Support NAMI–Finger Lakes!

Welcome to The Sophie Fund’s 2022 Cupcake Button fundraiser! Each October, we work alongside student organizations to raise monies for a local nonprofit focused on community wellbeing.

This year’s campaign is collecting funds for the Finger Lakes affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

NAMI-Finger Lakes provides free support, education, and advocacy for people closest to those living with mental health conditions. An organization slogan is, “With NAMI Finger Lakes, you are not alone.”

100 percent of the donations to the 2022 Cupcake Button campaign will go to NAMI-Finger Lakes.

Among its activities, NAMI Finger Lakes runs a HELP Line at 607-273-2462. Experienced volunteers answer calls for support and mental health resources with empathy and understanding.

NAMI Finger Lakes offers a variety of programs to support and educate community members concerning mental health.

The Family-to-Family Education program is designed to help improve the coping and problem-solving skills of family members, significant others, and friends of people with mental health conditions.

Other programs include peer-led family support groups and education sessions for those providing care for youth with mental health symptoms. NAMI Finger Lakes also engages in outreach such as talks to local groups and connecting with employers about workforce mental health.

In addition, NAMI Finger Lakes advocates for public policies for improving mental health at the local and state levels.

Click here for more information about NAMI-Finger Lakes.

This year’s Cupcake Button campaign is supported by many student organizations, including Cornell University’s Cornell Minds Matter, Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter, Reflect at Cornell, Phi Sigma Pi, Pre-Professional Association Toward Careers in Health (PATCH), Cornell Circle K, and Cornel Health International.

Students raise money through various in-person activities (and provide donors with Cupcake Buttons) on campus and in the community. The campaigns have raised more than $5,000 for organizations including the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County, the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, the Village at Ithaca, and The Learning Web.

The symbol of the campaign is a Cupcake Button, because the fundraising takes place in the runup to the Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest hosted by The Sophie Fund. To enter this year’s cupcake contest, go to: https://thesophiefund.org/cupcake-contest/.

To donate directly to NAMI Finger Lakes, click here.

For more information about The Sophie Fund, go to:www.thesophiefund.org.

In Emotional Distress or a Suicidal Crisis? Dial 9-8-8

National Suicide Prevention Month may be ending on September 30, but the need to support people experiencing a mental health crisis is more urgent than ever.

After a dip in 2019 and 2020, the suicide rate in the United States increased nearly 4 percent in 2021—47,646 deaths, up from 45,979 in 2020, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The rate for people age 15-24 rose 7 percent. Overall suicide rates have risen more than 30 percent in the past two decades.

Some good news: Seeking help became easier in 2020, with the introduction of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 988 has been designated as a new three-digit dialing code, similar to the simple-to-remember public safety hotline number 911.

The Lifeline provides free and confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week, across the United States. You can also connect to the Lifeline if you are concerned about a loved one, friend, or colleague.

988 calls go to into a nearby crisis center, one of 200 across the country. When people call or text 988, or connect to chat online, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the Lifeline network. Trained counselors listen, understand how the caller’s problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.

NOTE: The previous Lifeline phone number (1-800-273-8255) will always remain available to people in emotional distress or suicidal crisis.

Ithaca’s 53-year-old Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service has long been part of the Lifeline network. Its trained counselors can also be reached by dialing 607-272-1616.

The Lifeline has been proven to be effective. According to its administrator, numerous studies have shown that callers feel less suicidal, less depressed, less overwhelmed, and more hopeful after speaking with a Lifeline counselor. Calls to the Lifeline have soared 45 percent since 988 was introduced in July.

The Lifeline is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and administered by Vibrant Emotional Health.

Warning Signs for Suicide

Take a moment to review the warning signs for suicide, as provided by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Be sure to get help for yourself or others if you see the signs. You may save a life.

According to AFSP, something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Warning sign: Talk

If a person talks about:

Killing themselves

Feeling hopeless

Having no reason to live

Being a burden to others

Feeling trapped

Unbearable pain

Warning sign: Behavior

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

Increased use of alcohol or drugs

Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods

Withdrawing from activities

Isolating from family and friends

Sleeping too much or too little

Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

Giving away prized possessions

Aggression

Fatigue

Warning sign: Mood

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

Depression

Anxiety

Loss of interest

Irritability

Humiliation/Shame

Agitation/Anger

Relief/Sudden Improvement

For more local, state, and national resources, visit The Sophie Fund’s suicide prevention page.

A Month for Kindness

Kindness is Coming to Tompkins County in October! United in Kindness is a diverse series of events organized by the Tompkins County Bullying Prevention Task Force and aligned with National Bullying Prevention Month.

The events range from a student contest promoting kindness, a free showing of the film Wonder at Cinemapolis, and Stories in the Park for under-6s, to expert presentations on keeping kids safe on social media and dealing with domestic violence experiences.

The Student Kindness and Creativity Contest, sponsored by United Way of Tompkins County, invites local K-12 students to enter written word, visual art, or video submissions with a deadline of October 10.

The contest will be judged by United Way’s Youth and Philanthropy Program students. Prizes will be awarded and all entries will be featured at a Gallery Event at United Way’s headquarters at 313 N Aurora Street on October 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Contest information available at: www.uwtc.org/unitedinkindness.

“United Way is happy to support this year’s contest and the United In Kindness series because of the connection to youth and mental health, two key areas supported by our organization,” said Gregg Houck, United Way’s Director of Community Impact.

“In a time of so much division, having the opportunity to promote unity in our shared humanity and the importance of being kind to one another through this contest and gallery event is so meaningful. United Way looks forward to sharing these student creations with the community.”

The series was organized by the Bullying Prevention Task Force’s Brandi Remington, Youth Development Coordinator at TST BOCES.

“This series brings kindness back to the forefront as our community continues to heal from the aftermath of COVID-19,” said Remington. “National Bullying Prevention Month aims to bring awareness to the very serious issue of bullying in our schools and community. We recognize the problem, just as we recognize that one of the solutions is to celebrate empathy, inclusion, and connectedness. We are excited to bring attention to all of the great work being done in Tompkins County to build a community united in kindness.”

Student Kindness and Creativity Contest 9/19 through 10/10

Sponsored by United Way of Tompkins County

Tompkins County K-12 students can enter their written word, visual art, or video submissions until 10/10. All entries will be featured at a

Gallery Event @ United Way 313 N Aurora Street on 10/28 4-7 pm.

We’ve Got Your Back 10/1 @ 12-3 p.m.

Mental Health Association Peer Outreach Center @ Center Ithaca

Live music, activities, finger foods, speakers and more! Learn how we can support one another by stepping in and calling out bullying behaviors.

Free Hugs @ Apple Harvest Festival 10/1 @ 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

In and Around the Ithaca Commons

Free Hugs Ithaca and Be Kind Ithaca team up to give away t-shirts and iconic Be Kind hearts—and actual hugs—to dozens of lucky Apple Fest attendees.

Mothering Through Domestic Violence 10/5 @ 12 Noon–1 p.m.

Online via Zoom—Register at: https://tinyurl.com/October5event

Join the Coalition for Families and Lyn Staack from the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County for a community presentation. Understand the challenges faced by people who grew up in homes where there was domestic violence and how it may impact their adult relationships and parenting.

Screening of Wonder 10/11 @ 7-9 p.m.

@ Cinemapolis—Free Admission sponsored by Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca and The Sophie Fund

Watch an uplifting film for all ages about empathy and acceptance telling the story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters fifth grade to attend mainstream elementary school for the first time.

7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest 10/15 @ 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

Bernie Milton Pavilion, submissions from 10–11:30 am; Info on how to enter at: www.thesophiefund.org/cupcake-contest

Stories in the Park 10/18 & 10/22 @ 11:30 a.m.–12 Noon

Dewitt Park, or Tompkins County Public Library if raining  

Children 6 and under and their families will be delighted by a selection of stories based on the themes of kindness, inclusivity, and diversity.

Digital Intelligence and Well-Being for Parents 10/19 @ 12 Noon–1 p.m.

Online via Zoom—Register at: https://tinyurl.com/KindnessSocialMediaSymposium

Join a symposium for parents about online safety for their children presented by social media expert Chris Vollum.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters Match Event 10/21 @ 4-7 p.m.

Event open to Big Brothers, Big Sisters participants only

Participants will carve pumpkins and decorate cookies while they share stories about people in their life who demonstrate and embody kindness. To learn more about how you can be a part of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, go to: www.bbbsithaca.org.

For more details about United in Kindness events, go to: https://thesophiefund.org/bullying/

Walk for Our Lives

Some 300 participants raised more than $60,000 in the 10th Annual Greater Ithaca Out of the Darkness Walk on September 10 organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Greater Central New York Chapter.

Ithaca Out of the Darkness Walk at Myers Park

The walk, which took place in Myers Park in Lansing on the edge of Cayuga Lake, is among 400 or so held across the country every year designed to raise awareness and collect funds for research, training, and programming. The walkers included many people who lost a loved one, friend, or colleague to suicide.

This year’s Greater Ithaca walk was held on World Suicide Prevention Day. September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. The event surpassed the chapter’s $55,000 goal by more than $5,000.

To add a donation, click here

“Suicide is preventable, and suicide prevention begins with all of us,” event Co-Chair Crystal Howser said in remarks at the event.

“By showing up today, you are sending the message that mental health is as real as physical health,” she added. “You are sending the message that reaching out for help is the strong thing to do. You are showing others that suicide can no longer be swept under the rug.

“By showing up, you let others know they are not alone. Because of you, we can fight for a day when no one will die by suicide.”

Event Co-Chairs Crystal Howser and Amber Parker

Howser shared that she began her journey after losing her father to suicide in 1998, and has lost other loved ones since then.

“These are just a few of the reasons I will continue to fight, to give a voice to those that may have lost their own, to help those that have lost a loved one heal, and bring hope to each and every person I meet along the way,” Howser said.

She said that the walkers honored the memory of those lost to suicide. “I also want to acknowledge those of you who have suffered personally from suicidal thoughts,” she added. “We are so glad to have you here with us in this fight. Your presence and openness allow others to know they are not alone in their struggle.”

To volunteer with AFSP, click here

This year’s walk included teams from Maguire Automotive, Alpha Gamma Rho at Cornell University, Ithaca College Women’s Lacrosse, SVNTA National Honor Society, CrossFit Vertical, among others.

The walk was sponsored by:

CFCU Community Credit Union; The Strebel Planning Group’s Strebel Fund for Community Enrichment; Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; Maguire Automotive; BorgWarner Inc.; Northeast Pizza and Bones; Ithaca Apartment Management/Solomon Organization LLC; Moore Family Farm; Cayuga Medical Center; Visions Federal Credit Union; Lansing Funeral Home; Cayuga Lake National Bank; Tioga State Bank Foundation; and Ongweoweh Corp.

Photo credit: Courtesy BrehmStone Photography

Time for the 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest!

Still smell the flavors? Spicy apple, blueberry, vanilla-lavender, maple, mango, Earl Grey, crème brûlée, and of course chocolaty chocolate. among many other aromas, tantalized the imaginations of the judges of last year’s Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest.

We can’t wait to see what Ithaca’s amateur bakers come up with in 2022! For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic, the contest will be in person again this year, on Saturday October 15 at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in the Ithaca Commons.

Click here for all the information on contest procedures and rules, and to download a registration form.

As usual, contestants of all ages are welcome and will be eligible for dozens of prizes including a Grand Prize valued at $250. (Open to amateur bakers only.)

Contestants are invited to submit trays of six cupcakes, their recipes, and brief stories about their creations.

The story could be about a person, place, or thing that inspired your recipe and decoration. Or what special techniques you used. Or what fun you had baking them. Or what challenges you had to overcome making your cupcake dream a reality.

Contest submissions are received from 10 a.m.–11:30 a.m. on Saturday October 15 at the Bernie Milton Pavilion. The entries will then be judged by professionals from Ithaca’s bakeries and restaurants. Judging is based on cupcake taste, decoration, and originality. Winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony at 3 p.m.

Prizes include 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Awards, a Youth Award for teens and pre-teens, and several Special Awards.

The 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest is sponsored by Visions Federal Credit Union, Cayuga Health, MindWell Center, and GreenStar Food Co+op.

The contest is organized every year by The Sophie Fund, which was established in 2016 in memory of Cornell University art student Sophie Hack MacLeod to support mental health initiatives aiding young people.

Sophie’s passion for baking cupcakes inspired the launch of the first Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest in 2016. At the time of her death by suicide at age 23, while on a medical leave of absence from Cornell, Sophie was active in Ithaca’s vibrant culinary scene. According to her family, she hoped to open her own bakery after completing her Cornell degree.