BY LOIS MAHARG
About 50 Washtenaw County movers and shakers gathered in the home of Attorney Erane C. Washington on Aug. 17 to support and learn more about NAMI Washtenaw County. This was the affiliate’s first attempt to broaden its base of supporters with an event featuring a well-known public figure — in this case, Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. Organizers agreed it was a big success.
“We’re still benefiting from contacts we made at that event,” Executive Director Judy Gardner commented at the September meeting of the NAMI WC Board of Directors.
Power networking was the order of the day as elected officials, other dignitaries and supporters assembled in Washington’s Ypsilanti Township home, sipping cold beverages and munching on hors d’oeuvres. Guests then sat down for an informational program about NAMI’s peer-led programs and the organization’s place in the mental health community.
Congresswoman Dingell shared her story of how mental health conditions had affected her family. Then Lisa Gentz of Washtenaw County Community Mental Health and Dr. Beau Nelson of the Department of Veterans Affairs spoke about the benefits of their organizations’ partner relationships with NAMI WC. Dr. Jessie Kimbrough Marshall, formerly of the Washtenaw County Health Department, then discussed the need to address the rise in teen suicides, which NAMI WC is doing through a youth-centered program called Ending the Silence.
After adjusting for expenses, the event led to about an $8,700 increase in funds for NAMI WC. Go, team!