May 25, 2011
Drew Horn the co-founder of New Jersey’s Turn a Frown Around Foundation returned to Summit County for two encore presentations, of Smile Stations and Forever Friends. The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation first brought Drew to speak at our Morgan Forum, Advancing the Recovery Culture, last September. His presentation was so acclaimed the Foundation brought him back again to entertain and inspire.
On Tuesday, May 24th Drew spoke at the NAMI Summit County twenty-fifth anniversary dinner. The next morning more than 250 people came to St. Joseph’s Family Center to hear his message of hope. They listened to Drew, were drawn into his enthusiasm and enjoyed fellowship during lunch. Individuals captivated by his energy and dynamic personality stood in line to speak with Drew, receive a hug and hear a few encouraging words. The line of people waiting to speak with Drew continued for more than two hours following his presentation.
Drew’s organization, turnafrownaround.org, is dedicated to assisting those who have lost hope, especially those who suffer from psychiatric and physical disorders, isolation and abuse. Up to 50% of all nursing home residents die without a friend. Up to 75% of all people in psychiatric hospitals never have a visitor. His hope is to change those statistics.
Drew Horn’s message is one of hope. He speaks of the devastating effects his illness brought to his family, work, him and most significantly his daughter. It was through her pain and unconditional love that he decided to “take suicide off the table.” “Suicide was no longer an option”. Using courage, perseverance and commitment while having the support of his daughter and psychiatrist, Drew formed the Turn a Frown Around Foundation. His work not only helps him through his recovery process but it encourages others to try moving forward to get past their illnesses. “You can’t do it, if you don’t try” and his mantra, “I am not my illness” were repeatedly spoken during his presentation. He tells his audiences, “We don’t change people. We love them.”
Drew can be seen with his yellow shoes and round smile catcher traveling around the country and locally to nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, group residences, children’s homes, or individual shut-ins. His eccentric choice of clothing draws public awareness to his foundation and its mission. “What I do is not a job. It is a gift.“
At the conclusion of his presentation, Drew challenged the audience to create “Smile Stations”. The Smile Station campaign’s purpose is to bring forever friendship to the forgotten. A “Forever Friend” is not a volunteer or visitor; it is a person who adopts a lonely soul who is truly friendless.
One individual commented that he wasn’t sure what to expect at this event but was pleasantly surprised. He was motivated enough to give a hug to another individual who seemed to need it. “It made me feel good to make someone else smile. I think my hug really helped” he said with a smile!
Hugs were flowing throughout the room during lunch. People were seen leaving with smiles on their faces and hope for recovery in their hearts.
If you would like more information about Drew Horn and the Turn a Frown Around Foundation, visit their website at www.turnafrownaround.org