SHINE Initiative Raises $134K at Keep Your Mind Open gala

October 26, 2018 — The SHINE Initiative, a Worcester nonprofit that works to improve mental health awareness, research, programming, and public policy in the fight against mental illness in children and young adults, announced that it raised $134,000 at its recent annual gala, surpassing its fundraising goal.

The twelfth annual Keep Your Mind Open gala, held Oct. 18 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, drew 475 attendees, who helped to beat the $125,000 fundraising goal.

Funds will support expanded program offerings, including SWAT (Student Wellness Advisory Teams), which empowers Massachusetts high school students to become mental wellness advocates in their schools.

According to The SHINE Initiative, the event raised a similar amount during each of the last three years from a comparable number of people.

Paul Richard, the organization's executive director, said, "The SHINE Initiative mission resonates with our sponsors, and we are proud to report to our donors that with their generous support we are educating more and more young people about the importance and value of promoting mental health and wellness.”

The amount raised represents about 40% of total fundraising efforts by SHINE. Eighty percent of the funds were raised through corporate sponsorships, with the remaining split between ticket sales and an auction.

At this year's event, the keynote speaker Tanya Brown, author, mental health advocate, and sister of Nicole Brown Simpson, detailed her courageous 15-year battle with depression caused by losses in her life including the death of her sister and two best friends. Brown is the author of Finding Peace Amid the Chaos: My Escape from Depression and Suicide.

The event also celebrated Richard, who will step down as executive director of The SHINE Initiative after serving in the post since 2011 and serving as a member of The SHINE Initiative Advisory Board since the organization was established in 2004.

The SHINE Initiative was founded by Fidelity Bank with input from its employees to reduce the stigma of mental health conditions, end discrimination, and raise awareness and understanding about mental health conditions in children, adolescents, and young adults as a mainstream health issue.

Since 2013, The SHINE Initiative has engaged directly with 31,000 young people and the parents, teachers, and other adults who care for them through classroom presentations, teacher/staff trainings, and parent and community forums and conferences. Nearly 40 student-led SWAT teams will be in place in central Massachusetts high schools and middle schools within the next year.

This past summer, Fred Kaelinwas named to succeed Richard as executive director.