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Meet Michelle DiMuria of BEE Daring Foundation

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle DiMuria.

Michelle, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Over the past 2.5 years, I began working on my vision, but I was always scared to move forward. Becoming a mental health advocate, I started planning events and working within the mental health community. In 2016, I created a student organization called, Engaging Minds that focused on combating the stigmas and stereotypes that surrounded mental health. We even won a Pitchfork Award from Arizona State University, for Best Educational Program for our “Mental Health Awareness Week!”

My love for helping others continued to grow, and I knew this was just the beginning. It wasn’t until last year, 2017, when I was diagnosed with PTSD as a result of being raped, that I really started putting all the pieces together. I knew this wasn’t the end of my journey as a mental health advocate. I was not going to allow my PTSD to define me. This was merely a piece of my story, and I couldn’t wait to share it with others.

Hoping it might help them, letting them know, they were not alone. I took a risk, and I self-disclosed, sharing my story. Shortly after I self-disclosed, people started seeing me differently, and it made me so angry. Feeling this way, only added fuel to the fire. I knew it was time to create my organization, and I couldn’t wait to get started.

After sharing my idea with one incredible human being, I began to think of names for my not-for-profit corporation, I wanted something unique. Coming up with the name, BEE Daring Foundation, I hit the ground running. In June 2018, my corporation became legal in the state of Arizona and I was so excited. My vision was finally coming true, and I couldn’t wait to take the next step, to make it successful.

Our mission statement is: eradicating the stigmas surrounding mental health on college campuses. And, our vision statement is: educating college campuses on the effects of mental health and how to overcome it. Our target audience is College students (undergraduate, graduate, veterans, international, and transfer students), faculty & staff, friends & family, and first responders.

One of our goals is to help everyone in the state of Arizona, and one day, the entire nation when it comes to the college community. Even though we are relatively new, we have gotten so much support from so many amazing People. Right now, we are currently in the process of completing and filing our 1023 form, with the hope of getting tax-exempt status. We had our second annual, Pave the Way: Mental Health Summit, last October at Arizona State University, Tempe Campus. One of our topics for last year’s event was domestic violence.

We had so many amazing organizations come out and provide resources and information to all of our attendees. And our guest speakers are phenomenal. At the end of last year began brainstorming on what we wanted to do in 2019. We knew we wanted to do something bigger. We came up with this amazing idea to create a campaign. It wouldn’t be just a fundraising campaign, we would add events with various topics. Some of the topics include Mental Health and Healthy Relationships, Mental Health and First Responders, Athletes, Bullying, and Eating Disorder.

So what’s in store for the BEE Daring Foundation this year? We are getting ready to launch our 2019 Project PHX campaign. A campaign dedicated to combating stigmas surrounding mental illness, but that isn’t our only focus. We’re focusing on a broad spectrum of issues including sexual assault, to domestic violence and showing how these things are connected and need awareness.

It is imperative in today’s society that the population be educated on mental illness, know how to speak with someone who suffers from a mental illness, and the available resources out there. Through our campaign, we are offering workshops, resources, and guest speakers… plus a whole lot more!

What’s next for me?
To continue to be a mental health advocate, a sexual assault advocate, and share with my story with others. Along with continuing the healing process, something that is so important to me.

On top of being the founder, board member and CEO of the BEE Daring Foundation. And if all goes well, finish the book that I am currently working on. One thing I’ve learned throughout this entire journey is to never give up, no matter how difficult it might get.

It hasn’t been an easy journey, but I’ve learned so much about who I am as a human being. I could have gone in two different directions after I was raped, but I am proud to say, I am no longer a victim… I am a survivor! And my story is just getting started!

Has it been a smooth road?
One of the biggest struggles for me is dealing with my PTSD. I’m still learning how to adjust. But I continue to push forward, every single day. One of the things I’ve noticed, the days my PTSD is at its worst are the days I don’t feel like doing much.

I usually send out a few emails and listen to my PTSD playlist. And it ends up frustrating me because I am so excited about my foundation and watching it grow into something incredible. I end up beating myself up emotionally because I feel like I’m failing!

I know success isn’t going to happen overnight, but it’s hard when your emotions and your mental state end up getting the best of you. But I am a warrior, and that is something I constantly remind myself every single day. I know the best is yet to come.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I love helping others, that is my specialty! That is something I am so passionate about. We are known for educating and bringing awareness to the different stigmas and stereotypes that surround mental health.

Being a college student myself, I am able to bring in my own experience to make sure we provide the best services possible to those we are working with. I know first hand how difficult it is, having a mental illness and going to school. It can be challenging at times.

While we are relatively new, we are currently working on the different services that we will be providing.

Some of the services we will be providing are:
1) Workshops specifically for first responders and college students, healthy relationships (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault).

2) Mental Health First Aid Training

3) Training for those interested in facilitating our workshops.

4) Resources for the college community.

5) We are currently working on an APP

We focus on the entire college community, which allows us to help more people. It doesn’t matter whether you’re 18 or 45 if you’re a college student and have a mental illness we want to help however we can. We also want to be able to provide resources for those who work within the college community as well. One of the reasons we added first responders because of the work they do with the college community.

Whether it’s patrolling the campus, working a sporting event, or working with them within the community. A lot of students intern for different agencies. First responders include law enforcement, firemen, CSI, nurses, doctors, 911 operators, EMTs, paramedics.

What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, I see us growing and reducing the stigmas and stereotypes that surround mental health. I also see us helping more people self-disclose. And providing even more resources, and tools to those who suffer from a mental illness. One of my biggest goals is to showcase how a mental illness doesn’t just stem from one thing. Often times, people assume a mental illness is something we are born with.

There are so many factors that contribute to one’s mental health. And with the campaign we are launching this year, we want to bring awareness to that. Everyone deserves compassion, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We are all human beings who are unique in our own ways. Our mental illness does not define who we are.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Steve and Zev

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