For years, people at fundraising breakfasts for the National Alliance on Mental Illness spoke about "Embracing the Light."
That light of understanding and transparency became even brighter May 3 at The Broadmoor, as 650 people moved forward, "Stepping into the Light" of mental illness on the 35th anniversary of NAMI Colorado Springs.
The $180,000 goal for that morning was eclipsed when the total raised was announced: $205,000. "This is fully one-third of NAMI's annual operating budget," said Executive Director Lori Jarvis-Steinwert. "It is vital to our ability to offer our always-free education and support programs for those who live with mental illness and their families."
It was a good day as well for guest Andrew Romanoff, former Colorado House speaker and now president/CEO of Mental Health Colorado. He closely monitored his phone as the Legislature voted on a bill advancing one-stop mental health services, with an ombudsman helping Coloradans access care. It was revised that day, passed and went to the governor to sign May 16.
Named NAMI's Volunteer of the Year was board member Chris Garvin, deputy executive director of El Paso County's Department of Human Services. During his six years on the board, the NAMI programs tripled, his award noted. Garvin has had a 34-year career in social work.
Sheriff Bill Elder was named Advocate of the Year for employee training used in mental health-related calls. In addition, a five-year state grant in place in July will provide a trained mental health professional as part of the team responding to calls involving those with mental health issues. This could cut the jail population, Elder said, because often 60 percent of those in jail have mental-health issues. The Sheriff's Office reported it received an estimated 1,600 mental health-related calls in 2017.
Design Rangers was named NAMI Partner of the Year for work on Colorado Crisis Services' text line to county teens. The award says Jenny and Chris Schell and their company "co-piloted this public-awareness initiative."
Photo gallery: gazette.com/life/around-town