Several hundred people are expected to take part in an annual fundraiser walk for the Collier County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Saturday, May 6.
A week out before the event in Baker Park near downtown Naples, 250 people had signed up so far and roughly $25,000 had been raised toward a $50,000 goal, Beth Hatch, chief executive officer of NAMI Collier, said.
Registration for the 21st annual Hope Shines Walk is at 8:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 9 a.m. and wraps up at 11 a.m. with music and other activities at the park. Sign up at namicollier.org/events or call 239-260-7300.
NAMI Collier provides support to individuals and families in the community in a variety of programs and offers help navigating the complex system of care. The affiliate was launched in 1987 and its budget this year is $2.4 million.
NAMI Collier operates support groups and provides direct services to children and families for mental health services and it serves as the referral agency for students through the Collier County School System and private child-care centers, Hatch said.
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The physical and emotional toll from the pandemic and from Ian has doubled the number of people needing behavioral health services and crisis intervention, she said.
“Our numbers are staggering,” she said. “We have 450 active cases, families and children being navigated for (help). That has doubled from last year.”
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Annually NAMI screens 2,000 children aged three to five, and there’s been a 30% increase in kids aged 5 to 18 referred from the school district for mental health services. The local organization serves hundreds of people in the community each year: in the last 10 months it has helped 107 adults and 31 children with supportive housing.
This year’s walk on Saturday includes teams from organizations that are part of the Naples Children & Education Foundation’s Beautiful Minds network that includes the David Lawrence Center, NAMI, Golisano Children’s Hospital, Healthcare Network and Florida State University, she said.
Other teams are from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and civic organizations.
This year’s grand marshals are former Naples city councilman and magazine publisher Reg Buxton and his wife, Sandra Lee Buxton. Sandra Buxton is a Collier County Mosquito Control District commissioner and has served on the NAMI board, among other civic involvements.
Last year’s walk was held in January and it was bitter cold day with about 100 walkers and raised $12,000, Hatch said. The walk in 2021 was cancelled due to the pandemic.
To sign up for the walk, go to namicollier.org/events or call 239-260-7300.
NAMI is at a new location
NAMI has just completed moving to larger space at 5025 Castello Drive that enables all services to be under the same roof.
That will go a long way to making sure people get connected to the help they need, Hatch said.
The Sarah Ann Life Skills & Support Center is at the new location which provides social activities and daily lunch, outings and other support. The Sarah Ann program has 35 to 40 core members who participate on a regular basis.
Here’s a breakdown of key service areas:
- Screenings for children who are at risk of or who are already struggling with behavioral health problems and parenting classes and referrals for care. Known as “Health Under Guided Systems, or H.U.G.S. , the service receives funding from the Naples Children & Educational Foundation, founders of the Naples Winter Wine Festival.
- The local chapter has supportive housing specialists who help people overcome barriers for housing and avoid homelessness. The chapter also helps clients get jobs and other resources.
- Florida Self-Directed Care allows program participates to make their own healthcare choices and actively participate in their own recovery with help from life coaches who establish measurable goals.
- CLEAR, which stands for Clearing the Way for Change on Florida, which is a peer-run service for anyone in search of connecting with someone who has experience in mental health recovery.