A Personal Note from Our Founder
C.A.R.E.S. was born because of my own personal tragedy. On January 17, 2006, at 1:34am, my husband and I were notified that our son, Angelo, the oldest of our three boys, had died of suicide from a gunshot wound. He was 24 years old. His dream was to become a police officer; he graduated from the police academy and was in the process of interviewing with local police departments. He had recently moved into his own apartment and enjoyed riding his new motorcycle; we thought he was happy. We had no warning signs.
That night, our nightmare began and I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, Lee County had very limited services to offer our family. Only one support group existed in Fort Myers, which met twice per month. After researching suicide prevention organizations throughout the U.S. and learning all the alarming statistics, I realized that I needed to do something in our community. In April, 2006, C.A.R.E.S. was formed with the help of some wonderful and caring people.
I now see that light, and that light is my son urging me to turn something so tragic into a positive venture where we can help others. C.A.R.E.S. (Community Awareness in Recognizing & Educating on Suicide) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focusing on suicide prevention and awareness. Our vision to open a much needed resource center in our community where we are able to help anyone in need became a reality on July 10, 2008. Whether it is for information purpose or financial help referrals, we want to help our community to be aware that suicide exists among us. This is the only resource center in Southwest Florida for suicide prevention.
I will never know “why” Angelo took his own life…what I do know is that he is the angel on my shoulder watching and guiding me to save someone else’s life from suicide.
About The Founder
Virginia created C.A.R.E.S. Suicide Prevention to help her community after the loss of her son in 2006. Since then, she has earned an Associate Degree and pursuing her Bachelor in Social Work. Virginia has dedicated her life to educating the public on how to save a life from suicide. Since its inception, Virginia, along with a fellow college professor, developed the program AIDE, (Approach, Initiate, Discuss, Engage) an emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons. This
program has reached hundreds of Police Officers, School Faculty, and Mental Health Professionals. Though Virginia is dedicated to educating, her real passion is giving hope to young people. In 2007 a remarkable school intervention program came to life and was officially named “in the dash.” This presentation has been performed in front of students from ages 11-25. Virginia is a designated Victim Services Practitioner. Among her many accomplishments, she was honored as the recipient of the 2009 Leadership Award, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, for advancing the cause of suicide prevention in the U.S. She was also the 2008 November recipient from the Readers Digest “Make It Matter” Program, 2010 “Professional of the Year Award” from Lee County Injury Prevention Coalition, and 2007 recipient “Extraordinary Women of Southwest Florida” from Renda Broadcasting Corporation. Virginia also received the 2016 Linda Nadle community service award from Long Island Crisis Center in New York.
Virginia can be reached at: email@example.com