By Deb Silverthorn
Robert Roseman is using the lens of his camera to focus his heart on saving lives. His front porch photos, taken at a safe distance during the COVID-19 crisis, are capturing happy moments for his subjects and raising money to help keep the memory of his childhood friend alive.
Alec Becker had an endearing smile and made others around him happy, said Roseman, 19, a rising sophomore at American University. He died by suicide Feb. 6. He and Roseman were kindergarten pals at Greenhill School and side-by-side through sports activities, Boy Scouts, Y/Adventure Guides, BBYO and as Temple Emanu-El social justice interns. “In this wild time we’re experiencing, I hope my efforts will help him live on.”
Funds raised through donations support the Grant Halliburton Foundation, which provides mental health, education and support to students, educators, parents and professionals through a variety of programs.
Roseman, whose wrapup of freshman year was sidelined by the novel coronavirus, first tried his hand at sewing masks. He then pivoted to the photography project after learning of other similar programs. He’s photographed nearly 50 families at their homes.
Roseman is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon and is involved in Chabad and Hillel at college. With his summer plans also sidelined, he has shifted his orientation leader duties from in person to Zoom, and is spending the summer in Dallas working on this project.
A Parish Episcopal school graduate, the son of Amy and Michael and brother of Henry learned about photography from his grandfather Lynn Goldstein, “Bapa.” An amateur photographer, he gave Roseman a camera and taught him the craft. Hours spent together in his darkroom, Roseman says, provided life lessons that have helped shape him even more permanently than his art.
The memory of Becker, whose smile lit up the universe, Roseman says, inspires him to take his camera to area porches to capture this time of stay-at-home-ness.
Shelley Becker, mother of Alec, said, “Robert’s always been like another son and he was incredibly supportive as Alec worked to get better and he continues to be here for our family. I’m proud of how he’s helping promote emotional well-being through the Foundation and we’re honored he chose to honor Alec this way.”
The Grant Halliburton Foundation was established in memory of Grant Halliburton, who battled depression and died by suicide at 19. Its free mental health navigation line (972-525-8181) provides mental health resources.
Roseman’s connection to the Foundation began in 2018 at its “When Life Gives you Teenagers” event. Nearly two years before he would lose his best friend, Roseman spoke to teachers, parents and mental health professionals addressing concerns and anxieties of teens.
“Robert is special and what he’s doing will save lives. It means everything that someone who’s lost someone, in the midst of his grieving, says ‘I have to do something,’” said Vanita Halliburton, Grant’s mother and co-founder of the Foundation. “This takes courage and energy and I admire and respect him.”
Raising awareness and educating the public is key.
“Many people are openly outgoing, bright, creative and successful, but suffering within,” said Halliburton. “The more we learn, the more we may see warning signs and act. The support of Robert and others will help us help others.”
To reach Robert Roseman to schedule an appointment, text or call 214-949-9294.
For support information, visit granthalliburton.org/gethelp.