The highlight of the Aurora Mental Health Center’s 13th Annual Spring Benefit Luncheon, Living Life to the Fullest was keynote speaker Big Daddy Tazz who spreads an anti-bullying message and support of programs for the mentally ill—something he’s intimately familiar wth due to his own challenges.
After 30 years of denying that he had the mental illness that were controlling his life, Tazz realized that being manic-depressive, attention deficit, and having mild dyslexia could either destroy or enhance his life. His choice was to make his condition a positive learning experience that guides his life with a mission to help and influence others to overcome their perceived deficits or weaknesses.
More than 400 attended this year’s event at the Hyatt-Regency Aurora-Denver on Monday, May 8. Board Member and Event Chair Rachel Nuñez welcomed guests and sponsors with an emphasis that May is Mental Health Month. Aurora Mayor Hogan served as emcee and introduced Executive Director Randy Stith, PhD and later keynote Big Daddy Tazz. Stith thanked sponsors and shared his stories of the AuMHC’s history and his own career advocating for mental health community programs.
Special thanks went to this year’s sponsors: Title/Matching Sponsor: CitywideBanks
Gold: EON Office
Silver:Asian Pacific Development Center,Aurora Rotary Foundation,Metro Community Provider Network
Bronze: All Health Network, Aurora Federal Credit Union, Aurora Housing Authority,Aurora Public Schools,Behavioral Health Care, Inc., Cherry Creek Schools,Childrenís Hospital Colorado, Falck Rocky Mountain, Gloo, Medical Center of Aurora, IMA of Colorado, Nelnet, Inc, Sara and Howard Jarrett, Tolin Mechanical, WAVE Audiovisual
Tazz kept guests entertained and roaring with laughter with his very personal anecdotes and shenanigans growing up, including his own undiagnosed mental health challenges. His comedy runs 24 hours a day, he says, because he likes to make people laugh. This, of course, can bring other challenges in everyday life for his children and family. He describes himself as a stand-up comedian first, and then an advocate for mental health and children. For the past 16 years, he has been raising money for various charities, and these days he has an initiative called, “Running AMOK – OR – Actively Motivating Our Kids. Tazz message is simple and heartfelt: he believes that it’s time to educate, embrace and empower everyone so that we can all stand tall and give stigma a bad name.
To volunteer, donate or get more information on the Aurora Mental Health Center please visit www.aumhc.org or call 303-617-2300.
Would would it be like if you could say whatever you wanted to people, without repercussions?
Shari Harley, founder and president of Candid Culture and author of How to Say Anything to Anyone, imparted some wisdom about that thought on Friday at the Smart-Girl annual luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.
Shari told the crowd that you can say what you want, but there needs to be some scene setting first. The message resonated with the Smart-Girl attendees, who learn about self-confidence and strengths. It’s all about perception, and sometimes it can take a lifetime to learn not to let what other people think of you interfere with who you are.
AllHealth Network, formerly Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, hosted the Smart-Girl annual luncheon as a highlight to one of their critical programs.
The mission of Smart-Girl is to empower adolescent girls to make smart choices and become confident, capable, self-reliant young women. The Smart-Guy program prepares adolescent boys to make smart choices and grow into resilient, confident and upstanding young men.
By promoting these values, the chance of bullying and harmful resulting effects is greatly reduced:
- Reduce vulnerability to self-destructive behaviors
- Develop leadership, group and social skills
- Learn and practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Increase self-awareness and values that lead to success in life
Find out more at www.smart-girl.org and www.allhealthnetwork.org.
Movers and shakers from throughout the Aurora community gathered at the Crown Plaza Airport Convention Center for the 12th Annual“Living Life to the Fullest” Spring Benefit Luncheon held Thursday, May 5, 2016, to benefit the Aurora Mental Health Center.
Welcome & Introductions were made by AUMHC board member and Event Committee Chair Rachel Nuñez with emcee Charles Packard, Executive Producer of the Aurora Fox Theater, thanking sponsors for their support of the AUMHC PATH program for the homeless.
AUMHC CEO & Executive Director Randy Stith, Ph.D. described the importance of the of AUMHC’s PATH program that helps homeless adults and families with Drop-In emergency need items and services and the Street Outreach Team that seeks to identify the homeless walking the streets who may need help.
In addition to serving as Presenting Sponsor, Citywide Banks this year matched each dollar raised at the luncheon to boost donations at the spring event. This year’s Gold Sponsors were Metro Community Provider Networks, EON, WAVE Audio Visual and the Silver Sponsor was the Asian Pacific Development Center.
The Capitol Steps performers entertained the crowd with a satirical and comical view of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections and the various candidates and politicians including President Obama, and VP Joe Biden, past President George W. Bush, and, of course, the current and past list of presidential contenders including over-the-top impressions of front-runners Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and visits from Sarah Palin and past Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The AUMHC continues to grow and expand to serve Aurora’s burgeoning population. In March, Mayor Steve Hogan joined with the Aurora Vistas Foundation to present more than $22,000 in grant money to support AUMHC children’s mental health programs. These funds support some 20 programs such as summer camp, a ski program, new playroom, grandparents groups, refugee children and a camping trip.
The Aurora Vistas Foundation raise most of their funding through its annual Mayor’s Cup Classic Golf Tournament attended by Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and usually by the other mayors throughout the Denver metro region. This year the Golf Classic will be held on Monday, August 22, at Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora. For more information, volunteer, donate or to register for this fun-filled event on the links, please contact Debbie Stafford at 303-617-2300 or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information or to make a donation to the Aurora Mental Health Center (AUMHC) please call 303-617-2300 or visit: www.aumhc.org
More than just a luncheon with talented entertainers and Gov. John Hickenlooper in attendance, Hope Matinee’s “Rise Up” theme was impactful. Even while addressing mental illness and substance abuse issues, the event’s mood remained positive, with messages such as gratitude, empathy, understanding and giving back. While organizers appreciated needed donations, they also asked that important messages continue beyond the event: We can openly talk about mental illness. It’s OK to ask for help. And, most importantly, there are resources are available—as close as a phone call to one of Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners’ hotlines.
On Thursday, April 21, more than 200 supporters of RMCP met at Mile High Station for the lunchtime fundraiser. After a short time to greet old friends, the group sat down to a lunch entrées provided by 240 Union, with desserts from Harvest Moon Bakery. Kim Christiansen, 9News anchor/reporter was emcee for the lunchtime program that featured Gov. John Hickenlooper honored with the Hope in Crisis Award for his efforts to unite mental health organizations statewide. CEO Bev Marquez and RMCP’s Tammy Cunningham made the presentation. In a short talk, Hickenlooper emphasized how important it is for mental health services to be accessible for patients at medical health clinics.
A riveting live-dance performance by students at School of Breaking was choreographed to complement audio that represented one of the thousands of calls placed at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (RMCP is the central Colorado call center for state area codes that access this lifeline). Vocalist Sophia Rodriguez was featured as soloist. The performance was followed by a real-life caller who talked in detail about her positive experience using the suicide-prevention line. RMCP’s event coordinator Tammy Cunningham, along with Rikki Allen, were honored for their hard work, as was Kim Christiansen. Marquez displayed one of three specially made Rise Up bracelets available for silent-auction bid, and guests were encouraged to contribute to the Rise Up art piece. The poster was a work-in-progress throughout the event, made up of words and drawings of how people were able to rise up in their own life.
RMCP is a statewide, 24/7, year-round community-based system of crisis intervention services from which people experience mental health and/or substance abuse crises can be assessed, safely and effectively stabilized, and efficiently linked to appropriate follow up care and services. The nonprofit offers skilled, hope-filled care to individuals and families in crisis. RMCP believes that whether it is the first or one of many experiences, if treated in an atmosphere of respect and compassion, crisis can be a unique opportunity for individuals and families to connect to life-changing treatment, support and education.
Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners operates the Colorado Crisis Services Crisis Line and Support Line, provides an extensive Program Services Directory, and offers LiveConnect Services; among other services that include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Follow-Up Services. Most people who call Lifeline’s numbers 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK from Colorado area codes have their calls answered here.
For more information, please visit http://www.metrocrisisservices.org/.
How much fun is it to get together after a super-successful event? Ask the committee members who participated in this year’s Shine On gala in October with guest speaker Mariel Hemingway. The landmark event for Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network not only celebrated its 60th anniversary, but also produced significant contributions for the organization–both kudos and currency continue to come in.
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, ADMHN staff hosted an upbeat reception for gala co-chairs and committee members at The Palm Denver to express their gratitude for a job very well done. Guests noshed on hors d’oeuvres and beverages, and had an opportunity to chat and catch up, with lots of hugs shared among guests.
During a short program, Executive Director/CEO Joan DiMaria was quite sincere in her praise for the work put into the event, as well as the subsequent positive results. Gala co-chairs Cindi Burge and Kay Burke also expressed their appreciation for the committee’s efforts, singling out numerous people in attendance. Even as they basked in their success, staff and committee members reported they were on to the next activities and events designed to support the spectrum of mental health programs and services of ADMHN.
The core mission of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network is to promote individual, family and community wellness by providing exceptional, compassionate, responsive, inclusive and integrated behavioral healthcare.
• Behavioral health is health; it is an integral part of the well-being of individuals of all ages and is fundamental to the quality of life of our entire community.
• We maintain a commitment to provide accessible and responsive care in a consistent, professional and compassionate manner that is accountable, recovery-based and client focused.
• We aspire to be leaders in healthcare by encouraging and supporting continual professional education and staff development.
• We believe that trust and mutual respect toward our coworkers, clients and community is fundamental to the growth and development of our organization.
• We believe that community education that fosters an understanding of mental health and substance abuse disorders reinforces the successful delivery of behavioral health services and creates strong professional, civic and financial support.
• We believe that business and care goals must be adaptive to advances in treatment practices and changes in funding, including the integration of mental health, substance use and medical services.
• We believe that financial and professional accountability among ourselves, our clients, our business partners and community are vital to the success of our mission.
• We strive to be fully inclusive of all cultures in our community and responsive to their unique needs for successful treatment and recovery.
• We are committed to continual data assessment for the measurement of improvement for our clients’ health, staff efficiency and growth as a business.
To read about this year’s Shine On gala, please go to: http://photos.blacktie-colorado.com/event/admhn-hosts-60th-anniversary-celebration-shine-on/. For more information about ADMHN, please visit: www.admhn.org/ or call 303-730-8858.
The Aurora Mental Health Center this year celebrated its 40th Anniversary along with its 9th Annual Student Art Contest at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora.
A record 450 artworks from 23 Aurora-area schools displayed the power of creativity from K-12 students, recognized for their imaginative contributions. In total 14 award ribbons went to students followed by recognition of teachers, staff and board members.
“It’s phenomenal!” said AUMHC board President Peter Cukale, “Every year this event gets bigger and bigger.”
AUMHC was founded by a group of concerned Aurora residents lead by Ellin Mrachek who were determined to bring mental health services to the city in the mid-1970s.
The 9th Annual AUMHC “Living Life to the Fullest” student art show and contest featured works based on this year’s theme of “What Fills Your Heart with Joy?”
The annual event, sponsored by Citywide Banks, selected first and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories from Kindergarten to 12th grade, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients, a holiday card selection, and teacher recognition for four instructors. Winners received a certificate and were recognized on stage before a crowd of more than 200 guests, friends and family members and several Aurora and Arapahoe county representatives.
First Place Winners were:
K-3: Dakota Fink
4-6 Annie Nuetzel
7-8 Emily Merrell
9-12 Janet Najar
2nd Place Winners:
K-3: Mackenzie Price
4-6 Munirah Kramer
7-8 Lexi Lowe
9-12 Renee Pugh
Honorable Mention Winner: Justin Roach
Holiday Card Selection: Mariana Carvallo
Teacher Recognition: John Breeding, Brooks Mullen, Genevieve Deits, Sarah Grundemann
Director’s Choice Award Winners:
Taylor Davidson, 2nd grade, High Plains Elementary
Caitlyn Bradley, 4th grade, Altura Elementary
Grace Ko, 8th grade, Fox Ridge Middle School
Taryn Montgomery, 11th grade, William Smith High School
Near the close of the event, Dr. Stith handed a letter from Colorado Senator Michael Bennet to Board President Cukale who read it to the crowd. Bennet’s letter praised the organization’s commitment to expanding mental health services and recognized its four decades of award-winning service. Staff and board recognition and awards were followed by board elections.
Founded in 1975, Aurora Mental Health Center provides community mental health services through 16 clinics, residential facilities, schools, and county human services. AUMHC has more than 400 employees and about 100 volunteers–recognized as among the best by the Colorado Division of Mental Health.
For more information or to donate please visit www.aumhc.org or call 303-617-2300
Mariel Hemingway quickly made about 700 friends at the Arapahoe Douglas Mental Health Network’s 60th anniversary shindig Wednesday night. The crowd instantly loved her honest and forthright manner in describing her life of suicidal relatives (the most famous being her grandfather, Ernest Hemingway and her sister, Margot), tumultuous family fights and the roller coaster of mental illness.
Ms Hemingway took guests through a tour “in her mind” of her life, including “hangin'” with the Dalai Lama, being part of the Hollywood movie scene, and discovering that “being around thrown glass and trying to fix my relatives wasn’t really normal for everyone like I thought.”
Her speech was very much on point, as discussions in this country are beginning to be more and more centered around mental illness and treating it just like any other physical ailment, without the embarrassment and attempts to keep it in the shadows. Or we can only hope so.
ADMHN CEO Joan DiMaria was seen everywhere greeting guests and thanking supporters. The Visionary Leadership Award was given to George DelGrosso (just retired as CEO of the Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council) and the Visionary Partner Award was presented to Centura/Colorado Health Neighborhoods.
Kim Christiansen, as always, did a stellar job as emcee, and Event Chairs Cindi Burge and Kay Burke took the stage to kick off the program.
Since 1955, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network has provided mental health and substance abuse services in the south metro area. The 60th anniversary gala, Shine On, celebrated past accomplishments and future goals of the organization, its partners and all of the clients and families served. Proceeds from the event support suicide prevention services and mental health crisis care.
To find out how you can help, log on to www.admhn.org
More than 1 in 4 people in Colorado–over a million people–are affected by mental illness. It affects everyone in some way, every day. How much more prevalent does it have to be before mental illness is treated as real and as serious as any physical ailment?
To answer these questions and continue the quest toward advocacy, Mental Health America of Colorado’s annual Tribute dinner drew a packed house at the Sheraton Denver Downtown hotel Saturday night.
This year’s gala paid tribute to an enterprising team of young mountaineers: the Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition. The team scaled all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks this summer in order to raise awareness – and reduce the stigma – of mental illness. Participants wanted to raise awareness and illustrate parallels between the challenges they faced every day–it was difficult to get up and keep at it day after day, just as it is for many people with mental illness.
MHAC is Colorado’s leading advocate for the prevention, early intervention and effective treatment of mental illness. Their annual Tribute brings together 700 supporters in an evening of celebration.Tribute is MHAC’s premier fundraiser. Proceeds from the event support their organization’s life-changing work: promoting the screening, diagnosis and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders; preventing discrimination; and providing nationally recognized leadership in shaping public policy.
The Aurora Vistas 22nd Annual Mayor’s Cup Golf Tournament received a capacity crowd this year in support of mental health services for children and families.
The “Fore Our Kids” Mayor’s Cup Golf Challenge was held Monday, August 17th on a spectacular sunny Colorado day along the rolling slopes of Aurora’s Murphy Creek Golf Course.
Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, Arvada Mayor Marc Williams, and Sheridan Mayor Dallas Hall participated in the 18-hole event with some 120 philanthropic golfers. The event began around sunrise with a 6:30 a.m. breakfast and a 7:30 a.m. shotgun start.
Event organizer Debbie Stafford — with help from Tawney Bass, Troy Bowman, Tim Huffman and Golf Chair Terry Todd — coordinated the presentation of several golfing awards including men’s and women’s longest drive, longest putt, and closest to the pin. The challenging 18-hole course kept the event competitive with certificates and prize drawings awarded after a luncheon of grilled chicken breasts and hamburgers.
Aurora Mental Health Center staffers Cindy Bohl and Heather Dolan were on hand to help coordinate planning and media coverage. Presenting Sponsor Citywide Banks were represented by Senior VP Stephan Ghadaifchian and VP Debra Neeley.
The Aurora Vistas Foundation raises awareness and funds to support Aurora Mental Health Center’s programs for children and their families. Aurora Vistas President Sandy Sweeney and Aurora Mental Health Center Executive Director Dr. Randy Stith thanked generous supporters for their long years of sponsorship and in-kind donations that make this annual end of summer event possible.
Aurora Vistas seeks community support throughout the year to make a difference in the lives of Aurora’s children. Among the several ways to help support the organization is by individual and in-kind individual donations of products and services, applying to serve as an Auxiliary, Committee or Board member, or by providing sponsorship for one of the organization’s annual events.
For more information on helping out the organization please visit www.aumhc.org/AuroraVistasFoundation or call 303-617-2361.
It’s not a secret anymore that mental health concerns affect virtually every family in one way or another. It’s time to stop hiding behind the stigma and take action. Colorado is one of the nation’s leaders in suicides and unfortunately was the site of one of the worst mass shootings in history. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression…these are all sicknesses that need to be brought out from behind the shadows and treated, like any other illness. But since they are not physically based, they are sometimes difficult to define.
In order to call attention to this ever-pressing problem, Mental Health of America of Colorado is hosting their annual Tribute gala on October 3, 2015. Honorees will be the dedicated group of climbers who are in the process of scaling all 54 “fourteeners” in Colorado in 10 weeks to put a spotlight on mental illness. This project, which already has gained media attention, is called “Climb Out of the Darkness.”
A kickoff reception for Tribute was held on Thursday at the Cherry Hills Country Club. New MHAC President and CEO Andrew Romanoff gave an impassioned speech calling supporters to action. Board Chairman Chuck Reyman also thanked sponsors, volunteers, staff and committee members. Kay Greene added sentiments about why she has joined the fight against mental illness and one of the Tribute chairs, Monika Dewitt, talked about why she was recruited for the effort.
To find out more information about Tribute or to find out about mental health programs in Colorado, log on to www.mhacolorado.org.
A brief and fast-moving thunderstorm in downtown Denver did not hinder some 150 guests from attending the June 11th Mental Health America Colorado‘s annual 2nd Annual “Improving Lives, Transforming Minds” (ILTM) event honoring organizations and individual mental health advocates.
Held at the Green Spaces venue in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, newly appointed President/CEO Andrew Romanoff mingled with supporters during a reception featuring live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres and bar. Romanoff was appointed MHAC director after the departure of Don Mares, named Denver’s first Director of the Denver Office of Behavioral Strategies by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
The ILTM party celebrates MHAC’s education, prevention and outreach programs including Check Your Head, Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program, Brain Trust & Speaker Spotlight Series and Mental Health First Aid.
MHAC Events & Corporate Relations Coordinator Beth Danilson kept the party organized with help from Event Committee Members, Board and MHAC staff members. Staffers Laura Cordes, Mike Robbins, Amanda Chaney, Bianca Mikahn, Jamie Gulick and dedicated volunteers ensured success of the fun-filled event for a serious cause made possible by Presenting Sponsor Citywide Banks. Other support included: Gold Sponsors: Bernie & Mary Beth Buescher, Michael & Pegi Touff, GlaxoSmithKline, Mines & Associates; and Silver Sponsor: Peak View Behavioral Health.
MHAC staff and volunteers hosted several interactive wellness stations that gave a first-hand view of many mental health educational programs and techniques. Among the most popular booths were the Mental Healthies (photo selfie) station hosted by MHAC Office Manager Leslie Bailey and a creative coloring station hosted by MHAC Pro Bono Program Coordinator Tiffany Lloyd.
For the awards presentation Romanoff acknowledged his hard working staff, sponsors and guests. He also saluted the Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition helping raise awareness of mental health issues with a goal of climbing Colorado’s 54 Fourteeners in 10 weeks. The 7-member climbing team led by Anthony Reinert set out June 8th and expects to complete their mission by mid-August. (To track their progress visit: cotdexpedition.wix.com/cotd and Facebook/Climb Out of the Darkness Expedition)
The Sandra Rhodes Community Leader Award was presented to nationally recognized business psychology firm Mines and Associates for their managed behavioral health care and employee assistance programs that help address the mental health needs of Coloradans. The award is named after lifelong mental health advocate Rhodes, who has served as a mental health professional for The Gathering Place, Colorado Youth at Risk and received the Mental Health America National Award for volunteer service in 2010.
High school students Jasmine Valdez and Darius Wimberly won the MHAC Youth Leadership Award for tackling the mental health stigma head-on by speaking publicly about mental wellness and lessons they have learned from Check Your Head.
Now celebrating its 65th Anniversary, the national Mental Health America (MHA) organization and affiliates are promoting the B4Stage4 campaign which emphasizes prevention and treatment of mental health issues with the motto: Get Informed, Get Screened, Get Help. MHA studies indicate that 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year and that 50% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life.
MHAC’s Annual Gala, Tribute 2015, will take place on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. To volunteer, donate or attend an MHAC event please call 720-208-2220 or visit mhacolorado.org
The Aurora Mental Health Center’s 11th Annual Spring Benefit Luncheon, Living Life to the Fullest, was held at Friday, May 1 at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora. For some 40 years AUMHC’s team of psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, therapists, social workers, and peer advisors have worked to provide individual, group, and family counseling, as well as consultation and educational support.
More than 350 packed the ballroom to celebrate the organization and to raise funds for Aurora Youth Options (AYO), AUMH’s youth service and mentoring program that was singled out by Esquire Magazine as one of the Denver metro region’s 7 most successful mentoring programs and among the top 50 in the nation.
Board Member and Event Chair Rachel Nuñez took to the podium to describe how AYO works with middle and high school-aged at-risk youth and their families to navigate, connect and provide positive, individualized resources to help them succeed. The key to the program, she said, was recovery, prevention and wellness.
Emcee Charles Packard, Executive Producer for Aurora Fox Theatre, thanked donors, guests and acknowledged local city and county leadership before introducing Dr. Randy Stith, CEO & Executive Director. Stith reviewed the founding of the organization by a group of committed volunteers in the late 1960s who officially launched AUMHC in 1975.
Among those attending this year’s luncheon were: From the office of Congressman Mike Coffman Aurora Ogg, Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan, Aurora City Council Members: Barbara Cleland, Brad Pierce, Molly Markert, Marsha Berzins, Debi Hunter Holen, Sally Mounier, Aurora Municipal Court Chief Judge Richard Weinburg, Aurora Municipal Court Adminstrator Zelda DeBoyes, Aurora City Manager Skip Noe, Aurora Police Chief Nick Metz, Aurora Fire Chief Michael Garcia, Arapahoe County Commissioners: Nancy Sharpe, Bill Holen, Nancy Jackson, Nancy Doty, and Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher
Founded in 2009, Aurora Youth Options Mentor Program brings caring adults together with a young person in need of mentoring and coaching, Homework Help and Tutoring creates a safe and open environment where youth interact with adult and peer tutors to get the assistance they need.
The AUMHC’s programs serve more than 17,000 people annually through 12 counseling centers, 8 residential facilities, in public schools, county human services departments and other locations. The Aurora Mental Health Center’s next fundraiser will be the Mayor’s Cup Golf Classic hosted by the Aurora Vistas Foundation on August 17. To donate or learn more visit: aumhc.org
Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America took the stage at the MHAC Tribute event Saturday night to talk about his book, “Losing Tim.” Mr. Gionfriddo’s 29-year-old son is one of the 6% of Americans with a serious mental illness and is walking the streets of San Francisco, homeless. What does that tell you, when the president of one of the largest mental health organizations in the country and his family are still impacted by the stigma and devastation of mental illness….it can strike anywhere, anytime, and it’s a good bet that all of us are affected in some way.
Mental Health America Colorado (MHAC) is taking a proactive role in addressing mental health conditions. The strategic plan encompasses three major goals: broker change, reduce stigma and improve lives. They seek to improve and address the dismal ranking of 48th place in the nation in per capita funding for behavioral health services.
A jovial but humble crowd gathered at the Sheraton Downtown to continue this mission. Proceeds from Tribute support MHAC’s efforts in outreach, education, prevention and advocacy to lift stigma and improve the lives of all Coloradoans.
Two honorees were recognized for their incredible, forward-seeking work in these areas:
- Marguerite Salazar, Colorado’s Insurance Commissioner, who has worked tirelessly to address the parity between mental and physical conditions and corresponding funding and advocacy;
- Colorado College, who supports and nurtures mental health programs and students who reach out for help.
MHAC President and CEO Don Mares gave a heartfelt thank you to attendees and supporters, and Board Chair Marty Waters told a surprising story of how his mental outlook was affected after he was caught in an avalanche several years ago and used up at least one of his nine lives.
After the order of business was taken care of, the crowd cut loose and danced the night away to the upbeat tunes of Jakarta. Kudos to MHAC staff, volunteers and supporters who keep the mission going consistently.
For more information about how you can help, log on to www.mhacolorado.org
Over 400 pieces of art from 34 different schools were on display Wednesday, October 22nd at the 8th Annual “Living Life to the Fullest” student art show and contest, presented by Aurora Mental Health. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade created artworks based on this year’s theme of “What Inspires or Excites You?”. Held at the Radisson Hotel in Aurora, students, parents, grandparents and teachers came out for the event which featured hors d’oeuvres and a reception, followed by the awards program. The event, hosted by AMHC Board of Director’s President Peter Cukale, selected first and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients. Each winner received a special recognition on stage to display their artwork and were presented with gift certificates provided by sponsor Citywide Banks.
Aurora Mental Health Center staff were also recognized during the annual celebration. Kathryn McGinness was honored as Intern of the Year, Casey Hilliard received the award for Administrative Staff of the Year, Blair Mollieri was named Adult Family Services Clinician of the Year, Margaret Charlton was honored as Family Services Clinician of the Year and Rudy Glasco was named Manager of the Year. Retiring board members , Linda Ashburn, Tim Huffman, Sandra Knight and Dona Zavislan were also honored. The board then elected seven new members, including Tom Ashburn, Molly Barrett, Terry Campbell Caron, Harrison Cochran, Teri Karjala, Dave Walcher and Kevin Waters.
With more than 400 employees, 50 interns and 40 volunteers, the Aurora Mental Health Center is a full service community mental health center committed to creating healthy and secure communities by providing the least restrictive service that ensures quality, appropriate, and efficient care. Learn more by visiting aumhc.org.
It was the perfect morning on the golf course for this year’s Mayor’s Cup Golf Tournament which benefits the Aurora Vistas Foundation. The annual event was held at Murphy Creek Golf Course in Aurora on September 8, 2014. Nearly 100 golfers, including Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Arvada Mayor Marc Williams, participated in the tournament. The event began bright and early with a 6:30 breakfast and a 7:30 shotgun start. Several prize holes including, Men’s and women’s longest drive, longest putt and closest to the pin added to the day’s excitement.
Following the round, golfers enjoyed a lunch of grilled chicken and hamburgers and presentation and awards ceremony. Board President Sandy Sweeney welcomed the crowd and Dr. Randy Stith explained the importance of the work of Aurora Vistas. Mayor Steve Hogan then addressed the audience and announced that in future years, any metro Mayor who participates in the event will qualify for their local mental health center to apply for grant funding for their children’s special programs. The event concluded with fantastic door prizes and drawings for some great golf-themed giveaways.
Since 1987 , Aurora Vistas Foundation has been raising awareness and funds to support Aurora Mental Health Center’s programs for children and their families.
For more information, visit http://www.aumhc.org/AuroraVistasFoundation
Friends and supporters gathered at a local country club on Wednesday to endorse the upcoming annual “Tribute” dinner and support programs of Mental Health America of Colorado.
“Tribute to the Power of Hope” is slated for November 22, and will honor Marguerite Salazar, Colorado Insurance Commissioner (and former Regional Director for the Department of Health and Human Services appointed by President Barack Obama), and Colorado College. Both honorees are being recognized for their significant leadership in the mental health field.
Chairs of the Tribute event are Kay Greene, Stuart Kassan MD, Gail Kassan, Larry Spivack MD and Lisa Williams.
MHAC serves the people of Colorado by collaborating with strategic partners to promote mental health, expand access to services and transform systems of healthcare.
Improving Lives, Transforming Minds.
On Thursday June 12, 2014 at RedLine gallery in Denver, Colorado donors gathered to celebrate MHAC’s Education, Prevention, & Outreach Programs. Ticket sales went to fund MHAC’s programs Check Your Head, Pro Bono Counseling & Referral Program, Speaker’s Bureau, and mental health “first aid” training which help meet the mental health needs of people throughout Colorado. This special cocktail reception featured art & poetry from Check Your Head students, stories of impact from MHAC program recipients, and a presentation of the Sandra Rhodes Community Leader Award.
Sandra Rhodes has served as a mental health professional for The Gathering Place, Colorado Youth at Risk and received the Mental Health America National Award for volunteer service in 2010. She has also sat on the board of Denver Children’s Home, Colorado Psychological Association, Mental Health America of Colorado, Colorado Youth at Risk and MHAC Honorary Board of Directors.
“Spread a smile every day. You may not even know what you’re doing, but you may save someone’s life.”
These powerful words were delivered by keynote speaker Kevin Hines at the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network’s 13th Annual Mental Health Benefit Luncheon on May 9. Hines is not only a powerful speaker advocating for the importance of mental health, but he’s also only only one of 34 people to survive a suicide attempt off the Golden Gate Bridge.
Doors opened at 11:00am for a brief reception and an opportunity to network with local business professionals, corporate sponsors and mental health advocates. The luncheon program promptly started at 11:30am with a decadent lunch, uplifting award ceremony, and keynote speech given by Kevin Hines.
Hines described his childhood and the difficulty he had as a teenager with manic depression, more commonly known as bipolar disorder. He described the auditory and visual hallucinations that would constantly tell him that he needed to die, which drove him to his attempt off the Golden Gate in 2000 when he was only 19 years old. Although the fall broke him physically, his spirit only became stronger. Shortly following his release from the hospital, a priest asked him to speak to a class about his story, and Hines has been speaking publicly since, hoping he can make an impact and help people live mentally well.
Dave Aguilera, meteorologist and reporter for CBS Denver, emceed the event. In addition to emceeing numerous events for non-profits groups throughout the year, Dave speaks to hundreds of elementary school students around the area, and is on the board of directors for the Learning Source, a non-profit literacy group.
Hand-painted watering cans were sold as a fundraiser to benefit the Network.
The Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network is an all-inclusive resource for mental and behavioral health, with clients from struggling with everyday troubles to individuals with severe and persistent mental illness. Their care is accessible to everyone, despite economic status. The professionals on staff not only help and treat patients, but are also active in the community with outreach and educational events helping to identify signs of mental illness to help protect those who may not be able to speak up.
In addition to the work they do in office, Executive Director and CEO Joan DiMaria states that in the wake of the tragedy at Arapahoe High School, the Network has committed more than 800 hours of mental health disaster response to the recovery of those affected.
“Living Life to the Fullest” was this year’s theme for the Aurora Mental Health Center’s 10th Annual Luncheon attended by more than 300 guests, Friday May 2 at Aurora’s Red Lion Hotel. The event is held every May in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month. The Aurora Mental Health Center, a nonprofit community mental health center, helps people cope with mental health issues – from depression, anxiety, and stress management to more severe illnesses. Funds from this year’s event benefit the Aurora Strong Resilience Center established by a consortium of concerned citizens and AuMHC as a refuge for those affected by trauma. Event Chair and AuMHC board member Rachel Nuñez with AuMHC staffers Cindy Bohl and Heather Dolan Jackson and Richard Hanson ensured a seamless signature event. Nuñez welcomed guests and introduced emcee Ed Greene of CBS4 who recognized the board of directors and generous donors before introducing AuMHC CEO/President Randy Stith, Phd. “Our mission was the vision of a tireless group of concerned citizens spearheaded by Ellin Mrachek in the late 60’s,” said Stith, “and was the cornerstone of Aurora Mental Health Center’s creation in 1975 and its commitment to serve our community.” After lunch guests were entertained by the Chicago’s traveling 6-member Second City Comedy troupe who performed their show “Happily Ever Laughter,” a mix of sketches and routines poking fun at current events, politics, and relationships. Among those attending were elected officials and honored guests including Colorado State Senator Suzanne Williams; Aurora City Council members Barbara Cleland, Molly Markert, and Brad Pierce; Aurora Fire Chief Mike Garcia; Aurora Public Schools Superintendent Rico Munn; Cherry Creek School Board of Education Member Dave Willman; Cherry Creek Schools Associate Superintendent Scott Siegfried; Arapahoe County Sheriff Dave Walcher; Don Mares, President and CEO of Mental Health America Colorado; Community College of Aurora Foundation Board Member Ruth Fountain; table sponsors Tim and Dawn Huffman and Howard and Sara Jarrett, and many other supporters. Special thanks went to presenting sponsor CityWide Banks which matched all donations this year. Gold sponsors include Suss Buick GMC and EON Office; Silver Sponsor, WAVE Audio Visual; and Bronze Sponsors: Arapahoe House, Arapahoe Douglas Mental Health Network, Asian Pacific Development Center, Aurora Mental Health Center’s Executive Team, Behavioral Health Care, Incorporated, Cherry Creek Schools, Highlands Behavioral Health System, IMA of Colorado, The Medical Center of Aurora – Behavioral Health Services, Metro Community Provider Network, Nelnet, Titan CM Solutions, Tolin Mechanical. Aurora Mental Health Center provides services in 17 specialty clinics located in eight counseling centers, six residential facilities, public schools, two county departments of human services, in homes and foster homes, and other Aurora locations. Since its founding in 1975 Aurora Mental Health Center has won many awards including three consecutive years as winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Award which recognizes employers that are successfully using workplace flexibility to meet both employer and employee goals. Today AuMHC provides outpatient, day treatment, and acute treatment via individual, family, and group counseling, education, wellness classes, specialized programs, and residential programs. For more information visit: www.aumhc.org
You can plan a football game-watching party and provide great food at a fun venue, but naturally you want the home team to win. On Sunday, Dec. 1, the Denver Broncos delivered for Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network’s Tackling Stigma: Denver Broncos Away Game Party with a thrilling come-from-behind 35-28 victory over division rivals Kansas City. ADMHN traditionally holds a fall fundraiser, but this was the group’s first time with an event of this kind, and they scored a big win. Meanwhile, the Broncos took clear charge of the AFC West as well as the division’s tiebreaker with its second win over the Chiefs this season.
In a private room at Fox and Hound Lone Tree, guests had the opportunity to bid on an array of silent-auction items that featured—what else?—some great Bronco memorabilia. The handful of Kansas City fans cheered their team’s first-half lead, but eventually gave in as the Broncos came alive in the second half with 28 unanswered points. Before and during the game, Fox and Hound staff dished up a buffet of tasty tailgate food, and guests had a chance to chow, chat and even shoot a game of pool while catching every play on TV.
During halftime, CEO/executive director Joan DiMaria discussed the stigma of getting treatment for mental health issues, and told the crowd that funds raised go toward helping uninsured and under-insured with support services that address recovery and suicide prevention. Former Bronco Bucky Dilts, who brought fellow alum Larry Brunson to the party, talked about former NFL players who publicly have come forward to share their struggles with depression. He vowed get more Broncos involved to support ADMHN events and programs.
Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network is a local nonprofit helping local residents. “Stigma is a major barrier that keeps people from seeking help for mental health and substance abuse conditions. However, with appropriate diagnosis and treatment, behavioral health issues are very treatable.
“Some of the people who come through our doors not only have the misfortune of ailing behavioral health, they have very low incomes, no healthcare coverage and may be homeless, jobless and perhaps hopeless. These clients are our most vulnerable community members, yet we believe that with the right supports and resources, they can begin to reclaim the life they wish for. We strive to meet people where they are, across the continuum of mental health care, and work together to achieve balance and wellness. Your support of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network’s Tackling Stigma: Denver Broncos Away Game Party helps ADMHN provide more resources, education, treatment and recovery.” For more information, please visit: www.admhn.org.
Celebrating 60 years of advances in mental health leadership in Colorado, Mental Health America of Colorado held a gala at the Denver Marriott City Center on Saturday, October 26, 2013. Guests enjoyed a cocktail reception during which they browsed a large selection of silent auction items, followed by the dinner program in the ballroom.
Following dinner, guests heard an inspiring talk from Donald Mares, President and CEO, about the changes which have occurred over the past 60 years in the care of mental health. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper then greeted guests and discussed recent legislation passed in the Colorado legislature to provide additional support for mental health services. Dyana Furmansky, chair of the MHAC board of directors, acknowledged the sponsors and supporters of the organization, and a video commemorating the last 60 years of MHAC was shown.
Following dinner, guests were treated to a live auction with two of the top local auctioneers, Paul C Behr of Centennial Colorado and Sammy Hamblen, of Pierce Colorado. A surprise performance by Donald Mares, President and CEO of MHAC and his band ‘Nearly There’ was a big hit, and the auction of a performance by the band and a dinner for eight prepared by chef Corey Cain raised $14,000 for the organization! The night was capped off by dancing to the Mary Louise Lee Band.
There was a lot of fun and excitement at Aurora Mental Health Center’s 7th annual Student Art Contest and Show this year, where a record breaking 553 pieces of art submitted from 32 different schools and educational organizations were featured. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade created artworks based on the theme of “Living Life to the Fullest.” Held at the Red Lion Hotel in Aurora, students, parents, grandparents and teachers came out to celebrate the students’ artistic achievements and view the diverse pieces of art that were created for this year’s show. First and second place winners in each of the 4 grade categories, as well as four Director’s Choice Award recipients, received a special recognition and gift certificates provided by sponsor Citywide Banks.
Aurora Mental Health Center staff were also recognized during the celebration. Nick Mancini was honored as Intern of the Year, Jennifer McNeill received the award for Administrative Staff of the Year, Michael George was named Adult Family Services Clinician of the Year, Maki Sonoda was honored as Family Services Clinician of the Year and Sheila Pomeranz was named Manager of the Year. Retiring board members Jane Barber, Tim Hand and Nancy O’Shields were also honored, and a special award was given to retiring Board President Larry Davila for 21 years of service.
With more than 400 employees, 50 interns and 40 volunteers, the Aurora Mental Health Center is a full service community mental health center committed to creating healthy and secure communities by providing the least restrictive service that ensures quality, appropriate, and efficient care. Learn more by visiting aumhc.org.
At the time MHAC was founded, 1953, it was becoming socially acceptable to promote mental health and the humane treatment of people residing in state hospitals, but the focus was not recovery.
The stigma around mental health was palpable and those with mental health conditions were not helped or addressed. Things like depression or anxiety were not considered a sickness and it was just assumed that one’s mental health was controllable, or else one afflicted lived in the shadows, hiding their condition from their neighbors, co-workers and family.
We’d like to think we’ve come a long way in 60 years, but only recently have there been strides in bringing mental health out of the shadows and into the bright light where we can see and treat it. Three in 10 Coloradoans are in need or mental health or substance abuse disorder treatment in any given year. Colorado ranks 32nd in the nation for the amount of public sector mental health spending. Colorado ranks 6th in the country for the number of suicides each year. There is a significant shortage in the number of mental health providers in the state. Until very recently, veterans returning from service were looked upon as “weak” if they admitted that their traumatic experiences had a long-term affect on them.
Mental Health America of Colorado makes it their mission to work on rectifying these things. In this 60th anniversary year, MHAC looks back at accomplishments and goals, and also challenges for the future. MHAC is using this 60th anniversary mark as a celebration, to look positively toward the future. The annual Tribute event is October 26, 2013. A gathering of supporters and advocates gathered at Cherry Hills Country Club to kickoff the Tribute season.
Visit www.mhacolorado.org for details or to learn about other programs and assistance.