Michael Becker: Artistic Dream Results in $1 Million Gift
Michael Becker is living testament that it’s never too late to follow your dreams, even in the face of lifelong challenges.
Over the years, Michael has encountered many obstacles on his path to becoming a professional photographer. Early on, he received a bachelor of arts degree in art from Central High School in Philadelphia, the only high school in the United States to award a bachelor’s degree to qualifying students. But Michael’s father wanted him to become an attorney, not an artist. Following his father’s advice, Michael received a second bachelor’s degree, in sociology, from the University of Pennsylvania and then graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Not wanting to practice law, Michael moved to Los Angeles and handled trust administration for several banks. He notes that what he enjoyed during those years was the wonderful art collections of some of his clients. Dissatisfied with the lack of artistic pursuits in his own life, he says he found an outlet in substance abuse. Additionally, he says he suffered from depression and bipolar disorder (also known as manic-depressive disorder).
Eventually, with the help of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, Michael was able to change the direction of his life. Living his dream, he can now proudly claim the title of artist. As he says, “I know the importance of mental health and treating it.”
Michael Becker, Lisbon 2011
Michael notes that most people deny or minimize the significance of mental health. “It is one of the most neglected and misunderstood areas of life,” he says. At Didi Hirsch, he adds, “I feel that they understand me.”
In appreciation, Michael has designated over a million dollars to Didi Hirsch in his estate plans. Through a living trust, his gift will support the mental health and substance abuse programs that serve to help others.
Recovery from substance abuse, he explains, is like “waking up after being asleep at the wheel.” It enabled him to pursue professional photography, which makes him very happy. “Most people don’t know what happy looks like … but happy is a byproduct if you’re not getting depressed.”