In the wake of her 14-year-old daughter’s tragic suicide in 2005, Annette Craig was driven by a simple desire: to prevent others from experiencing the same heart-wrenching loss. Little did she know that her efforts would culminate in the establishment and growth of “With Hope, The Amber Craig Memorial Foundation,” an organization dedicated to promoting mental health awareness and preventing teen suicide. Now entering its 19th year, With Hope has surpassed all expectations, reaching over 318,000 individuals through 1,850 presentations.
Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, With Hope persevered in their mission. In the 2020-2021 school year, even as many schools remained partially closed, their trained speakers engaged with more than 8,250 students and over 20,350 individuals overall. This represents an extraordinary growth rate of nearly 250 percent. The impact of their presentations was evident, as the foundation continues to save lives and instill hope in communities across the nation.
Annette Craig, the founder and president of With Hope, initially embarked on this journey not to honor her daughter’s memory, but to provide support to struggling individuals and families like hers. However, she soon realized that this endeavor became the best way to commemorate Amber’s life. Amber, a talented student and soccer player, concealed her pain from those closest to her. Though her friends knew of her struggles, they kept her secret as she had requested. This heartbreaking story underscores the importance of destigmatizing mental health issues and encouraging open dialogue.
With Hope’s message extends beyond students; it encompasses parents, teachers, coaches, and other influential figures. Through their efforts, the organization equips all community members with the knowledge and tools to identify signs of distress and intervene effectively. In the face of the pandemic, With Hope capitalized on the increased accessibility of online meetings, enabling them to reach and educate parents who may struggle to attend in-person presentations. This new reach resulted in a greater demand for bereavement support, with many individuals seeking solace after the loss of a loved one to suicide.
Since its inception, With Hope has expanded its reach beyond the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, covering both Southern and Northern California through virtual presentations. Looking to the future, Annette Craig has set her sights on bringing With Hope’s valuable presentations to North Carolina, where she now resides. The organization’s willingness to travel and extend support is limited only by financial constraints, a common challenge for nonprofit organizations. To address this, With Hope hosts two major fundraising events annually—a golf tournament and the Walk/Run With Hope—to ensure their services can reach those in need.
Annette Craig’s commitment to With Hope’s mission remains steadfast, as she and her colleague, Patti Ferraro, travel back and forth from North Carolina to California to deliver presentations. Despite contemplating a future without Mrs. Craig’s active involvement, the board of directors remains determined to carry on the organization’s work. Their primary focus, however, is on continuing to make a positive impact and saving lives.
The remarkable growth and success of With Hope, The Amber Craig Memorial Foundation, prove that one person’s tragedy can spark change and save countless lives. Annette Craig’s unwavering dedication, combined with the tireless efforts of the foundation’s staff and volunteers, has created a legacy that will continue to make a difference for generations to come. Those seeking support or assistance are encouraged to visit With Hope’s website and remember that there is always hope, even in the darkest of times. In times of crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).