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Elizabeth Vargas’ candid talk in Boca on anxiety and addiction

A scared little girl made it to the top in the network news business. But nobody knew Elizabeth Vargas had turned to wine to get through the day.

“It took two years to make my sobriety stick,” Vargas said in a candid talk to help raise money for JFS’ counseling and mental health services here.

Vargas made headlines when “I was forced to admit to the world” while in rehab she was addicted to alcohol. She spoke at the JFS Reflections of Hope luncheon in Boca West Country Club Thursday.

Initially embarrassed, she realized she could help end the stigma. So she and broadcaster Diane Sawyer made a documentary. And Vargas said she still gets reach-outs from people inspired by her 2016 book, “Between Breaths: A Memoir of Panic and Addiction.”

The luncheon raises funds for Jewish Family Services’ Counseling & Mental Health Services. Among them are Welcome Home, mental health first aid, counseling and support groups.

“Today’s luncheon is to help break the stigma of mental illness,” said Danielle Hartman, JFS president and CEO. “Mental illness can be a lifelong struggle.”

She urged the audience to stay involved by “keep talking about it and get educated.”

“My family has been involved for 20 years,” said grand benefactor Robin Rubin, who conducted the event’s first text fundraiser. “I went into social work to make a difference in my corner of the world.”

WPTV meteorologist Glenn Glazer had his heart in reprising this emcee role. His late grandfather Joseph Sitrick was a major donor and on the Jewish Federation board, he said.

By Marci Shatzman

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