Written by: Shannon McPeek, Founder of Operation Happy Nurse
Operation Happy Nurse is thrilled to be hosting our first annual fundraising gala with the amazing Lemons Foundation. The Lemons Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is focused on continuously building a community whose goal is to support and encourage those struggling with their mental health and to provide resources for you and the ones you love.
With the creation of this event, we wanted to recognize individuals who feel passionate about mental health advocacy. With this thought, we created the Mental Health Movement Award, given to those exhibiting exemplary efforts to learn from the past, make movement in the now, and change the future. These four people and/or organizations are trailblazers within the mental health community, which we feel makes them completely worthy of recognition. Each honoree will be speaking at our upcoming fundraising gala.
This organization has made INCREDIBLE strides within the nursing community. Day in and day out they support their nurses through resources, humor, and community. We are thrilled to honor three amazing leaders associated with this organization: Layifa, Emily, and Ebi.
Layifa is an Air Force Veteran and a former consultant in DC. Following his brother Ebi’s Leukemia diagnosis, Layifa relocated to Los Angeles to help with Ebi’s care and Nurselifern, the company Ebi had founded. After Ebi’s tragic passing, Layifa took the reins. He vowed to ensure that the Nurselifern community would continue to serve as a place where nurses can feel connected. Layifa and Emily Lewis, Ebi’s trusted business partner and RN, work side by side to honor Ebi’s legacy and support nurses in new and creative ways.
Emily, a cardiac travel nurse, began working at Nurselifern nearly three years ago. After meeting Ebi and discussing the importance of Nurselifern, she offered to help Ebi with his entrepreneurial endeavors and eventually began working full time to grow the Nurselifern community. After Ebi’s passing, Emily was passionate about continuing the work Ebi had started, alongside Ebi’s older brother Layifa. Together, they are honored to carry on Ebi’s legacy and support, connect and improve the wellbeing of nurses.
We had the honor of connecting with Clayton Echard through his amazing Mental Health Matters episode on the Happy Hour with Operation Happy Nurse podcast. After listening to his story, we knew he was bound to change the world of mental health. From discussing his struggles with body dysmorphia to speaking with young men and redefining masculinity, Clayton has significantly aided in the fight to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
Clayton consistently remains open and honest through his deep discussions on the impact of social media, comparing ourselves to others, what it’s like being a public persona, and how we can tackle some of the obstacles of toxic masculinity that inhibit real growth. Clayton communicates so eloquently about the issues that men face with the stigma of mental health.
Clayton’s journey – from being on reality TV to sharing a locker room with professional athletes at the highest level – has tested both his mental and physical capabilities to the max. These experiences, as well as many others that weren’t in the public eye, have lead him to have honest conversations with himself in order to figure out who he truly is. He is now ready to share his true self with the world.
We first came across The Defensive Line on social media and immediately knew they were something special. The Defensive Line is out to make real change with regards to the youth suicide epidemic. Started by Solomon, Martha, and Chris Thomas, The Defensive Line is positively changing the way society discusses mental health. Operation Lemon-Aid is lucky to have both Martha and Chris Thomas accepting The Defensive Line’s Honoree Position.
A gifted college athlete, Chris played an integral role in coaching and developing the athletic achievements of his children, Ella and Solomon. People are immediately put at ease by his big laugh and zest for life, and by his ability to communicate a message of positivity and hope. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, as well as a Touched By Suicide (TBS) board member, AFSP Project 2025 board member, and College of Wooster Ad Hoc Alumni Trustee.
Martha co-founded The Defensive Line to honor her daughter, Ella, and to bring a message of hope and help to other at-risk young people. She is the root of her family and believes and demonstrates fundamentally that connection is our greatest source of strength together. Martha, Chris, and Solomon were recipients of the 2019 AFSP Lifesaver Award.
The moment we learned about Sarah Warren, we knew she needed to be recognized. Sarah Warren is a registered nurse, writer, speaker, activist, and mental health advocate based in Florida. She has dedicated the last four years of her career to working at the bedside, as well as advocating for better and safer working conditions for all healthcare professionals and the patients they care for.
Through social media, Sarah has reached hundreds of thousands of people, sharing her story and the stories of hundreds of healthcare workers across the country, shedding light on the realities they face each day. She has focused on normalizing healthcare workers’ need for mental health support and on fighting the associated stigma around seeking help. She has been transparent about her own need to seek help and start medications for her mental health, and is an advocate for others seeking support.
Sarah highlights the inadequacies of the current state of healthcare and holds institutions accountable for unsafe conditions. Sarah has stood up for her coworkers by speaking to administrators face-to-face regarding unsafe working conditions. She is a voice for true change in healthcare.
Join us August 26th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Westlake Village to help us make movement in the world of Mental Health. Buy your tickets today!
We wanted to thank our sponsor Bee Rx for helping make this movement a reality.