Volunteer Spotlight

Picture of shining spotlights

NAMI Charleston Appreciates its Volunteers! 

This month we are shining the spotlight on
Joann Monnin-Debevec
(Long-time NAMI Charleston Area member and board member, served in different board positions as Treasurer, Vice-President, and President of the NAMI Charleston Area Board of Directors. Joann retired from the board in July 2020, but still stays current and active in NAMI activities.)

Why do you volunteer your time for NAMI Charleston Area and why should people volunteer with us?
When my son was diagnosed with a severe mental illness in 1991, a nurse suggested I contact NAMI to get support and information. Someone helped me to understand mental illness and how to access info and taught me that I was not alone. After I caught my bearings and started helping my son, I realized that I had knowledge that I could share with other family members.

How long have you been a volunteer? 
In 1999, I took the Family to Family course, then called the Journey of Hope. Soon after, I was trained to facilitate Family Support meetings. After that, I held several board positions, Treasurer, Membership Chair, Vice President, then President. It has been very rewarding.

What NAMI program do you feel is the most valuable?
I feel that Family to Family has been very valuable to myself and other family members. The course offers so much needed information regarding severe mental illnesses. The course gives family members the tools to aid in their loved one’s recovery.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself! 
My husband and I really enjoy driving the back roads through the country. We have driven to Wisconsin and to California on back roads in our old cars. Hoping a road trip is in our future soon.

Collecting Stories

ABLE South Carolina, a statewide disability rights nonprofit, would like to collect stories from individuals and families who have experiences at the former state mental hospital in the Babcock building on Bull Street in Columbia, SC. Sarah Nichols, ABLE’s Director of Public Relations and Special Events, stated “Our goal is to make sure that the perspectives of people with disabilities are heard and acknowledged around what Bull Street and Babcock has meant to them. As the area redevelops, we want to make sure that the voices and experiences of people with disabilities are being told and recorded as well.”

You can email your stories to Sarah Nichols at snichols@able-sc.org.

Caring for the Caregiver/Cuidando a los Cuidadores

Courtesy of Berkeley County First Steps, Tricounty Play Collaborative, and Círculos de Bienestar, bilingual (Spanish/English): A monthly virtual, bilingual gathering open to all involved in providing care for children, now on Saturdays! The gatherings will take place on Facebook Live from 1-2 pm and focus on self-care. These sessions, in both English and Spanish, will involve mindfulness, music, and journaling. See the flyer below for upcoming dates!

Click HERE or search for Berkeley County First Steps on Facebook and like their page to get notifications for these free sessions and to see recordings of past livestreams.  

Mental Health Education Presenter- Erin Jones

Join us on Tuesday, November 10th at 7:00PM through Zoom to learn about the benefits of different activities in managing your mental health. It’s free and no pre-registration is required!

Our speaker this month is Erin Jones who is a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW-CP) and cofounder of the local nonprofit, Waves 4 Women. Waves 4 Women is a therapeutic surf program which promotes physical and psychological wellness in women who have experienced trauma. She has extensive experience providing individual and group therapy services to kids and adults with anxiety and mood disorders, with an emphasis on trauma. She also enjoys collaborating with other community organizations and local nonprofits to create more opportunities for physical and psychological wellness through the outdoors, community, and connection. With this in mind, Erin is now offering a Youth Wellness Group (flyer below).

Click HERE or copy and paste the link below in your browser- https://zoom.us/j/99143801850?pwd=Sk5QV05QNG0xRWU1cGV6ZjY5aDRHdz09

Or, you can call: 
 +1 (646) 558-8656 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 991 4380 1850
Passcode: 461832

kids wellness groups_ SEL (2) (1) (2)1

Reflections From A Tired Walk Manager

by Kelly Troyer

When our event went from in-person to virtual, I had many thoughts, such as:

  • How do I raise money for something that is not happening?
  • Who in the world will sponsor a non-event?
  • How do I motivate people without having personal contact?
  • We will ever meet our goal?
  • Why did I agree to be the walk manager THIS year?

And many more!

We had this magical thing happen in Charleston, SC!

Amid Covid 19, the election and racial tensions and everything that 2020 was bringing, our community wanted something positive to hold on to. NAMIWalks Your Way: A National Day of Hope was the answer. It started slowly, but by walk week, NAMIWalks Your Way Charleston was all the buzz!

  • I was interviewed by two local stations.
  • Our NAMI Charleston Board President, Toni Smallwood, negotiated a digital billboard ad to run in all five zones of Charleston (we paid $1,000 for something worth $17,000 dollars).
  • Board Member, Colleen Vaughn, reached out to The Charleston Radio Group and they ran commercials for the walk on all 10 radio stations (our cost was $0, worth $14,000-$16,000 of radio time).
  • The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office did a professional video about how important NAMI CIT is, and how our partnership saves lives in our community (free & priceless). They printed out Signs of Hope and sent me 45 pictures from all over Charleston.
  • Charleston County Government and Board Vice President, Malinda Terry did a Video Challenge that many other NAMIs used to promote walks all over the country.
  • We had a videographer who donated time and taught me how to schedule our Walk Day Events (free and also priceless).

Fundraising success stories

Maritza and Mel Foster, both NAMI Charleston Area Board Members, raised $1,850 in their neighborhood and went live on Instagram on Walk Day. As they walked through their neighborhood, people were yelling out to them: “What are you doing?” “Why are you walking?” They had a team around 20 that stirred up their whole neighborhood! We have two new advisory members for our board from their NAMIWalks Your Way team.

Our Board Treasurer, Robert Taylor, was very resistant to signing up for the walk. He said, “I’m working from home and the chief IT person for their two school-aged kids remote learning.” Well, after several nudges, he signed up and has raised $1,900 in the last two weeks just posting on Facebook.

My summary of our success

In total, we had four meetings, many phone calls, less overall participants and teams than last year… and we met our goal a day before the walk. Our goal was raised from $25,000 to $35,000. We will be accepting donations all the way to December 9th.

Our in-kind services are at $38,000-$40,000 and so many more people know about NAMI than before this “non-event” happened.

I was at Lowe’s a couple of days ago, and a stranger came up to me (She recognized my Mental Health for All T-shirt) and she asked, “What do you do for NAMI?” She was one of our virtual walkers and had raised $350 for our event!

I made a lot of mistakes, had a few meltdowns, did ALL the online training from the 3 DAY BOOTCAMP, and even learned how to use DonorDrive (a little).

I concluded that NAMI people do not give up or in easily. We are used to having plan A, B, C, D etc. I mean, most of us live with a mental health condition or have a loved one that does. A virtual walk? I can do this. How? I printed out the timeline and followed the model. From sponsorship, to building teams; coaching, and picking up the darn phone (a lot!)

Some final takeaways

  • Mental Health Is for All; and is needed NOW more than ever.
  • We are stronger together.
  • NAMIWalks National Staff has our back!
  • My community needed NAMI, and we need them.
  • 2020 has not been all bad.
  • There is hope, and you are not alone!

From a tired Walk Manager,


NAMIWalks Your Way is Going Live on October 10th, 2020! 

Join us on Social Media and follow along on our live streams starting at 9 am.

We will be sharing photos and videos we have already received from several of our community members. Some of our supporters speak other languages and have provided messages about mental health awareness in Spanish, Hindi, Tamil, and French, so far. People are walking, dancing, and doing yoga, among other things, in support of mental health! We will be sharing all the videos and pictures on our brand-new YouTube channel after the walk. Please check it out and subscribe!

Be sure to share your activity on your favorite social media platform with the link to your walk fundraising page and include the hashtags #NotAlone, #NamiChsArea, and #MentalHealthForAll. We will have volunteers monitoring Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to see what everyone is doing and will share on our social media sites.

You can still start or join a team HERE
(or you can copy the link below and paste in your browser).

Questions or want to become a sponsor?
Contact Kelly Troyer, NAMI Walk Manager 
Email: kelly.troyer@namisc.org
Phone: (843) 467-5224
Mail: NAMI Charleston Area (SC), P.O. Box 2251
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29465


“9-8-8” Bill Passes Congress!

On Monday, Sept. 21, NAMI celebrated the passage of S. 2661: the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020. The bill establishes the plan to implement a universal three-digit number, 9-8-8, for mental health crises and suicide prevention. This number has the potential to save lives when every second counts.
The bill will now head to the President to be signed into law. The Federal Communications Commission has stated that this it will become operational by July 2022. To help communities prepare, S. 2661 also permits states to impose fees that will allow for timely and well-trained crisis response.


Congress Passes New Bill To Improve Veterans’ Mental Health Care

On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, NAMI celebrated the U.S. House of Representatives’ unanimous passage of a landmark bipartisan bill, S. 785, The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act. The bill previously passed the Senate and will now go to President Trump for his signature.
This bill is named in honor of NAMI Montana member and retired Navy SEAL Commander John Scott Hannon, who served for 23 years and fought a courageous battle with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and bipolar disorder.


Volunteer Spotlight

Picture of shining spotlights

Colleen Vaughn (NAMI Charleston Area Board Member and Advocacy Chair)

Why do you volunteer your time for NAMI Charleston Area and why should people volunteer with us?
I volunteer with NAMI Charleston Area as the Advocacy Chair. I originally began as a volunteer because I needed hours for one of my university classes. Once involved, I loved what NAMI stood for. I volunteer with NAMI Charleston Area because It’s important to talk about mental health and to advocate for the mental health of others. With 1 in 5 facing a mental health challenge in a given year, it’s important to know that resources like NAMI exist. I volunteer to be a voice for others and to offer education on mental health. Other people should volunteer with NAMI Charleston Area if they want to help make the world a better place. Without our volunteers NAMI would not be what it is today. Our volunteers are the reason why we have been so successful in being able to advocate, educate, and provide resources to our community members. 

How long have you been a volunteer?
This is my 3rd year as a volunteer. I have been a volunteer with NAMI since 2017. I started off volunteering with NAMI Lowcountry and NAMI Piedmont Tri-county through university and when I graduated, I began volunteering with NAMI Charleston Area in 2019.

What NAMI program do you feel is the most valuable? 
All of NAMI’s programs are valuable. However, the most valuable program is either our Ending the Silence Program or Crisis Intervention Training. Ending the Silence is valuable because it reaches our youth, parents and teachers. It gives students tools to help themselves or a friend and it creates a team behind every student to help them succeed when facing hardships. Crisis Intervention training is valuable because it gives our law enforcement practical and useful tools that save lives in times of crisis.

Fun fact: What is something a lot of people don’t know about you?
A lot of people don’t know that I enjoy maintenance projects. I enjoy identifying problem and figuring out how to fix it.

NAMI Scientific Research Award 2020

NAMI’s 2020 honoree for the NAMI Scientific Research Award is David C. Henderson, M.D., Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Boston Medical Center and Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. His research interests include treatment-resistant schizophrenia.

For the past 25 years, he has worked internationally conducting research and training programs. In the U.S., he has led more than 30 randomized clinical trials. NAMI will honor Dr. Henderson’s work at the Inspiring Hope Through Research event.

Please follow this link to register. The event is open for anyone to attend, so please forward this invitation to friends, family or colleagues who may be interested.

NAMI Charleston Area Reads On Our Bookshelf This Month:

insane consequences by DJ Jaffe

This well-researched and highly critical examination of the state of our mental health system by the industry’s most relentless critic presents a new and controversial explanation as to why–in spite of spending $147 billion annually–140,000 seriously mentally ill are homeless, 390,000 are incarcerated, and even educated, tenacious, and caring people can’t get treatment for their mentally ill loved ones.

DJ Jaffe blames the mental health industry and the government for shunning the 10 million adults who are the most seriously mentally ill–mainly those who suffer from schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder–and, instead, working to improve “mental wellness” in 43 million others, many of whom are barely symptomatic.

Insane Consequences proposes smart, compassionate, affordable, and sweeping reforms designed to send the most seriously ill to the head of the line for services rather than to jails, shelters, prisons, and morgues. This book is a must-read for anyone who works in the mental health industry or cares about the mentally ill, violence, homelessness, incarceration, or public policy.