I'm going to be raw and real with you. It took me a week to work up the courage to write this, and as I write it I struggle to hit the keys as my hands shake. Lubbock's HarperFest, an organization founded to provide mental health services to Lubbock's service industry, dregs up traumatic memories for me.

During the pandemic, Jerrod Harper took his life. I have many friends who knew him, but I did not. However, I know their pain. I lost one of the dearest souls I ever met to suicide during the pandemic. When Kelly left a bomb went off inside me and I'm still struggling to stitch back the charred fragments of my heart.

I love what I do very much and I would not trade it. Truly, I am so grateful. But the most difficult part is pretending to be happy, carefree, and fun when you're really standing in the middle of a tempest of sorrow, anger, stress, or fear. Luckily for me, I do have health insurance through my employer, so I am able to get help when I need it- be it in the form of counseling or medicine. Service industry workers rarely have this "luxury"- a luxury that should be a basic human right. And they have to grin and bear it because their livelihood is also dependent on being fun, charming, and oh-so-happy to be there.


This is why everyone in Lubbock needs to know about HarperFest. HarperFest is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit that provides funds for members of the service industry to access professional help for mental health- in the form of counseling and also a PCP visit for medication, if needed. This help is not limited to only bartenders, waitstaff, and BOH folks, it is all service industry folks without health insurance, be it hairstylists, nail techs, etc. The people who make life fun and worth living deserve this chance to be mentally well.

"Just change jobs if you don't like it!" Seriously, if anyone thinks like this- they should never, ever go out to eat or get any personal service again. Not only does it show a profound lack of empathy, it also misses the point entirely. The people I know who have worked in the service industry long term do it because they love it, are passionate about it, and are very good at it. And think for a moment about the sublime pleasure of a really great meal, a perfect cocktail, or a really relaxing day at the spa. These folks are truly worth the investment.

Here's a wonderful video about the impact HarperFest has already made, and how you can help if you feel called to do so.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please get help immediately. I swear to God you belong here. The universe boiled for eons of time just so you could exist. You are a miracle. Don't ever forget it. If you need help call 806-740-1414 | Toll Free: 800-687-7581.

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