NAMI Haywood is a recently organized affiliate of NAMINC in Waynesville, NC. We serve the rural mountain counties of Haywood and Jackson in Western North Carolina. We have struggled for the past few months to work through many administrative tasks, provide a "Family to Family" class and working together with a partnership of a neighboring affiliate to make CIT "Crisis Intervention Training" available to various local law enforcement agencies.
When NAMINC advised that the week of October 5th thru 11th, would be Mental Illness Awareness Week and October 7th would be observed as the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding, our affiliate felt strongly that we should do something to bring awareness within our local community. We were able to secure a Proclamation from Mayor Gavin A. Brown of the Town of Waynesville, and we organized a prayer service with various denominations, faiths, churches, ministers, state and local legislators and leaders participating. Lake Junaluska Assembly Conference and Retreat Center of the United Methodist Church provided us the beautiful "Cross Amphitheater" overlooking Lake Junaluska in which to hold our service.
This was our first major project as a group and we were over-whelmed at the response. Some came without hope, but left with hope and encouragement that our Heavenly Father cares for those suffering mental illness and that people in the community care and are striving to find ways to reach out and minister to those in our churches and communities who need our love, understanding, support and prayers. Although we were small in numbers and did not have an abundance of resources, we felt our efforts for the prayer service built some very strong bridges between our churches, ministers, social agencies, legislators and those with mental illness in our community and helped tremendously to dispel the dark and terrible stigma associated with mental illness.
While much work remains to be done in our churches and community, we are looking forward with much enthusiasm to next year to hold our Second Annual National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding and for every succeeding year that the Lord grants unto us. Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder and Mental Health Ministries has inspired and motivated us to provide training and education, utilizing her books and media materials, to our local churches, ministers and leaders and we are eternally grateful to Susan for what the Lord has done through her ministry.
Judy D. Sipes - NAMI Haywood
Waynesville, North Carolina