Volunteers and staff at NAMI Monterey County were extremely active in the community in 2015, as NAMI enjoyed tremendous growth in its programs and community outreach.
During the past year, NAMI became a stronger presence in Salinas due to a focus on bilingual outreach efforts by Outreach Coordinator Deanna Rivas. Significantly, NAMI sponsored three Spanish-language educational forums at Cesar Chavez Library on three consecutive weeks that drew about 200 people eager to learn more about mental illness. In addition, Deanna attended countless community meetings and health fairs to spread the word about NAMI and mental-health services, and was featured in several programs on Spanish radio and television.
Better yet, NAMI Monterey County held its first Familia a Familia classes in Salinas in almost 20 years. From that first class, three participants volunteered to be trained to lead future Familia a Familia classes, one of which started in Salinas this month.
On the Monterey side, Family Support Coordinator Anna Lowery remains active in her work with Crisis Intervention Training, with presentations to Monterey County law-enforcement officers and the CHP. She has also focussed on outreach to senior citizens and to those who staff elder-care facilities, making presentations at various care centers. Anna is also logs many hours assisting consumers and family members navigate their needs.
NAMI’s program coordinator, Laura Hollien, has been busily recruiting class leaders and setting up programs throughout the county, including two successful Provider Education classes in 2015. She also established a leader training-class for our Familia a Familia instructors during the summer, a weekend training held in Salinas. She is currently working with NAMI California to present other leader-training courses in Salinas.
NAMI Monterey County hosted a day-long advocacy training forum in Castroville in November. The forum, presented by NAMI California, drew about 18 people, many of whom agreed to volunteer for NAMI Monterey County’s advocacy committee.
The NAMI Monterey County board continues to work toward its transition from Interim Inc., which is expected to be accomplished this summer. Interim has graciously provided administrative support to NAMI for many years, with the expectation that NAMI would return to its independent status when ready. With assistance from Interim and the Monterey County Behavioral Health Department, the board is preparing to set up its own office in Salinas within several months.
NAMI Monterey County is prepared for another year of providing support, education and advocacy. Stay tuned for announcements of unique upcoming programs.