The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based nonprofit organization, I’m Saving Myself (ISM), has announced the re-launching of the organization with an expanded staff. What’s not changing is the leadership coming from the executive director position. Bonita Mitchell
remains the powerhouse behind the ISM organization and brand. Mitchell, who founded the organization in 2001 to encourage kids in Berrien County, Michigan to abstain from risky behaviors like drug use, premarital sex, suicide, bullying and other violent acts, remarks “The biggest change is that it’s no longer me trying to do everything on my own.” She explained, “Not only was I getting worn out, I also realized that the organization needed to grow and, although I had the vision, I was missing many of the skills needed to take the organization to the next level.” To find those skills, Mitchell simply needed to go home. She reached out to some of her classmates from her days at near-by Eau Claire High School and found them searching and eager for a way to give back to the Southwest Michigan area. “Who could say no to such a wonderful cause that has made such a huge difference in our community?”, asked Becky Bennett, President & CEO–Entrepreneur Success, Inc. & Royalties, Inc., who will serve as the organization’s chief financial officer. Bennett, who earned a B.A. with an emphasis on Accounting from Mercer University, Macon, GA, was further motivated by the fact that the organization was launched at her beloved Eau Claire High School after a popular star athlete took his own life. “While I was originally focused on giving back to my own small community, I realized this organization does that and then some. Until Bonita educated me about the alarming rate at which our young people were attempting to take their own lives, I had no idea what a threat teen suicide was to our community and our future.”
Also on board is psychology student and current Eau Claire Public School employee, Robin Krugh. Krugh has volunteered for the ISM organization for over ten years as the head of show and concert production. “I’ve seen first-hand what a program like this can do to save lives and set young people on a positive course.” Said Krugh. Her main responsibility will be the administration of the ISM after-school and in-school programs, as well as working with local social workers and psychologists to understand and administer appropriate measures to the ISM programs.
Former Whirlpool Corporation marketer and graduate of the University of Notre Dame’s Master of Nonprofit Administration program, Ronda Collier, was next to sign up. Collier will lead the marketing and public relations efforts for the organization. “The outcomes of this organization’s work are amazing. Kids with histories of abuse, violence and suicide attempts credit the ISM organization for the fact that they are not only contributing members of society today, but also serve as role models and mentors to other kids with similar upbringings. Shining a light on ISM’s work is going to be tremendously fun and rewarding” commented Collier.
Rounding out the organization as the manager of talent development is Brittany Leigh. In addition to being a junior in the Music and Entertainment degree program at Full Sail University, Leigh has grown up in the entertainment industry and studied under her father, well-known music producer Derrick Leigh who represented some of the best selling artists of all time. “I am honored and humbled to be working with such an awesome organization” said Leigh who will be leading the organization’s talent recognition and development efforts.
While the new positions remain volunteer and part-time positions for now, a top priority of the organization will be to find capacity-building funding to allow some of the positions to be full-time paid staff members.
“We have had remarkable results on a shoestring thus far”, quipped Mitchell. “Imagine what we will accomplish when I get this powerful and passionate group as a full-time team.”
As stated, Bonita Mitchell, an accomplished recording artist in her own right whose background includes a 7-year stint as a wardrobe consultant for the great recording artist Stevie Wonder, will remain at the helm of the organization as Executive Director and Chief Visionary Officer.