Find Help, Find Hope!

Executive Director’s Report: 2019 – 2020 Report

MISSION: The mission of NAMI Southwestern Illinois is to promote recovery for people living with a mental illness and for their families who are impacted by their illness. We accomplish this through providing support, education & advocacy; supporting research; reducing stigma & discrimination; improving services by working with health professionals and families.

Kris Gamm-Smith - NAMI SWI Executive Director

A Review of the Past … A Look to the Future


  • Support Groups – You Are Not Alone!
    • Family Support Group: Provides a safe place for family members or caregivers to share their concerns about their loved ones living with a mental illness.
    • Connections Recovery Support Group: Provides support for individuals living with mental illness emphasizing healthy coping skills and group wisdom.
    • Website: – Surf all the latest information including, Legislative Updates, Educational Classes, Newsletters, Events & Support, Resources & much more.
    • Stigma Free Pledge: NAMI SWI encourages all members/advocates to take the Stigma Free Pledge at Your pledge allows others to know there is hope & understanding and helps change the way the world sees mental illness
  • Education Programs – Knowledge is the Key
    • Family-to-Family Education Program: Eight-week course designed for family members/caregivers of adults living with mental illness.
    • NAMI Basics Education Program: Six-week course designed for parents and caregivers of minors who have a mental illness.
    • Basics on Demand: NAMI releases first free online class for parents of children with mental illness.
    • Peer-to-Peer Education Program: Ten-week educational program for adults with mental illness who are looking to better understand their condition and journey toward recovery.
    • Provider Education: 15-hour program of in-service training that introduces mental health professionals to the unique perspectives of individuals living with mental Illness & their families. Depending on the training needs, this program can also be presented in segments rather than in its entirety. Providers will develop enhanced empathy for these individuals for their daily challenges and recognize the importance of including them in aspects of the treatment process.
    • NAMI Homefront: A virtual six-session class based on Family-to-Family program which is designed to address the unique needs of family, caregivers and friends of those who have served or are currently serving our country. It will help them to comprehend what their military loved one is experiencing related to trauma, combat stress, civilian life, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.
    • Share and Care Support Group: Support meeting for individuals living with mental illness and families/caregivers of people living with mental illness.
  • Community Education Presentation
    • In Our Own Voice: Presentations given by trained individuals living with a mental illness.
    • Ending the Silence: Presented to nearly 1800 high school students to learn about mental illness.
  • Outreach
    • Crisis Intervention Team (CIT): Annually, NAMI SWI takes an active role in the SILEC Southern Region CIT training. Families and individuals with mental illness share lived experiences with local law enforcement agencies helping reduce stigma
    • HelpLine: A Telephone Information and Referral Line: The NAMI SWI Office phone line (618) 798-9788 is manned from 8:00am- 5:00pm Monday – Friday. If no one is in the office, a volunteer will respond to messages within 24 hours.
  • Other Services
    • Newsletters: Bi-monthly newsletters are either mailed or electronically sent to all members and advocates. Volunteers deliver newsletters to libraries and other locations within NAMI SWI area.
    • Social Media: Facebook—Get the latest news about NAMI SWI –; Twitter—Get latest Tweets from NAMI Llama
    • Annual Mental Health Awareness 5K Race for Recovery & 1K Walk for Awareness— Since 2004, NAMI SWI has been promoting community health, awareness, and wellness.
    • Brooks Brothers’ Washer Tournament: Since 2017, NAMI SWI has been involved with this event to bring awareness to suicide prevention.

2019 AWARDS:

NAMI SWI honored NAMI SWI members at the annual Volunteer Party in March of 2019. The Board of Directors presented keepsakes to several volunteers, acknowledging their dedication to NAMI SWI, families and individuals …


  1. Hired an Executive Director and a Part-Time Administrative Assistant for NAMI SWI….
  2. Appointed a Volunteer Program Coordinator to oversee the support groups and educational groups…
  3. Several NAMI SWI members attended the NAMI Illinois State Convention in Northbrook, Illinois.  In October. Pat Rudloff, Program Coordinator for NAMI SWI, received an award from the state for her years of service as a Facilitator for a Family Support Group…
  4. Expanded programming in St. Clair, Madison and Randolph Counties i.e., Family Support Groups and Connections Group….
  5. Trained 10 new facilitators NAMI Signature programming.  Includes Family to Family, In Our Own Voice, Connections and Family Support…
  6. Attended numerous fairs in different counties served by NAMI SWI including Chester Harvest in Randolph County, BaconFest in O’Fallon,several Veteran resource fairs and co-sponsored, with an Alton business owner, a Small Business and Mental Health Wellness Fair in Alton, and several health fairs in several counties…
  7. Sponsored a Tuning Out Stigma presentation at
    SIU for Theresa San Luis Teller and appeared on the local news…
  8. Mint Green, NAM SWI Llama creator, gave a presentation to a NAMI Affiliate in Alabama and was well received…
  9. Upgraded office equipment to better meet the demands for data collection and producing documents…included new computers, printers and other necessary office equipment…
  10. Welcomed 4 new members for the NAMI SWI Board of Directors; Alex McHugh, John Wuest, Courtney Luster and Chelsea Boyle…
  11. Did an End of Year donation email blast and received over $1600…donation drive continues through February…
  12. Had a great Walk/Run event in spite of the rain.  Special thanks to Katie Venvertloh and her committee for a job well done…
  13. On June 18, 2019 NAMI SWI was Re-Certified as an Affiliate of NAMI Illinois and NAMI .  This long and tedious process was managed by Peter Dodge, Board Member. A BIG Thanks to him and all who contributed to the process…

… continued on page 5 of the Feb-March 2020 issue of the Newsletter

Respectfully Submitted,
Kristine Gamm-Smith, M. A.
Executive Director, NAMI SWI

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