She created yard signs with positive messages to respond to a local suicide crisis. Now her signs encourage people facing a wide range of problems.
- Posted on Apr 27, 2020
Who she is: Amy Wolff, a 36-year-old public speaking coach in Newberg, Oregon, is the founder of the Don’t Give Up Movement, a nonprofit sowing seeds of love and hope through inspirational yard signs and other items. In May 2017, Amy was stunned to learn from a church friend and teacher that the school district had lost two students and four former students to suicide that year. Says Amy, “I couldn’t do nothing.”
She recalled a crazy idea she’d had two years before: yard signs as a way of encouraging people. She asked her friend Jessica Brittell, a graphic designer, to create and print 20 signs with the messages “Don’t Give Up,” “Your Mistakes Do Not Define You” and “You Are Worthy of Love.”
Amy, her husband and their two daughters knocked on doors around Newberg, asking strangers to put the signs in their yards. Everyone said yes! The community was soon buzzing about the signs. Within a week, Amy had sold 150 signs at cost.
What she does: Amy added new messages—“You Matter,” “You Are Not Alone”—as well as wristbands, stickers, car decals, cards and other “tokens of hope and love.” Schools, businesses and churches got on board too. Besides supporting those at risk for suicide, the movement has comforted people facing health problems, isolation, job loss, marital issues and abuse.
Jason Boyd, assistant principal of Seaside High in Seaside, Oregon, purchased 225 signs to post at school. Students tell him, “The signs help me make it through the day.” Those who’ve staked signs in their yards have found notes from passersby, thanking them for the inspiration. More than 701,000 items have been distributed in all 50 states and 27 countries.
Why she does it: When Amy was 14, she witnessed her older brother drown. She realized that life could be short and resolved to make hers count. With Don’t Give Up, Amy wasn’t looking to create a movement but simply taking action. “What I know is that people need help,” she says. “What I know is that I’m willing.”
How she does it: Don’t Give Up doesn’t do any marketing. “It’s love with no strings attached,” says Amy. The movement has spread mainly through people spotting the signs and by word of mouth. Friends on a cross-country trip left decals and cards in restaurants, stores and rest stops.
Jane and Peter Mellers heard about the signs shortly after their son Daniel’s suicide and were moved to buy 30 signs and more than 100 wristbands. “It feels as if God is working through Amy and the signs,” Peter says. “And that a little bit of Daniel is represented in these messages.”
How you can do it: Look for ways to spread hope and love in your daily life. Even small acts of kindness can make a difference. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee. Compliment a server. Believe you always have something to offer—and do it unconditionally. As Amy says, “Life is messy, but we’re in this together!”
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