National Volunteer Week: Where WE Volunteer, With Meredith Ketchmark

  • April 21, 2022
A brown-haired girl in a green t-shirt crouches next to a collie while three other young women in gray sweatshirts and jeans stand on the dog's right, smiling.
Courtesy Meredith Ketchmark
A group of volunteers in green t-shirts, holding blue and yellow balloons

To mark National Volunteer Week, Meredith Ketchmark, Assistant Manager of Youth & Family Programs at the Museum, tells us why she chooses to volunteer at a mental health awareness organization and why volunteering in general is therapeutic. 

Which organization do you volunteer at?
An organization I have supported since 2010 is called Attitudes In Reverse (AIR). Their mission is to provide mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs to youth and young adults. By teaching young people about mental health disorders, including signs and symptoms, and encouraging them to seek help when needed, their goal is to end the stigma against mental health disorders.

Why is this cause important to you?
This cause is important to me for personal reasons. AIR was formed by the Baker family after their son Kenny, a friend and swim teammate of mine, died by suicide in 2009. It wasn't until after his death that I learned he had been suffering silently for years from anxiety and depression, facing unimaginable discrimination, embarrassment, and shame related to his mental illness. It was because of this personal connection that I felt compelled to get involved with the organization, not only to honor Kenny's memory but to encourage young people to have these conversations about their own mental health and know that whatever they may be struggling with, they are not alone.

Why is it important to volunteer?
Volunteering to me is almost like a form of therapy. It makes me feel good to provide support and assistance to causes I care deeply about. It also helps me reflect inwardly on my values and it allows me to connect with others in positive and meaningful ways. I know not everyone may believe in the concept of karma, but I also think if you give time and energy selflessly to help through volunteering, you can reap the rewards of that in your own life somewhere down the road.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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