Talented teen performers headlining Teen Lifeline’s black-tie-optional Connections of Hope gala at the Montelucia on Oct. 6 will add a new vibe to the annual fundraiser, as the organization syncs the evening’s program to its mission of empowering teens to make healthy decisions. “We utilize teens in our delivery of service [of training and providing peer counselors to man the suicide hotlines],” says Teen Lifeline’s executive director Michelle Moorhead. “This will really celebrate Arizona’s youth.”
The gala also features the presentation of the Alfred J. Molina Community Lifeline Award, named in honor of its inaugural recipient in 2005. Honored this year will be Jerry Colangelo, who, says Moorhead, has been a force for making Phoenix a better place to raise a family. She admits there’s an extra aura of excitement now as Colangelo “is just back from London with a gold medal with the USA basketball team.”
Peer counseling remains an innovative approach to combating teen suicide, says Moorhead. “Teens turn to peers, not adults. [We] reach kids where they’re at and [help them] make better decisions for themselves.”
- EVENT: Teen Lifeline’s Connections of Hope gala will be held Oct. 6 at the Montelucia Resort & Spa in Scottsdale.
- Arizona was second in the country in the number of teen suicides when Teen Lifeline was conceived in 1985 and has remained in the top 10 every year since; it now ranks number 9.
- The all-teen volunteers who deliver the organization’s mission are supported by master-level clinicians who help the teens deal with the issues they confront.
- Approximately 70 volunteers, ages 15-21, each year handle more than 11,000 calls on the suicide hotline and serve more than 35,000 teens in outreach programs, donating more than 12,000 hours.
- Teen Lifeline offers the peer counseling training four times each year and trains an average of 56 teens annually.
- For its annual budget of $475,000, Teen Lifeline relies on grants for about half its revenue and the Connections of Hope gala for about one-third, with some support also from individuals and service clubs.