What Is Jay’s Hope Fund?
Jay Carter Ashby, our third child, was very much a wanted child. Adored by his family,he was usually found running on the soccer field, dribbling a basketball, sketching caricatures or locating a new fishing spot. A good student, talented athlete,and gifted musician, Jay was in his late teens when things began to change… and life would never be the same for him, or our family. At an age when most are preparing for their careers, Jay developed a schizophrenia-related disorder. The depression, delusions and stigma would not release Jay from their grip, and eventually he gave up on life.
Just what does a grieving parent do to cope with such a loss? Jay had expressed his hopes: to have a place to live, to have a job, to contribute to society. If he had only had the appropriate care in time to give him a chance… And so Jay’s Hope was born as a way to bring hope to other sufferers of serious mental illnesses, and their families!
With sincere gratitude,
Hank and Susan Ashby
Jay’s loving parents
Who Is Jay?
In May 2015, the Stewart-Marchman-Act Foundation and SMA Behavioral launched “Who is Jay?” as their mental health month awareness campaign. The campaign’s main focus was providing a website that offered hope, and educational materials and resources regarding mental illness. In just over a month the site was visited over 6,000 times…that is over 6,000 people reached with the message of Jay Ashby.
In 2016, the fund was used to host a half day mental health symposium in St. Augustine, Florida. The event was attended by approximately 80 individuals with positive feedback and recommendations to expand the event.
In 2017, the Foundation and Jay’s Hope did just that. The Who is Jay? 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium was held at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida on May 12th with national speakers focusing on Creativity in Treatment: Creative & Innovative Approaches to Mental Health Recovery. The audience nearly doubled from 2017 and attendees have expressed an interest in not just continuing to host the event, but in expanding it and letting it grow.
In 2017, the Who is Jay? website got a facelift. Check it out at www.whoisjay.org.
In 2018, the 3rd Annual Mental Health Symposium was held once again at the Ocean Center. The growth of the event was evident with the 30% increase in attendees, 50% increase in vendors, and double the number of sponsors.