Local artist Holly Boles has been employed as a 911 dispatcher for over 11 years. As a volunteer, she is committed to suicide prevention. One of the main groups of people whose lives she hopes to touch with her art, focused on butterflies, is people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Veterans often face PTSD, and 22+ veterans commit suicide each day in the United States. Boles is also particularly concerned by first responders with PTSD, as well as children. Boles hopes to “build confidence and coping skills in children so they will know they are enough.”
Boles has written a brochure about mental health awareness:, “If you or someone you love has experienced a life-threatening event, watch for these signs” of PTSD: flashbacks; nightmares; avoiding people, places, or things; getting startled easily; experiencing depression; being irritable; and feeling chronic pain. “In the brochure, she reveals, “I suffer from mental health issues and so do many others. I chose art to help me cope and hope it will touch others in search of help and hope. I draw butterflies because their life cycle reminds me of the stages of my own life and my experiences.”
She continued in an interview, “I don’t want anyone to feel alone.”
Boles does original pen and ink drawings of butterflies, as well as paintings inspired by butterflies. On September 21 at 10 AM, World Peace Day, Boles will be dedicating signs that use her butterfly artwork to raise awareness. Tyler Flower Shop at 318 Main Street in Gretna, owned by Jim and Susan Hunt, has supported Boles in hanging painted signs with the images and wording Boles has crafted. The dedication of the signs will be accompanied by a mental health awareness event.
Jim Hunt said, “This feels so right.”
Three speakers will share their thoughts at the public event, which Boles hopes to call “You Are Enough.” Terry Sharpe known as “the walking Marine” will speak about the Nine Line Foundation, which builds homes for homeless veterans. Sharpe is known as the “walking Marine,” because he walks from North Carolina to Washington, DC each spring to raise awareness. A national nonprofit for suicide prevention, Out of the Darkness, is sending a speaker. The third speaker is 10-year-old Jessica Saunders, who wants to share her thoughts about bullying and the pain it can cause.
Saunders was inspired by the word “bully” to use it as an acronym with “B” for “being,” “u” for “unique,” “l” for “loveable,” “l” for “lively,” and “y” for “you.” Saunders said she likes “being kind to others,” and “personally I just pray about bullying because God will be there.”
The 10-year-old received two awards during the 2019 Junior Beta Club State Competition; the club celebrates academic achievement. Saunders is first in the state in jewelry-making, and she is second in speech in the state. She said, “In my whole entire life, I have never been shy. I have always loved speaking and talking.”
“It’s just wrong to do bullying. It’s just not good. It’s kind of like polluting the world with violence. When it happens, it’s just really bad,” said Saunders. Her mother, Laura Saunders, who is a nurse, believes “mental illness is like any other disease, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. They all deserve and need treatment.”
Boles would like to see signage in schools with a butterfly and the words, “You Are Enough.” Jessica Saunders would like to see that, too.
Boles encourages the public to attend the dedication and the “You Are Enough” awareness event. The event begins at 10 AM on Saturday, September 21, 2019, in Gretna at 318 Main Street in front of Tyler Flower Shop.