JARED ZACHARY BAILLARGEON ZIMMERMAN
"May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be always at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall softly upon your fields, and until we meet again, dear Jared, may God hold you in the palm of Her hand."
- Jackie and Ken April 19, 2016
WHO WAS JARED
Jared Zimmerman was raised in Montclair, attending the Montclair Community Pre-K, Rand Elementary School (back when it was at the corner of Chestnut and North Fullerton), Renaissance Middle School, and Montclair High School. He graduated in 2013. He loved people, music, arguing about philosophy, and the outdoors. He spent much time skateboarding in various backyard skate ramps around town. During his time at MHS, he was part of the Civics and Government Institute (CGI), serving as a Justice on the CGI Supreme Court, a participant in the Fed Challenge program, and ran cross-country for Montclair High. He could be found on any given weekend at one of his friends’ houses in Montclair and was a lively participant in the MHS community. He loved to cook, write, and he beat his father at chess regularly.
Around his junior year of high school, Jared developed a mental illness that was likely schizophrenia (his doctors never provided a firm diagnosis). After a long, complex struggle – in which he took a few years away from school – he attended Bard College, determined to receive his college education. Ultimately his mental illness resulted in his death on April 15, 2016. He was 20 years old. Jared’s Fund Youth Scholarship is part of a multifaceted effort to try to support youth who have faced similar mental illnesses. We are determined to fill the gap in research, knowledge, and community-wide support related to mental illness.
Jared's Fund started unofficially on April 15, 2016. Friends, family, and community members asked us what they could do to help us make a difference in the wake of Jared's death. Initially, we sent donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Farm and Wilderness (F&W), a Quaker-based summer camp Jared loved, even as others provided donations for something we knew we wanted to do in Jared's spirit but that we were not yet ready to figure out.
This Fund is the result of those donations; they have provided enough to start Jared's Fund Youth Fellowship (JFYF) at Montclair High School (MHS) and a "campership" at F&W for a low-income New Jersey youth.
While our family isn't sure what the Fund will turn into, we believe these initial efforts are the right types of initiatives that celebrate who Jared was. In this spirit, we believe our experience can inform how to make a difference moving forward. The community that lifted us up when we needed them made it clear that we weren't the only ones who felt a need to reduce stigma about mental illness, to create spaces where we can support our own, and to encourage research, conversation, advocacy, and art that creates space for silenced individuals – both those we know and those we don't. We want to use the Fund to open that space in the community where Jared grew up, the community that he called home.