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Huggy Bear - Standing



  • Jeff Graber
    Graber Letterin'
    Jeff Graber
    Graber Letterin'
    58 School House Road
    Boyertown, PA 19512
    Showroom Hours: Monday-Friday - 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
    Saturday Morning By Appointment


  • Rose and Bill Gross
    1200 Route 100
    Barto, PA 19505


Huggy Bear:
Rose and Bill Gross to Bring Greater Understanding of Mental Health Issues to Boyertown through an Addition to the Bear Fever Community Art Project

"When your heart hurts, people send flowers; when your mind hurts, people throw stones," offered Rose Gross, Bechtelsville, PA, business owner and philanthropist, announcing the sponsorship of Huggy Bear, the newest addition to Boyertown's Bear Fever community art project.

"It's just not right," she continued. "One in every 5 people suffers from some form of mental health illness, but they often suffer in silence and resist finding treatment--and their loved ones resist helping them--fearing the judgmental attitudes and prejudice that our society attaches to these diseases.

"People don't choose these illnesses, and they can't 'will' themselves to be 'better' any more than someone can 'will' themselves not to have the flu.

"My husband Bill [Gross] and I want to bring greater awareness and understanding to our community in an effort to decrease the stigma associated with acknowledging mental health issues and encourage folks who are suffering to get the medical help they need to treat the symptoms so that they can participate and enjoy life like the rest of us."

Gross's philanthropy-gifting family and friends who experience a medical crisis or financial set back or who are launching a new business, career, or educational venture-has been her private community service throughout her lifetime; but the issue of reducing stigma and increasing her community's understanding of mental health is one that she feels requires public recognition. Our community needs a 'wake-up call' about this issue, and we decided to be the community's alarm clock!" Gross concluded.

Gross was personally motivated in early summer to sponsor a Bear Fever bear with a mental health theme as a result of the experiences members of her family and friends endure in coming to terms with the symptoms, finding effective treatments, and meeting the unique and stifling challenges that accompany the disease.

"'Hugging' is widely known as a simple way to assist people who may be hurting," noted Jane Stahl, co-coordinator of Boyertown's Bear Fever project and Director of Community Relations at Studio B Fine Art Gallery. "Actually, it is said that we all need at least 4 hugs a day to keep us mentally healthy," she continued.

"And so," it seemed only appropriate to Susan Biebuyck, Studio B's gallery director, that this mental health bear be a role model by offering hugs to us all. 'Give 'em to get 'em' is Hug-a-Bear's mantra!" concluded Stahl.

At Gross's urging, Stahl reached out to the Boyertown Area Wellness Council and the Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation for contacts to assist in developing the artwork for the bear. In the process she learned that of a task force was being developed in connection with Boyertown Area School District (BASD) with a mission of enhancing resilience and providing referencing services for BASD's students who were demonstrating signs of mental and emotional health issues.

Dr. Laurie Betts, Program Officer, Health Access, for Pottstown Area Health and Wellness Foundation, led Stahl to Tim Clement of the Scattergood Foundation whose goal in Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health ( is to assist organizations in developing programs to increase understanding of health issues and reduce stigmas and biases using research-based methods to reduce stigma.

Clement had recently coordinated a national event in Philadelphia on the effectiveness of a "contact strategy" in creating greater understanding and acceptance within our communities.

Diane Lauer, director of the Wellness Council of Boyertown, Stahl, and Clement met, and Clement offered to meet with the school district's developing task force to provide effective, evidence-based education that is valid, reliable, and measurable to the BASD and community.

"The recent suicide of Robin Williams triggered a sense of urgency to Rose's project," noted Stahl. "His death ignited compassion and opened the hearts in many people like myself who loved him through his work," she continued.

"Depression touches us all, our families, and our friends in some way. And, realizing that someone like Williams who presumably 'had it all'-remarkable artistic gifts, prestige, and financial well-being-but was no longer willing to suffer life any longer highlighted the fragility of life itself and the knowledge that there, but for the grace of God, go our loved ones who suffer as he did."

"Huggy Bear" will be installed at the entrance to West Junior High School in spring where he will be within easy reach of everyone-particularly young people-at the age at which understanding and education about mental illness must begin.

The design for Hug-a-Bear was created by Paul Stahl, marketing consultant and co-coordinator of Bear Fever; Jeff Graber of Graber Letterin' served as the artist.

Students from Boyertown Junior High West's Healthy Kids Club: Kids Who Care Club, welcomed "Huggy Bear," to their campus recently by giving him just what he wants for himself and what he thinks everyone needs: lots of hugs.

They also researched facts about mental health which appear below.

Teen Health Zone Club, Boyertown Junior High West
1) Bipolar disorder causes the individuals to have big mood swings
2) Bipolar disorder individuals are at a high risk for suicide
1) Mental illness are more common than cancer, diabetes and heart disease
2) 40% of the homeless in this country have a mental illness
1) ADHD - Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder has a wide range of symptoms
2) Symptoms: Daydreaming, Impulsive, Reckless, Easily confused, and Fidgety
1) There are a variety of treatments for mental health issues
2) Treatments include: Medicines and Cognitive behavioral therapy
1) 1 in 5 Americans experience mental health issues
2) 1 in 10 teens experience major depression
1) Schizophrenia is a mental health disorders which cause delusions and irrational behavior
2) Doctors don't know the causes of schizophrenia
1) Social phobia is a strong fear of being judged by others
2) Social phobias will not interact with society. They don't like leaving their homes.
1) Phobias produce an irrational fear to something
2) Symptoms can be panic, dread, and terror
1) Personality disorders evoke psychotic episodes
2) Many individuals with personality disorders will have other mental health disorders
1) Panic disorders are caused by an intense feeling of sudden terror
2) Post traumatic stress disorder happens after a terrible experience
1) One major warning sign of depression is becoming withdrawn for more than 2 weeks
2) Mental illness can affect anyone
1) Autism effects each child differently (Autism Spectrum)
2) Symptoms: Persistent speaking patterns, Repetitive patterns, and Impaired social interactions
1) Half of all mental health disorders show signs by the age of 14
2) Therapy can help manage many mental health disorders
1) Anorexia is a mental health disorder where individuals starve themselves.
2) Bulimia is a condition in which the individuals eat large amounts of food and purge the food.


About the Designer

Paul Stahl's design work can be found around Boyertown, the tri-county area, nationally, and internationally in logo designs, signs, and all types of printed materials utilized by businesses, churches, nonprofits, and individuals. A Boyertown native-Boyertown Senior High School Class of 1965 and 1974 graduate in Applied Arts from Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado, Paul has been in designing and serving as a leading marketing consultant in the area since 1977.

Paul has been an active member and volunteer in the community with the Boyertown Optimist Club and is one of 4 "founding fathers" of the Royal Order of Raccoons, a loosely-run organization with the mission, "A community at work without the stress."

The Royal Order of Raccoons, "chartered" in 2002 and inspired by Jackie Gleason's television show The Honeymooners, is Boyertown's largest civic organization with a membership of over 700 members. It has proudly contributed thousands of dollars to assorted civic and non-profit organizations, individuals, and charities needing financial assistance. The club features a casual style: members gather for breakfast, conversation, and fun at the Grill Shop informally, according to their schedules. Meetings are very seldom necessary; the club leadership understands the value of time management.

The Royal Order of the Raccoons has published a newsletter, hosted a Black Tie Dinner Dance, sponsored a Christmas tree for the Holiday Open House Tour, and participated in the community's tree decorating contests. Members have assisted in installing a playground at the community park and volunteer to assist other community groups as requested. They sell raccoon hats, official membership cards, mugs, and T-shirts.

Officers are elected on Groundhog Day (America's favorite rodent); members include men and women from any and all walks of life who share a relaxed approach to life and a good sense of humor, enjoy having fun, and are dedicated to serving their community.

In 2003, Paul and his wife Jane initiated Bear Fever, Boyertown's community art project, to promote the arts and local artists and to inspire greater community cohesiveness. In 2005, at Boyertown Area Senior High School's annual Arts Expo, 35 life-sized bear sculpture, decorated and painted by assorted local artists, were debuted. By 2015, the project has expanded to include over 70 bears.

About the Artist

Since 1992... ...Graber Letterin' has been creating high quality custom signage for businesses and the general public. The early years included lettering many race cars while at the same time we developed a reputation for providing many local business with high quality vehicle graphics, signage, and logo designs. While we still do race cars in our shop each year, it is our commercial vehicle graphics and signage divisions that have grown the most with the number of business related vehicles lettered each year having reached over a hundred. Graber Letterin', however, is not just a sign shop or vehicle lettering business. In addition to signs, banners, and vehicle graphics, we also offer imprinted apparel and stationery services like business cards and business forms to help you promote your company or organization in a very professional manner.

We are a design house. When you need a professional image, our designers can help you create that image. "When Image Counts" is not just a catch phrase with us. We take your image seriously and we are in position to provide top notch professional designs to help you promote your business and or organization. Establishing a distinguished look is so important in the maturity process of your business. For many years Graber Letterin' has been helping companies create their image with the development of unique, classy, and easily identifiable logos.

Graber Letterin' is a full service custom sign company specializing in a variety of services for business, industry and the general public. Since 1992 we have been serving Berks, Lehigh, Montgomery and Bucks County with the highest in quality graphics and logo design. Conveniently located just off Route 73 in the beautiful Oley Valley area of Earl Township, we are centrally located allowing our customers easy access to our showrooms. Graber Letterin takes pride in the professionalism and quality that goes into all of our work. This is passed along to our customers which in turn is then reflected by the amount of repeat business from the clientele we serve.Commercial truck and vehicle lettering, banners, ornamental signs, decals, screen printing, and imprinted apparel are just a few of the services available to meet your image needs.