Have you seen those inspirational road and lawns signs popping up across the country telling you “Don’t Give Up,” and “That You Matter!” Well you can thank Amy Wolff for that!
After a heartbreaking discussion about mental illness with a friend in May 2017, Amy Wolff felt desperate to do something, but she didn’t know what.
“We were hanging out with friends when one of them mentioned the suicide rates in our community and I about fell out of my chair,” says Wolff. “I felt completely hopeless and ill-equipped to be part of a solution. After all, I wasn’t a therapist. I didn’t know of anyone suffering with thoughts of self-harm. What on earth could I do?”
Wolff then got the idea to start putting up motivational signs in people’s yards and for the next two weeks, she and her kids started knocking on people’s doors across their town of Newburg, Oregon and asking if they could put up signs featuring messages like “Your Mistakes Don’t Define You”.
Wolff started receiving messages from other people in town wanting to buy the signs – and within a few days, she had sold over 150 of the yard signs.
“The movement really picked up traction when family friends road tripped that summer from Portland to Rochester, leaving a trail of [messages] in every public bathroom, restaurant, and rest station across this great country,” says Wolff.
Since she planted her first sign two years ago, she has shipped the nonprofit’s messages of encouragement to all 50 US states and 26 countries in 6 languages.
Wolff shared some of the feedback she has received from people explaining how impactful the signs have been for them:
“I am a gay man. Never did I think that anyone in my family, or community would accept me for me or help me find the resources I desperately needed. I often thought of taking myself, and unfortunately followed through with attempts… If I had seen those signs when I was on the bus to school…”
“I had a woman knock on my door. She began to cry and thank me for the signs in my yard. She lives up the road and said her son had attempted suicide and these signs were in the yard the day they came home from the hospital. She drives by every day and for her, her son, and her daughter – the reminder is profound.”
“So someone just knocked on my door almost in tears. He told me about his daughter and her struggles with drugs and asked if he could buy my sign. Of course I said no he could have it. I prayed for both of them and he left. I will be ordering more signs…”
“Today a middle school boy knocked on my window while I was in the drop-off lane at school. He pointed to my ‘You Matter’ decal and said ‘Seeing your decal made me feel special and good about myself. Thanks.’
In order to keep up with the demand, the Don’t Give Up non-profit was created that sells her signs, buttons, decals and more inspirational messages.
As Amy says on her website – …let’s not underestimate the power of simple kind words at the right place at the right time for the right person. Let’s not wait for someone more qualified or less broken to spread hope and and love.
Life is messy but we’re in this together.