On May 5th, Interim held its annual Mental Health Awareness Banquet. The event, organized by the OMNI program, drew over 200 agency supporters to the Embassy Suites in Seaside. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Diversity”, in recognition that our differences do not divide us but make us stronger and richer as human beings. The event included an art show, a three-course dinner, dancing, and award presentations. Savannah Alvarez, a Wellness Navigator for Interim, served as Mistress of Ceremonies.
Amie Miller, Monterey County’s Behavioral Health Bureau Director, praised the volunteers for their service and noted the importance that volunteering and community engagement can have in the recovery process. She also praised Interim’s numerous strong partnerships, which allow it to offer many different ways for volunteers to give back to their peers and to the community. Roxanne Rossiter gave the keynote address, and shared how Interim’s many services, including housing, treatment and supportive services, facilitated a dramatic recovery from her lifelong battle with mental illness, emotional traumas, and substance abuse.
A total of 92 agency volunteers were honored. Interim Board Members Cate Brennan and Julie Altman, handed out awards to volunteers present.
Norma Perez was the winner of this year’s Kristin Hart Memorial Award, which is given to consumers who inspire leadership in others. The award, given in memory of a former Interim resident, was presented by Karen Hart, Kristin’s mother, and Jim Kenny, a resident who had been a friend of Kristin’s.
This year, the banquet featured the Monterey County Behavioral Health Commission’s Fiesta of Hope awards, given to people who have made exceptional contributions to mental health services in Monterey. Awards were presented by the Commission’s Chair, Mark Lopez. Angel Perez received a Youth Award. NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness) staff member Anna Lowery received the Jerry Smith Award, given to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service delivery. Anna provided exceptional advocacy for people afflicted by mental health challenges throughout her career.
Next year’s banquet is already being planned! Donations are needed to help subsidize the banquet so that tickets can be kept affordable for consumers. If you would like to help sponsor the 2018 banquet, please return a check in the donation envelope, noting it is for the 2018 Mental Health Awareness Banquet or contact Jocelyn Brady, Development Officer, at 649- 4522 ext. 205.
The banquet is sponsored in part by the Dorothy and Joe Messner Memorial Fund, an endowment fund created through the estate of Dorothy Messner.