Local Business Owner Rallies Team in Honor of One of Their Own
Gregory Cunningham launched Ground Care Landscaping in 2004. A lifelong resident of the Merrimack Valley, the business fused together his business skills along with his passion for the outdoors. He has, through the years, built both Ground Care Landscaping and its work force around the premise of, “if it happens, we learn from it. whatever ‘it’ is.” That edict was put to the test over the past year as his staff grappled with the loss of one of their own to suicide. During this time, Cunningham has been instrumental in guiding his team through this tremendous loss and in helping Ground Care to uncover the teachable moment. Among his many gestures, Cunningham has built a golf tournament in salute of the life of their revered team member and friend, Ryan. The community event, which takes place on Saturday, June 23 will also serve a dual purpose in that its proceeds will help to raise funds for the Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley (a program of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley) and also for local programs and services which support our veterans. We recently caught up with Greg as his staff puts the finishing touches on the tournament… and keeps their fingers crossed for sunshine on Saturday
On behalf of Family Services of the Merrimack Valley and the Samaritans of the Merrimack Valley, thank you so much for coordinating this event to benefit our programs and services. Why the Samaritans? Had you any previous association with us?
Last year the Ground Care team lost one of our own to suicide. It was a heavy hit for all of us. We had never been involved with the cause of suicide until it hit home. As the owner, mobilizing to raise funds in honor of Ryan was an opportunity for me to show the rest of our team how much each of them truly means to me.
If you are comfortable, do you care to share something about the individual in whose honor Ground Care has developed this event?
Ryan was a great part of our team. Nobody controlled our emotions like he did. His presence had such an impact around here. When we lost him, it left a huge void here within the company. Ryan was an avid outdoorsman and hiker… and he loved people more than anyone on the planet.
How is it that Ground Care came to choose a golf tournament as opposed to some other form of a charitable event?
We just wanted to to try something new. This golf tournament is a chance for us to celebrate the success of our company and to give back in honor of Ryan. Losing him humbled all of us. Yet, with this tournament, here he is again bringing the team together. We hope to make it an annual event.
Is there anything else you wish to share about suicide and your personal experience losing someone?
You never really understand how big an issue is to someone else. On the day that Ryan died, he and I had worked alongside one another for that entire day. I knew that he had some issues going on, and during that day I took the time out where I could to listen and be a friend. Still, I had no idea how heavy these issues were weighing on him. Everyone on our team felt responsible at the time of this tragedy. I’m still left with the question of, “could i have done more?” I just have to remind myself and the entire Ground Care staff that we were all a good friend to Ryan, and sometimes (unfortunately) there is only so much you can do.
If folks would like to pitch in with the event, how might they still do so?
The 18 hole tournament begins at noon on Saturday. We’re looking forward to a wonderful afternoon at the Bradford Country Club in Haverhill. Beyond helping us to root for sunshine on Saturday, we still have some opportunities for businesses to sponsor holes. In addition, we would welcome any in-kind donations for raffle items. Please contact us at 978-688-9800 if you would like to pitch in some capacity. For any questions or additional information, please feel free to also email us at: [email protected]
Family Services’ Samaritans of Merrimack Valley strives to reduce the incidence of suicide in the Merrimack Valley and throughout Massachusetts by providing “befriending” to individuals who are lonely, depressed and contemplating suicide or self-injury. Suicide prevention is one of the primary goals of the Samaritans, although services also include postvention services, trainings and seminars, and support groups. If you or someone you know is in imminent risk of suicide, call 911 or an ambulance to take them to an emergency room. Family Services’ Samaritans provides a free and confidential crisis help line to those who are lonely, despairing, suicidal or need someone to listen. This service is provided by trained volunteers who provide unconditional and non-judgmental “TLC” – talking, listening and caring. This service is available 24/7 by calling our Crisis Help Line at 866-912-HOPE (4673).