By Autumn Jarrett
Scottsdale resident and Realtor Jeff Fields turned the heartache of losing three friends into inspiration and dedication to prevent the most preventable death—suicide.
Fields is a Phoenix native and attended Sunnyslope High School. He had his eyes set on Hollywood, so after graduating from the University of Arizona, where he studied communications and acting, he moved.
“Right out of college, I spent the next four years in Hollywood in the entertainment industry,” says Field. “I did everything, from acting, casting and producing.”
After spending four years in Hollywood, Fields returned home to the Valley, where he took over Moon Valley’s theater program for seven years.
“I also ran my own production company during that time,” says Fields. “And after seven years of teaching, I decided to go full time with my production company.”
For the next couple of years, Fields produced marketing videos, commercials and event videos for various organizations.
“After a couple of years dedicated solely to my production company, I was interested in pursuing something in a new direction with my career,” Fields says. “I was introduced to real estate, and I haven’t looked back since.”
With his background in Hollywood and producing, Fields brings something special to the real estate industry.
“I blended my production company into real estate, meaning that I could shoot my own properties and produce Hollywood-level videos of the homes,” Fields says. “The homes sold quick and many times sold off the video alone and the buyer never stepping foot into the home.”
While attending a charity event, Fields was introduced to Teen Lifeline and felt a deep connection to the nonprofit, after experiencing the pain of losing three friends to suicide.
“Teen Lifeline resonated with me, because by the time I was 21, I had already given three eulogies for three of my friends that had taken their own lives,” Fields says. “And during my time at Moon Valley, I prevented more than a dozen students from going down a suicidal path, so I knew this was a way I could do more.”
Teen Lifeline is a statewide nonprofit that provides teens with life-saving resources on suicide prevention and coping skills, including a peer-to-peer crisis hotline that allows teens to text or call and speak with trained teen volunteers. The hotline operates 3 to 9 p.m. seven days a week at 602-248-8336.
Fields offered to volunteer his time and produce and donate a free video to Teen Lifeline to be used for marketing and awareness purposes.
“After the success of the video, the executive director asked me to join the board,” Fields says. “And like any good husband, I immediately went home and asked my wife if I could donate a little bit of my time to Teen Lifeline.”
To Fields’ surprise, he learned his wife volunteered for Teen Lifeline when she was in high school. In that moment, he knew it was the perfect fit.
“I have been on the board for eight years now and served the last four years as the president,” Fields says.
Fields has logged nearly 5,000 volunteer hours and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, including helping the organization purchase a building for its headquarters.
Fields is being honored as one of the five National Association of Realtors (NAR) 2020 Good Neighbor Awards winners. For 21 consecutive years, NAR has honored Realtors across the country who are making an extraordinary impact on the world through volunteering.
According to NAR, the efforts of this year’s Good Neighbor Awards recipients are even more remarkable given the challenges that COVID-19 brought to their respective humanitarian efforts, including canceled fundraisers, obstacles to in-person volunteering and increased need.
Fields will receive a $10,000 grant for Teen Lifeline and will be featured in the November-December issue of Realtor Magazine.
With COVID-19 having an impact on all nonprofits across the state, this award means much more to Fields.
“It is an honor to be selected for this award, especially in these troubled times where the pandemic has caused Teen Lifeline to cancel its biggest fundraising event of the year—Connections of Hope,” says Fields. “But more importantly, we are able to raise the awareness of Teen Lifeline’s existence and share this life-saving organization with the entire country.”
It is Teen Lifeline and Fields’ hopes to eventually grow Teen Lifeline to a national level.
“I am passionate about this because I know how much it works,” says Fields. “I have said many times that suicide is the most preventable death that exist. You just have to recognize the signs that someone is struggling and put a halt to the trauma someone is feeling and give them a new sense of hope.”
Last year, Teen Lifeline received more than 28,000 calls to the hotline, with 1 in 3 being about suicide and 86% of callers saying they felt better after calling the hotline.
“In the last eight months with the pandemic, we have seen an uptick in calls and texts,” Fields says. “The adapting and shifting of COVID-19 has had major implications on people’s mental health, and it’s an especially difficult adjustment for teens to make.”
Despite COVID-19 derailing Teen Lifeline’s Connection of Hope Event, which raises half of the organization’s operating budget, Fields and the team has shifted the focus into making the annual golf tournament event on November 13 a bigger success.
To learn more about Teen Lifeline, donate or volunteer visit, teenlifeline.org