Friday, August 16, 2013

Putting NAMI in Every Household!

I recently had the fortunate experience to visit NAMIWalk sites in Oregon, Texas, Idaho and California.  I am always impressed by the NAMI folk across the county.  I am certain that if I ever had to relocate anywhere in the U.S., there would be a NAMI group to welcome me!

During my trip to Boise, Idaho I was checking into my room at the Holiday Inn when the desk clerk asked me if I was in town for business or pleasure. I mentioned business and told her I was there for NAMIWalk Boise’s Team Captain Kick-Off Luncheon. Her eyes lit up and she excitedly responded, “I know about NAMIWalks!  I walk every year!” I was surprised and could only say, “Wow! Thank you for your support. I hope you’re planning to join us again this year!”  She replied that she would register that evening after her shift was over.  I did not see Mi’lani the rest of my time in Boise, but that conversation reminded me to be more forth coming about NAMI; you will usually be happily surprised by the response you receive!

My experience in Boise was not a rare one. During my flight from Austin, Texas to Los Angeles, California I sat next to a young lady who shared that she was a teacher in East Palo Alto California. We discussed the many challenges that come along with teaching, but also the rewards of watching students learn and succeed.  Of course she asked me why I was in Austin, and I told her I was there to present at the NAMIWalk Austin’s Team Captain Kick-Off Luncheon. She looked at me and asked, “Was that at the botanical gardens?” I replied, “Yes.” She said, “I was at the garden today and saw you all!  You were having a great time I wanted to join you!” I could only say to her, “I wish you had, because you were more than welcomed!”   

We talked further about one of her friends, whom she has known since her early childhood. She told me how her friend developed a mental illness in her late adolescence, and her concerns for her friend and her friend’s family.  I told her about NAMI and how NAMI Programs are available to everyone at no cost.  Our conversation continued about some of her students and how they could use mental health services and assistance.  Some of what she shared was only showing me how much she needed to know about NAMI, and how NAMI could help so many other individuals and families, if they just knew about our programs and support groups. As we deplaned I gave her my card and shared the NAMI website as a resource.  She was grateful to know that NAMI existed and that she could point people to an organization that can help.

Building awareness about NAMI and our Signature Programs is a key element of the NAMIWalks Program.  By sharing your personal story, how NAMI improved and saved your life or the life of a loved one, you are making NAMI a household name! 

National Walk Manager

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