SARATOGA -- As gourmet food trucks served tasty Korean tacos, hot bowls of clam chowder and spicy chutney dishes on a warm, autumn Sunday, Lawrence Pott held his composure as well as any father who has lost a child under tragic circumstances.
"I'm doing better and better every day," said the tall, husky owner of a security company. "But you know, it's tough. It's been a hard year. Not a day goes by that we don't think of Audrie."
Audrie Pott died just over a year ago. The Saratoga High student was only 15. After the memorials and candlelight vigils at school, and during a full year with one foot in the courts and the other in the news, Pott and his family decided to "make something good out of something bad."
They started the Audrie Pott Foundation, a new nonprofit charity devoted to offering emotional counseling and artistic scholarships to Silicon Valley youth. They held their second food-truck fundraiser Sunday in front of Alameda Family Funeral & Cremation on Saratoga Road, attracting dozens of people both shocked by Audrie's death and wanting to support the new foundation.
The girl committed suicide last year after an alleged sexual assault and public, unauthorized sharing of photos from a Labor Day party that had no parental supervision. Three teenage boys and a girl were charged in the case, and the owners of the house faced a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Audrie's death fueled a debate over the abusive use of images on the Internet by young people against other young people, a phenomenon known as cyber-bullying. Audrie's family found itself in the middle of a controversial issue.
"Some people hide under a rock when something like that happens to them," said Liz Schoeben, director of Counseling and Support Services for Youth, who attended Sunday's fundraiser. "Not them."
Lawrence Pott said the family heard almost immediately from many relatives, friends and people all over the country and as far away as Germany who wanted to send money or help in some way. Two similar, high-profile cases, from Nova Scotia and Ohio, seemed to increase the urgency of a national movement to do something about cyber-bullying.
"Something is amiss here," Potts recalled. "To honor her in some way, we decided to make something good out of something bad. That's the idea behind the foundation. It was cathartic for me. It was healing for me."
On Sunday, he announced a grant of $5,000 from the foundation to the Counseling and Support Services for Youth. The center helps students in 24 Bay Area schools deal with depression and academic stress. It also assists in teaching young people improved communication with parents and in their relationships with classmates. The counseling center got two other donors to match the foundation's gift.
"We made $15,000 tonight because of Audrie Pott's foundation," Schoeben said.
Because Audrie enjoyed ceramics, painting and music, Pott said the foundation intends to grant more scholarships in the future to students who share his daughter's personal artistic passions.
More about the foundation is available online at www.facebook.com/AudriePottFoundation.
Contact Joe Rodriguez at 408-920-5767 and follow him at Twitter.com/JoeRodMercury.