February 2023 Newsletter

Christmas Fundraiser 2022 Update

Having partnered with Volunteers of America, LifeMarks Program, in assisting with funding for initial intake and mental health assessments of the most vulnerable people within the Sioux Falls community, the Longley Foundation held a Christmas 2022 campaign. We used the number 22 as our inspiration as this was how old our son, Ben, was when he took his life.

We reached out to our supporters and made an ask for donations in an amount using the number 22. For example $2.22 or $222.00. Any amount that people gave, was a gift and the response we received was tremendous! Graciously, your generosity will impact many lives.

Bringing people together with people and with resources, measures up to connections, In turn, positive connections can bring hope to peoples lives. Together, with your continued love and support, we will be able to continue our mission in changing the narrative and ending the stigma towards mental illness and suicide.

VOA Dakotas

Testimony from the LifeMarks Program

“This funding will make an impact by providing therapy to those individuals that deal with stigma, brain disorders, addiction and mental health issues. Those that struggle with an inability to pay at times but know they need and want the help. Individuals we work with set goals within the first month and work towards them. We help them strive to be a better version of them. To help find their strengths, coping skills, support system and overall wellness” – Outpatient Therapist

“Thank you so much for helping me with copays for my MH therapy at LM. I struggled with schizophrenia and addiction. I am getting better. I am receiving help and staying clean. Thank you so much for helping me. I am shift leader at work now. I am staying consistent in my life. I feel happy were I am at and thankful for this opportunity.” – Donation Receipant

A Letter from Antonio

“My name is Antonio Casiello. Not a day, week, or month goes by that I don’t think about the many life experiences my friend Ben does not get the chance to have. He was deprived of a happy life due to the voices in his head that told him he wasn’t worth it. He was worth it and so are many other young people with those voices in their heads.

I first became friends with Ben in grade school where we began our friendship on the football field. Though we did not go to elementary school together, Ben’s family lived in a close enough proximity to mine that allowed our paths to cross as teammates in 5th and 6th grade. Ben was new to football and I had played it a ton growing up, but I was always eager to help someone new. Ben always gave it his all on the field and in practice, much like in life. He was never afraid to make mistakes and was always joking around, which drew me to him more and brewed a friendship I grew to appreciate dearly.

Our friendship extended into high school and college where we would convene at each other’s college houses and share stories over some cold beers. Ben was a great friend and an even better son. We spent many nights at his family lake cabin where Paul and Leigh always made us feel like their kids. Ben was always a great friend to have around and one you knew would have your back no matter the circumstances. The world needs more Bens.

Ben’s death took a toll on our entire friend group, aka “The Fellowship”, and many people in our community. So many of us close friends from high school who communicated on a daily basis, yet the signs of suffering rarely showed through a phone screen. Our goal as a friend group is to share Ben’s story, one filled with laugh, love, and friendship, and turn it into one of hope and awareness for others who may be in similar positions. We hope that through the Longley Foundation, we can bring awareness to others who may be able to prevent the sorrow we endured.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS YOU LOVE THEM, PLEASE.

As a part of the Longley Foundation, we will work to end the stigma of suicide being a taboo subject. One life lost is one too many. We hope to provide resources and the awareness necessary to give people the knowledge to know the signs and have the proper tools have meaningful conversations about suicide.” – Antonio Casiello

Peer2Peer Mentorship at Lost&Found

This program brings together student mentors, who get guided practice helping others, with mentees, who are students who need a little support navigating college life.