North Hastings Hospital has received the generous donation of a “Buddy Bench”, which can be found sitting prominently in all of its bright red glory outside of the Emergency Department.
Buddy Benches are named after Mark Snider, who lost his mental health battle to suicide in 2019. His mother, Louri Snider, founded ‘Baseball For Dad’ in memory of Mark. She has made it her mission to raise awareness and remove the stigma around mental health issues, helping people to become more comfortable talking about them.
Through various initiatives, including Mark’s Buddy Benches, the Snider family is raising awareness, and promoting kindness and inclusivity.
After Mark’s death, Louri approached a local Bancroft fabricating business called RJK Welding & Fabrication. She asked owner Jamie Koster to create a Buddy Bench in Mark’s memory. Loving the cause, Jamie now donates one bench annually for Mark’s family to place at the location of their choice on Mark’s birthday every year.
What started out as placing one bench per year, quickly grew as the small town of Bancroft started to participate as well. The community has shown great support and many people have sponsored to place a bench in various school yards, parks, etc. The bench placed at North Hastings Hospital is bench #24.
Jamie’s wife, Chantal, was behind the placement of the bench at North Hastings Hospital.
“Two years ago, I lost my best friend to suicide,” said Chantal. “It has been on my heart ever since to have a bench placed at our local hospital. I know both staff and patients alike have spent some of their hardest days there and I hope the bench is a gentle reminder to anyone that sees it and is having a hard day, that they are not alone.”
Thank you to the Snider family and the Koster family for their advocacy and generosity.