Colonial Life recognizes 2015 Volunteer of the Year

Barbara Webb’s work with suicide prevention inspired by a family tragedy

Barbara Webb

COLUMBIA, S.C. (May 8, 2015) — Suicide awareness and prevention were rarely discussed two decades ago when Barbara Webb’s brother, a father-figure in her life following the early death of her father, died by suicide.

“In 1992, people didn’t talk about depression or suicide; it was considered taboo and something you shouldn’t talk about – much less admit you were dealing with,” said Webb, a policies and procedures consultant in Colonial Life’s service operations department.

But Webb and her mother were determined to talk about it. Together, they worked together to find opportunities to turn the tragic loss into something that could save others’ lives.

Webb’s faith, positive outlook and determination – along with countless hours of volunteer work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – led on Friday to her recognition as Colonial Life’s Volunteer of the Year.

For the past four years, she has served as a committee member and twice chair for the Columbia Out of the Darkness Walk, which raises funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Her efforts with the walks include leading monthly committee meetings to organize the walk path, engaging the media, recruiting volunteers, ensuring there are mental health expert contacts available, and contacting the military for soldiers to present the flag as well as participate in the walk.

In addition to Webb’s work with AFSP, she serves as the Edisto Clemson Club Alumni Board President and as a Clemson Alumni Council representative. Previously, she volunteered the first Saturday of each month at the Orangeburg County Historical Society. From 2006 through 2012, she served on Colonial Life's United Way core team.

“Barbara’s work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Columbia Out of the Darkness Walk displays an amazing love for men, women and families battling mental illness,” said Tim Arnold, president and CEO of Colonial Life.

“It is an honor to recognize her work to raise awareness and reduce stigma of issues surrounding suicide and mental illness. Barbara exemplifies the strong community service commitment of our organization and the hundreds of employees who live it daily. It is my privilege to celebrate the great work by Barbara and the other nominees for this award.”

Colonial Life donated $1,000 in Webb’s honor to her charity of choice, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“We refer to those of us who are left behind to try to make sense of it all as ‘survivors.’ With help from local and national suicide prevention resources available for people who are suffering, as well as support for survivors like me, we can help save lives,” Webb said.

The Volunteer of the Year award is given annually to a Columbia-based employee of Colonial Life or an affiliate of its parent company, Unum, who exhibits excellence in volunteer activities in the community, has a positive outlook about volunteerism, is an inspiration to his or her co-workers and whose activities have had a definite effect on the quality of life in the community.

Other nominees for this year’s Volunteer of the Year award included Krystal Acton, marketing; Katie Davis, growth markets; Lauren Garrett, sales; Ashley Griffin, service operations; Dawn Mireles, service operations; Jessica Reece, growth operations; and Beth Ruffin, enrollment solutions.

Colonial Life and its employees contributed in 2014 more than $2.1 million to charitable organizations – a figure that includes more than 12,600 hours of volunteer community service.

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million of America’s workers and their families. For more information visit www.coloniallife.com or connect with the company at www.facebook.com/coloniallifebenefits, www.twitter.com/coloniallife and www.linkedin.com/company/colonial-life.