Life Connected

Red Songbird Foundation Awarding Scholarships for Rehabilitation

The Red Songbird Foundation began its work in 2009.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Two celebrities are joining forces to support people struggling with trauma, mental health or substance abuse.

Through the Red Songbird Foundation, reality TV star Jason Wahler and singer-songwriter Hilary Roberts are giving out scholarships for rehabilitation, in hopes that more people get the help they need.

Wahler is reflecting on being sober for five years and says he's thankful to be alive today.

"In the depths of my addiction, it took me to isolation. It took me to suicide, not contemplation, but actually attempting," he said.

Wahler is known for his time on MTV's reality shows "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills. " He says his years of partying led to addiction to alcohol, drugs and gambling.

He was on a downward spiral and ended up being arrested a dozen times in five states.

"I look back and I see somebody that was struggling. I see somebody that was suffering," Wahler said. "I see somebody that was looking for an out, and it was really a cry for help."


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Someone else who knows the struggle is Roberts.

"I wanted to die a lot," she said. "I despised who I was. I felt unlovable. I felt unworthy."

After dealing with trauma at a young age, she's celebrating 22 years sober and is the founder of the Red Songbird Foundation.

"Today I have such a joy for life that I never, ever thought I could have," Roberts said. "I want others to have that. I don't want them to take a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

Now, after overcoming their battles, they want to pay it forward.

Roberts and Wahler are teaming up to change someone's life with a $100,000 scholarship to the Beach House Treatment Center in Malibu. The recipient will spend three to six months getting specialized treatment from a team of medical experts.

"There's only a small percentage of people out there that actually can get the help that is needed for them, so I think the scholarship opportunity is huge because it gives people a fresh start; it gives them a chance," Wahler said.

They put out a call for an essay contest, an application and interview process.

Dr. Emily Eckstein, the executive director of the Beach House Treatment Center, says each story was powerful.

"They gave really the authority to us to hand select from the individuals that applied, and the application process was very heartwarming," she said.

And once they made their choice, the lucky winner received a phone call. Hailey was on the other end of the line. She is hoping to turn her life around by getting treatment she desperately needs and that many can't afford.

"It's knowing what you're looking for. Educate yourself," Wahler said.

Roberts and Wahler are now making it their mission to save lives and be advocates for those on the road to recovery.

"As the person heals and the family heals, then the world heals," Roberts said.

The foundation is able to make it all happen through fundraising and partnering with rehabilitation facilities. They are giving away four scholarships this year and are hoping to award 12 to other rehab locations by year three.

For more information on the Red Songbird Foundation, click here.

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