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Advocate for Teen Suicide Prevention With Shaina Steinberg

Advocate for Teen suicide prevention

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We’re going to talk a little bit about fundraising and how charities make money. The reason we’re doing this now is that so many individuals donate towards the end of the year, particularly in November and December. That’s the big time for them, and mostly because they get a huge tax deduction, or they can get a huge tax deduction if they itemize on their IRS Form, but we’re gonna talk about what’s going on. 

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Let’s first talk about charities in general. Let me tell you a little bit about Shaina. She’s completing her Master’s program in Psychology. This means for me, as someone who touches that world, she’s analyzing every word I say all the time. That’s what that means. So, Shaina, thank you so much.

Shaina Steinberg: Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be here.

Elliot Kallen: Before we get into A Brighter Day, depression, teens, and all those wonderful things that you’re doing to make a difference in lives, let’s talk about how charities fundraise in a few moments. Let me ask you a question because some of the people watching this, you’re young enough to be their daughter. So what makes somebody become a psychology major? Why get a Master’s or even a Ph.D.? Tell me about that and how you chose that track.

Shaina Steinberg: Yeah, great question. I kind of stumbled into the psychology world. I’ve coached volleyball for six going on seven years. I also got to play for 10 years and I’ve been able to work with a lot of teams. Some of their struggles really inspired me to take that path, along with some of my family members that have had issues with mental illness. That really propelled me in that direction. 

People end up in the psychology field because of some kind of passion, they have a reason to be there. I think most psychology majors and those who work in the field end up helping people in some way, shape, or form. There’s a lot of empathy there. I think a lot of empathetic people end up being psychology majors.

Psychology magnifying glass

What is the problem with teens and mental health?

Elliot Kallen: Good for you. If you didn’t say the word empathy then I was gonna say that because most people confuse empathy and sympathy. We don’t need to go through the definitions of it, but they’re vastly different. I admire you for your empathetic disposition, that’s just fabulous. 

So, let’s go through first the problem of the world that we’re in of teens. I just finished giving a speech this morning all about teen depression and teen suicide. What’s going on in that world? I think your perspective would be so different from mine just because of age, and the fact that I had a child that took his life. What’s going on with teens today and what’s the big problem?

Shaina Steinberg: Well, teens are struggling with mental illness, but I think the pandemic really has just intensified that. Just a couple of statistics I’d love to share: 18.8% of high school students reported having seriously considered suicide in the past year now. 

This is between the years 2020 and 2021. This percentage is higher among females, it’s almost 20, just about 24% and 46.8%, among lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens. So we can see that in some populations, the numbers are a lot higher.

And sadly, 8.9% of high school students attempted suicide in the past year, this is in the country. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults between the ages of 10 and 24. All these references I just want to point out are from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services and the CDC. So mental illness is never absent, but I think a lot of times students and teens suffer in silence.

I think in the last couple of years, the topic of mental health has become a hot topic, and more people now are talking about it than ever. So I see that this conversation is being brought up quite a bit and I think more people are coming out and talking about their mental health. I think these statistics are closer to what they probably are than they have ever been just because people are really working towards stopping the stigma of mental health, depression, and suicide.

Who is A Brighter Day and how do they make an impact?

Elliot Kallen: Great. You’re the program director for A Brighter Day charity. It’s just a young six-year-old charity that helps teens and their parents deal with stress and depression. Obviously, you can’t ignore the parents and you can’t ignore the teens right? 

But it has a goal of stopping teen suicide and I know that the charity touches thousands of families, literally monthly. Tell us about the charity and what the charity is doing to have an impact because it’s all about having an impact.

Shaina Steinberg: Absolutely. Yeah. So A Brighter Day was founded to spread awareness and find help for those who are struggling with stress and depression. By building community through social events and our resources. We provide resources for stress, depression, and suicide to both parents and teens with the end goal of stopping teen suicide. All of our resources are public so anybody can access them. That’s a little bit about what we do and what our mission is. Really our end goal is to stop teen suicide, and we do this through our programs. 

We have a new partnership with BetterHelp. They are the world’s largest online telehealth platform so all their therapy is done through a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. But therapy is really important. The reason why therapy is important is teens can talk to a licensed professional who’s a neutral party, about anything and everything they’re experiencing without guilt or shame, or judgment. 

While talking to friends and family about these things is great, a therapist will be able to provide some extra resources such as psycho-education. So that’s really talking to them about what depression is, what anxiety is, and how it affects them. And you know, therapists can also provide coping skills and just navigate mental illness overall. We’re incredibly excited to have our new partnership with BetterHelp. So that’s one of the ways that we’re able to really live into our mission.

A Brighter Day’s Partnership with Betterhelp Offers Financial Assistance

To find more information:

What resources are available for teens who don’t feel comfortable with in-person counseling?

Elliot Kallen: So my teen who took his life would never have gone to live therapy. They would have shut up. He would have been looking for something more in his own world, which was much more cell phone based. What’s available for someone like him today?

Shaina Steinberg: With Betterhelp you can actually text your therapist 100% of the time, there’s no face-to-face contact needed. There is texting available, a phone call, and or a video call. So for your son, maybe the texting would have resonated most with him and made him feel most comfortable. So, let’s say you and I are having a therapy conversation right? It could all be happening over text. Some people feel more comfortable that way, maybe not showing their face or having their voice heard. So That’s something that could have been if it was available, maybe your son would have been comfortable with that.

What can a teen do to find immediate support?

Elliot Kallen: So for the teen that wants to get some help with the parents and wants to get some help out today how would they have handled texting? I know that the charity has a texting program all over the website. What does a teen have to do or a parent has to do to get some type of immediate response? Because my teen might have done it at the midnight hour. What action can they do to get help tonight?

Shaina Steinberg: So, BetterHelp is our long-term, support resource you know, this is 369 months of talk therapy. We also have a program – a partnership with Crisis Text Line. The Crisis Text Line is a text-based crisis intervention program, and it’s powered by volunteer crisis counselors. They answer texts from people in crisis. This is specifically for mental health emergencies and potential suicide. 

So really, they bring people from a hot moment to a cool calm moment through listening, problem-solving and safety planning. And this resource I’m talking about is available 24/7 and it’s unlimited. So when a teenager or a parent is in crisis, they can text the word BRIGHTER to 2741741 to connect with a crisis counselor who will walk them through the steps of what to do next. Essentially, it’s almost like a 911 service, but specifically for mental health and crisis situations.

What kind of resources does A Brighter Day provide?

Elliot Kallen: For people who like to read and research, is there something unique available for them that the charity does?

Shaina Steinberg: Yeah, so we have parent and teen toolkits online that are accessible again 24/7 to the public and this has all the information about the Crisis Text Line, about Betterhelp, along with other resources, signs, and symptoms of depression, anxiety, or how to support a loved one through this time. So if they want to sit down and go through resources without having to talk to somebody over text or on the phone that’s also available to them.

Crisis textline charity phone number

What’s your recommendation for a parent looking for help?

Elliot Kallen: So I know most parents want to do a good job of parenting and I want to raise a happy, healthy child. That’s because we just live in that world where thankfully most people think like that, I’m sure. It’s a very small percentage of people that don’t think like that. Unfortunately, they do. There are people like that, that just there’s no parental empathy there. So if you’ve got teens that are struggling and you don’t know what to do, you’re just looking for starting with some help, what’s your best recommendation?

Shaina Steinberg: My best recommendation for the first step would be for the parents to educate themselves as much as possible. I would say learning the signs and symptoms of depression, starting conversations with your teen or loved one, and just opening up the discussion to talk about these things. I think once you have that, that foundation, that trust, then you can really start providing support by encouraging treatment. Staying alert for signs of suicide, and things like that.

Is taking cell phones away at dinnertime a good technique? How can we connect with our teens better?

Elliot Kallen: So I’m a parent, and we live in a two-parent role. A lot of times we both are working full time. Nobody’s talking at dinner and nobody’s communicating. I feel like a taxi driver rather than a parent sometimes. I’ve heard that it’s a great idea to take cell phones and put them in a basket. Don’t bring them to dinner. Don’t even talk to grandma. No texting, no conversation. Force the conversation. Is that a healthy thing to do?

Shaina Steinberg: Well, I’m not a parent. I help raise my sister and I’ve coached hundreds of teens and young adults in the sport of volleyball, I always encourage the phones to go away. My rule is at the beginning of practice, phones go in the backpacks and they don’t come out until the end. The reason for that is I encourage honest and open conversation. I love to hear what the boys and girls are up to in their personal lives. 

You know, we talk about anything from school, friendships, and college. I think that’s really where the meaningful conversation starts. When phones are put away technologies are put away and laptop screens are closed. But I would love to know your opinion about that. You are a parent. Has that worked for you?

Elliot Kallen: I’m a big fan when I talk about how to deal with your teen and have cell phones free dinners. We have questions on the website. We give examples of questions like, “How was your day?” or “Who’s your best friend?” Don’t let the one-syllable answer end things. Dig a little bit to find out what’s going on and find out about their friends. My mother used to ask me all the time. “Tell me about your friends and what they’re doing.” She was really asking me about me how I’m doing because I’d love to talk about them more than me. And then of course driving between places was a great opportunity, 

Taking a walk was a talking opportunity where you couldn’t be interrupted by nonsense. You know the cell phone, Instagram, Tik Tock, Facebook – I’ve learned as a parent there’s more negative than positive. You know, granted, they can research the report and find out about whatever they want it to seconds, but they also get the highlight reel of everybody else’s life and it makes them feel terrible that everybody’s having more fun in life than they are. 

I know that you know the charity is touching literally tens of thousands of people monthly with our resources online, partnerships, texting, everything. It has to make money to survive. These things are not free. Having resources means you have to have a writer you pay. So you’re a good expense, but the money’s got to come from somewhere and the money doesn’t come from heaven. You know, even if it’s good money. So charities have to raise money. I have a phrase that raising money for charities is like politics – you have to ask for money all the time. 

Fundraiser for charity jar with money

How does A Brighter Day fundraise for their mission?

Elliot Kallen: So how does A Brighter Day raise money? Then I’ll talk about donations and how people can donate in general to a favorite charity, not just A Brighter Day because it may be near and dear to you and me but doesn’t have to be for somebody else. They might want to give to a cause for cancer, diabetes, or a church or a synagogue.

Shaina Steinberg: A Brighter Day has two big events each year. Our first one is our golf tournament which happens between the month of May and June. This is a huge event. We have hundreds of golfers all supporting our cause to stomp out teen suicide so that is a huge event of ours. We also have our Virtual Gala in October and November months. It’s happening on November 10, this year from 5:30 to 7 pm. And we’ll be raising money in your son’s honor as well as to support our charity and to support our cause.

Elliot Kallen: How would they register for this? 

Shaina Steinberg: They can register through an online link. We can include that somewhere in our podcast afterward. It’s free to attend. There will be music and entertainment from about 5:30 to 6:15. Then our live auction will take place from about 615 to seven o’clock.

What are the ways people can donate to charity?

Elliot Kallen: Okay, a lot of good stuff. I urge people to get on there at 5:30. I think I was just told the music interludes dropped down to 15 minutes. For anybody that’s listening and charity is important to them, let me go through three or four different examples of how people could donate. It doesn’t make a difference which charity you donate to. 

So first of all, every charity will take your outright donation and it’s tax-deductible. You write a check, use a credit card, or donate through the website. $100, $1,000, $100,000 – It doesn’t matter. You can do it monthly,  you can do it one time, quarterly, or anything. You’re looking for the major 501(c)(3) three charities. We’ll take your money, and you’ll get to write it off. 

Here’s an example of another way that many of my clients use. I’m in the financial business. They said they create an irrevocable life insurance trust. So you pass these buildings that say this hospital is dedicated in honor of this person, or the wing of the hospital is dedicated to this person or the building of this church is dedicated to this person. 

How does that happen? Well, there are people who live in the world of technology and startups are people who have accumulated enormous amounts of cash and they take out cash donations. So they want it named after their mother, their child, whatever it might be. I wanted the Elliot Kallen wing of the Oakland Children’s Hospital. I have the cash. Here’s my $5 million cash check. And certainly like I said, every charity will take that money. 

But, many people are doing this with life insurance. So what they’re doing is they’re saying it’s life insurance on both parents and they say look, I’m gonna pay a premium of 5000 or $10,000 a year, or $5,000 a month, whatever that might be. And I’m gonna leave this charity, a million or 2 million or 3 million or $5 million. I’d like it to be used for this. And they don’t make it anonymous. Some do. I mean, there’s an old Jewish phrase that there’s nothing greater in the world than giving charity giving to a charity anonymously. Well, we live in a world where anonymity is not the most popular way of giving. 

Most people do want to be recognized and I get that too. You know, you’ve worked your life whole life and you want to be recognized for it. And so they donate and they leveraged their five or 10,000 or 15,000 a year into a million dollars. I’m just giving an example here. And so they paid $3,000 over the lifetime to donate a million dollars. 

Then they talk to the charity and say this is how I liked the million dollars to be spent or go into your general operating budget. It can go into a charity like A Brighter Day. I want you to hire three Shaina’s across the country. You can do lots of things and that’s with life insurance. 

You can also donate with real property, real property meaning I have a building or rental property. I could donate the building and have the charity receive the income from the property, but my family gets back the building upon my death. I could turn around and say, I want you to keep the building, take all the income from the charity and sell it upon my death. 

You could turn around and say I’ll take the income I’m gonna give you my building, but my family gets the income while I’m alive and you get the building upon my death. That’s three different ways I just mentioned all slightly different on the property. 

And then, of course, people have appreciated stock that they simply do not need and we live in a world where this year, things are much less appreciated than they used to be because we’ve had a terrible stock market. But if you do have stock and you’ve owned it for 20 years, you’re inherited, and it’s got even a low basis. So if you cash in you’re gonna pay huge capital gains tax. You could donate the stock and donate at the current market value. 

So you got stock that cost you 5000 that’s now worth 100,000. Many startups are like that. You’re now donating $100,000 in stock. If your family would have cashed it out 95 of that $100 would be subject to capital gains tax. Now, it’s all become tax deductible. 

So I know A Brighter Day would take all that but that’s how it is set. Every charity needs cash today. This is one of the issues that we go through in a 401(k) world. And companies say I don’t want to have a 401(k) because all my employees would rather have a bonus rather than a match. And that’s true. I mean you’re an employee, Shaina. You’d much rather have $5,000 in your pocket than $5,000. That’s just who you are. Because, you know, like most people, you’ll spend $5,000 before you get it. I need a new car. I need some new clothes, apparently taking a trip to Europe.

Shaina Steinberg: School payments, school payments!

Charity virtual gala fundraiser

RSVP For The Virtual Gala

How can people attend your next event and access A Brighter Day’s resources?

Elliot Kallen: But we’re really doing you better service long-term by matching $5,000 in your 401(k) or 403(b), which is the nonprofit world. So as we end this right now, Shaina, tell everybody again about what’s going on on November 10. How can they reach you how can they get in touch with the charity, and how do they download resources.

Shaina Steinberg: Absolutely. November 10th is our third annual Virtual Gala from 5:30 to 7 pm. We have music and entertainment from 5:30 to six-ish and then we have our live auction with Keith McClane.You can find our resources at 

All of our resources are on our page. Check it out there. You can reach me to chat or to talk about potential partnerships at My phone number is (925) 360-1670. Feel free to shoot me a text or give me a call. But I am always open and willing to connect. 

Please donate, attend, and spread the word about our Virtual Gala. We would love to see you there.

Elliot Kallen: Great and I want to remind you that you know the website is free and the resources are free. The text line is free, just type the word BRIGHTER to 2741741. The partnership with BetterHelp there is basically free as we offer financial assistance. The charity is covering the cost of live zoom meetings with a real licensed counselor as well. Yes, it’s fabulous. That’s a limited-time offer but that is at the moment going on.

Shaina Steinberg: Yes and feel free to please reach out to me if you are in financial need of therapy. As Elliot said, we are providing free therapy sessions through better help so please reach out. 

Elliot Kallen: There’s also a partnership with an inpatient treatment center for teens if it gets that point. Shaina, I want to thank you so much. We talked about A Brighter Day and how fundraising can be applied to your favorite charitable donation organization. Or spread among many. This is a fantastic one. But most importantly, you want to have a charity that is an impact player who makes a huge difference. 

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