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PV alumni raise money in memory of Shanon Pasternak

Shanon+Pasternak+was+a+part+of+the+PV+Class+of+2016.+The+Class+of+2016+is+raising+money+for+the+American+Foundation+for+Suicide+Prevention+in+light+of+Shanon%27s+passing.++
Shanon Pasternak was a part of the PV Class of 2016. The Class of 2016 is raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in light of Shanon's passing.

Shanon Pasternak was a part of the PV Class of 2016. The Class of 2016 is raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in light of Shanon's passing.

GoFundMe

GoFundMe

Shanon Pasternak was a part of the PV Class of 2016. The Class of 2016 is raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in light of Shanon's passing.

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Editor’s Note: Please note that this story contains sensitive material about a student suicide.

Graduation is a time full of goodbyes. Many students may never see or hear from people they went to high school with ever again. But for the Pascack Valley Class of 2016, they have come together once again in light of a recent loss.

The Pascack Valley Class of 2016 has been busy collecting donations in memory of Shanon Pasternak, who graduated with the class but recently committed suicide. The donations are being collected through GoFundMe and will be going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). They have raised close to $4,000.

Note: The GoFundMe is currently not operating. If you would like to make a donation, please make them directly to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  

Amber Arbegast, a member of the Class of 2016 and now a sophomore at Michigan State University, is the one who started collecting the donations.

“My friends and I had known Shanon for a long time,” Arbegast said. “He was friends with a lot of us. We just thought that it was time for someone to do something.”

Arbegast originally collected the money through Venmo, but when it got to over a $1,000 she decided to start a GoFundMe on Jan. 23. She transferred all Venmo donations to the GoFundMe page.

On Facebook, Amber Arbegast shared the link to the GoFundMe to accept more donations for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“We weren’t originally expecting to raise that much money,” Arbegast said. “We thought it was going to only be a few hundred dollars. We were completely surprised by how quickly the GoFundMe got around.”

Arbegast and her friends first thought of the idea to collect donations in order to send flowers for the funeral or to give to the family for the funeral costs. Pasternak’s family, though, thought it was best if the donations went straight to the foundation.

Some of the money will also be going back to the Pascack Valley community. The class hasn’t quite decided how, but their goal is to make a difference that benefits their home.

“We could use the money to not only donate to AFSP, but we could also use it to make a difference in our community,” Arbegast said. “It has been affected by this so much and if there is any way we can help contribute to change, we should.”

Before the donations started, Hannah Burke, a sophomore at Rockland Community College and 2016 PV graduate, posted in a Class of 2016 Facebook group explaining how she felt that they had to do something more and that they weren’t doing enough. She posed a difficult question: what can we do?

With this post, the Class of 2016 responded. Many people agreed with Burke and felt that something needed to be done. The post received over 100 likes and almost 70 comments.  

“It certainly took a lot of courage for everyone to say that they were going to be there for each other,” Burke said.  “And I really hope it changed something with people, not only in our grade but within the entire Pascack Valley community.”

Since it is Burke’s first time dealing with student suicide or someone facing the situation, she also posted publicly on her Facebook account. She believed it had gotten to the point where it was too much and something needed to be done.

Hannah Burke posted this message on Facebook after the passing of Shanon Pasternak.

Burke is now looking to volunteer at the Suicide Awareness Foundation.

“I’m looking in on myself and figuring out how to better myself and make myself happier,” Burke said.

The donations have also gone beyond the Class of 2016. The link to the GoFundMe spread quickly and several students brought the link to their universities.

University of Pittsburgh sophomore Kacie Barry shared the GoFundMe with her sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma (KKG), and they raised $106 for it.

University of Alabama sophomore Zak Terzini sent a message to his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi, asking if they wanted to contribute since a few members had also been affected by suicide. They raised $98.

“My fraternity is a pretty tight knit group of guys,” Terzini said. “Everyone really wanted to get involved.”

The fraternity’s social media chair posted the GoFundMe link on their page for more to donate.

Julianna Douglas, a sophomore at The College of New Jersey, is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity. She asked members to donate to the GoFundMe.

“People were really passionate and willing to do anything,” Douglas said.

The Class of 2016 is continuing to raise money in memory of Shanon Pasternak.

“It was really awesome to see that even if we weren’t friends or didn’t talk, we were still able to do something together,” Douglas said. “We were still able to do something together as a class.”

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About the Writer
Kayla Barry, Assistant Editor in Chief

Kayla Barry is a senior and has been on The Smoke Signal for four years. This year, she is the Assistant Editor in Chief. She is looking forward to working with everyone and making this year a success!

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PV alumni raise money in memory of Shanon Pasternak