NAMI walkers gearing up to combat mental illness

The local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness hosted a kick-off party March 17 at Terra State Community College for potential participants and sponsors of the 2014 NAMI Walk.

The walk is set for May 3 in Fremont’s Conner Park. Melanie White, director of NAMI of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties, announced “One Mind – One Body One Community” as the theme for this year’s main fundraiser.

“This ties in with the national and state movement for reducing stigma and helping our communities grow in their support of families and loved ones living with or affected by brain disorders. This movement will help communities to connect with the truth that our mind and body are not separate and that treatment and recovery needs to embrace the whole person,” White said.

At the meeting, team captains posted team names and goals on a poster that featured an image of a teenage brain and noted the areas associated with behavioral and personality traits. Last year’s walk brought in more than $21,700, and White is aiming for $30,000 for this year’s event.

“Over the years, our families and communities have raised nearly $130,000 to help us continue our mission,” White said.

Teams from the Tiffin area include Firelands and St. Francis. Mircea Handru and Phyllis Putnam with the mental health board also will be putting together a team, along with David Culp, NAMI SSW board president and pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ.

White introduced Beverly Martin of Tiffin as NAMI’s new outreach coordinator for Seneca and Wyandot counties. She is to be co-captain with Culp.

“We are blessed to have her on our team. She will help extend our education, advocacy and support services,” White said.

In her year-end report for 2013, White thanked volunteers for more than 2,000 hours of service. NAMI has about 105 active volunteers who help with everything from facilitating support groups, speaking engagements, education classes and volunteer work in the office. White said they are important for helping with community activities, and fundraising events such as the walk and the annual Ray of Hope Awards banquet.

Accomplishments for 2013 included:

Assisted more than 1,600 individuals in the three counties.

Conducted more than 100 depression screenings at three events.

Participated in six fairs and the Sandusky County Intercept Mapping Conference, attended by 30 agencies.

Hosted support group meetings for more than 100 people.

Offered free education classes that reached more than 500 individuals.

Trained more than 60 law enforcement personnel in Crisis Intervention Team training.

So far, 21 teams have registered for the 2014 Walk with NAMl. White is hoping for 30 teams. Team Terra reportedly is trying to inspire an inter-collegiate competition with Heidelberg University, as well.

More sponsors are needed for the May 3 walk, and more teams are welcome to sign up. Registration can be done online at Registration begins at 10 a.m., with DJ, free refreshments, balloon animals, face painting and a playground for children. The walk begins at 11.

Individuals can join the NAMI chapter with annual dues of $35, which includes a newsletter. To learn more, visit the website or call (888) 582-8889.