Dear Friends and Supporters of Lines of Love:

With the beginning of a new year, I wanted to take a moment and share with you some rather candid thoughts about Lines and the direction it will be heading in 2010.

First, I am extremely grateful to the many individuals who have helped Lines establish itself in 2009. Some of you supported us financially, and others helped with the various events we held. Still others have donated their ideas and energy in helping Lines become a permanent foundation to help teens struggling with depression and anxiety. Thank you, one and all. Lines of Love would never have been possible without you. Even more important, we would not have been able to reach out to the hundreds of teens who attended our events or the thousands who have joined us online.

In 2009, we raised over $2,000 in donations. We established a small but very popular merchandise line of tee shirts, lanyards, and journals. We held two college events, sponsored one high school varsity lacrosse game, established a Lines of Love club at Centennial High School, and promoted suicide prevention and awareness throughout the month of October at Centennial and encouraged other high schools in Howard County to raise awareness as well. In October, I was honored to serve on a panel discussion at Stevenson University about depression and suicide prevention. In November, author Larry Cohen published his book, I’m Still Trying To Figure It All Out Myself, and is donating $1 of every book purchased to Lines of Love. In early December, Lines of Love was part of a focus group in Howard County about raising awareness about depression, and we were fortunate to meet with Active Minds founder Alison Malmon and southern chapter coordinator Marc Peters about how Howard County Public Schools and Active Minds could work more closely together. Finally, we established an interim board to discuss the future of Lines of Love as a 501c3 nonprofit foundation.

Again–I am grateful for all of you who have contributed in some way to our work in 2009. Thank you.

Our work has just begun. In 2010, we will be working more aggressively in developing materials to offer direct support to teens struggling with depression and anxiety. We will be working closely with other national initiatives such as To Write Love On Her Arms and Help-Portrait to raise awareness and remove the stigma attached to depression. Our events will be lively, filled with words, music, and a strong message that every life matters.

This is just the beginning, though (and here’s the candid part). I spent much of the last part of 2009 reflecting on the possible directions that Lines might take. I talked with many of you about your opinions and ideas concerning the future of Lines of Love. And in the process of having those conversations, I learned a great deal about what I believe the mission of this foundation is all about.

I don’t want us to be limited to colleges or high schools. I want us OPEN TO ALL INDIVIDUALS and provide those opportunities in a variety of events that are not limited in any way by the rules or boundaries that govern school systems or universities. We will continue to work very closely with both institutions (and we will be addressing the needs of pre-teens, too), but the primary work of Lines will be larger than any existing system. 2010 is the year we make our mark as a stand-alone foundation to do everything we can to educate, inform, and inspire.

I encourage you to join us. We are eager to have new individuals join our team as we work together to raise awareness about depression and reach out to teens who are struggling. Contact me directly at linesoflove@gmail.com for more information about our upcoming events, to purchase merchandise, or to make a donation.

We look forward to spreading our Lines of Love to all teens in Maryland (and beyond) in 2010. Please join us in our mission.

Every Life Matters. Let’s make sure our teens know that.

Love to all, and may your 2010 be blessed with encouragement and inspiration.

Rus VanWestervelt, Founder

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