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Ravitz Family Markets Shines Spotlight on Mental Health

Indie’s associates volunteer to take special course to recognize and help those who may be struggling
Ravitz Family Markets Mental Health First Aid Main Image
Left to right: Ravitz Family Markets Human Resources team members Cindy Watson Casey, Bob Baylor, Ken Brahl, Katie Orem, Antonio Rodriguez, Patricia Williams, Samantha Acampa and Erin Ecker with their Mental Health First Aid certifications.

Ravitz Family Markets is recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month in May with a course that trains associates in Mental Health First Aid. Offered by certified instructors, the free, volunteer course was created by the Washington, D.C.-based National Council for Mental Wellbeing to give participants basic tools and skills for recognizing the signs of someone experiencing a mental health challenge. Participants also learn ways to offer initial support to someone who may be struggling and possibly help them seek further assistance.

“This is about helping people understand how to listen and be a potential link – maybe the first stop – on the way to professional help and early intervention for someone in need,” said Ken Brahl, senior director of Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Ravitz Family Markets, which is a member of retail cooperative Wakefern Food Corp. “When you consider that more than 20 million Americans experience a mental health challenge each year, we think it’s important to help people recognize and offer initial support to someone who might be struggling, including themselves.”

According to Brahl, who has undergone the extensive training to become a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor, associates and managers are often invited to take the course, but the training isn’t mandatory. The volunteer program requires online and in-person instruction, often conducted at Ravitz Family Markets headquarters. Those who take the course receive a certification that lasts for three years.

The effort was especially meaningful to Steve Ravitz, who led the family business for 40 years before his retirement in 2019. Ravitz, who was open about his previous bouts with depression, felt strongly about helping others who might be experiencing similar issues, observed Brahl. The Mental Health First Aid program at Ravitz Family Markets launched a year before Ravitz died in 2020, but it was suspended during the pandemic. Brahl has been ramping up the training again over the past year and now has associates coming back to be recertified. Ravitz Family Markets is promoting the program as part of Mental Health Awareness Month.

[RELATED: Hy-Vee Introduces Mental Health Campaign]

“My father would be very proud of this training that we are offering associates, and it is truly his legacy,” said Shawn Ravitz, VP of Ravitz Family Markets, who currently runs the business’ five ShopRite stores in New Jersey’s Burlington and Camden counties with his brothers Jason and Brett.

The Ravitz Family Foundation has donated millions to community groups and local aid organizations, funding programs that include after-school programs, playgrounds, food pantries and community gardens. Offering the Mental Health First Aid training through the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is another way that the independent grocer strives to help the community. So far, 120 Ravitz Family Markets associates have taken the course.

“We offer basic first-aid training for associates to help those who may be suffering a health emergency – why wouldn’t we do it to learn more about how to help people struggling with a mental health challenge?” added Brahl.

Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern is the nation’s largest retailer-owned cooperative. The company comprises more than 40 members, including Saker ShopRites, that independently own and operate 270-plus supermarkets. Wakefern is No. 29 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 listing of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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