NAMI Southwestern Illinois

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Important Messages

From the President's Corner

Hello, Everyone!

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018!

As we begin 2018, our affiliate NAMI SWI has much to be proud of in all our past years’ accomplishments and much to look forward to in the coming year. In 2017 our first ever gala and end-of-the-year donation campaign significantly boosted our fundraising. Thanks to our core group, who worked on planning and executing the gala on November 18th, 2017, which included, among others, Vickey Gonzalez, Jessica Gruneich, Marie Krysnoski, Donna Sheard, Kami Bonell, Vicki Short, and Tricia Hogan (and Furry Friends Recovery). Laura Klein of Touchstone Crystal and the staff of Villa Maria Winery were important contributions to the success of Bling, Bubbles, and Blessings.

Glo Bingo

We have postponed our February 3rd Glo Bingo event due to unforeseen circumstances. It will be rescheduled and details posted on the NAMI SWI website.

Race/Walk 2018

Plans are underway for the upcoming Race/Walk with Katie Venvertloh again at the helm as chair. The Race/Walk will be on May 12th, 2018 at Grizzlies Ballpark. Mark your calendars for the Race/Walk and help us get as many registrations, sponsors, and other supporters by getting the word out among friends, family, and coworkers. Spanky the Llama of Happy Trails Farm, who was a big hit at the last Race/Walk, will again be in attendance. Matt Gauen is working on a new t-shirt design and plans are already in swing with an active planning committee.

Warm Winter Wishes

Warm Winter Wishes was a great success, and we contributed 150+ items to individuals receiving services at Chestnut Health Systems, Call for Help, and Centerstone. We gave warm sweatshirts, gloves, hats, etc, donated by our members and supporters. Vicki Short, our new development director, obtained a contribution from Shop Jersey and More, adding to what was contributed by members. Thank you, Shop Jersey and More!. Thank you, Vicki, for a great job! Thanks to all of you who contributed items. Know that the individual recipients of these items really appreciate receiving them during the holiday season!

Classes and Support Groups

Thanks to Donna Sheard and Cathy Knowlton who will teach the upcoming NAMI Basics Class at Anderson Hospital starting January 28th at 6:30pm. We also have a number of ongoing support groups in various communities. Thanks to all who lead support groups for your ongoing commitment. Our program teachers and support group leaders are the heart of our organization and continually carry the message of NAMI to those who need it. You guys rock and are greatly appreciated!!


I am working on helping to plan a one-day conference on March 9th, sponsored by the St. Clair County Regional Office of Education, along with Tijuana Macon, who works for the ROE. The conference is for parents, educators, and professionals who interact with children and youth who have mental health challenges. The flier will be posted soon with registration information. I will be giving a presentation on early attachment between children and caregivers and related information. Two of our Basics teachers, Donna Sheard and Cynthia Harpole, will present about their lived experience as parents and about Basics, so NAMI SWI will be well represented. Another educational opportunity for parents and others interested in mental health and illness in children and youth, the Annual Piecing It All Together Conference, will be held on May 10th, 2018, and is currently in the early stages of planning.

NAMI Homefront

NAMI Homefront was taught on-line by our own Peter Dodge and national trainer Suzanne Robinson. It was a new endeavor and much was learned. Peter and Suzanne will teach this class again in the coming months

Kudos to a Great Staff and Volunteers

A special thank-you to our staff – Jessica, Marie, Vicki, and Kami – for all you have done in the past year to grow our affiliate with your hard work and commitment. All of you are amazing and bring your individual gifts of skills and lived experience to spread the message of NAMI SWI. Kudos to Jessica, who has been given the honor and opportunity to participate in the Non-Profit Leaders Certificate Program of the Washington University Olin School of Business Management. This is quite an honor for our executive director (and NAMI SWI) to have been offered this program of learning about cutting-edge, research-driven strategies for success in today’s non-profit world. Our “full-time volunteer” and treasurer, Vickey Gonzalez, has contributed countless hours as well as great passion. Our other officers and my fellow executive committee members have faithfully fulfilled their responsibilities. Thank you, Sonja Vauters (vice president), Vickey Gonzales (treasurer), and Mary Pat Dejarnette (secretary), for your support and commitment. Our communication team continues to help get the word out with this newsletter, the website, and social media.

A Great Year to Come!

We are off to another great year of helping to carry the message of NAMI to individuals and families impacted by mental illness

President’s Report
January 15, 2017  NAMI SWI President, Beverley Watkins, Ph.D., LCSW