OKEECHOBEE -- Okeechobee County School District Assistant Superintendent Dylan Tedders gave an interview to WPTV in July following the tragic deaths of three school district employees to suicide in a 10-month period.
In the interview, Tedders described the district’s renewed focus on the mental heath of their staff, led by the district’s director of mental health and behavioral supports, Katharine Williams.
The story caught the eye of Cindy Nadelbach, co-founder of the non-profit Josh’s Benches for Awareness.
Cindy lost her son, Josh, to suicide in 2018 at the age 21. Following that tragedy, Cindy founded Josh’s Benches for Awareness, an organization dedicated to raising awareness on mental health issues and promoting suitable resources to remove the negative stigma surrounding the receiving of help. Josh’s friend, Victor Perez, helped Cindy set up a website and get the project off the ground.
The pair have helped raise money to donate yellow benches to schools and towns around south Florida. Each bench as the number of the suicide prevention hotline displayed on the the back.
Cindy donated a bench to Okeechobee High School, and one to Okeechobee County. The bench at OHS is now located in the commons area at the center of the school, while the second bench will be placed at Okee-Tantie.
“We’re really happy she’s here,” said Katharine Williams of Cindy shortly before the bench at OHS was unveiled. “She has made it her mission to promote suicide prevention and awareness. We’ve tragically lost some of our own.”
In addition to the suicide prevention hotline, the bench is also emblazoned with a plaque that reads “In loving memory of those Brahmans tragically lost.”
“This unveiling of this bench is just one more step to bring our community closer together,” explained Williams.