(Chelsea Update would like to thank Kate Yocum for the information in this story.)
Since 2008, the SRSLY coalition with support from the Drug Free Communities Support Program, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, and the Coghlan Family Foundation, has empowered youth to live healthy, substance-free lives and supported families in addressing mental health through a connected community.
COVID-19 has exacerbated social isolation, stress, loneliness, and peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol. In response, SRSLY has broadened its focus to help students and their families navigate different mental health conditions and eliminate the stigma associated with mental health services and treatment. This past holiday season, the Chelsea community stepped up in an unprecedented way to fund this work.
In an annual campaign spanning only 68 days from Thanksgiving to Jan. 31, individuals and families from across Chelsea contributed record-breaking support.
“The goal was $10,000,” said Kate Yocum, SRSLY Chelsea coalition director. “We really hoped we could make it there, and when we did, we were so excited. But then watching the donations exceed that goal was an entirely different level of support. We’re just ecstatic and so grateful.”
The community’s efforts were amplified by a generous commitment from Michael and Suzi Coghlan, SRSLY founding members and long-time advocates, to match all contributions up to $10,000 with an additional $5,000 when the goal was met.
With the Coghlan’s backing and the community’s generosity, $25,589 was raised to fund SRSLY’s mission. Reiley Curran, director of community health and SRSLY Coalition at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, echoed the coalition’s gratitude, “I am so overwhelmed by our community’s generosity and support of SRSLY’s work, and incredibly thankful to the Coghlan Family Foundation for offering the matching challenge.”
“It’s unprecedented,” coalition member Jenny Bach Smith said. “I’m honored to be part of a community that cares so deeply about the mental health and well-being of our youth. I offer my sincere gratitude [to] every person or family who donated their time, talent, and treasure to keep the forward momentum,” she continued.
Other coalition members expressed their excitement as well and underlined exactly what this means to them. “It’s heartwarming to live in a community that cares so strongly about each other,” said Chelsea resident and SRSLY Creative Team Lead Megan Smith.
From the perspective of Chelsea youth, knowing that adults in their community are willing to give in this way, is very significant.
High school senior Charleye Perry explained, “It’s incredible that adults are putting energy into supporting teen mental health because it’s a topic that isn’t always understood or talked about enough, but [now] our community is putting in effort to change how mental health is looked at and understood.”
Longtime supporter Michael Coghlan expressed his personal enthusiasm for SRSLY and the response from the community, and explained why he and his wife were inspired to help.
“We were here at the start of SRSLY back in 2008 and we’re so excited to see its impact and growth through the years in Chelsea and now in the surrounding communities. SRSLY’s mission expansion to include mental health addresses a long-underserved need. We want to make sure this progress continues.”
“These funds mean our youth can put their ideas into action, and that is everything,” Yocum added. “While the match may have ended on January 31st, there is still work to be done.”
Yocum wants community members to know that philanthropy will always be key to advancing SRSLY’s mission and that community members’ contributions of time and talent are equally important.
“This year’s giving campaign was two-fold. We were in need of financial support to continue our work and were looking for an opportunity to engage with community members to better explain our organization and our mission. We’re action planning, and we need all hands on deck.”
To learn more about making a difference, email [email protected].