Mother turning personal tragedy into ‘signs of hope’ during times of social isolation

Carlisle/West Shore

CAMP HILL, Pa. (WHTM) — Caring for our mental health has never been more important as thousands of us deal with the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders.

One midstate mother is doing her part to spread hope and encouragement in the name of her late daughter.

“It’s just really beautiful to see how it’s spreading and it’s spreading because people are grabbing onto the message,” Gina Lauck said.

Lauck’s daughter, Katie, died April 8, 2019 at age 23 after taking her own life.

Lauck spoke with ABC27 on the one-year anniversary of her daughter’s death.

The message of her unique project is simple and to the point; she describes it as “love without an agenda.”

“The simplicity of the sign is really that the message is the entire message and we don’t want anything to take away from that,” she said. “Now more than ever people need hope, and it’s my responsibility as my daughter’s mom to bring her story forward. The reality of today is that people are dying alone in nursing homes, people who were already depressed are now shut in alone.”

Lauck says her daughter often felt alone and isolated, but was always giving, and enjoyed spreading light to those experiencing darkness, even when she was consumed by darkness herself.

Lauck recalls a promise she made to her daughter in the hospital, during a visit when Katie wasn’t even aware her mother was there.

“I made a promise to her that I wasn’t going to allow her story to end that way, and that her life was going to count for something,” Lauck said. “I made a promise to her that I was going to not allow her story to end, because I used to always tell her you know ‘hey, you matter.'”

After months of putting it off, Lauck recently brought the “Don’t Give Up” signs movement to central Pennsylvania, after learning of the idea from a woman in Oregon.

She started with 40 signs but after a strong response on social media, has now placed more than 160 in five midstate counties (as of Wednesday April 8), and even has requests for signs as far away as Pittsburgh.

“I ask people to text my number with a ‘drop sign here’, and then give me an address,” Lauck said.

“Hopefully it’ll get people talking even if they just say why do you have it here, what’s behind it,” Michele Forbes said, whose sign was delivered to her Camp Hill home this week.

It seems that “love without an agenda,” has one after all.

“You’re not alone, you still matter, and your life is significant to me and it’s significant to your community,” Lauck said. “Sometimes we feel like there’s always a catch, and with these signs – it’s really just, we’re here to spread hope and encouragement. My heart is excited to see what’s happening, and it makes it a little bit easier.”

You can reach out to Lauck’s Facebook group here. There, you can ask about signs or make a donation, so she can purchase more signs to place in others’ yards across the state. You can also email Gina at chronicallystrong23@gmail.com and request information that way.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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