New Statue Unveiled in Pueblo to Raise Awareness of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Services
PUEBLO— January 11, 2024 — On January 13, 2024, at 3 p.m., a partnership of Pueblo community organizations, including El Pueblo History Museum, are unveiling a statue titled “You Don’t Stand Alone” at Pueblo’s Historic Levee. While a testament to the tenacity and self-determination of the youth of Pueblo, “You Don’t Stand Alone” also serves as a reminder of a tremendous loss to the community and staff of El Pueblo History Museum: that of Erric “Mikey” Lopez, who took his own life in January of 2023.
A key member of the Teen Museum Corp at El Pueblo History Museum, Erric’s loss was instantly felt by the staff, including Tamara Trujillo, Hands-On History Program Director for History Colorado.
“Erric was such a wonderful young man who distinguished himself from the beginning,” Trujillo said. “His death made me feel helpless and I know other people in this community felt that way too.”
In the immediate aftermath of his death, Erric’s friends and family were left reeling and gathered together for support at the Lopez family home.
It was during this period that Trujillo and the staff of El Pueblo History Museum decided to create the Museum's Youth Kickback program, which met for the first time on January 29, 2023. Erric’s parents – Erric, Sr. and Tee Lopez – along with their other children – Zaiden and Anyssia – quickly volunteered to assist and personally invited multiple young people to attend and participate.
Envisioned as a safe place for youth, the Youth Kickback program provides a monthly gathering opportunity for the youth of Pueblo while also filling in for missing safety nets. Every meeting of the Youth Kickback includes some sort of creative activity – ranging from collaborative poetry to meditative coloring – while also providing social and physical activities, as well as access to counseling and guidance from professional therapists.
“We just found that there were not enough resources for young people who are struggling with their mental health and knew we had to try and do something,” Trujillo said.
“We know that food attracts people and if they know there will be a meal, many teens will come just for that,” Trujillo said.
Over time the Museum’s Youth Kickbacks have evolved based on the feedback of participants. Recent additions include a calming and comforting room as well as mindfulness practices and acu-detox – an acupuncture practice where needles are placed at specific points in the ear to release tension. Through it all, the program has cultivated a growing sense of empowerment.
“Our staff and the committee behind this program have fostered an incredible sense of community for these kids and that really can’t be overstated; they just feel like the museum is a place where they belong,” said Dianne Archuleta, director of El Pueblo History Museum.
Erric’s friends and family created Erric’s Promise, a committee that has expanded this movement beyond El Pueblo’s Youth Kickback program.
Youth on the Erric’s Promise committee contribute greatly to its success by sharing their ideas, volunteering for events, selling event tickets, and assisting with marketing. Michael D. Montoya, a senior at Pueblo Central High School, is a key motivator for the committee. Montoya chose the design for “You Don’t Stand Alone” and is currently working with local artist Eric McCue to fabricate the sculpture.
“Michael is just such a wonderful, quiet, and humble young man who was personally impacted by Erric’s death,” said Trujillo. “He came to us one day and said ‘you only have this (Youth Kickback) once a month but what if someone needs somewhere to go on a Monday night? I want them to have a place they can go and know they are not alone.’”
From Michael’s idea, both Erric’s Promise and “You Don’t Stand Alone” were born.
Since then the community has come together to raise more than $10,000 for the creation of the statue through various events and ongoing youth efforts, all with the goal of raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention services, and reminding the youth of Pueblo they matter.
“The message we want to send to young people is that their ideas are important and their community contributions are too,” said Trujillo. “You can make an impact and a difference, you just have to use your voice.”
Erric’s Promise is also working on a website which will be linked to via QR code adjacent to the sculpture. This website will provide links to mental health resources as well as testimonials from individuals who have struggled with their mental health and come out the other side.
While the unveiling of “You Don’t Stand Alone” is a powerful “work of heart,” it is not the end for El Pueblo Museum’s Youth Kickback program, which will continue to offer monthly gatherings at the museum and in the broader community.
“Through this process I’ve talked with lots of mental health professionals who have outlined the five stages of grief but there is a sixth: finding purpose,” Trujillo said. “This has helped me find purpose through this loss.”
In addition to unveiling the sculpture, the partnership of Pueblo community organizations are hosting a reception on January 13 from 4 – 5 p.m. at El Pueblo History Museum. The museum’s regular Youth Kickback will begin following the reception. All of El Pueblo History Museum’s Youth Kickbacks are open to everyone 13-21 years old. For more information about the Youth Kickback or to get involved, please contact Tamara Trujillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information about Erric’s Promise is also available by request and the committee can be contacted at email@example.com.
About El Pueblo History Museum
History Colorado’s El Pueblo History Museum is located at 301 N. Union Avenue in the heart of the city of Pueblo, part of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk District and the Pueblo Creative Corridor. The museum stands on the site of the original El Pueblo trading post, constructed in 1842. The museum site features beautiful galleries, a gift shop, bookstore, gardens, an active archaeological dig, and a recreation of the 1842 adobe trading post.
El Pueblo History Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.ElPuebloHistoryMuseum.org or call 719-583-0453.
Sobre El Pueblo History Museum
El museo de historia El Pueblo es parte de History Colorado y esta ubicado en la 301 N. Union Avenue en el corazón de Pueblo, parte del Distrito Histórico Arkansas Riverwalk y el Pueblo Creative Corridor. El museo se encuentra sobre el sitio del puesto comercial llamado El Pueblo, que se construyó originalmente en 1842. En el museo se encuentran bellas galerías de arte, una tienda de regalos y libros, jardines públicos, un sitio arqueológico, y una recreación del puesto comercial de adobe como se veía originalmente en 1842.
El Pueblo History Museum esta abierto de lunes a sábado 10 am a 4 pm. Para ver mas información por favor visite www.ElPuebloHistoryMuseum.org llame al 719-583-0453.
About History Colorado
History Colorado is a division of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and a 501(c)3 non-profit that has served more than 75,000 students and 500,000 people in Colorado each year. It is a 144-year-old institution that operates eleven museums and historic sites, a free public research center, the Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation which provides technical assistance, educational opportunities, and other access to archaeology and historic preservation, and the History Colorado State Historical Fund (SHF), which is one of the nation’s largest state funded preservation programs of its kind. More than 70% of SHF grants are allocated in rural areas of the state. Additionally, the offices of the State Archaeologist and the State Historic Preservation Officer are part of History Colorado.
History Colorado’s mission is to create a better future for Colorado by inspiring wonder in our past. We serve as the state’s memory, preserving and sharing the places, stories, and material culture of Colorado through educational programs, historic preservation grants, collecting, outreach to Colorado communities, the History Colorado Center and Stephen H. Hart Research Center in Denver, and 10 other museums and historic attractions statewide. History Colorado is one of only six Smithsonian Affiliates in Colorado. Visit HistoryColorado.org, or call 303-HISTORY, for more information. #HistoryColorado