Robin Schwartz knew intuitively she and her husband had to get involved at Friendship Circle after she attended a Friendship House program called “Nothing is Coincidence.” That was 23 years ago, a time when Friendship Circle was just beginning to take off.
“We had never seen anything like this before,” Robin remembers. “When we saw all these people with challenges and parents who needed help, we wanted to be part of it.”
Ever since, Robin and Howard Schwartz have been loyal volunteers, supporters and more recently, recipients of services. Their daughter, Sammy, who has struggled with depression and self-harm, is now an ambassador for UMatter, which helped her share her story.
The Schwartzes remained involved as their family grew. Sammy was in middle school and a volunteer at summer camp when she first started to struggle with mental health issues. Working at camp helped Sammy realize she needed help – and that it was okay to ask for it.
“I would see kids who couldn’t speak or were confined to a wheelchair,” Sammy says. “I thought they were screaming on the inside like me. I was wrong. They weren’t suffering like I was. They were embracing me with open arms, huge smiles and gifting me this amazing, unconditional love and friendship. I was the broken one, finding healing in the light of their perfect souls. From that moment on, Friendship Circle took me under its wing and I dedicated myself to getting better.”
UMatter is dedicated to erasing the stigma surrounding mental health challenges. Through the program, teens like Sammy share stories, take ownership of their journeys and support each other so they can learn they do matter.
“Friendship Circle has given us a deeper understanding of who we are, and what we represent in the world,” Robin adds. “They’ve stirred our souls. We are excited to see what will happen in the next 25 years.”
– Schwartz Family, UMatter