ORANGETOWN, N.Y. -- Matthew Avgerinos asked 200 people gathered at the Pearl River Hilton to close their eyes and imagine a little boy watching Lassie on television. He asked them to imagine that little boy hearing sirens outside the window. He said that little boy was three and a half years old the day his father committed suicide. That little boy was him.
These kinds of stories are familiar to many who attended MHA's annual Shining Star Breakfast, which included a short film, "Face of MHA," shared stories, and an address from the organization's chairman, Dr. Roger W. Davis.
"It had a profound and lasting effect," said Avgerinos, who was one of a handful of speakers who told their personal stories of descent into mental illness, and how the Mental Health Association of Rockland pulled them out of the darkness and gave them back their lives.
It was during his sophomore year that Avgerinos fell into a deep depression and tried to kill himself. He praised MHA for helping not only those who struggle with mental illness, but their families too.
John Tanner, too, gripped the room with his tale of depressions and suicide after being raised by an abusive father. He said the MHA gave him back his life. The crowd erupted into applause when he said he had a 4.0 average at RCC.
The breakfast ended with a pledge drive. Davis said MHA had already received $60,000 from it Circle of Light Giving Society Members.
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