CELEBRATING MY 90TH BIRTHDAY
For many years I wanted to make an impact that would be long lasting. When I graduated high school I thought I wanted a career as a diplomat but my education and interest in adolescent development ultimately led to helping to found the Teen Line. As co-founder and its Executive Director for 35 years it has been an integral component to my career as a therapist. I am so proud of all the teens that have volunteered to help their troubled peers and for a staff that is devoted and caring and loves working as a team to develop the program and expand the Teen Line outreach.
Having worked for many years as the Coordinator of Adolescent Group Psychotherapy at Cedars, as well as having an adolescent therapy group in my private practice since 1975, I recognized the value of teens helping teens. That phrase became the important mantra we have associated with Teen Line over the years. I believe that as adults we can also learn from our youth, that as parents or caring adults we don’t have to fix their issues but we do need to hear them. My advice is always “You don’t have to fix it, just listen, listen, listen for that is the most therapeutic”. In fact, that is why our teen volunteers are called “listeners” and are trained not to give advice but to explore options with the caller, tester or emailer so they can arrive at their own decision to resolve their concerns.
So what have I learned from the development of Teen Line and its now worldwide reach? I have learned that teenagers, despite struggling themselves to develop their own identity, values and beliefs, they are basically compassionate and empathic towards their more troubled peers. Given the training framework and support from caring and understanding adult supervision they are incredibly competent and able to help and make a difference in the lives of peers who are confused, being abused, or in difficult situations. Their help for those teens that are depressed or suicidal can save lives.
Now I am no longer Executive Director, I am delighted to be spending time developing the Legacy Line and meeting with long time supporters. It is heartwarming too that we now have teens whose parents had been Teen Line listeners during their high school years. To me, that is also truly a legacy!
Thank you for helping me celebrate a remarkable event. It is hard to believe that I will be 90 years old! I have had a very interesting life but very important to me is my family legacy: 4 children, 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren (so far). Additionally I also have a wonderful legacy in Teen Line. I think I have learned more about teenagers and their unique abilities than I ever imagined possible. Their ability to listen non-judgmentally, to be compassionate and empathetic is profound. I am deeply appreciative of what our teen volunteers have done, and continue to do, to ensure that Teen Line is the outstanding program I love.
Please help me continue this unique program. Your contribution to Teen Line is the best gift you can give me as I hit the big 90! Thanks for being there and helping make a difference.