Moffat County resident Francone named new REPS executive director
Losing her brother-in-law to suicide in 2010 prompted Moffat County resident Meghan Francone to get involved with Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide a few years ago.
Francone initially worked as a volunteer, but she recently was named the new executive director for REPS after Ronna Autrey stepped down earlier this year.
Francone said she suffered in her younger years with depression and thoughts of suicide. She now thinks that those struggles and experiences can be used as a tool to help others through REPS.
“Suicide is the No. 1 most preventable form of death,” she said.
Francone started her new position June 30. She is in charge of fundraisers for the program, developing and spreading the word on suicide prevention as well as overlooking the smaller organizations REPS provides for the communities in Moffat and Routt counties.
One of those other programs includes It Takes Courage, an anti-bullying program that has volunteers and professionals from across the U.S. come to local schools to talk about bullying and its impacts.
Kids also are given talks about seeing the signs of suicide and depression in their friends and loved ones through Schools As Tools, which starts as young as elementary school and runs all the way to high school.
REPS also runs a program in conjunction with Yampa Valley Medical Center. The program provides 24-hour on-call volunteers at the hospital to support those who attempt suicide and those who are not in a safe state of mind. The program has been in place at the Steamboat hospital for a few years and has lessened the number of suicide attempts in town.
Francone now is trying to bring the program to The Memorial Hospital at Craig.
“The first two weeks after an attempt are the most crucial for recovery,” she said.
Although a lot of Francone’s job is asking for donations and making sure everything is running smoothly, her favorite part is working with the people — those struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide and those with concerns.
She carries the Crisis Line with her at all times and is reachable at 970-846-8182.
“I do this to support life. That is all that matters,” she said.
Since REPS is funded through grants and local donations, the most important fundraiser of the year for REPS is a barbecue taking place from 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Howelsen Hill in Olympian Hall. The barbecue is the nonprofit’s largest income to help pay for programs and salaries.
The barbecue not only will give locals a chance to donate and see what REPS is all about, it also will provide a place for them to make connections with concerned friends and even those with suicidal ideation, Francone said.
“That’s the real reason why the barbecue is so important. Preventing is all about seeing the signs and not being quiet,” REPS board of directors chairman Steve Aigner said.
Tickets to the barbecue are $10. There will be sit-down dining as well as to-go plates. The food has been donated by local restaurants, including Steamboat Smokehouse, The Egg & I, Winona’s, Backcountry Deli, Peaches & More, Freshies and the Ore House at Pine Grove.
There will be live music played by Jesse Christensen, a silent auction and face painting for the kids.
“This community has been wonderful in embracing the program and stopping the taboo of suicide,” Aigner said.
Learn more about REPS and all of its programs at http://www.preservinglife.org or by calling the office at 970-819-2232.