About Judith Kuzmak Viers

Judith Kuzmak (now Viers), the founder of Share Hope through Art, started Baltimore Do-Gooders while in grad school.

First art outreach location.

I took a group, younger siblings and younger friends, to volunteer at the Harper's Ferry Hostel.  Volunteering, especially while trying to involve the next generation, was part of my life. 

One woman tried to get me fired from my new job as a therapist in the fall of 2011. In a month of learning about this backhanded move (having never been truly bullied before, no coping skills), I was hospitalized for the first time in my life (no mental health treatment prior) for being suicidal, which I was. Now I am grateful, what she meant to destroy me buried me so deep into the depths of despair, off my mountain of success and happiness.... God only knows what is growing out of my healing process. It took so much work, a decade, but roots are so much deeper, and I learned so much more than any school or textbook can teach.

Unfortunately, Baltimore Do-Gooders outreach faded (still a Facebook Group that I handed over for someone else to lead in my despair). The outreaches to House of Ruth, Domestic Violence shelter, fundraisers for other countries stopped, so much good stopped because I was no longer mentally well.

I started trying to get well by myself and found the peer movement.

I did not write the article, but photo and first time attending an Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk.  FYI the Suicide Crisis Prevention Line is also 988. 

Life happened and I fell again. It was like the damage done to my sense of worth in 2011 was never healed. I still was unable to talk about what happened in complete shame that it was still negatively affecting my life. I allowed one person to give me total imposter syndrome/ total self-doubt in myself lead to so much depression.

In 2017, I started going to therapy. I believe in therapy. I dug deep. I did the work. I do the work to stay well. I was busy doing the mom thing for years, had a peaceful quiet life with other mom friends, playdates, library events. COVID happened and I was happy home with my kids, but then a loved one died by suicide in February of 2021.

This loss shook me.  I was sharing my story on having been suicidal before being pregnant but stopped and enjoyed a quiet mom life (most of the time).

A few weeks after the loss of her, I knew I wanted to share my story somehow.  Grieving her, feeling so much empathy for her family, I made a scrapbook for them. I cut out old calendar's flowers, layered with butterfly stickers, used stamps. It was my art therapy.  I could do something.  It felt good being able to do something for those feeling the loss that I loved.

Share Hope through Art was finally born June 29, 2021. 

Carroll County nonprofit uses art, friendship as resources in suicide prevention effort



SEP 15, 2021 AT 7:35 AM

With inspiration and support from Gayle Mathues, left, and Diane Brown, Judith Viers, right, has created Share Hope Through Art, a new nonprofit in Carroll County, focused on helping those struggling with thoughts of suicide or mental illness through therapeutic art. Share Hope Through Art currently has a display set up inside the Westminster Branch of the Carroll County Public Library to coincide with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in September. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

A new nonprofit in Carroll County is looking to help those struggling with thoughts of suicide and mental illness through therapeutic art and friendship.

Judith Viers, founder of Share Hope Through Art, is working to coordinate art workshops and resource information on suicide prevention with local mental and behavioral treatment centers.


“Everyone has a story and I plan on sharing mine to those it may help,” she said.


In her lifetime, Viers has lost several people to suicide or overdose but since the COVID-19 pandemic, she lost two loved ones within a short period of time.

A devastating loss in February led her seek the support of family and friends also grieving the loss of a loved one through suicide.


“I can say in complete truth that hope, help and healing are needed” to get through the struggle, Viers said. “Share Hope Through Art is a means to spread hope and normalize the fact that hard times happen and that they get better when you take steps to improve them.”


Through this nonprofit, which is under the Community Foundation of Carroll County, Viers shares her own story to break the stigma around mental health struggles and treatment and uses art as advocacy in hopes of preventing more suicides.


She said her proudest moment is the day she was suicidal and in complete despair, but put herself in the hospital and chose life.


Viers is now developing workshops, but in the meantime, Share Hope through Art will be participating in several events, including the Hope and Healing Fair, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Community Walk and IGNITE Carroll 9.


The Out of the Darkness Walk will be held Sunday at Krimgold Park from 9 a.m. to noon.

In addition, the nonprofit will have a display in the Westminster Branch of the Carroll County Public Library throughout September in honor of Suicide Prevention Month. The display is filled with art pieces that encourage those who are struggling to be strong and seek help.

Share Hope Through Art has set up this display inside the Westminster Branch of the Carroll County Public Library to coincide with Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

“Once COVID-19 is not an issue I’m hoping to do more group events with people making art together,” Viers said.

Sondra Groft, a Westminster resident and outreach coordinator for Carroll County nonprofits, has supported Viers in her mission since the beginning. Groft’s husband was a Marine veteran twice wounded in Vietnam who took his own life.

“Suicide prevention is very dear to me,” she said. Viers “has done an excellent job” reaching out to the community.

She said “there are things people in anguish can do” and Share Hope through Art is determined to make those mental health resources known.


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Another supporter, Diane Brown, said she believes what Viers is doing is “very valuable” to the community.

“Judy has had some real challenges in her life and now she wants to help others who have gone through the same thing,” she said. “She wants to raise awareness for mental health in general but especially for suicide prevention.”

Brown described Viers as a people-person who can “really relate” to others.

“Last year taught us it’s difficult to be alone but life is worth living and there is help out there.” she said.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47,000 people died by suicide in 2019. Suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34.

Those looking for support can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or Maryland Crisis Connect at 211.

Madison Bateman



Madison Bateman is a reporter for the Carroll County Times focusing on county government. Before joining Baltimore Sun Media in 2021, Madison worked for the Southern Maryland News reporting on county government, education and the General Assembly. She was born and raised in St. Mary’s County and is a St. Mary’s College of Maryland graduate.

Judith Marie Kuzmak Viers - The Faces of Westminster (thefacesofwestminstermd.com)

I tend to think outside the box, so would prefer to share my introduction for “World is Better with You In It” presentation I wrote read by the fabulous Vince Buscemi at Ignite Carroll 9 to answer this question.

Judith Kuzmak Viers is the founder of Share Hope through Art and an advocate for hope and healing. Through this non-profit, which is under the Community Foundation of Carroll County, she shares her story to break the stigma around mental health struggles and treatment and uses art as advocacy in hopes of preventing more suicides. Her proudest moment isn’t getting married, having kids, finishing grad school, passing the board, working as a social worker, or starting a non-profit…. but the day she put herself in the hospital and choose life, when she was in complete despair, suicidal with racing thoughts. She only chose life in her darkest moments which lacked all hope because she remembered her father’s words that “losing a child to suicide is the worst thing in the world that can happen to a parent,” which he said after the funeral of her neighbor who died by suicide in 2003. She lost two loved ones during this pandemic to suicide and now wants to share publicly to anyone who will listen that the “World is Better with You In It.”


Q: Please tell us a little bit about your family.
I’m happily engaged to my ex-husband I have 2 children and 2 wonderful bonus stepdaughters.

Q: Please tell us about your current, past, or future career. What do you love most about what you do?
I’ve had a lot of experiences from being a bank teller, Raven’s Suite Attendant, a Social Worker employed by the state to work in the foster care system, therapist, personal trainer… now I hope to take my non-profit Share Hope Through Art, full-time doing suicide prevention. I am currently unemployed.

Q: What are a couple of your favorite places or events in our community?
I try to go to Billy’s Find Your Purpose Events. My kids and I enjoy many Carroll County parks, playgrounds, Baugher’s Petting Zoo, Lake Hashawha/ Bear Branch Nature Center, we church hop too. We enjoy many library programs and loved the Judy Center at RME.

Q: What is one of your favorite movies? TV shows?
I like the Chosen Series. We haven’t had “tv” in years so if the library doesn’t rent it, we haven’t seen it.

Q: What advice would you give to people?
Do NOT give up on life. Do what you can.

Q: What is your go to band when you can’t decide what to listen to?
My favorite song is Hey Jude by the Beetles, live by the lyrics “take a sad song and make it better.” Go to music Michael Franti, Jaw Works, Kellly Bell Band, Tim Nodar, Uniekgrace, Jaimie Cullum, Billy Currington tend to like musicians I’ve met.

Q: If you could choose anyone that is alive today and not a relative; with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would y’all meet for this lunch?
Dorothy Day. She went to prison what she believed and I LOVE her quote “The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about our community?
Those up to good truly work together.

Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
I got stuck in a cave for 20 seconds and was truly terrified. I almost drowned trying to swim under a dam. I asked Todd Heap & 2 other Ravens football players for their tickets working security at the stadium… Didn’t know their entrance, was hilarious.

Q: What would you rate a 10 out of 10?
My Desire, passion, dedication that my children and none of their peer group to die a death of despair, NO MORE suicides, overdoses, drunk driving, mass shooting.

Q: Who inspires you to be better?
Someone I lost to suicide. She was a bright light and I don’t want to see another light gone out. She reminds me we as individuals and the world need to do better.

Q: Finally, what 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
Safe, Happy, Work

SUBMISSIONS WANTED: Calling all artists!

Visit me at:   https://www.facebook.com/sharehopethroughart

and                 https://www.craphappens.org


I have written books. 

NAMI blog: Finding My Life’s Purpose in Suicide Prevention

My name is Judith Marie Kuzmak Viers, or just Judy. And my childhood friends call me Judes. My neighbor used to sing the Beatles song "Hey Jude," which includes the lyrics, "take a sad song and make it better.” That lyric is why I choose to share my story. Beyond being a music fan, I'm a mom, a writer, an artist, a hiker and a dancer. And I try to make the world a better place.

I have been on my own mental health journey and witnessed the painful turns in the journeys of others; I lost two loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic to suicide. I don't want anyone else to go down that road. I want people to know that every day is a new day and we should never give up on life.

I hope that my own story and struggle will help someone else and inspire them to take the next step in their own healing journey.

My Experience With Bipolar Disorder

I started suffering from symptoms of depression at 12 years old when my newborn sister died. Having been raised Christian, I was devastated by her death and that my prayers for her life were not answered. Yet, I also truly believed I could pray the depression away. By my 30s, several years after my mom lost her battle to breast cancer, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began experiencing severe manic episodes.  [Episodes happened on two occasions throughout my lifetime and the triggers are identified and a plan is in place to prevent a relapse.  The same triggers have happened multiple times in the last five years and no relapse, so the plan is working. My professional team has shared with me no concerns with my decision to return to being a therapist. I still plan on being in treatment for life.  My therapist's positive impact on my life is a big part of my desire to return to being a therapist].

I began to feel like I was a hopeless cause. When I was depressed, I believed that whoever tried to help me would be dragged into my deep dark hole of despair. So, I stayed silent. There were days when the only thing I did was breathe, drink water and eat a little junk food — I didn’t even go outside. I remember trying to speak or write, but I wasn’t able to do so because I experienced brain fog as a symptom of my depression.

My hopelessness got to the point where I began to doubt every positive prior experience. I eventually got treatment because of something my father said to me years earlier. In 2003, after the funeral of my young neighbor who died by suicide, my dad said that suicide is “the worst thing that can happen to a parent.” Those words resonated with me. In 2011, I was in a low state, had difficulty sleeping, experienced racing thoughts and even developed a plan to end my life. But I remembered my dad’s words and voluntarily went to the hospital to be safe. Even though my mind said, “the world would be better off without you,” my dad’s words rang true, and I know my actions would devastate him.

The depression eventually faded, but then I began experiencing the highs of mania. Having a manic episode is traumatic and embarrassing — and processing the shame you feel for your thoughts and actions while manic is a complex, lifelong process. I was involuntarily hospitalized multiple times for mania.

Finding The Right Tools For Recovery

For 20 years, I prayed alone in my room, hoping that my depression and mania would go away, but I never found any long-lasting success. Then I discovered that prayer without action does not work for me — and I need to rely on several different wellness tools.

Part of my recovery required admitting that I need professional help too. My personal coping mechanisms and spirituality were not enough to tackle my bipolar disorder alone. Now, I work with an incredible therapist. In therapy, I share everything I am doing, like being a NAMI In Our Own Voice Presenter, and assess if any of my words or behaviors seem manic. I have a plan in place where two close friends or family members can contact my therapist if they are worried that I'm manic, since I can be more receptive to hearing that I am manic if I can process the information with my therapist. I also work with a wonderful psychiatrist who knows my history of adverse side effects to medications and makes sure to prescribe appropriate doses.

I also make sure to maintain social connections. I am good friends with the director of On Our Own of Carroll County, a wellness and recovery nonprofit organization that has helped be throughout my mental health journey. I still use my coping tools of going church and spending time with my close friends.

Now, I understand that being able to seek and find the help I need was the answer to my prayer. Oftentimes, we need to step out of our comfort zone to get the help we need. While my faith was temporarily affected by my mental illness, it is now so much stronger. Life truly can be a healing journey.

Finding My Purpose

I imagine being 90 years old and thinking about my life with peace and pride that I truly did the best I could. That concept of living the best life I can — doing what is on my heart — is my greatest motivation and my definition of success.

I already had my master’s degree in social work before I was hospitalized or received mental health treatment. But what took me years to learn from books, I was truly able to internalize through lived experience — and I learned so much more about the extremes of bipolar disorder through my own experience than I could have learned from a textbook. I understand how to relate to others. I can empathize with those experiencing depression and mania. I remember the lies I believed — that life will never get better and you can’t open up about your struggles to loved ones. I now know nothing in life is permanent, even severe mental illness can be treated and friendships are built by being open in the good and bad times. Not only have I been on my own healing journey, I can help others in their journeys as well.

I've even started a non-profit, Share Hope Through Art, to use art as a way to share my story. I incorporate sayings like "you matter" and "the world is better with you in it" into my work. I'm not sure what my future holds, but I hope to continue to find peace in knowing that I’m doing the best I can. Right now, it's being the best mom I can be and doing what I can to be a ray of hope in people's lives. I want to illustrate how hope and healing are possible — and we should never give up on life.


Judith Marie Kuzmak Viers is the founder of Share HOPE through ART and an author. She writes, speaks and makes art to contribute to suicide prevention and awareness. Learn more about her mission and her speaking engagements at www.sharehopeart.com.

I continue to public speak even though I am not a trained public speaker and continue to speak more from the heart than a script.  At 1 hour 37 minutes Ignite Carroll 9 and at 21 minutes Ignite Carroll 10

I renewed my license to become a therapist and continue to use art with others. 


Judith Kuzmak Viers, LMSW

Judith Kuzmak Viers, LMSW is returning to her role as a therapist, Behavioral Health Clinician, to share hope and help individuals on their personal healing journeys. She obtained her Master’s in Social Work at University of Maryland, School of Social Work, has additional coursework in Recreational Therapy, and her Bachelor’s is from Towson University.

Judith believes hope and healing are possible for everyone and that each person has their own unique healing journey. As a therapist, Judith listens to the needs and desires of her clients and helps them reach their personal goals and potential. She’s founded her own non-profit Share Hope through Art, is a former trainer of foster parents, a public speaker, and writer on both suicide prevention and breaking the stigma around mental and behavioral health. Judith believes peace in your mind and heart is achievable when you are willing to do the interpersonal work. She’s also specializing in creating memorial keepsake art to help on individuals’ grief-healing journeys. She uses an eclectic approach based on the desires of her clients and specializes in narrative and art therapy.

Learn More about obtaining services and Springboard at Carroll County | Springboard Community Services (springboardmd.org).

Although Judith LOVED the staff at Springboard's Carroll County Office, she wanted to do more than individual therapy and offer workshops, groups, and able to help clinically in more ways too.  Judith joined Healing Hearts Carroll in Spring of 2023 to start summer of 2023.  September 1, 2023 the practice moved to their new location and art supplies are in the workshop space to launch workshops, groups, and have for clients in therapy. 

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