Man’s mission is to reduce stress

Since the age of 12, Sam Beard always knew his mission in life was to help those in need.

“I just knew that I would be able to make a difference in this world by changing lives,” Mr. Beard said.

Mr. Beard, 80, has been able to fulfill that vision by making Delaware the testing ground for mindfulness and meditation and other forms of stress reduction through his non-profit organization GIFT (The Global Investment Foundation for Tomorrow).

With social distancing, isolation, and losing our regular ways of life it may have become difficult for individuals and communities to navigate through. But, Mr. Beard hopes to help people manage their stress by offering online resources to help enhance their well-being during these difficult times.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, if there was stress before, this is stress on steroids,” Mr. Beard said. “It’s reminiscent of what you see in history books with the Great Depression. It takes my breath away to think about the thousands of Delawareans who are unemployed or don’t know where their next meal is coming from, no savings, or are on the brink of despair.”

Mr. Beard, along with First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and Dr. Jim Walsh, will a host a web seminar on May 1 at 3 p.m. on GIFT’s website at www.delawarechanginglives.org, which offers online stress reduction guided meditations.

The seminar will bring the idea of trauma reform, mediation, mindfulness, and social-emotional learning to Delaware.

“Out of this crisis, there are opportunities for us to not only cope better with the enormous present challenges we face but also lay the groundwork for a better future,” Mr. Beard said. “These online tools open the doorway for using this time for personal growth and fulfillment.”

“This platform helps us connect and share ideas that can help us emerge with strength from this difficult time,” he added.

One of the site’s successful stress tools is Breathe 1-2-3 developed by Dr. Jim Walsh and based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, as it has brought immediate relief to many.

This widely embraced, scientifically validated technology has already been in use helping over 6,000 Delawareans through Delaware Changing Lives outreach to schools, community-based organizations, mental health systems, and other public-private sector partnerships.

“We specialize in it because it’s the top scientific proven meditation practice around the world. It’s top of the line,” Mr. Beard said. When we started if people didn’t think it was benefiting them it would have not spread statewide. We’ve trained over 6,000 people and we’re on our way to 25,000.”

A crisis becomes GIFT

Mr. Beard has been a Delawarean since 1980. Previously, through his different national non-profit organizations, Mr. Beard has initiated and then chaired programs for eight presidents of the United States — Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. In 1972 he co-founded the prestigious Jefferson Awards Foundation with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and U.S. Sen. Robert Taft Jr., and served as its president. Also, the PeaceJam Foundation, led by 13 Nobel Peace Prize laureates to mentor youth to change the world, honored him with a lifetime achievement award.

But in 2014, Mr. Beard dealt with a personal crisis that would change his mission in life.

“Many people have a personal crisis and deal with it in different ways,” Mr. Beard said. “I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t work. I was just totally stressed out and I was familiar with mindfulness and meditation. I practiced with it, but I was like everyone else and never really done it.”

“It helped me become a better person in all facets of my life,” Mr. Beard added. “It helped me open a whole new world, which led me to create GIFT.

Since it’s inception in 2016, GIFT has worked with Gov. John Carney, First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons.

Mr. Beard said he hopes everyone tunes in during the event on May 1, so people can get a better understanding of his initiative.

“It’s going to be great,” Mr. Beard said. “This is our answer to how we’re taking on this crisis. Even after this is finally over we want to make mindfulness meditation and stress reduction a tool for everyone.”

But Mr. Beard has his eyes set on bigger accomplishments for GIFT. His ultimate goal is to train 100,000 veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress across America. He also hopes to get 100,000 Delawareans into meditation in five years.

“I’m excited,” Mr. Beard said. “I start with ideas and I’m persistent with them,” Mr. Beard said. “Most major ideas take 15 to 20 years.

“In the first 50 years of my life, I viewed it as spring training. I now know if I trust my skills I can work with everyone, and over a period of time change thousands or millions of lives. That’s what I’ve done and plan to continue to do so moving forward.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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