(Photo submitted by Jon Williams)

Jon Williams is the host of The Midday Zone in The Zone @ 91-3.

On top of his extensive music knowledge, Williams is also a passionate mental health advocate, openly sharing his story and removing stigma behind mental health for the past nine years.

He has spent hours speaking at mental health galas or high school events and participating in charity outreach programs.

See also: Victoria kids set up Iced Tea booth to raise money for family of deceased friend

Then Williams discovered Foundry Victoria through a friend and, in his own words, fell in love with the work that they do.

So he decided to set up his own fundraiser by creating T-shirts and hoodies that feature his signature sign-off, ‘Look after yourself. Have fun. & for goodness sake, smile.’

These clothes are then sold to anyone who wants them – so far, Williams’ radio listeners have purchased over 700 shirts and hoodies – and all profits are donated to Foundry Victoria.

“I understand that being told to smile can be grating to some, I was told it constantly growing up. But that’s because no one knew I was abused/near drowned,” Williams tells Victoria Buzz when asked about the inspiration behind his sign-off phrase.

“I detested the phrase, but I will not run or hide from someone/something that produces negativity within. I must see it, hear it, and own it. A phrase that used to drive me bonkers is now the last thing I say each show.”

Through selling his sign-off merchandise, Williams has thus far raised a whopping $10,000 for Foundry Victoria, and doesn’t plan to stop there.

(Photo submitted by Jon Williams)

Getting personal

Finding a way to fund mental health resources for young people is a mission that hits close to home for Williams.

When growing up in the south of England, he was abused, raped, and nearly drowned at the age of 10, and had nowhere to turn to for guidance.

“There were no places as a youth to talk to a doctor back then,” Williams tells Victoria Buzz.

“It’s just a wonderful hub of connection down there [at Foundry Victoria] for youth, so it had to be the first charity I wanted to give money to when it comes to the sign off shirts. I would’ve appreciated a chance to connect to a place like Foundry when I was a young man.”

His T-shirts cost $25 while hoodies are $100 each, and every item is limited due to demand at the moment.

But Williams says he may order a fresh batch if more people are interested in helping him continue this fundraiser.

To order yours, send him an email at jonathan.williams@jpbg.ca, with the word ‘charity’ in the subject line, and specify how many items you’d like, what size(s), and where you’re located.

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