Alexander Tucciarone

It’s been almost three years since we launched The Makeshift Movement. As we head into 2018 Mental Health Awareness Month, I am grateful for what we have seen and hopeful for what lies ahead.

There are many things you can change about yourself. One thing you can never change is where you grew up. In the summer of 2015, my  co-founders and I saw the town that raised us was in trouble. Seeing the toll that the opioid and mental health crises were taking made it clear something had to change.

Among the co-founders, only one of us is a mental health professional. But all of us were touched in some way by these crises. We’ve lost loved ones and friends. We’ve endured our own struggles. And we saw a community that had given each of us so much losing way too many people in the prime of their lives.

And three years into this process, none of us will pretend to have all the answers or a magical solution. But we do know a few key things that we have sought to lift up.

We know that the stigma must end. The great American writer James Baldwin once wrote “not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed unless it is faced.” We have joined other folks in Oceanside already leading by example by tackling the stigma around mental health and addiction. Struggling with these issues is nothing to be ashamed of. And losing young people to these scourges is nothing to be accepted or waved away.

We know that help is out there. One of the best things we can do for the town is help amplify the resources at our community’s disposal. If you or a loved one are in crisis, things can seem bleak and chaotic and out of reach. But there are professionals available to help you get to a better place. They won’t always get the job done. But more often than not, they will. And there is never any shame in reaching out to them.

And we know that Oceanside is up to meeting this challenge. Ever since we launched, whenever we have tried to achieve anything in the community, we’ve been amazed at the folks who have stepped up to lend a hand. The same community spirit and grit that showed itself in neighbors helping neighbors after Hurricane Sandy is easy to see at any meeting convened to address these crises. Makeshift is part of a broader, powerful movement and tradition.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, I hope that everyone in Oceanside will take the time to reflect on these things Makeshift has learned. I am grateful to call our entire team friends and I am thankful for health, both physical and mental. I will do my best to never take any of those things for granted.

Alexander Tucciarone

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