Cornell University student organizations participating in The Sophie Fund’s 2022 “Cupcake Button” fundraising campaign collected $902.57 for the Finger Lakes chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
NAMI’s Elisa Tobia and Sandra Sorensen with APO’s Sanvi Bhardwaj, PATCH’S Ashley Teal and Orell Rayhan, and Circle K’s Max Fante
The organizations taking part were Alpha Phi Omega Gamma Chapter (APO), Cornell Circle K, and Pre-Professional Association Towards Careers in Health (PATCH). At a luncheon at the Statler Hotel on February 8, leaders of the groups handed over a check from the campaign to NAMI-Finger Lakes Executive Director Sandra Sorensen.
“One of the goals of NAMI-Finger Lakes is to diversify who we are reaching with our services, and young adults are on our list,” said Sorensen. “Through this fundraiser we were not only able to connect with The Sophie Fund, but with several Cornell student service organizations.”
Sorensen said that she appreciated the luncheon discussion with student leaders around mental health issues, including the struggles of receiving mental health services on an elite academic campus such as Cornell and future collaborations on programming and fundraising.
“It is very hopeful to see the changes that have occurred over years of really hard work by many people and organizations in the mental health arena surrounding stigma,” she added. “There is still so much work to be done, but our young adults are more free than previous generations were to discuss and advocate for their own mental illness and for their friends and family who are struggling.”
The Sophie Fund organizes the Cupcake Button campaign and the related Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest each fall to promote mental health awareness and raise monies for local nonprofits supporting community mental health. Donors receive a Cupcake Button featuring the image of a cupcake created by Sophie Hack MacLeod, a Cornell art student who died by suicide in 2016 for whom The Sophie Fund is named.
Max Fante of Circle K said participating in the fundraising for NAMI-Finger Lakes along with supporting the related 7th Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest last October was an “unforgettable experience” in “doing meaningful service through direct community engagement.”
“Circle K members were able to interact with NAMI members and learn about new ways to contribute to mental health improvement on the Cornell campus,” he said. “Overall, Circle K is glad to have played a role in destigmatizing mental illness and spreading awareness in Ithaca.”
Orell Rayhan of PATCH said that her organization works to educate its future health professionals about mental health.
“We like to provide an opportunity for our members to understand and destigmatize mental health, as it could affect them or their patients in the future,” said Rayhan. “The Sophie Fund and NAMI helped us do just that. We were able to provide our members with a story and meaning behind what these amazing organizations do, allowing them to connect on a much deeper level with the cause they worked with.”
Scott MacLeod, co-founder of The Sophie Fund, expressed his appreciation for the student activism in support of mental health.
“Cornell student leaders are passionate about mental health,” he said. “These organizations do fantastic work to advocate for improvements in services and campus climate. The Sophie Fund is grateful for the chance to partner with groups like APO, Circle K, and PATCH.”
MacLeod said Cupcake Button campaigns began in 2017. Student organizations have raised a total of $5,568.88 for six local nonprofits supporting mental health: Suicide Prevention & Crisis Service, Mental Health Association in Tompkins County, Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, the Village at Ithaca, The Learning Web, and NAMI-Finger Lakes.