Holiday Spirit

Anne Ehresman draws on her experience as executive director of Project Cornerstone at a free parent meeting at the Palo Alto nonprofit Children's Health Council on Dec.7. The nonprofit's new teen mental health initiative is supported by a grant from the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund.

Posted Dec. 13, 2016

Children's Health Council aims to aid community's teens
New mental health initiative ready to make a difference

Story and photos by Patrick Condon

Earlier this year, the Palo Alto Children's Health Council launched the CHC Teen Mental Health Initiative, designed to meet the needs of teens affected by mental health issues -- anxiety and depression in particular. The initiative provides education on mental health and the stigma surrounding it, easier access to affordable teen therapy and community leadership and engagement.

The Palo Alto Weekly awarded the nonprofit a $10,000 Holiday Fund grant this past year to boost the initiative's efforts.

The initiative was prompted by a parent of a child who had died by suicide. The parent expressed concern about the viability of teen mental health services in Palo Alto, said Dr. Ramsey Khasho, director of The Center at CHC.

The initiative is working with community leaders, teachers and school counselors to figure out exactly how to combat teen anxiety and depression, he said.

"We are pulling people from the community to find gaps and needs," he said, adding that a full understanding of the landscape of teen mental health will be key to the initiative's success. The nonprofit has also bulked up its staff, adding a new teen psychiatrist as well as several therapists and a community liaison who will travel to local schools to better understand their needs.

The Health Council is also collaborating with parents, community leaders and teenagers to create effective classes about mental health suitable for people of any age.

"The classes are very well-attended so far," said Dr. Rosalie Whitlock, CHC executive director, who added that the classes are vital to the recovery of the teens as well as to parents.

"Parents need help in identifying the signs of serious anxiety and depression. ... They need to know it is okay to talk about."

Khasho emphasized the key role education plays.

"We believe that mental health education is just as important and necessary as other valuable concepts of human development such as sex education," he stated in a press release.

While these steps are vital to the program's success they need to be accessible and affordable for families. The organization has implemented a sliding payment scale for some families who need extensive treatment. CHC is also actively working on improving its accessibility by adding programs such as an Intensive Outpatient Program, which is designed to prevent the possibility of teens harming themselves, and a teen advice line and virtual therapy.

Also in the works is a plan to implement a yearly symposium for teens, parents and educators, as well as a plan to partner with other similar groups like Palo Alto youth-wellbeing collaborative Project Safety Net so as to make sure the community is receiving consistent care.

"The goal is to see what we can do when working together to make the system of care easier for families," Khasho said, adding that he expects to continue making more and more progress in finding actionable solutions to the needs of local teens.

Additionally, the CHC plans to expand its community engagement by creating a Midpeninsula-wide team that will convene regularly to drive progress and accountability.

With an undertaking as large as this one, sustainable funding is paramount in having these teens receive the care that they need.

"Since we have started (the initiative) I have seen so much more how vital this is," Whitlock said, adding, "It is highly dependent on major donors and grants.

Apply for a Holiday Fund Grant

Nonprofits serving children and families may apply for funds by downloading our Grant Application Guidelines and Grant Application Form. Application deadline: 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2023.

Make a donation
2022 Recipient Agency

49ers Academy$10,000

AbilityPath$10,000

Able Works$10,000

Ada's Cafe$25,000

Adolescent Counseling Services$7,500

Art in Action$10,000

Bay Area Friendship Circle$5,000

Beyond Barriers Athletic Foundation$5,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters
of the Bay Area
$10,000

Blossom Birth & Family$5,000

Canopy$5,000

CASA of San Mateo County$5,000

Children's Health Council$10,000

Christmas Bureau of Palo Alto$5,000

Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto$10,000

Counseling and Support Services for Youth - CASSY$15,000

DreamCatchers$15,000

East Palo Alto Academy Foundation$10,000

East Palo Alto Charter School$5,000

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation$15,000

East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring$15,000

East Palo Alto YMCA$10,000

Eastside College
Preparatory School
$7,500

EPACENTER$10,000

Family Connections$7,500

Fit Kids Foundation$5,000

Foundation for a
College Education
$10,000

Fresh Approach$10,000

Friends for Youth$5,000

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo$10,000

Heart and Home Collaborative$10,000

Hope Horizon East Palo Alto$7,500

Jasper Ridge Farm$5,000

Kara$15,000

Learning Home Volunteers$10,000

Live In Peace$10,000

Magical Bridge Foundation$10,000

Mannakin Theater & Dance$5,000

Marine Science Institute$5,000

Midpen Media Center$7,500

Music in the Schools Foundation$8,000

My New Red Shoes$5,000

New Voices for Youth$5,000

Pacific Art League of Palo Alto$12,000

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation$10,000

Palo Alto Community Child Care $30,000

Palo Alto Players$10,000

Peer Point$20,000

Peninsula Bridge$10,000

Peninsula College Fund$10,000

Peninsula Healthcare Connection$10,000

Peninsula Volunteers$15,000

Peninsula Youth Theatre$5,000

Pursuit of Excellence Scholarship Foundation$20,000

Ravenswood Classroom Partners$20,000

Ravenswood Education Foundation$10,000

Reading Partners
Silicon Valley
$10,000

ReadySetExcel$5,000

Rebuilding Together Peninsula$7,500

Resource Area for
Teaching (RAFT)
$5,000

Rich May Foundation$5,000

Rise Together Education$10,000

Ronald McDonald House$5,000

Rosalie Rendu Center$5,000

Sager Family Farm$5,000

Silicon Valley
Urban Debate League
$7,500

St. Elizabeth Seton School$10,000

TheatreWorks$5,000

UNAFF (United Nations Association Film Festival)$10,000

WeHOPE$15,000

WomenSV$7,500

Youth Community Service$25,000

Child Care Grants

All Five$10,000

Covenant Children's Center$10,000

Creative Montessori
Learning Center
$10,000

Grace Lutheran Preschool$10,000

Palo Alto Friends Nursery School$10,000

Parents Nursery School$10,000


As of November 29th, 77 donors have contributed $65,407 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

8 Anonymous2,960
Elaine Hah1,500
Susan & Doug Woodman150
Freddy & Jan Gabus250
Kingston Duffie & Elizabeth Schwerer500
Margaret Forsyth and Glenn Rennels*
Richard & Pat Douglas50
Jerry & Bobbie Wagger*
Mahlon & Carol Hubenthal*
Paul & Jane Millman250
Bruce Campbell*
Fran Codispoti250
Judy Kramer*
Elizabeth Salzer & Richard Baumbartner*
Penny & Greg Gallo500
Donald Price*
Judy Ousterhout*
Roy & Carol Blitzer*
Marian Adams100
Kroymann Family250
Carolyn Caddes*
Sally & Craig Nordlund500
Barbara Riper*
Katherine Bryant100
Eileen & Rick Brooks1,000
Roger & Joan Warnke300
Charlotte Johansen200
Leo & Marlys Keoshian250
Donna Silverberg100
John Keller100
Ed & Linda DeMeo500
The Dong Family200
Jack and Susan Thomas*
Julie and Jon Jerome*
Marcia & Michael Katz200
Andrea B. Smith100
Scottie Zimmerman100
Leif and Sharon Erickson500
Ted & Ginny Chu*
The Havern Family5,000
Scott and Jan Kilner500
Dorothy Saxe100
Kieschnick family1,000
Bill Reller*
Harry E & Susan B Hartzell100
Art and Peggy Stauffer500
Dorothy Deringer200
Barbara Klein*
Ann Burrell & Charles Smith*
Janis Ulevich*
Theradep Technologies500
Gwen Luce and Family*
In Memory Of

David W. Mitchell*
Robert Spinrad100
Er-Ying and Y.C. Yen250
Ray Bacchetti300
Lily & Philip Gottheiner150
Jim and Dottie Mellberg*
Gerald Berner300
Steven T. Ross100
Phil Zschokke200
Ruth & Chet Johnson*
In Honor Of

Joe Simitian*
Darla Tupper3,922
Businesses & Organizations

Alta Mesa Cemetery & Funeral Home2,500
Palo Alto Business Park*
Arrillaga Foundation10,000
Angelo Family Foundation 5,000
Peery Foundation10,000

Past Holiday Fund Grant Recipients

2018-2019 | 2017-2018 | 2016-2017 | 2015-2016 | 2014-2015 | 2013-2014 | 2012-2013 | 2011-2012 | 2010-2011 | 2009-2010 | 2008-2009 | 2007-2008 | 2006-2007 | 2005-2006 | 2004-2005 | 2003-2004 | 2002-2003 | 2001-2002 | 2000-2001 | 1999-2000