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FGCU fraternity expands partnership with David Lawrence Centers to support mental health awareness and advocacy

By Staff | Mar 17, 2023

Naples, Fl – David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC), Collier County’s only comprehensive, not-for-profit behavioral health provider serving children, adults and families, announced the expansion of its partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity to spread mental health awareness and increase philanthropic support through an ongoing fundraising and awareness campaign.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of anxiety and depression among college students have increased substantially. In an academic year, a third of students on campuses meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis. Each year, approximately 24,000 college students attempt suicide while 1,100 students die by suicide making it the second leading cause of death among college students in the United States.

Jack Hellmer, a FGCU entrepreneurship graduate student and ATO fraternity brother, developed UBYou, an app to help students assess their stress while connecting them with mental health and campus resources. UBYou has resulted in strong support from the campus community. While developing the app, Hellmer learned that many school counseling centers are having trouble keeping up with the growing demand of students requesting help, and he knew more needed to be done on campus to bring awareness to these common issues.

Each year, FGCU ATO chooses a charity to raise support for its philanthropic endeavors. Hellmer introduced the FGCU ATO executive board to the DLC mission and encouraged them to consider a mental health partner. ATO is known as America’s Leadership Development Fraternity because of its strong emphasis on preparing its members to be leaders on their campus and in the community. Over the past year, ATO nationally donated more than the equivalent of $8.1 million worth of dollars donated and hours served to philanthropies and communities.

FGCU ATO brothers wanted to choose a local charity where they could see their support in action vs. a national non-profit. After touring the DLC main campus in Naples to learn more about the services, they chose DLC as their annual charity of choice.

“Our brothers began this grassroots movement to support our local community’s mental health through the education of available resources to our fellow students and through raising much needed funds for DLC,” added Hellmer. “Our brothers built a strong connection to DLC and have seen overwhelming support for our efforts.”

The brothers’ hard work and passion paid off, resulting in $16,600 for DLC programs and far exceeding any other fundraising efforts in the fraternity’s history. The funds were raised during campus-wide fundraising events and activities held in 2022.

“Being able to witness first-hand what DLC can do with the money we raise gives me peace of mind, knowing that people who are struggling mentally will get the help they deserve,” shared FGCU ATO Signature Event Chair Quinn Griffin, who helped spearhead the DLC fundraising efforts. “It is our mission to support DLC so that the people who don’t have the strength to fight for themselves can.”

The fraternity’s efforts to support DLC didn’t stop at Philanthropy Week. When DLC put out a critical appeal for advocacy support to the community in February 2023, Hellmer and his ATO brothers attended the Collier County Board of Commissioners meeting to show their support for the new Collier Central Receiving Facility location near DLC. The advocacy effort paid off, as the board voted 4-1 in favor of the new location for the 102-bed crisis assessment center that DLC will manage once construction is complete.

The FGCU ATO chapter also sponsored DLC’s 55th Anniversary Sound Minds Celebration, with 14 members attending the fundraiser to hear the keynote address from mental health advocate and academy award-winning actress Goldie Hawn.

And now, FGCU ATO has committed to continue their DLC partnership and will raise money for its mission for another year. Those efforts will kick off during the 2023 FGCU Philanthropy Week in April. Fundraising activities will include: Pie an Alpha Tau, Dunk an Alpha Tau, a carnival, a brunch, as well as an ongoing online giving campaign.

“We are excited to continue our mission to improve the lives of our fellow students and community members through our presence on campus and through DLC,” added Hellmer.

To make a donation towards the FGCU ATO Mental Health Philanthropy Mission, visit ATO.crowdchange.co/29914/donate.

“We are incredibly grateful to the FGCU ATO fraternity for their support of our mission,” said Scott Burgess DLC CEO. “Their efforts have advanced mental health awareness among local college students who are often unnecessarily struggling in silence. Bringing attention and conversation around these common issues can save lives.”

How to Become a DLC Advocate

DLC cultivates support from individuals and organizations such as FGCU ATO through the efforts of the DLC Advocates, a group composed of all ages (18+) of advocates for mental health and substance use awareness. Their primary goal is to spread awareness for all families in Southwest Florida and continue to improve the lives of thousands of individuals every year through DLC’s education, prevention, intervention, and treatment services. Through membership and quarterly events, the DLC Advocates support the DLC mission, operations and expansion of its services. To learn more about becoming a DLC Advocate, visit DLCAdvocates.org.

About David Lawrence Centers

Southwest Florida nonprofit David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health (DLC) is a national leader providing compassionate, advanced, and exceptional mental health, substance use, and integrated healthcare solutions, available for children, adolescents and adults. DLC’s innovative treatment includes inpatient, outpatient, residential, and community-based services – a comprehensive system of care funded by community and government support. Each year, DLC serves more than 9,000 people through over 314,000 treatment sessions. To learn more, please call 239-455-8500 or visit www.DLCenters.org.

Source: David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health