RICHMOND, R.I. – In this era of disturbing headlines, we could use a good story.
It begins in tragedy: the suicide of Cassie Duncan, only daughter of Cindy and John Duncan, in her bedroom in December 2005. Cassie, 14, an artist and nature lover, had not shared with anyone the darkness that brought her there. The Duncans still don’t really understand.
But when their anguish had settled, they determined to honor her by promoting mental-health awareness. They established the non-profit Rainbow Fund and partnered with the state chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They staged an annual fundraising race and walk, which this year will be held on Saturday. They began planning bigger things.
One fine day last week, The Journal visited the Duncans at their Harvest Acres Farm to learn of their progress toward those things. Out back in the greenhouses, a crew was loading plants onto carts for transport to the roadside farm stand. In the farmhouse kitchen, Peanut Butter the cat watched coffee brewing. A farmer needs that morning break.
Tom Flaherty, 53, was among those who were busy.
Flaherty is one of the initial enrollees in Harvest Acres’ newest endeavor, a work-based therapeutic recovery program for people living with mental illness. Planning began last year — and the first members, as clients are called, arrived early this year.