What We Did With Your Help In 2020
2020 was a year of changes, challenges, and traumatic events. For those of us in the NAMI Charleston Area affiliate, we understand what it means to be able to adapt to changes quickly and to accept a “new normal,” but this year has been a challenge for even the most seasoned members.
We saw a significant increase in the number of calls and emails from people reaching out to us for the first time. We heard from many people who had been managing their mental health or had a loved one who was well for many years facing setbacks because of isolation and anxiety due to the pandemic. We could see our community needed us more than ever. We researched different ways to continue our programs and services and began offering virtual support groups, connected people in our area with other NAMI SC affiliates offering virtual support groups and classes, and provided information about other organizations to help with housing, rental assistance, and other needs.
We started 2020 with added support groups in North Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Pawleys Island with our newly NAMI trained facilitators. When March and the Covid-19 quarantine came, we decided to use Google Meet as our virtual platform, so we could continue to provide support, encouragement, and interaction with others. Our last in-person NAMI Connection Support Group was March 12th and the last in-person NAMI Family Support Group met on March 10th. We were proud to have our virtual support groups launch on April 30th. We offered the NAMI Connection Support group weekly on Mondays and the NAMI Family Support group twice a month. We had 42 Connection Support Group meetings with 265 people attending and 23 Family Support Group meetings with 134 people attending. We were able to host an In Our Own Voice presentation before the quarantine with 20 people in attendance. Crisis Intervention Team training was put on hold due to the quarantine, but when we were able to safely gather again, we had some great volunteers take part in Faces to share their personal experiences with mental health and answer questions from our local first responders.
With our fundraising efforts from 2019, we were able to hire our first employee, Kelly Troyer, as our Community Outreach Coordinator. She also took on the role of NAMIWalks Walk Manager and did an excellent job! Our NAMIWalks Charleston event was only our 2nd one and we weren’t sure how a virtual event would work. Thanks to our fearless Walk Manager and an enthusiastic board and several volunteers we not only had success in fundraising but had a lot of fun doing it. We exceeded our goal of $25,000 and ended up with $33,000. We received many pictures and videos from our walk teams before the walk and on the day of the walk. Even though we were not in the same location, we felt a sense of community and support for the shared cause of mental health awareness.
Here’s to hoping 2021 is a better year for everyone! As always, please know you are not alone.