Scott Day, Executive Director, SL24 ~ Why I serve

SL24 (Sean’s House) Unlocke the Light, is one of the organizations that High 5 Hospitality supports throughout the year. 

Mental health is a topic that, in the past, has carried somewhat of a stigma.  It should not.  It affects how we think, feel and act.  It impacts how we handle stress, make healthy choices, and relate to others.  If left unchecked, untreated, or kept in secret from our closest friends and family, could lead to decisions that have a negative and lasting impact on the people we love the most.  The most devastating of which is suicide. 

Suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States.  It has increased over 30% from 2000-2022.  It is having such a destructive effect on our society that in 2020 the FCC launched 988 as a Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

SL24 is making a difference in Delaware, across the United States and is in discussions with the USAF to support their efforts to combat this disease.

We met with Scott recently to discuss the upcoming “Month of Giving” in our Jersey Mike’s brand.  During our conversation, I asked him, “Why do you serve?”

“When I think of the word “serve”, I think of two of the greatest men and influences in my life, my grandfather, Watson Day, and my father, Gordy Day. From as early as I can remember, they embodied the word in every sense. My grandfather served his country in WWII and in the Korean War. My father served in the Navy and followed that up by serving 30+ years as a volunteer fireman in Wilmington. They showed me from a very early age how to constantly put others before myself.

For many years, I thought I was doing that. After growing up in Wilmington and taking my athletic abilities to the collegiate level at York College of Pennsylvania, I set off in my career in college athletics, working as a communications and public relations professional at four different Division I institutions for 15 years. In my mind, I thought I was doing my part, “serving” the student-athletes at these schools. However, what it really became was me searching for my identity because I had gotten so wrapped up in my job that I was only finding fulfillment in my job.  I wasn’t the husband, father, man of faith, I should’ve been.  By the age of 30, I was caught up searching for my purpose and identity and ended up in a five year battle with major depression.

That battle saw so many low moments and so many struggles, but what got me through those years and the three suicide attempts, were the people closest to me, who constantly served me and did whatever they could to help me. My wife served me every day with grace and mercy, guiding me through the toughest times to get the help I needed.

As my recovery journey began, I found myself being given a “reset button” with an opportunity to return to Delaware, the home state of my wife and I, after nearly 15 years in the city of Richmond, Virginia. But life wasn’t done throwing me curveballs as nearly three years after moving back, my job at UD was eliminated during COVID budget cuts.

Less than a week later, I sat at lunch with Chris Locke, the Co-Founder of SL24: UnLocke The Light. We shared our stories, we shared our families, we shared tears and laughs. We stayed connected as I started to volunteer for SL24 and a few months later, I gratefully accepted a full-time role, where I now serve as the Executive Director of Sean’s House.

The best way to describe my journey is in a simple quote, “my darkest days have now become my biggest purpose.”

When we’re fighting each and every day in the dark moments of life, whether it be a mental illness or grief or financial hardship, it’s really hard to see the hope that life has in store. I was in those moments for so long, all I wanted to do was escape. But what I’ve learned is how to embrace my story, embrace my struggles and own them for a bigger purpose… to serve the young adults who are now in the same place I was years ago.

So, the easiest way to answer the question “Why I Serve” is two-fold, one is because I want to embody the character of my grandfather and father, but also, I know the struggle that so many face on a daily basis. I know how difficult it is to admit that you need help. I know how hard it is to be in that dark place and want to escape. I serve because I want those people to know there is hope. I want my children to grow up in a society where it’s ok for people of all ages, color, religion, background, to get the help they need and to be vulnerable with those around them.

I serve because I want to shine a light for those fighting in the darkness.”