“Don't Give Up”

Reader's Digest US|July - August 2020

“Don't Give Up”
Her heartbroken hometown needed a sign, so she gave them one
By Caroline Fanning

THE SIGNS APPEARED practically overnight. They’d been staked anywhere and everywhere— in front of homes, along sidewalks, around the local high school. Each featured just a few uplifting words in simple black type: “Don’t Give Up,” “You Are Worthy of Love,” “Your Mistakes Do Not Define You.” The high school in Newberg, Oregon, had lost two students and four alumni to suicide that year, so the town of 25,000 instantly understood the messages. For days, what no one could figure out was who had planted them.

Amy Wolff had. At first, she didn’t want anyone to connect her to them. For one thing, the 36-year-old mother of two didn’t really feel it was her place to weigh in. She had done so, in part, because she’d lost her own teenage brother in an accident about 20 years earlier, and she felt compelled to address Newberg’s grief. She planted the signs anonymously because she wanted them to be about their message, not any one person. It was compassion for compassion’s sake. “I couldn’t just do nothing,” says Wolff. “I’m not qualified, but gosh darn it, I can print yard signs.”

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July - August 2020