their grief. When people began finding the rocks and posting them on Facebook, it led the Yorks’ to create a suicide awareness nonprofit in their son’s memory: The Joshua York Legacy Foundation. Their Facebook page, Suicide Prevention Rocks, has 2,300 followers in 25 countries! Not only did this family use art as a means of dealing with grief, the inspiration they received at the Arts Center influenced them to help others prevent suicide. It is so validating to see the work we do here inspire others far beyond our doors.
I invite you to join us this winter at the Arts Center, take a class, see the exhibits, or participate in one of our upcoming events. And be inspired by the arts!
Josh Chretien is the boyfriend of Josh York, and a founder of the organization. After spending a little over 5 years in the Marines, he decided to get out and fulfill life, which led to later meeting Josh York, and he now runs his own company, Priceless Consulting LLC and this foundation, The Joshua York Legacy Foundation.