Rice Fruit Farm is named after original owner, Jesse Rice who established, back in the late 1800s, what is now described as an historic New England farm stand owned by the Maloni family.
Anthony Maloni is proud of the operation that features an in-house bakery, home-made ice cream and fresh breakfast items year-round in addition to seasonal local and organic vegetables. He sees it as a positive stop on life’s often challenging journey, an approach that has lent Rice’s support to events promoting mental health, including during National Suicide Prevention Week which begins Sunday, September 10th.
In partnership with Holyoke-based MiraVista Behavioral Health Center, beverages sold throughout that week at Rice’s will carry the sticker: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support 24/7 to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress who dial or text 988.
“Doing this with MiraVista is a no brainer,” Maloni said. “You hear stories around mental health whether they involve people you know or who are known and, yet, mental illness is not as widely understood as other illness. Treatment for it is half the battle. If we can help with that in any way – even just with one person – that would be an incredible outcome of this effort. Simply raising awareness of the 988 number and the services of MiraVista is an undertaking we are more than eager to be a part of. We have many young people from area colleges frequenting our location, a population we will target with this messaging.
Maloni said Rice’s sells about 12,000 beverages monthly with cider from native apples particularly popular this time of year.
“Life can be tough and unfair,” Maloni said. “People may be having a bad day and decide to come here for a break from that day. We may not understand what a stop means in a customer’s life, but we are always welcoming of whoever passes through our doors. A smile, a good morning, a friendly encounter can have a tremendous impact on someone.”
Kimberley Lee, Chief of Creative Strategy and Development at MiraVista Behavioral Health Center, calls the 988 labels on Rice’s cups “mini-billboards” and noted that the week of their distribution falls within National Suicide Prevention Month as well as National Recovery Month.
“Suicide prevention, as well as recovery from mental illness and substance use are all about the importance of intervention, the earlier the better, and public support for intervention,” Lee said. “We are extremely thankful for the Maloni’s family partnership and their willingness to use Rice’s as a platform for a conversation about suicide prevention.”
Lee added, “As a psychiatric hospital that treats adults and adolescents and provides a number of outpatient services for substance use, we are very grateful for the opportunity to highlight the national lifeline where support for individuals in distress is available every day of the year. Suicide in this country remains a leading cause of death, including among the young, but all of us can help change this by being aware of any deterioration in our own mental health and of those around us and of the fact that access to free, confidential, immediate support is available. Nine-eight-eight is a very important number to know and to share.”
For more information on the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which routes calls to the center nearest the individual’s area code, visit: https://988lifeline.org/.
MiraVista Behavioral Health Center opened in April of 2021 in Holyoke, Mass. MiraVista offers psychiatric care services for both adults and adolescents, as well as an array of recovery treatment programs including outpatient services such as substance use individual and group counseling, day and evening Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and outpatient Medication Supported Recovery and more.
MiraVista cares for thousands of individuals from across New England. MiraVista’s purpose is to provide effective, inspiring care for those challenged by mental health and substance use so they are empowered to lead fulfilling lives.