“The Erika’s Lighthouse community was very welcoming and very open. That was a big experience for me, the first moment for me to express something that I’ve wanted to talk about for a while. Now I had that community and those people that understood – to help me share what I’ve wanted to share.”
– Allison, Teen Empowerment Club Member at Downers Grove North High School, Illinois
It was early March on a particularly windy day. I was excited about the opportunity to meet a few of the teens that have been impacted by Erika’s Lighthouse. More than that, they were empowered to change their school’s culture to be more inclusive, empathetic and knowledgeable about depression, mental illness and promoting good mental health to their peers.
This was an opportunity to see the vision of Erika’s Lighthouse in practice. I was blown away.
Allison opened up about her family’s struggles with mental illness. Her father lost his own battle with depression. She expressed how she was drawn to the positive, open and hopeful messages of Erika’s Lighthouse. It was a moment that I will never forget.
My first year at Erika’s Lighthouse has been filled with moments like this led by passionate volunteers, invested donors, determined educators and empowered teens working towards the same goal: Get Depression Out of the Dark.
Erika’s Lighthouse is less of an organization and more of a lifestyle for the thousands impacted by our mission. It is a culture I will proudly wear on my sleeve and shout from the rooftop. A group of people building an inclusive culture proclaiming, “You are not alone and you deserve to feel better.”
It is that spirit that has driven expansion in the face of adversity and seen opportunity in crisis. Throughout the pandemic we have seen teens struggling like never before – finding themselves lost in a world turned upside down by a health crisis, but facing a mental health emergency. We heeded the call, and by mobilizing our supporters, were able to:
- offer immediate resources for educators, teens and parents through our We’re In This Together campaign.
- develop over 100 new resources for educators to navigate our new reality for the upcoming year.
- create a new remote learning program specific to the needs of youth at home.
- extend programming to 4th and 5th grades with our hopeful messaging and help-seeking focus.
- expand our reach by over 90% to 530 schools supporting over 218,000 students this past school year.
All of this is meaningless if we aren’t making an impact, but Allison put it better than I ever could:
“Erika’s Lighthouse has grown and people are becoming more open to talking about mental health. It does have an impact on people. Even if you don’t see it directly, talking about this has helped me be more open to talking about it with friends and family or whoever may need help.”
I am looking forward to many more years with Erika’s Lighthouse and working alongside the amazing people making changes in their communities. One of those people is you – and we need you. With your support, we can continue to reach new teens and provide hope. Please consider supporting our important work with a donation today.
Brandon Combs, MNA
P.S. With the cancellation of our two largest fundraisers, we need your help – particularly when teens are struggling more than ever.
P.P.S. Individuals can elect to deduct donations up to 100% of their 2020 AGI (up from 60% previously). Corporations may deduct up to 25% of taxable income, up from the previous limit of 10%. Consult your tax advisor.