The fact that it was a sunny, winter day in Rochester, not a cloud in the sky, would have made it memorable, but what happened Feb. 17, 2014, keeps that day from ever being forgotten.
It was President’s Day that year. Many people were off work and school. For most Rochestarians, this seemed like the perfect day.
It started off this way for Ray and Kathy Garbach, of Penfield, as well, but by the end of it their lives would be forever changed when they learned that their daughter, Megan Elizabeth Garbach, had died. For Megan, who was 27 at the time, this day would be the last that she would fight in her hopeless battle with depression.
In the months that followed, like many people who have lost a loved one to suicide, the family and friends of Megan fluctuated through the various stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — but those closest to her, that knew of her battle, deeply struggled with the acceptance piece.
How could this have happened? Could we have done something more? I didn’t know how bad she was struggling, and I should have known were just a few of the ominous thoughts that refused to evaporate. That restlessness, though, is what ultimately started the healing process.
In September 2014, with friends, Megan’s family started Meg’s Gift, a nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health awareness. Collectively they envisioned the possibility of a more loving and compassionate community, one that better understands, accepts and helps individuals suffering with mental illness; one that dismantles the stigma related to mental
Illness.
While the task may be grand, the mission of Meg’s Gift is quite simple — to positively impact mental health care in the Rochester community through financial support, education and advocacy.
To date, Meg’s Gift has already made a significant impact on the Rochester community. The proceeds from their first charity golf tournament in 2015 yielded a donation of $60,000 to St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, and gifted $55,000 to the Veteran’s Outreach Center in 2016. On an ongoing basis, Meg’s Gift has sponsored the Hope and Recovery luncheon hosted by East House, partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual Out of Darkness Walk.
This year, Meg’s Gift will donate proceeds from its third annual golf tournament to benefit two local initiatives that focus on issues related to youth and adolescent mental health: The Consortium on Trauma, Illness and Grief in Schools and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The Consortium on Trauma, Illness and Grief in Schools trains school personnel in Monroe County to respond to the emotional needs of students in the wake of a traumatic event, violence, illness or death. Their comprehensive training modules include topics on grief and loss, trauma, suicide and serious illness, which aim to equip each school with their own first responder.
Similarly, the local chapter of The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention conducts trainings specifically tailored to three specific groups: high school students, parents and teachers. These training programs are designed to guide participants to recognize the signs of depression and other mental health issues and effectively intervene to prevent suicide. Notably, the training programs of AFSP are based on the latest research findings on suicide prevention.
With open arms, Meg’s Gift invites community members to join their fight for greater mental health support and awareness in Rochester. Their upcoming golf tournament Aug. 12 at Shadow Lakes Golf Club, 1850 Five Mile Road, Penfield, provides a great opportunity to get involved. Whether you are interested in golfing, dining or sponsoring, in the words of Kathy Garbach, “Come one, come all.”
For information on Meg’s Gift and tournament details, visit megsgift.org.
Lastly, if you or a loved one are contemplating suicide, know that you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-273-8255.