Walla Walla winery raises $15k for mental health awareness

WALLA WALLA, WA - When suicide became a part of their lives, the owners of Dunham Cellars wanted to get involved with bringing awareness to mental health somehow.

A few years ago, owners created "Dunham Days." At first, the event was free to attend. In efforts to raise money for mental health, they implemented its first cover charge of $10 per person in 2019. Owners donated half of each ticket to "Reach Out Walla Walla" for suicide prevention.

Due to COVID-19, they had to cancel the event and take things online.

Co-owner, Joanne Dunham said she doesn't think there is enough awareness on mental health.

"People don't talk about it. It's this dirty little thing that something happens to somebody, but it is not. You have to talk about it," Joanne said. "It's like having cancer. It's like having anything else. If somebody has a mental issue, it needs to be talked about or we'll never get it fixed."

In 2014, her stepson, Eric Dunham, died by suicide.

"You can say Eric committed suicide and it comes out pretty easily," Joanne said. "At first, it was not the same, but now it's like, he did and I am so sorry for it, but you know, it happens a lot."

She said she wants to help people, so that, what happened to her family doesn't happen to others.

"And whatever we can do to do our little part, and perhaps get better and being more aware and find ways to help people get through it," Joanne said. "We are glad we can do it."

When "Dunham Days" started, owners donated half of their cover charge to "Reach Out Walla Walla," a local suicide prevention initiative.

Last year, they made about $8,000.

"This year, we knew we had to cancel "Dunham Days" just because everything else has been canceled. And you know, all the big, huge fundraisers in Seattle are canceled," Joanne said. "We just knew we would be canceling "Dunham Days" as well."

Joanne said they wanted to keep the new tradition going with suicide prevention. So, they designed a magnum bottle with a special label.

"We numbered the bottles. We did a hundred magnums. We did 50 of the 2016 and 50 of the 2017," Joanne said.

All the proceeds from the sale of those bottle were again given to "Reach Out Walla Walla."

"And we were able to write a check of $15,000, which we were really happy to be able to do that," Joanne said.

 If you would like to donate directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, you can go to their website at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/donate/.

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