Refuse to Sink is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded in 2020. The concept for Refuse to Sink (RTS) was realized in the sorrow of a mother’s heart after the traumatic loss of her son J.D. Moss to suicide on February 23rd, 2018. After J.D.’s death, his mother, Abby, came to a greater understanding of the reality that while every suicide loss may hold brief and still often difficult to distinguish preventable factors, this may not be enough to prevent tragedy of this kind. Bringing about a deeper understanding needed changes to the perceptions of suicide stigma and stigma related to mental health conditions are necessary to prevent more suffering. Currently suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death of young people in America and the 10th leading cause of death for all persons in the US. Suicide is a 1st leading cause of death for 1st responders, second only to Covid in 2021.
On January 26th, 2019, Sgt. Max VanD'Huynslager of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office took his life on duty in remote area of his assigned jurisdiction. As is most often the case in law enforcement suicide, Max showed no outward signs of suicidal crisis in the days preceding his death, highlighting a rarely discussed epidemic among 1st responder professions. Currently both firefighters and law enforcement officer suicide deaths outpace line of duty deaths annually since 2016. Surviving loved ones of both J.D. and Max became impassioned to raise awareness of mental health conditions, proactive treatment, and suicide prevention by hosting educational awareness opportunities and providing free crisis services to individuals in rural heartland areas of Florida that so often struggle with access to affordable crisis treatment resources. Refuse to Sink has a broader goal to influence others to normalize conversations about mental health and treatment as an effort towards suicide prevention and to encourage others to prioritize wellness as a lifestyle for better and more purpose driven living.
Although Max and JD did not know each other in life, there is no question that the intersection of their lives and stories are tied inextricably to their personal testimonies of faith, the tragedies of their deaths and the unique experiences of loss experienced by their surviving family members, loved ones and friends.
While statistics on suicide are startling, at Refuse to Sink, we understand these impacts in a different and highly personal way. We are called to a mission to create change by providing resources and education and by reducing the stigma of sufferers so that more might seek help before reaching the crisis point of no return. We base this understanding on a founding principle , that purpose for every life is revealed according to God’s plan and all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Meet The Board
Abby Moya Garcia
Suicide Loss Survivor and President "Abby" Moya-Garcia is a native of Clewiston, Florida. Abby graduated from Palm Beach State Nursing Program with an AS in Nursing. A Registered Nurse, Abby has worked in various capacities in the skilled nursing care field for the past 20 years. Abby is currently employed as an RN Case Manager for the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Abby has been married to Alex Garcia for ten years and has two grown children, Jude (Mckenzie) and Jaxon (Alyssa) Moss as well as 3 beautiful granddaughters. She founded Refuse to Sink in 2020 after the loss of her oldest son, J.D. Moss, in 2018 to death by suicide. Abby finds much peace, purpose and comfort in helping others. Abby credits much of her success with the development of Refuse to Sink to God and her mother Marion's support.
Suicide Loss Survivor and Vice President Marci VanD’Huynslager is a native of Clewiston, Florida and an FSU graduate. Marci attended the Southwest Florida Public Safety Academy in 1999 and was a sworn law enforcement officer for over 20 years serving in both Hendry and Glades County and with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Most recently Marci served as the Assistant Chief of Police for the City of Clewiston. Marci received her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in 2014 and became licensed as a therapist in 2017. Marci is now retired from law enforcement and works in mental health. Marci teaches peer support and mental wellness to public safety agencies and speaks on suicide awareness. Marci is involved with other nonprofits for the cause of supporting surviving families of 1st responder suicide. Marci is the widow of Sgt. Max VanD’Huynslager. The couple share an 11-year-old daughter, Maci VanD’Huynslager.
Secretary/Treasurer Traci Owens was born and raised in Belle Glade, Florida where she attended Glades Day School. Traci attended the University of Alabama, Santa Fe Community College, and Palm Beach State College. Traci’s professional experiences is healthcare administration, and she has worked in home health care field for eighteen years. Traci has been employed with Empath Home Health, formerly Avidity Home Health for the past seven years. Traci is married to Mike Owens and they have two kids, Sydney and Haidyn. Sydney is married to Derek Hall and the couple have a one year old daughter named Stella. Traci has been a member of the Clewiston Rotary Lodge for over 25 years and enjoys engagement with her glade’s communities. In her free time Traci enjoys traveling, spending time with friends, going the beach and dining out.
Marion Sullivan Primmer
Administrative Support and Suicide Loss survivor – Marion Sullivan Primmer was born and raised in the Glades. Marion was born in Pahokee and grew up in South Bay, she graduated from Belle Glade High School. Marion graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management. She worked at South Bay Growers for 17 years as assistant to Charles Wilson, Assistant General Manager. It was there where she got her start in Technology with the first personal computers in the mid 80's. In 1994, when South Bay Growers was closed, Marion was hired by Buddy Sizemore at Glades Day School and has been there for 27 years as teacher and Technology Director. With a blend of professional skillsets Marion provides vital services and fills many roles for Refuse to Sink.
Brianne McMillan Davis
Social Media Specialist
We are also proud and honored to be joined by our Social Media specialist Brianne (Breezy) Davis. Brianne is a lifelong resident of Belle Glade, Florida and is the daughter of Jeff and Susie McMillan. Breezy graduated high school from Glades Day School and went on to pursue a Bachelors degree from Florida Gulf University in Public Relations with a dual minor in Marketing and Advertising. She was also a member of the fishing team during her time at FGCU where she met her husband Cody Davis. The couple recently celebrated the birth of their son, Laken.
Normalize conversations about mental health and treatment
Refuse to Sink relies on the support and volunteerism of many friends and family throughout our Glades, Hendry, Palm Beach, and Highlands communities. We are so grateful to each and everyone of them for their time and support of this calling. We at Refuse to Sink see God’s work on many of our relationships that have played key, often behind the scenes, roles in this project. Most often these volunteers seek no acknowledgement or recognition as evidence of the true charitable spirits of their hearts. We simply couldn’t do it without all of them and we give God the Glory for each piece, person, and orchestration of this work.
Refuse to Sink has a broader goal to influence others to normalize conversations about mental health and treatment as an effort towards suicide prevention and to encourage others to prioritize wellness as a lifestyle for better and more purpose driven living.