GALESBURG, Ill. — A Galesburg, Illinois, woman is being recognized for her work in suicide prevention and beyond.
Chastity Smith is a mother; wife; day care owner; co-chair of Galesburg's Out of the Darkness Walk, which aims to raise awareness for suicide prevention; and so much more.
"She's just such a good-hearted person. You don't find many like her," said Emily Philbee, who nominated Chastity for the award. Philbee wanted to recognize Smith for helping her and hundreds of others in their time of darkness.
"I am a suicide attempt survivor," Philbee said. "I've lost numerous friends."
Smith lent a helping hand and listening ear when Philbee was going through a rough patch.
"She made it easier for me to accept what had happened. She's a good listening ear, she's a shoulder to cry on and that really helped me," Philbee said.
News 8 joined Philbee at Smith's home to surprise her with her $300 Pay It Forward reward.
"I wanted to pay it forward to you because you're such a great person. For everything you do for suicide prevention, thank you." Philbee said.
Smith's big heart and mission of suicide prevention hits close to home.
"I don't know how to do anything but just being me," Smith said. "My cousin, Tina Benedict, lost her husband in 2004 and we went to a (Out of the Darkness) walk, in 2010, trying to find something to help her heal."
After feeling the healing effects from the walk, Smith decided to bring that energy to Galesburg. 2022 will mark 12 years of the program there.
Hundreds take part in the Out of the Darkness Walk in Galesburg every September.
In addition to her healing walks, Smith works with local school districts to help educators and parents recognize warning signs when a child may be experiencing poor mental health.
When New 8 asked Smith where her giving heart comes from, she responded, "I don't know. My husband says 'your heart's just bigger than anyone can hold on to.'" What's one less she hopes the world could take away from her? Smith said, "Be kind. Honestly, just be kind."
It's a simple message, coming from a woman who serves as a beacon of light during people's time of darkness.
If you or someone you know is having suicide ideation, there is help available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, operates 24/7. It's a free and confidential too for people in distress and can also offer support through resources to help you or your loved ones.
Additionally, 988 has been set aside to call for help in a time of need. The number is not yet available to everyone but will be beginning July 16, 2022.
Nominate someone you know for the Pay It Forward Award here.