Brandon Verwijst

Spotlight
  • How did you get involved with Meg’s Legacy of Hope?

I worked with Larry at a non-profit for at-risk youth. His passion and Meg’s story touched me deeply and resonated with my lived experiences and the experiences of the youth who I worked with. I knew immediately that there was work to do and that we could make an impact while honoring Meg and those like her who inspired us through their own passion for helping others.

  • What about your background/skills make this a good volunteer commitment in your life?

As an engineer, I bring a systems level, problem-based approach to strategy. I have a passionate belief in the importance of community service and a personal attachment to mental health and supporting at-risk youth.

  • What role do you serve on the team?

I serve on the Board of Directors where I help shape vision, strategy and execution of the organization’s mission. I also serve as the head of the Grant Committee, where I direct policy regarding how grants are awarded.

  • What is your personal goal that you hope we can achieve in the next two years? Longer term/vision?

In the next two years, I hope we can grant $500,000 to organizations dedicated to helping at-risk youth with their mental health. Long-term, I hope to raise awareness of mental health struggles and solutions, plus foster a communal sense of responsibility for looking out for and caring for each other. I hope to de-stigmatize mental health issues by promoting the message that this is something that can impact anyone, at any time and in any walk of life.

  • Do you have ideas for how someone can volunteer or help make a difference?

Start small, start local. Treat every interaction with love and compassion as you can never know what someone may be going through. Promote healthy conversation about mental health. No individual person can fix or solve such a complex problem as mental health. But as a community, it’s our responsibility to lift each other up, let each other know that we are safe harbors, and let each other know that help can be found.

Sharon Aspinall

Spotlight
  • How did you get involved with Meg’s Legacy of Hope?

I was looking for a meaningful volunteer opportunity where I could spend my time and help others in some important way. I was an educator for over 30 years, and I am a retired Middle School Principal. I know I have more to offer this world, even after retirement! While attending Meg’s Inaugural Legacy Golf Outing,  I asked how I could get involved. I feel so rewarded to use my skills and time in a most needed area in all communities.

  • What about your background/skills make this a good volunteer commitment in your life?

I have a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and was a Special Education teacher before I went into Administration. I loved my career as an educator and felt a big need to continue to use my skills in life. As a Principal, I worked with many students and families that needed support in the area of mental health. I still have relationships with many of those families. I have children and grandchildren who I want to make sure they know how important it is to get help when needed.

  • What role do you serve on the team?

I am a member of the Grant Committee. I collect and organize the proposals and requests that are sent to us. I communicate with our team to make sure everyone is looking at the same information when we are making decisions and serve as a liaison with the organizations that reach out to us for grants. Working with such committed people on the Grant Committee and Board of Directors has been so rewarding. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with this team to help better someone else’s journey.

  • What is your personal goal that you hope we can achieve in the next two years?

I would like our team to visit facilities so we are more familiar with the opportunities we might be able to support. I would also like to reach out to more facilities and organizations to let them know about Meg’s Legacy of Hope. I think finding ways to have more financial support is always needed. I want there to be more funding so that more youth and young adults get the support they need.

  • Do you have ideas for how someone can volunteer or help make a difference?

There is always room for more volunteers to teach us new ways to raise money or market our vision to receive more proposals. I wanted my volunteer efforts to be in something that I have a passion for, and I found it with Meg’s Legacy of Hope. Maybe you will too!

Dr. Beth Sherman, Psy.D.

Beth Sherman cropped
Spotlight
  • Why/how did you get involved with Meg’s Legacy of Hope?

As a Clinical Psychologist, I have dedicated over 30 years to helping people on a micro scale and this is a way to reach people on a more macro scale, which is really exciting. It’s a whole different way to have a positive impact – I can help more people in a shorter amount of time.

  • What about your background/skills make this a good volunteer commitment in your life?

Since I entered the mental health field, I have seen the steady rise of suicide rates for all ages, but to see it increasing for children and teens is especially heartbreaking. We need to work together to turn this around, and it needs to be more than just mental health professionals paying attention to this problem. We can all make a difference in someone’s life, just by seeing them, acknowledging their pain without feeling like we must fix it or solve it.

  • Do you have ideas for how someone can help make a difference?

Don’t be afraid to ask the awkward questions – you can’t give someone the idea of death by suicide by asking them if they are thinking of self-harming. Educate yourself on signs that someone is struggling. Keep open lines of communication with people. If someone tells you they are hurting, don’t give them platitudes like “you’ll be ok” or “you are strong” because while they may be strong, they may not feel it in that moment and then they feel like they are letting you down if they don’t live up to how/who they are supposed to be. Get curious about their pain. Volunteer for a hotline, donate to Meg’s Legacy, encourage people to seek help if you believe they are at risk, attend a NAMI meeting….

  • What is your personal goal that you hope we can achieve in the next two years? Longer term/vision?

Early intervention is critical, or any intervention, for that matter.  Getting therapy to those in need is imperative, and Meg’s Legacy of Hope is making that possible. Not only can lives be saved, but lives can also be improved through timely and quality care.

I would love to see Meg’s Legacy of Hope become a household name – each year for us to help fund more organizations that work with those at risk.

  • What role do you serve at Meg’s Legacy of Hope

I serve as an Ambassador and work on the Grant Committee.