Last Saturday, September 17th at 10:30 a.m. a crowd of community members walked from The Boneyard to the old Aaron’s Furniture building carrying white signs with “Don’t give up,” “Your story isn’t over,” “Love yourself” and “You matter” typed in large, black print. The two-mile walk, according to project coordinator and founder of Keep Faith Fellowship (KFF) Nikki Brown, was to “give us an opportunity to meet and support survivors and remember lost loved ones, all while breaking the silence and working towards prevention.”
At the completion of the walk, a crowd of over 60 community members met back at The Boneyard for what Brown described as a “Celebration of life, so we may all come together to find some type of healing. The group ate hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and pies while listening to Travis Claxton and Rachel Carter sing and Pastors Donna Jordan and Lorenne Peebles speak. The ceremony culminated with the sharing of memories of their loved ones written on index cards, some were shared and spoken, while others were burned, so the thoughts could rise up into the air.
Nikki Brown is no stranger to grief or addiction and understands the importance of being present to others who are going through similar circumstances. In 2016, four of Nikki’s close friends and relatives all went through losing someone they loved to suicide. Acknowledging the trend, she sought to do something to create more awareness of the problem. She decided to gather community members who believed, like her, a local organization that helped people process their grief would help the community. This began the Keep Faith Fellowship which has a board of members that include Billy Chapman as president, Vince Brown as vice-president, Geraldine Amerson as treasurer, Amber Hodges as secretary, and Brown as project coordinator.
After the organization was started, Brown decided a suicide awareness and prevention walk could get people sharing experiences and that year the first walk was started. Now Brown says it’s more of an event than just a walk - there’s carrying signs, free food, music and inspiration, and the sharing of memories of loved ones.
Keep Faith Fellowship is thankful for the following sponsors and volunteers: Stitch N’ Print, Terwilliger, S&N Auto, The Crossroads Chronicle, The Forest Blade, Chapman’s Funeral Home, Walmart, Swainsboro Police Department, and Franklin Memorial Library for their donations of money and services.