Support Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca!

It’s time for The Sophie Fund’s 2023 Cupcake Button fundraiser! Each October, we work alongside student organizations to raise monies for a local nonprofit focused on community well-being.

This year’s campaign is collecting donations for the Greg Eells Memorial Fund at Family & Children’s Service of Ithaca. The fund provides wellness support and continuing education opportunities for the organization’s own staff members.

Greg Eells

Family & Children’s is a private, nonprofit community agency dedicated to supporting, promoting, and strengthening the well-being of individuals and families by providing high-quality, accessible mental health care and related social services, with a particular sensitivity toward the needs of children.

In 2022, the agency provided 1,289 clients with counseling services in nearly 30,000 appointments. More than 1,000 other clients were served in other programs such as psychiatry, geriatric mental health, and community outreach.

The Memorial Fund was created to honor Eells, the longtime executive director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Cornell University, board member at Family & Children’s, and national leader in the student mental health field, who died by suicide in 2019.

The fund was inspired by Eells’s widow, Michelle Eells, who seeks to provide greater support for clinicians and others who spend long hours treating clients with mental health issues including many who are struggling.

Donor Engagement Manager Lovisa Johanson said that the fund has provided wellness opportunities such as meditation workshops, on site massages, and movement sessions as well as social activities for employee appreciation, community building, and resiliency enhancement.

“I am so happy there is opportunity for the community to learn a little more about what the Greg Eells Memorial Fund does for us,” she said.

To donate directly to the Greg Eells Memorial Fund, click here and use the drop-down menu to designate your gift.

Michelle along with their daughter Kayla and several friends also founded Health & Unity for Greg (HUG) “to continue Greg’s work in the world, inspired by Greg’s passion for people and overall wellness in mind, body, and spirit.”

HUG focuses on uniting community through advocacy events that exercise physical and mental health to end the stigma for all. “HUG especially recognizes the work of those serving in the mental health profession and aims to increase wellness support,” she said.

Michelle said that to honor her husband, there are two important aspects of his life and career HUG wants to remember and advance.

“HUG recognizes mental health providers and caregivers who, like my husband, care abundantly for others and need to be supported in caring for themselves,” she explained.

“And we want to continue the work that Greg was doing with Nature Rx, encouraging people to get outside and explore the natural world as one method to improve their mental health,” she added.

With Donald A. Rakow, Eells co-authored Nature Rx: Improving College-Student Mental Health, which described the value of nature prescription programs and cited studies showing that people who spend time in nature have reduced stress, anxiety, and improved mood. 

“Greg had a gift for making everyone feel special, like they were the most important person in the world,” said Michelle. “He was known for giving big bear hugs, so in naming the organization HUG, it perfectly captures Greg’s spirit and passions while incorporating his name.”

This year’s Cupcake Button campaign is supported by many student organizations, including Cornell University’s Cornell Circle K, Pre-Professional Association Toward Careers in Health (PATCH), Alpha Phi Omega–Gamma Chapter, Phi Sigma Pi, and Cornell Minds Matter.

Students raise money through various in-person activities (and provide donors with Cupcake Buttons) on campus and in the community.

Since 2017 the campaigns have raised more than $6,000 for organizations including: the Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service; the Mental Health Association in Tompkins County; the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County; the Village at Ithaca; The Learning Web; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness–Finger Lakes.

The symbol of the campaign is a Cupcake Button, because the fundraising takes place in the run-up to the Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest hosted by The Sophie Fund. To enter this year’s cupcake contest, click here.

For more information about The Sophie Fund, go to: