Walden Center Donor Profile

Lisa’s Light of Hope

Lisa’s Light of Hope is a charitable fund created to raise awareness and support treatment for eating disorders in Western Massachusetts.

Left to right: Amy Mendrala, aunt of Lisa Calabrese; Walter Henritze, Interim Executive Director, Walden Center; Ann Calabrese, mother of Lisa Calabrese; Joe Calabrese, father of Lisa Calabrese

Lisa Marie Calabrese was just 21 years old when the 2006 West Springfield High School graduate took her own life in 2009, after battling eating disorders for about four years.

Calabrese’s family continues to raise awareness about eating disorders in the Western Massachusetts area through their charitable fund, Lisa’s Light of Hope, which raises money for research, support groups, school programs and scholarships in her memory.

Recently, Lisa’s Light of Hope fund made a very generous grant to Walden Center to support patient care. Amy Mendrala, – Lisa’s aunt – was kind enough to share with us why it was important to do so.

What do you hope can be achieved with your grant?
Amy: The grant will help provide the much needed extended care that some patients might need. It might be a case where the allotment of psych visits covered by insurance has used by the patient. Or the patient cannot afford the mounting deductibles and copays. Yet, the patient still needs that “safety net care” and this will help ease the financial burden for many patients in need of extended care.

If someone were considering a tax-deductible gift or grant to the Walden Center, what you say about your sense of the value of your support for our mission to help them decide?
Amy: I would strongly encourage anyone to make a contribution because Walden is making great strides in patient care. We have seen the evolution in the past few years as a remarkable one. Offering support for every level of care at each step in recovery, tailored to each individual patient, working with families and patients together. Within the Walden umbrella every level of care can be addressed.

We’re very proud and grateful to count Lisa’s Light of Hope among our very important “family of supporters”. In an ideal world, what would you most like to see Walden Center achieve in the coming year?
Amy: In an ideal world people would say “I need help” and not be shamed into silence because society views them as wanting to be this way. An ideal world would remove the perceptions based on looks alone. An ideal world would take away the shame, stigma or whatever else it is that surrounds mental illness, mental disorders.

What would Lisa say about the efforts of Lisa’s Light of Hope?
Amy: I think as always Lisa would be our biggest cheerleader. She would be happy to know that someone else’s suffering may be eased. She was a great kid with a huge heart! She always loved to have fun, laugh, dance, sing and be with family and friends. She fought so hard every day. I think she would say keep going, please keep going letting people know. Raise that awareness, talk about it, and educate people. This we will do, for our Lisa and for all those that struggle.

Walden Center is a not-for-profit whose work is made possible only through gifts from foundations, corporations, and individuals. If you would like to join Lisa’s Light of Hope in making Walden Center a beneficiary of your charitable giving, please click here.