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When Tragedy Inspires Charity

Two women share how heartbreaking events connected them to the charities they support.
After the devastating loss of her father to suicide, Debbie Murray, a realtor with Allie Beth Allman & Associates, vowed to do whatever she could to prevent others from taking their own lives. She began supporting the Dallas chapter of the Suicide Crisis Center, ultimately becoming a member of the organization’s board of directors.

The Suicide Crisis Center, a Charity of Choice in the D Gives initiative, provides support for survivors of suicide, maintains a 24-hour hotline manned by professionals for those contemplating suicide, and sponsors a program aimed at improving mental health among teens. It encourages survivors to tell others how suicide has affected them, with the belief that sharing one’s pain can inspire others to choose life.

“We cannot bring back those we’ve lost, but we can save the next life.

Murray experienced the power of telling her own story while attending a self-improvement boot camp in 2013. Each of the attendees at the boot camp was asked to explain why they made the choice to be there. An individual in the group told a personal story about struggling with addiction and revealed that he or she had attempted suicide six weeks earlier. When Murray’s turn came, she tearfully discussed the pain her father’s suicide had caused.

Later, the attendees were asked to choose a partner for an exercise, and the individual made a beeline for Murray. Murray explains, “the individual said, ‘I want to work with you because I don’t ever want my children’s faces to look like yours [when you told your story]. I don’t ever want to put my children through what your father put you through, and I promise I will never try to kill myself again.’ So, that’s the reason we tell stories at the Suicide Crisis Center because telling stories saves lives.”

Murray has since experienced the loss of a close family friend to suicide, which further solidified her commitment to the work of the Suicide Crisis Center. She says, “We cannot bring back those we’ve lost, but we can save the next life.”

Nearly two decades ago, Lillie Young began supporting the Dallas chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, another Charity of Choice, to honor a friend who suffered from leukemia. Through the years, she chaired events and served on the organization’s board of directors, and she encouraged members of her family to get involved. Young, also a realtor with Allie Beth Allman & Associates, says, “We had been longtime supporters of it, not ever thinking [leukemia or lymphoma] would touch our family.”

Unfortunately, the unthinkable did occur. Young’s husband was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which is in the same family of diseases as leukemia and lymphoma. After a long fight with the disease, he passed away in 2015.

Young has continued her involvement with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and is heartened by the latest results of the research it has supported. She says, “Knowing that we can make a difference and that there’s a possible light at the end of the tunnel is a reason we stay involved and do everything we can to support this organization.”

Other Charities of Choice connected with the medical field include Scottish Rite Hospital, sponsored by Jackie Converse and Linda Galli, and Children’s Medical Center, sponsored by Juli Harrison. Converse’s SMU sorority supported Scottish Rite, and she chose to continue her involvement after graduating, even inspiring her mother, Galli, to join. Harrison was impressed with the great care her friend’s child received at Children’s Medical and has been involved with its fundraising arm for over 30 years.