Inspire USA Foundation

The Inspire USA Foundation is a national nonprofit organization based in San Francisco with a mission to help millions of young people lead happier lives. Working directly with teens and young adults, Inspire USA designs and delivers innovative technology-based services which promote mental health and prevent suicide.
Nov 3, 2011

Meet the new ReachOut Council Members!

Hi everyone. Just wanted to post an update here introducing you to our new ReachOut Council members, the project your dollars are supporting:)

Hamburg, NY - Julie Diaz, age 22
“I have heard and read many good things about this organization. In fact, my goal in life is to achieve my bachelors degree in Criminal Justice, and continue on to become a parole or probation officer working to help juveniles to set them on the right path in life. I feel as though my own personal battles in my life so far could be an inspiration to other young adults struggling with the same issues. I did not grow up in a bad neighborhood, I had a family that was well-off and who loved me, and I was given every opportunity to succeed.”     

Laurelton, NY - Candace Foxworth, age 18
“Being a young woman I have faced several hardships in my lifetime and have suffered from countless battles with myself. Living in a broken home and being bi-racial, two things I could not change, handed me an overwhelming number of insecurities and complexes from as early as four years old. As I got older, I not only had a complex about my family and skin but also had issues with my weight, acceptance, bullying, hatred, fighting, finances and several inappropriate remarks from people around me... I thank the counselor everyday for helping me through some of my hardest times. I now know that many young people out there face similar issues today as I did back then and do not have someone to talk to or reach out to them.”

Bradford, RI - Chloe Blau, age 18
“Having gone through similar issues that the council helps people deal with, I know how much having people there to help and listen does for a person, and I want to be able to help and influence others as I've been helped and influenced. I feel like so many people nowadays have no one they can turn to when they need someone, and I would like to be that person for someone. I want to be able to say that I've made a positive difference in the world, and the Reach Out council is a wonderful opportunity to do so.”

West Dundee, IL - Brandon Rawling, age 17   
“In my 17 years of living, I believe I have gone through more things than any teen should have to. In the past few months, everyday I would wake up with an unimaginable weight on my shoulders. I would dredge through school with teachers, friends, and parents not understanding how I feel, what I'm thinking, and how hard it is for me not to end it all. I felt like no one knew what it was like to be on anti-depressants and still feel incredibly low. The only thing that stopped me from ending it all was this miracle of a website called, us.reachout.com. While googling ways of way to commit suicide I stumbled upon this website. After many hours of watching videos, reading testimonials, and doing some simple reflection, I came to the glorious conclusion to push on, and make it through. In the following months, I told my parents, started going to counseling, consulted my doctor, and started to change my personality and outlook on life. Although I made it in time, many teens and young adults do not. We need to work together on getting the website out in the public, and as familiar to teens as the parent-despised, energy drinks. I feel as though I have many different, unique experiences which will help better construct the website and it's functions. I have experience with anti-depressants, anxiety, bullying, and depression among many other things. I will do nothing but add to the Youth Council. I have already been in contact with Ms. Susan G. Keys about spreading the word(and stickers) of Reach Out among my pupils and community members as well as possibly doing a youth conference for reachout.com users/members. I feel like I am more than prepared and ready to take on any challenge that the committee can give me and would be honored to serve on the Reach Out Youth Council.”

MI - Deondra Magett, age 21
“I grew up never understanding what was wrong with my mother. To the family, her diagnosis was the over-crowding elephant in the room that no one ever talked or referred about. There was always a gap in my heart that longed to ask questions, I always wanted to help her. Bi-polar disease was the best kept secret my family has ever hid. Her pain was always a burden on my back that couldn’t be lifted because I did not know how to express the heavy load of guilt, frustration, anxiety, and fear; I didn’t know someone could understand...I want to join the Reach Out council because I was once that teen that needed someone to talk to or listen.”

Kansas City, MO - Meredith Schneider, age 20
“I’d like to join the council because I am a recent college graduate who just wants to make a difference in the world.  I graduated this semester (a year and a half early), so I am still just a 20-year-old who has been through a lot.  My experiences are still fresh in my mind and vivid, from burn books to harassment, death, and love lost.  I am currently working on writing projects to deal with these issues, and possess an interest in helping others to overcome their own hurdles.  I work part-time in the beauty industry, helping women attune their personalities to their looks and find their self confidence daily.  Now I want to work on something that is more than just skin deep.”
 
Austin, TX - Zach Ford, age 18
“I have struggled with depression my whole life, and I know how important it is to be able to talk to someone about your issues. I want these people to know that there is always somewhere they can go, no matter what they are going through.”

Murrieta, CA - Melissa Caampued, age 22
“I have a strong academic background in Social Sciences and Women's Studies contributing organizational skills, attention to detail, and hands-on experience with several diverse communities.”

Apple Valley, CA - Jessica Moyeda, age 22
“In the past year I was a member of group grief counseling along with 7 other college students, this was a unique experience in that I was able to share intimate feelings in a safe and comfortable sphere of trust.  Since this experience I feel that I am able to relate and understand some of the major issues facing young adults, and I believe that this attitude of acceptance is something that I can contribute to the Reach Out Council.  Furthermore, I am extremely dedicated to and passionate about helping others; I believe that my life’s work will include assisting others and the Council seems like the perfect path to continue this personal quest.”


We will be having a youth summit here in the Bay Area at the Stillheart Institute in Woodside, CA, July 1-3 where this group will meet the existing Council members, hopefully bond with each other and the organization and learn valuable skills like public speaking, leadership/organizing, etc. in order to be ReachOut ambassadors and connect with hundreds of their peers back home.

Finally, ReachOut will have a booth in Planet Roo at this year's Bonnaroo music fest in TN. If any of you are planning to attend, please stop by and say hello. We are bringing three youth Council members along to help!

Oct 13, 2011

Reaching Out During Suicide Prevention Month


ROFansFreefestIn the U.S., ReachOut council members were hard at work bringing ideas from our summer summit to a reality. To start off the month, Nicholas made a Suicide Prevention Day flyer to raise awareness about the cause, and handed the flyer out at his local farmers’ market. Meanwhile, Lauren participated in a community service scavenger hunt at her school to teach her classmates about suicide prevention and Chloe did a series of interviews with Broadway stars, and posted them on the ReachOut.com blog. Meredith also spoke with several entertainers, including producer Colby Wedgeworth and members of the pop group, The Relay Company, to find out their perspectives on healthier lifestyles.

In the digital space, Brandon hosted a Facebook event on September 10th, Suicide Prevention Day, asking people to share their own messages of hope. Participants posted to the hashtag #whenindoubt, followed by anecdotes to help strangers persevere through difficult times. This effort also trended through Twitter, and some of the posts were chosen to appear on the official ReachOut website. Some anecdotes included: “#WhenInDoubt Remember that you're beautiful, loved, and cared for by many” and ”#whenindoubt laugh!”

Brandon himself posted “#whenindoubt don't forget there are always people who care starting with me” to support event members.
 
Besides being National Suicide Prevention Day, September 10th also happened to be Free Fest in Baltimore, a free concert put on by Virgin Mobile to raise awareness about youth homelessness. Inspire staff members Emily and Anastasia attended and set up a tent to educate attendees about ReachOut.com. More photos of the event are posted on the ReachOut Flickr account.

Catherine, council member and co-founder of MyYearbook.com, wrote a MyMag article focusing on Suicide Prevention Day. Her opening paragraph include startling statistics and addressed the relevancy of our cause. The article is available to MyYearbook members.

Links:

Jul 21, 2011

ReachOut Youth Summit Held In July

Icebreaker!
Icebreaker!

Thanks to your donations (and some foundation help!), we held our Youth Council Summit July 4th weekend in Woodside, CA at the Stillheart Institute with 16 Council members ages 16-24 who flew in from all over the country (Utah, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Connecticut, Oregon and more!). Over the course of two days, they had a chance to get to know each other and the organization and to create action plans for how they can work promote ReachOut to teens in their own communities. Brandon, 17, from Illinois, will be tabling at his local Harvest Festival, and Chloe, from New York, coordinated the creation of an It Gets Better type video with other Council members to promote ReachOut online.

Zach, our new Council member from Austin, said in his evaluation: "Meeting everyone was really fantastic and energizing. I came in not really knowing anything and I really feel now that I’m prepared to start working for ReachOut and InspireUSA." He's already working to launch a ReachOut Tumblr!

We are currently going through evaluations and action plans and will have more to share in our next report. In the meantime, enjoy the photos!

- Anastasia

Chloe and Nick...listening intensely
Chloe and Nick...listening intensely
The whole group!
The whole group!

Links:

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