Our Story

Melissa and Beckett in 2011
The Etheridge Foundation was created in response to a tragedy: a deeply personal devastation for Melissa and her family, but one that is also heartbreakingly widespread through families in the US today.

On May 13, 2020, Melissa’s family lost her son Beckett from causes related to opioid addiction. He was only 21 years old.

Beckett had an incredible sense of humor and was also very sensitive – to people, to life, and to the injustices in life.

At the age of 17, Beckett was prescribed painkillers after he broke his ankle while training to become a pro snowboarder. The highly addictive nature of these prescription opioids led to substance abuse, as it does for so many people.

Melissa helped and supported Beckett into treatment. But even with accessing the best available facilities, conventional treatments failed him.

Amongst the indescribable pain of Beckett’s death, there was an immediate outpouring of love and compassion from Melissa’s fans. Her supporters started an online fundraising campaign, organized by Tracy Albright (the Etheridge Nation Fan Liaison), to buy Melissa a memorial bench for her garden.

However, donation levels quickly soared past the cost of the bench. More than 1300 people donated a total of more than $50,000.

In the midst of tremendous grief, Melissa considered how to best honor these gifts. Inside herself, she found determination.

Determination to change the broken addiction treatment system that had failed Beckett, and continues to fail so many.

Determination to make available better, more effective solutions for people to truly heal their opioid use disorder.

Determination to advance whole-person treatment approaches that address the root causes of opioid abuse – including all of the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects.

And she knew from the budding research, as well as her own powerful experiences with plant medicines, that nature-based therapies are a transformative tool.

From this fire inside Melissa – of love, determination, and hope – the Etheridge Foundation was created.

We’re deeply grateful to our supporters. With you, we are committed to helping advance a positive transformation in the treatment resources available for people struggling with opioid addiction.

Our Staff

Program Manager - Anna Symonds

Anna Symonds joined The Etheridge Foundation in February 2022 as our first Program Manager. 

Anna is a plant medicine advocate and activist who speaks regularly about the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis, psychedelics, and entheogens. She has directly educated thousands of people about cannabis science, including law and policy makers at the local, state, and national levels. 

Anna holds an MA in Communication and served on the Oregon Cannabis Commission's Research Leadership Subcommittee from 2020-2021. She is also a retired Women's Premier League rugby player, and an Ambassador for the nonprofits Athletes for CARE, the Last Prisoner Project and the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Volunteer Extraordinaire - Lynn Gleim

Lynn Gleim (or Lynnie G.) has been a leading Volunteer for the Etheridge Foundation since 2021, helping to plan, coordinate, and run fundraising events. 

Lynn is a wellness advocate who has experienced the power of natural solutions for health issues. Partnering with the Etheridge Foundation holds a personal place in her heart, as her family has also been touched by the opioid epidemic. 

Volunteering and running silent auctions have been Lynn's jam since 2006 when she held her first board position with Support For The Kids. She also currently serves on the board of The Power of a Shower, a nonprofit that provides mobile shower services for the unhoused community in the Venice Beach, CA area. 

Lynn is always on the hunt for unique items and experiences for the Etheridge Foundation’s auctions and special events. She looks forward to meeting all of Melissa’s fans and supporters!

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Program Manager - Anna Symonds

Anna Symonds joined The Etheridge Foundation in February 2022 as our first Program Manager. 

Anna is a plant medicine advocate and activist who speaks regularly about the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis, psychedelics, and entheogens. She has directly educated thousands of people about cannabis science, including law and policy makers at the local, state, and national levels. 

Anna holds an MA in Communication and served on the Oregon Cannabis Commission's Research Leadership Subcommittee from 2020-2021. She is also a retired Women's Premier League rugby player, and an Ambassador for the nonprofits Athletes for CARE, the Last Prisoner Project and the Concussion Legacy Foundation.