May 28, 2022

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Friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center Defines What it Means to Have Friends

4 min read
Current and previous Board of Good friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center (left to proper): Betty Livingston, Afework Eshetu, Rebecca Grueneberger, Susan Draschler, and Dan Sweeney. (Courtesy photograph)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – There is a little nonprofit with a major influence and can-do spirit, and yet, it is a single of the greatest retained strategies in our city.

Launched in 1984 by dedicated volunteers this kind of as Lois Van Valkenburg and Peter Straub as effectively as the director of the Group Expert services Board Judith Krasnow, Friends of the Alexandria Mental Overall health Centre (“Friends”) provides monetary aid and hope to Alexandrians taking part in Town services for mental overall health disorders, material use issues, and developmental disabilities.

Friends presents a economic security web for Alexandrians acquiring mental health and fitness products and services from the City’s Group Products and services Board (CSB) programs, which are portion of the Alexandria Section of Neighborhood and Human Services (DCHS). Mates also collaborates with partners functioning to advance mental wellness during the town – all those who improve the security web and strengthen mental well being consciousness and advocacy.

To have an understanding of Alexandria’s latest demands, in 2021, the CSB served 4,283 Alexandrians by means of psychological wellbeing, developmental disabilities, and material abuse services. That year, 30.1% were ages 20 and young.

Any individual and any family members, regardless of schooling, implies, or age, can drop on challenging periods and locate them selves or a cherished just one dealing with a mental overall health obstacle and unmet demands. For 40 a long time, Close friends has been filling in the gaps.

It requires braveness to encounter a mental well being problem. The CSB reaches out to Pals for money help if a client is dealing with a problem, which can hurt a person’s recovery, such as: a want to shift from a shelter to an condominium, a heated and cooled residence, a clean mattress, a journey to the health care provider, drugs, dental work, a teaching system, summer season camp for a little one, a faculty visit for first-era youth, and kids’ university clothes. Close friends resources these desires in a couple times. In the situation of an emergency, Good friends sends a look at within just 24 hrs. Close friends commonly offers $45,000-$75,000 for every yr.

“If you simply cannot get the meds or eyeglasses or dental treatment you have to have, it’s challenging to aim on your recovery,” described Rebecca Grueneberger, a recent co-chair of the Board of Close friends. “The founders understood that those people with mental overall health challenges have primary daily life requires, also, which the city can’t pay for. So, the founders established Close friends. For every greenback offered to Good friends, 98% goes specifically to the clients’ needs. Pals has an all-volunteer board, no paid out team, and no lease. We only fork out for resources such as materials, stamps, and envelopes. We are definitely lean!”

Kate Garvey, the Director of DCHS, said, “The Buddies of Alexandria Psychological Health and fitness Centre plays a essential part in supporting the endeavours of our staff and in meeting the exceptional requires of citizens with behavioral well being problems. The determination and compassion shown by this stalwart team of volunteers provide as an awesome example for us all. We are eternally grateful for their do the job and long-time period initiatives to produce a caring neighborhood for all those we provide.”

The clientele are served directly. One particular wrote, “Thank you for getting my bed. Not only do I get an occasional good night’s rest, but with my knee, it tends to make it easier to go to bed and to get up. Thanks all over again.”

Susan Draschler, a past co-chair of Friends, at a community event to raise awareness about mental health services and the role of Friends of the Alexandria Mental Health Center. (Courtesy photo)
Susan Draschler, a earlier co-chair of Good friends, at a local community event to elevate consciousness about mental overall health providers and the role of Buddies of the Alexandria Mental Health and fitness Center. (Courtesy photograph)

A team member at the West Stop Wellness Middle wrote, “Today, I took five customers to the films. They were so grateful to have a social outing. One particular member remarked that she hadn’t been to a movie in 20-additionally a long time. With your assist, we are ready to present guidance and socialization for individuals who really don’t generally sense involved in what some others could contemplate ‘normal’ lifestyle.”

Simply because of Friends’ neighborhood training and outreach, there are these who felt fewer scared to phase out of the shadows of stigma and into the mild of procedure, and there are individuals who achieved out for support in its place of ending their lives.

Bill Rooney, DCHS’ Adult Psychological Health and fitness Staff Supervisor, remarked, “Friends has an significant function in encouraging support some of the city’s most susceptible inhabitants. Friends’ willingness to be flexible and timely in reaction will make all the variance in aiding consumers.”

DCHS’ Chief of Child & Family Behavioral Wellbeing Services, Tricia Bassing, emphasized, “The kindness and compassion of the customers of Pals under no circumstances stop to amaze me. Friends’ continual presence and dedication to individuals with behavioral well being issues are admirable and a design for all. Close friends has impacted many life for the improved in massive and little priceless approaches. I know our programs of care are superior for acquiring Friends.”

Close friends exemplifies how Alexandria is a metropolis of kindness and compassion.

To make a variance with Buddies, Anna Dvorchik and Mary Ray, the recent co-chairs of the Board, persuade residents to volunteer with the corporation or please ship a look at of any quantity to:

Friends of the Alexandria Psychological Overall health Center

2525 Mount Vernon Avenue

Alexandria, Virginia 22301

Donors could also give on line as a result of Spring2Motion on April 27, 2022.

Allison Silberberg, a former Mayor of Alexandria, serves on the Board of Friends of the Alexandria Psychological Well being Heart.

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