May 2024 Newsletter

Longley Family Update

As you know Leigh was back in Sioux Falls in November 2023, to attend the Friends of Gary Gaspar Symposium for Suicide Prevention and Care. Unfortunately, The Longley Foundation in collaboration with Fight-Like-A-Ninja and Live Inspired 365 were not the recipients of the grant awarded from this symposium. Angela, Chantelle, Michelle, and I decided we were going to continue with our initiative and are excited to be working with Avera Behavioral Health. We are proud to share the Reach In Program is off the ground and our first training of Caring Companions was on April 5, 2024. Eight volunteers have been trained thus far. On May 13, 2024, the first of the Caring Companions will be paired with their partner.
Reach In Logo

Here is a brief synopsis of the Reach In Program:

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time because when you give your time,

you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”


The Longley Foundation in collaboration with Fight-Like-A-Ninja and Live Inspired 365 are excited to introduce our Reach In Program.

Angela, Chantelle, and I came together knowing we wanted and needed to do more for people struggling with mental illness. Our mission, to Reach In and show our fellow community members in need of understanding, empathy, and compassion that there are people who care. No matter their struggles, the people of Sioux Falls need to know they are worthy, and they are seen. Life can hold meaning and they are valued. We aim to be part of a team surrounding someone in mental anguish and help prevent their thoughts from reaching the point where suicide feels like the only way to stop the pain!

With the invaluable support of ABH, our Caring Companions will be trained and paired to walk beside someone who is struggling with a form of a diagnosed mental illness and to form a caring companionship. 

Why is this different? Because Angela, Chantelle and I have lived through the devastation of losing a loved one to suicide, we know how hard it is for those struggling to reach out and seek help. The Caring Companion Program will instead introduce a companion to a patient while they are at Avera Behavioral Health (ABH), ensuring a level of comfort is reached. This role will then continue once a patient is discharged and at their most vulnerable.

As mentioned above, on April 5, 2024, the first training for Caring Companions took place. With grateful thanks to the SFPD (Crisis Intervention Unit), Mary Weber, LMFT, LPC at the Lourdes Center and the caring staff at ABH for providing our companions the opportunity to learn from the best in the field of diseases which fall under the umbrella of mental health.

With heartfelt gratitude to all who have and continue to support us. Together, we can make a difference….

#ChangeTheNarrative, End the Stigma!

The foundation will continue to support Lost and Found and The LifeMarks Program as well as building our Reach In Program.

Lost&Found Peer2Peer Mentoring Updates

“Over the past 3 years, the Longley Foundation has partnered with Lost&Found to host the LongBall22 Golf Classic at Grand Falls Casino to raise funds for Lost&Found’s Peer2Peer Mentorship program, a non-clinical, student-to-student mental health support service that has served more than 250 students across South Dakota since its launch in 2021.


This partnership has changed lives and built a new system of support that covers more than 10 campuses across the state—leading to legislation that has formally supported the program over the next 3 years.

Now, the Longley Foundation is proud to continue its partnership with Lost&Found to support Survivors Joining for Hope (SJ4H), a resource navigation and financial assistance program for suicide loss survivors in South Dakota. Through the support of two Community Health Workers (CHWs), Lost&Found is changing lives across South Dakota by providing the only resource support and financial assistance program of its kind in the United States, with more than 96% of families served qualifying as low-to-moderate income in their communities.

With your support at this year’s LongBall22 Golf Classic, we can do more to prevent suicide by supporting those facing some of the highest risks of suicide—those experiencing suicide grief and financial crisis. For every person who dies by suicide, more than 135 people are impacted, and your support can ensure that those people have the support and care they need through Lost&Found

VOA Patient story and treatment

This story is of a man who is well educated but struggled with PTSD and anxiety. He had a gap in insurance and was able to have help with the funds this last time. He is working with CPS to work on reunification with his child and also parenting. He is working on getting on medication finally which will help him and improve his recovery. He is grateful for the support of the Longley Foundation and learning coping skills for his triggers to PTSD and calming skills for his anxiety.

Nicole Burger, MA, LAC, CPS, QMHP, LPC-MH Supervisee
Outpatient Therapist
Volunteers of America, Dakota/
VOA Dakotas

Spotlight: Journey of Hope

On May 3, 2024, Leigh spoke to Kari Palmer from the non-for-profit, Journey of Hope. This was the first conversation that had taken place and, when a mama meets another mama with a broken heart, ideas of how to support one another sprout and a bond starts to form.
Although Kari lost her beloved son, Sven, to an overdose, the connection between addiction and mental illnesses intertwines

Please read the inspiring writing of Kari and the Journey of Hope:

Parents start Journey of Hope in memory of their son.

Sven was a talented musician with a kind heart. His eyes told his story and his smile warmed the heart of anyone he met. He was gifted with a beautiful voice and was most free when playing his guitar or piano and creating music. His lyrics often reflected inner emotions as his music relieved him of life’s burdens. In sharing his gift he enlightened and brightened the lives of all who loved him. Sven hated how depression plagued his mind. Like many, he used alcohol and drugs with the hopes it would take the pain away, instead, it left him with an active addiction and exacerbated the symptoms of his mental illness. Sven always carried a blue tote where he walked, he needed a clean pair of socks and hygiene items. We hoped one day, eventually, he could tell his story to let others know there is hope and you can overcome addiction and manage your mental health. Sven died on February 19, 2020, at the age of 26, of an alcohol overdose. After he passed, I learned from others how he shared hope through music in shelters, behavioral health hospitals, and treatment centers. 

As a parent, it is not how I envisioned Sven spreading love to others. Ultimately, it taught us that we must extend hope to the lost and lonely in places we might never imagine. Inspired by the spirit of Sven, parents, Kari and Darin Palmer started a non-profit called Journey of Hope in Sioux Falls, SD to extend a hand of compassion and support to those on their journey of healing and recovery. Journey of Hope strives to help people on life’s path by providing access to hygiene essentials, connection, and nurturing environments for creative expression. The lack of hygiene can affect our mental health so we started by providing essential hygiene products to individuals reintegrating from incarceration, mental health hospitals, and treatment centers. This program has since developed to serve over 30 agencies of which 11 are schools in Southeastern South Dakota. We knew there was more we wanted to do. Just as Sven’s music brought solace and connection, we wanted to offer the gift of artistic expression as a beacon of hope for those facing mental health challenges and addiction. So we also provide therapeutic art programming to youth at the juvenile detention center and offer opportunities for volunteers to connect with youth in detention and adults in recovery. Our vision is to ignite hope one step at a time. We can create a community that embraces vulnerability, celebrates resilience, and fosters a culture of support and understanding. Together, we can turn pain into purpose and darkness into light by meeting people right where they are on their journey.

To learn more about Journey of Hope, visit our website at:

Looking Ahead:

Barrel House: Monday July 15th, 2024

10% of all revenue generated at the restaurant on this day will be donated to The Longley Foundation. Please mark your calendars and join us!

Golf: July 19th, 2024

The Longball22 Golf Classic is booked for July 19, 2024! Once again it will be held at Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort. All registrations will be done through our Give Smart domain, and we are hoping this will be a smooth and simple process. Individual emails have been sent out with all the details and registration is now open.

Projected Pricing:

Corporate Sponsorship

Eagle Level


2 x teams entry fee /dinner. An additional table for eight with dinner included. Longball limited water bottles for team players.
Birdie Level


1 x team entry fee/dinner and four additional dinner tickets. Longball limited water bottles for the team players.
Par Level


1 x team entry fee/dinner.

Best Ball Format

18-hole Tournament


(boxed lunch/dinner included)
9-hole Tournament (AM)


(breakfast/dinner included)
Hole Sponsorship


(in memory of sponsorship)


Dinner Tickets


Dinner: table for 8


All sponsors will have their names displayed on the slide show during the dinner/auction. Please do keep this day and join us in remembering Ben and raising funds to help others.

Pizza Ranch Gives Back: Date to be Announced

Concert at the Levitt: Saturday July 20th, 2024

Reverand Peyton’s Big Damn Band.

In conjunction with Fight-Like-A-Ninja and Live Inspired 365, we will be introducing the Reach In Program to the community of Sioux Falls. This will be a night to bring the community of Sioux Falls together, raising awareness of the pandemic of suicide yet offering hope, compassion and understanding.

On behalf of the board of the Longley Foundation and the family of Ben, we thank each and every one for your continued love, friendship, and support. We hope to see you all in July!

One Response

  1. Great newsletter, Leigh and Paul! You are doing wonderful things to spread awareness of our mental health crisis. Can’t wait to see you in July.

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