A bright, yellow bench with a mission of hope was unveiled Thursday, March 11, at Berry Hill Park in Searcy. Josh’s Benches For Awareness is a non-profit for suicide prevention and awareness. Cindy Nadelbach, the founder of Josh’s Benches, lost her son Josh to suicide in 2018. Nadelbach took her loss as an opportunity to spread awareness and help those who struggle with suicide.
Josh was originally from Searcy, which inspired Nadelbach to have a piece of Josh remembered in his town. Nadelbach reached out to the Searcy Parks and Recreation Foundation to place one of the yellow benches in Searcy.
“I didn’t know if [the message] was real or not so I asked my office manager to contact them,” Director of Searcy Parks and Recreation Department Harry Miller said. “Come to find out, it’s a thousand-dollar bench they want to donate to us.”
Each yellow bench is made of recycled plastic boards and costs almost $1,000. The bench for Berry Hill Park was paid for completely through donations from the non-profit. Josh’s Benches provides the shipping, installation and plan for unveiling the bench at each location.
“We chose this place because Josh is from Searcy,” founder Cindy Nadelbach said. “We just hope this helps.”
As of March 19, Josh’s Benches has 40 locations across the country, indoors and outside. The non-profit has pre-approved locations for more “Awareness Benches” but still needs the funding. Josh’s Benches created “Sponsor a Bench,” allowing people to donate towards placing a bench at their own property or another pre-approved location.
“We hope more people will donate and cause more benches to be placed,” Searcy Parks and Recreation Department Office Manager Barbra Hubach said. “I keep thinking universities or high schools — some place like that where it can be for anybody.”
Anyone who passes by one of the yellow Josh’s Benches can see the National Suicide Precention Lifeline phone number (800-273-8255). The Awareness Bench is meant to spread awareness and give people who are struggling a place to sit and talk.
“We’re hoping it raises awareness and gets the phone number out there,” Miller said. “We hope it saves lives.”