Looking Back, Moving Forward… a report from the Programs & Education Committee by Rebecca Duke

Throughout 2016, NAMI Valley of the Sun (NAMI VOS) has reached out to individuals living with mental illness and their families and loved ones, educating, exposing stigma and giving support, help and hope. Thanks to the efforts and dedication of volunteers and the work of our Education Coordinators, Debbie Martinez and Terry McDermott, along with Marissa Martinez who assists with coordinating NAMI Health Fairs and Programs from NAMI VOS has had a phenomenal year and touched the lives of over 20,000 people in Maricopa County alone.

In the past year, NAMI VOS held 12 Family to Family Classes, one of which was taught in Spanish. In addition, 15 graduated from the Family to Family Teacher Training and many of these new teachers have already taught a class alongside a seasoned facilitator.

The Family to Family class is so popular that Debbie, the Education Coordinator, has a waiting list and needs assistance in finding more locations, particularly in Central Phoenix. Moving into 2017, she’d also greatly appreciate help preparing for the classes and organizing the course materials. If you’d like to become involved, please email Debbie at d.martinez@namivalleyofthesun.org or call (602) 759- 8177.

In 2016, there were 6 Basics Classes conducted. A total of 58 students completed the course… that’s 58 families that are now more educated and hopeful regarding their child’s care and future. There was also a Basics Teacher Training that amounted to 7 new instructors. In 2017, Debbie would like to see all of the Basics teachers holding a class, so please spread the word about this invaluable program.

In 2016, Terry, the Peer Program Coordinator, scheduled an average of three In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presentations a week! He will have arranged approximately 130 by year end. Each presentation requires two individuals who live with mental illness and a special thanks to all those speakers for answering the call and filling those dates. There is a need for more trained presenters and Terry would like to hold an IOOV training in 2017. If you or someone you know of is interested in participating, please contact Terry by email at t.mcdermott@namivalleyofthesun.org or call (602)759-8175.

In addition, every Tuesday afternoon throughout 2016, Terry has held a free, peer-led, support group called Connection. Over the past year, the group has been very well attended. NAMI VOS would like to offer more peer-led support groups throughout Maricopa County. If you are an individual with mental illness, living in recovery, and have interest in assisting with a Connection group, please contact Terry.

In the past year, NAMI VOS offered about 12 Family Support Groups a month. A facilitator training in May resulted in 11 new group leaders and an additional Family Support Group in Scottsdale. There is a great need throughout the Valley for family support groups. If you’re interested in helping others in a group setting, please contact Debbie.

In 2016, NAMI VOS launched Ending the Silence. This signature NAMI program has the potential to be as successful and sought after as IOOV. It is designed for High School students and incorporates a video along with the story of two individuals living with mental illness. In order for this program to take off, NAMI VOS needs presenters. If you or someone you know of experienced mental illness in high school or earlier, and is comfortable with public speaking, please let Debbie know. In addition, please spread the word about Ending the Silence to schools, faith communities and youth organizations.

When the NAMI signature program, Parents & Teachers as Allies, was first launched it had the ripple effect… one presentation led to another and so on. In 2017, NAMI VOS is committed to re-energizing this much needed program. If you have been trained as a Parents and Teachers as Allies presenter, please contact Debbie. NAMI VOS has been invited to give this presentation to a number of local school systems and would like to utilize the trained presenters to fulfill these requests.

Throughout 2016, NAMI Valley of the Sun participated in 63 health fairs, handing out literature regarding various diagnoses and information about what NAMI Valley of the Sun offers to the community. The venues ranged from community colleges to a variety of conferences for nurses, teachers and School Resource Officers to police department events. Gloria Abril schedules and organizes the health fairs and needs additional volunteers to man the tables/booths. If you’re interested, please contact Gloria at g.abril@namivalleyofthesun.org.

Thanks to generous donations from the community, all of NAMI’s programs are offered throughout Maricopa County at no cost. The Valley Walk, NAMI VOS’s main fundraiser organized by Gloria Abril, was a great success this year. The 2016 Valley Walk exceeded it’s goal and raised approximately $180,000 in donations. As a result, NAMI VOS will have the means to continue to offer these life- changing classes and presentations throughout 2017. In addition, in 2016, NAMI VOS held a new fundraiser, the 1st Annual Breakfast, and collected approximately $30,000 in donations. In the coming year, the Board of Directors is looking to have additional fundraisers like this, perhaps a golf tournament. If you wish to help organize or participate in new fundraising activities, please contact the Board President, Craig Sparraza at csparrazza@namivalleyofthesun.org

It not only takes donations to have the ability to offer NAMI programs, but also, the time and dedication of amazing individuals working together in support of the cause. Many thanks to our teachers, presenters, support group leaders, committee members and Board. As we approach the new year, please consider donating your time and talents. In my experience, volunteering has deeply enriched my life. I receive much more than I give.

When making New Year’s Resolutions, think about giving to NAMI VOS. There are a variety of volunteer opportunities… ranging from light office work to teaching to serving on the Board of Directors. NAMI VOS is currently seeking a new Treasurer. There are numerous ways to get involved and help.

The need is great and the impact, life changing.
Happy New Year!