Our Story

Priority Wellness Campaign was founded on a point of a frustrating question:

"Why is no one helping first responders deal with their mental health?" 

This was a question Michael Briggs and Julia Halteman pondered on their ride back from a psychiatric call they had just completed one October night in 2022. They wondered why in this day and age is mental health still such a stigmatized topic. The conversations they had were very deep, very meaningful, and were the seeds for Priority Wellness Campaign... they just had no idea yet.

A couple of weeks later, fueled by their conversation, Michael had the idea to design tee shirts, sell them through an on-demand printing service, and donate the funds to a couple well known first responder mental health nonprofits. Initially, this seemed like a great idea. The designs were made and picked out, the website was all made, and before it was advertised, Michael scrapped the idea. Thinking "what do those organizations do for first responders in/ around Watertown, NY?"... the answer, is not much.

Michael began some research on what it would take to make a change in our local area. The thought of a nonprofit rang into his head a couple of times, but that's a super complicated process that scared him. After consulting with local nonprofit directors, he decided that was the route he was going to take. Bound and determined, loaded with knowledge from the State and IRS websites, a nauseating amount of YouTube videos, and enough caffeine to put down a racehorse, he started the process. One of the first steps of forming a nonprofit is picking the initial Board of Directors. Julia was the first person he thought of, next was Pat O'Connell, then Josh Wilcox. All of the people he picked to be on the initial board were friends that had an appreciation for mental health positivity in their own ways.

On October 24th, 2022, the Board of Directors had its first meeting. Their first course of action was to elect the officers. After that process, they appointed Michael as the organization's first Executive Director.

Patrick O'Connell being interviewed by ABC50
Patrick O'Connell being interviewed by ABC50

Since our inception, the mission has been and will always be to support first responders' mental health. We plan to announce at least one program in early 2023 that will directly support that mission. Currently, the organization is focused on outreach in the tri-county area. We have been visiting local EMS, Fire, Police, and Dispatch organizations pitching our mission and what we can do for them.

Michael Briggs speaking at Deferiet Fire Department
Michael Briggs speaking at Deferiet Fire Department (Deferiet, NY)

Priority Wellness Campaign, Inc. is an IRS 501c3 tax-exempt organization. Tax ID: 88-4203155
Click here for our downloadable logo files.