In honor of our 35th Anniversary, Dr. Leader shares her memories of the early days of Teen Line in a series we like to call…
TEEN LINE FOUNDATIONS
By Elaine Leader, Ph.D., CGP, BCD, FAGPA
Chapter Twelve: Community Connections Continued
In the last few chapters I have spoken about agencies in the community with whom Teen Line has partnered and collaborated with over the years to mutual benefit. In this and the next blog I am writing about connections made from a very different perspective – that of the loss of a teen to suicide.
Today I want to share with you our relationship with the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation and how that relationship evolved. A senior at Brentwood School, Matthew took his life at age 18. Since his father, Ron, was on the Board of Directors of Cedars-Sinai, Teen Line became the recipient of donations made in Matthew’s memory. I, personally, got to know his parents, Ron and Kathy.
We continued to build our relationship over time as Ron and Kathy grieved their loss. Although eventually they decided to separate and got divorced, both Ron and Kathy continued to support Teen Line’s suicide prevention efforts, each in their own way. However, prior to their separating we were pleased to honor them at our annual Food for Thought Luncheon in respect of their help with our suicide prevention outreach and the funding they raised to support this important effort. Ron had begun to participate in our outreach by speaking about Matthew and Kathy had become a member of the Teen Line Board of Directors.
One day Ron approached us with the idea of holding a golf tournament as a fund raiser. With the help of Mellisa Nielsen, the Founder of Charity Angels, the first Matthew Silverman Memorial Golf Classic was held. Teen Line staff helped plan the event and volunteer on the day as did several of our teen volunteers and our board members participated too. It was a fantastic success and the beginning of a tradition that is now in its sixth year. With the funds raised in the first couple of years we were encouraged by Ron to expand our efforts by forming a Strategic Planning Committee and hiring a professional to assist.
With Ron’s guidance we utilized the funding he donated to us from the Matthew Silverman Golf Classic to create this website and to make two wonderful videos – one on teen suicide prevention and the other on LGBTQ issues. The Strategic Planning Committee met for over a year and helped us formulate a succession plan and the hiring of Michele Carlson our new Executive Director.
Ron became even more accomplished vis-a-vis fundraising directed towards helping prevent teen suicides. He decided he could expand his efforts by forming his own foundation – the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation. Although the funds raised through the golf classic no longer contribute to Teen Line but are distributed through the Matthew Silverman Memorial Foundation we still maintain close emotional ties.
Since a Matthew Silverman Memorial Fund had been established at Teen Line, along with the additional funds received through the golf tournament, over $570,000 has been raised in Matthew’s memory for our suicide prevention efforts.
Kathy continues as a member of the Teen Line Board and both Ron and Kathy support our annual solicitation and Food for Thought Luncheon efforts. We are indebted to both for their support – they have turned their grievous loss into an amazing outreach effort in teen suicide prevention.
Read the next chapter: Pt 13 – Community Connections Matthew Mezza Memorial Fund
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