MEET THE TEAM

20190706_012536.jpg

MADELEINE SALEM

President, Founder

Madeleine is currently an incoming freshman at Stanford University. She is very interested in neuroscience, particularly its applications to biomedical problems. She interned at a UCLA Department of Neurology lab assisting with research on post-stroke recovery. In her free time, she mostly watches YouTube, runs a mental health blog on Tumblr, and bullet journals. 

"I started the Purple Hydrangea Project because I was tired of seeing so many young kids and teens - friends, family members, strangers - suffering from mental health issues and feeling like I could do nothing about it.  

That's why I'm so excited for pretty much everything we have planned for this organization! I look forward to presenting our assemblies, working with and helping out kids in need, and sharing the stories of the warriors that have fought against their own brains and made it out alive.

It is my greatest hope that the Purple Hydrangea Project will continue to grow as the years go by. But I'm incredibly excited for the journey along the way!"

56156BF0-48A0-4EC6-BCEE-1E7677F9F1D3 - I

ISHA PATEL

Volunteer Coordinator

Isha is presently a high school senior. In addition to her work with the Purple Hydrangea Project, she volunteers at Pomona Valley Hospital.

 

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Project because it is so important to talk about mental health. So many people suffer from mental illnesses which creates so much stress and imbalance in their lives. To know that this organization can provide a support system to those who need it, is something that I am really proud of. 

A  project I’m really excited for is the mental health assembly program that we are planning. They’re going to be an amazing way to inform our youth about mental health!" 

KENDALL SMITH

Secretary, Social Media Manager

Kendall is a senior in high school.  She is passionate about engineering and is currently an intern at The Boeing Company. On the side, she enjoys surfing, Irish dancing, and playing with her dog.

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Project Team because I believe in the importance of mental health advocacy in children and teens. I hope to help play a role in bringing together communities and providing a safe environment for people to learn about mental health.

As someone who has personally struggled with anxiety and depression, I know how hard mental illnesses can be. I hope to help educate people on the facts regarding these illnesses and to defeat the stigma around them.

With the Purple Hydrangea Project, I hope to bring together people of all ages and from all communities to end the stigma against mental health. I am most excited for the assemblies because I want to act and work directly with the young adults who are struggling with mental illnesses."

IMG_9265 - Anmol Walvekar.jpg

ANMOL WALVEKAR

Fundraising Project Director

Anmol will be a senior attending Ayala High School in the upcoming school year. 

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Project because I'm passionate about being able to help people in any way I can. I liked the ideas and messages that Purple Hydrangea supported, so I decided that it was something I wanted to be a part of.

Several close family members of mine struggled with mental health, and several others were very uneducated about the effects of mental health.  I've struggled with it personally for a good part of my life. Fortunately, I've been better lately than I have been in the past.

I hope to be able to make a difference in how people perceive mental health. Our mission is to educate others about mental health and how they can gain and receive help, and I hope I can be a big contributor to that! I'm very excited to be able to meet others who are passionate about this mission and get others excited about helping others."

FE23A7E7-FAF2-4AB5-8E48-893BDDAA648E - C

CALLI HOWARD

Creative Director

Calli will be attending Central Valley High School as a senior next year.  

"Being a close friend of the founder and agreeing wholeheartedly with the Purple Hydrangea Project’s mission, I joined the team to help the cause through designing.

Mental health has been a significant part of my life with both my personal struggle and the struggles of some of my closest friends. Through the years anxiety has become a constant in my daily life, often preventing me from just having a good time. The past three years have added an additional challenge of seasonal affective disorder as I moved from sunny California to Washington.

With the PHP, I hope to connect teens to people who will help them through their struggle."

IMG_2021 - Alyssa Tejeda.JPG

ALYSSA TEJEDA

Marketing Director

Alyssa is a currently a senior in high school. She has been a competitive gymnast for over 10 years, which has taught her many useful life lessons. She hopes to be able to apply those lessons to her work with this project!

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Project because I believe that it is extremely important to bring about awareness and do everything that we can to educate people on mental health. The more people learn about the vast variety of mental health issues, the more comfortable that people will feel in talking about mental health and reaching out for the help they need.

With the PHP, I hope to educate the local community about mental health, and begin making changes for the better. Hopefully we’ll be able to make people’s lives a little better. "

smiling + butterflies - lara nichole mer

LARA MERCURIO

Outreach Project Director

Lara is a current senior in high school. Recently, she interned at USC researching about anaplastic thyroid cancer.  She is also currently a team member at Pieology.  Lara loves to model and spread body positivity to all body types and colors.

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Team because I knew that there needed to be a change. Young children are going through troubles and issues that are not addressed, and they have been shunned from showing their emotions. So the main message of this organization, which is stopping the mental health stigma in youth, really caught my attention. 

When I was in middle school, I was bullied. It seemed like I was always doing something wrong. I had to conceal my emotions and pretend that it didn't bother me because I was told I shouldn't worry about them. I grew to have anxiety about meeting new people and worrying about what they thought about me and turned to self harm,  both of which I still struggle with.

Because of this, I hope to eliminate the stigma about mental health. I am excited to interact with all the children and show the importance of addressing mental illness at early stages. Also, I cannot wait to connect with other students my age. I can't wait to turn around the lives of others face to face.  In addition, I just don't want children to struggle through it alone. "

VANESSA NGUYEN

Vice President, Fund Development Director

Vanessa is currently a high school senior. She is passionate about psychology and was recently an intern for NOC Selpa. 

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Team because I wanted to be able to help those who were struggling with their mental health. Anyone who has someone in their life who struggles with mental health knows that it’s hard to know how to help them. That problem is made even harder with the stigma around mental health, which is why I believe it is important to spread awareness about this issue, especially to the younger demographic.

I hope that I will be able to help the PHP spread awareness about mental health to a younger demographic. Children and teens struggling with mental health should know how to seek accessible help and what to do when they are struggling. "

0233B430-E6C9-4525-B36B-E3A5EFCB7349 - A

ALEXIS RAYA

Creative Staff Member

Alexis is going to be attending Troy High School this fall as a senior. She computer programs and has a huge passion for the arts. 

"I’ve always have had a sensitivity towards mental health in general and always have tried to help whoever was around me with what they were going through. This team gave me a chance to broaden that spectrum and reach out and hopefully change the lives of many more people.

A few of my close friends have been extremely suicidal in the past. Just being there for them and making sure they were there the next day really impacted me..I have personally gone through a very low point in my life where nothing excited me or motivated me. It was a very scary and difficult time.

I just really want to reach out to more people and hopefully make an impact with PHP."

E2DD0514-6AD0-41D2-BA22-04FAE9B3508B - O

OLIVIA GUERRA

Volunteer Coordinator

Olivia is a rising junior attending Troy High School. She has played basketball and volleyball for Troy for the last 2 years and in her free time she enjoys hanging out with her friends and petting her cat.

"I joined the Purple Hydrangea Project because I wanted to help make a difference in the mental health world and help those who are struggling with mental illnesses heal and live happier lives . 

With the PHP, I hope to change the stigma regarding mental health and hopefully encourage others to be more open with the issues that they struggle with."