Our goal is to lower the rates of suicide in teens by combating the issues that lead them there.
We focus on raising awareness and providing education on suicide prevention, anti-bullying, mental health, and LGBTQ+ issues. We hope that by showing our community that their story matters, we will save lives one day at a time. Remember, your story matters.
Who we are
Your Story Matters started in March of 2018. Our nonprofit is based on two young lives that were taken too soon: Jordan McGauvran and Emma Pangelinan. Both of these young girls inspired us to inspire others. Our logo and name come from both girls. Jordan's saying was 'Your Story Matters', since she wanted others to always feel wanted, and she made sure to live by that. The monarch butterfly represents Emma since she always put a smile on our faces.
what we do
Once a month, we have a meeting so teens and young adults have a safe place to come while we discuss how to manage stress and anything that is on their minds. They are surrounded by people just like them. We want to make sure that every person's feelings are validated, and that they know they are not alone. We have a variety of activities like journaling, yoga, games, and other activities that make everyone feel included. We spread positivity and cancel out the negativity surrounding everyone.
Meet the Board
Meet our wonderful team! We would not be where we are now without each and every one of them.
My story is simple really. I watched two young girls give up their lives to suicide because the world wasn’t ready to get rid of their mental health stigma. My lifelong friend Emily and I decided we could no longer sit back and watch innocent children take their lives because they felt their voice wasn’t being heard in this world. The whole idea behind Your Story Matters is that we wanted to show people that your voice, your interests, your passions, your goals, everything about you are important and valuable to this world. Even in your darkest moments, we wanted to be able to turn on the lights, and walk people through their path and get them through those tough times.
I’ve experienced more dark times in my life than I ever hoped to imagine. What I learned is that you need supports and the people around you to help you shine again. It is my goal to help every single person we meet with Your Story Matters realize they were meant to shine.
I’m an educator, so I work with middle school students daily. What I come to realize is they need to have people who support them all the time. Cheerleaders, role models, people who want them to succeed in everything they do. What I also see, is that small things can upset a teenager like doing poorly on a test, or having a small argument with a friend. These are the types of things that can actually put a kid over the edge. I have made it my mission to be a constant positive support for my students, and all students on my campus in order to help them navigate through life’s challenges.
In my free time… well, I don’t really know what free time is. Kidding aside, I am wrapping up my Master’s Degree in Educational Technology so that takes up most of my time. Other than that, I spend the weekends at the beach or playing with my dog. I also enjoy time on the softball field, binge-watching Netflix, or hitting the spin bike!
My story is the reason I joined this organization. I had it easy for the majority of my life. School was a breeze, and I was a pretty good pitcher during my softball years. I started coaching my younger sister once I quit and was able to see the impact I had on a few softball players’ lives. I started working at an elementary school daycare and realized I strived to change these kids’ lives, as well. Knowing I could make them into great kids, and young adults became a passion. In my junior year of high school, a year after coaching Jordan, we got a call (while on the softball field, of course) that she had killed herself. I called Sara because I didn’t know what else to do. A few months later, we decided to change lives, someway, somehow. It was just an idea at first, and then I went away to school, so the idea was on the back burner. Being away at school was hard, I lost myself and didn’t like whom I was becoming.
I came back home that winter break, and that’s when Emma happened. The 24 hours in-between thinking she ran away, to finding her, are a blur. Seeing what my little sister, Emma’s best friend, and Emma’s family had to go through, was life-changing. Her parents swear that there was a reason I came home from school so quickly, and it was to be there for them. At Emma’s funeral, Jordan’s parents approached us and said they were ready to change lives, too. To say that this was a wake-up call is an understatement, but within the next two months, we had become a registered nonprofit organization, had business cards, bracelets, and a pretty good following for Your Story Matters. Seven months later, Jordan’s mom, a founder of this organization, Deborah McGauvran, passed away from cancer. This was my breaking point.
Through the last few years, we have only grown. We took some of our ideas, and Deb’s ideas, and made them a reality. Knowing we have three angels, Jordan, Emma, and Deb, looking over us every day, is my motivation. I promised Deborah and Emma’s family that I would never let their baby girls’ name die, and that we would make this organization into something that Jordan and Emma both needed. So, why did I create Your Story Matters? I created it so that the kids and families who have lost loved ones know that we are here to stop the stigma and know that no matter what anyone has gone through, they matter. We want to validate those that feel down, and to let them know it’s okay to feel that way.
When I’m not doing Your Story Matters, I am usually at work, or doing homework! I am currently double majoring in Cinema and Computer Engineering. I like to hang out with my girlfriend, friends, spend time with family, and watch a good movie, or two. And who doesn’t like to binge some good Netflix shows!
My reason for getting involved with this organization is two-fold. First, it was a concept developed by Emily and Sara after Jordan died. They really wanted to make a difference and stop the stigma of mental health issues. It was a cause I could see a need for and wanted to support. After Emma died, my perspective changed. Seeing the effect Emma’s death had on her family, and mine, made me see how much is unknown about mental health issues. It also magnified the stigma, the secrets, and the lack of information on the topic. I want to be part of the change that needs to happen. I want people to know that talking about mental health and suicide won’t mean that you’ll begin to have mental health issues or suicidal thoughts. I want pre-teens and teens to understand that they matter and that they are not alone in the things they are going through. Your Story Matters is an organization that allows for anyone to feel safe and okay with whomever they are and whatever they want to do. I want everyone to understand that their story really does matter.
I’m a 5th-grade teacher. In my spare time, I like to read, binge watch TV shows – new and old, and I like to spend time with my family.
There are several reasons why I became involved with Your Story Matters. First, I lost my first husband to suicide in 2011. It was unexpected and changed my life completely. I vowed not to waste even one of my shed tears. When he passed away, I was in school to become a high school English teacher. Since then, it has become my mission to make sure that each of my students feels acknowledged and important. It is important that each of their stories gets heard. Second, I became involved with YSM because I also have depression. I’ve battled depression for about 18 years now. I feel strongly that we need to share our “stories” in order to break down the negative stigma that surrounds mental illness. If sharing my story will help one person, I am going to do just that. Finally, I became involved because one of my former students, Emily, told me about the non-profit she was starting and I said to her, “Count me in! I want to help.” I knew that I could be a connection between my students and Your Story Matters.
While I’m not helping out with Your Story Matters, I am with my husband and my two sons. I teach 11th grade English at Laguna Hills High School. In my spare time, I like to read books, hang out with my family, do Pilates, and watch Hallmark movies.