Thursday, March 20, 2008

Anna Westin Foundation closes; transfers legacy to Emily Program Foundation

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (March 12, 2008) -- The Anna Westin Foundation, established in 2000 following Chaska resident Anna Westin's tragic death as the result of anorexia, has officially closed.

But the foundation's work, the prevention and treatment of eating disorders, will continue as a result of the transfer of assets to the newly-created Emily Program Foundation, which shares the Westin family's mission.

The Anna Westin Foundation was created by the Westin family as a result of the outrage and outpouring of public support that followed Anna's suicide at the age of 21, following a five year struggle with anorexia.

The Anna Westin Foundation also was funded, in part, from proceeds of a June 2001 out-of-court settlement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. The Westin's were among families named in a lawsuit filed by former State Attorney General Mike Hatch charging BCBSMN with misconduct for denying, delaying and withholding mental health, chemical dependency and eating disorder treatment for Minnesota children and young adults.

As a result of that settlement, many state insurance companies now offer greatly improved access to care.

As president of the Anna Westin Foundation, Anna's mother, Kitty Westin, has tirelessly advocated on a state and national level for individuals with eating disorders and their families. She has testified before Congress, started a grassroots family action council, and currently is president of the national Eating Disorders Coalition, headquartered in Washington, D.C. Westin and her daughters, Mary and Sarah Westin, will continue their advocacy as members of The Emily Program Foundation Board of Directors.

Since founding the Anna Westin Foundation nearly 8 years ago, our family has accomplished many of our goals, said Westin.This transition will allow me to put my energy, time, talent and enthusiasm into education and advocacy.

Like the Anna Westin Foundation, the Emily Program Foundation is dedicated to fighting eating disorders through education and prevention, advocacy, support and treatment. The Emily Program Foundation also is focused on building a better understanding of all weight-related issues and their wide-ranging effects on today's society, including childhood obesity.

Emily Program Foundation President Dr. Jillian Croll said the organization is humbled by the Westin family's gift.

We are further humbled that they have chosen to let us to share in Anna's legacy and honored that Kitty and her daughters will continue to carry the message of hope, Croll said. The Westin family's generosity will allow the Emily Program Foundation to focus on our shared goals while freeing Kitty up to do what she does best “ provide an unstoppable voice to rally support for those who cannot speak for themselves. We look forward to a long collaboration."

The Emily Program Foundation's educational services and training are available to schools, health professionals and others who want to know more about eating disorders, prevention and treatment.

Contact Dr. Jillian Croll at 651.379.6133 or for more information or to schedule an educational seminar. Tax deductible contributions may be sent to The Emily Program Foundation, 2265 Como Avenue, Suite 110, St. Paul, MN 55108.

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