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“Everyone knows someone:’ NAMI celebrates recovery

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — One after another, award-winners shared their stories. One man shared about dealing with the death of his fiancée. Another confessed that two years ago, he wouldn’t have been able to stand in front of a group of people and speak — he added that now, he controls his symptoms instead of them ruling him.

Barbara Valentine talked briefly about her struggles with Bipolar and PTSD, and read a poem that she wrote about overcoming every obstacle set in her way.

“I’m proud, and I want to say it loud — I am somebody,” she read.

These are stories of triumph that the Rowan chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) gathered to celebrate on Wednesday.

Carol Racz Greene, board secretary for NAMI Rowan, said the organization has been hosting its “Celebration of Success” luncheons since the grassroots mental health organization established a branch in Rowan County.

The luncheons gather together those who utilize NAMI services and those who provide support. Clients who have made progress in the past year are honored, as are those who partner with the organization to provide resources and support.

“It’s a tremendous resource,” Dr. Harley Smoot, a psychiatrist with Monarch, N.C., said of NAMI.

The organization works to raise awareness and provide support and education when it comes to mental health. Its mission statement reads: “To promote recover and optimize the quality of life for those affected by mental illness.”

Smoot was the keynote speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon, and spoke on the past and present of mental illness, and called NAMI the “unsung hero” of mental health resources. Mental illness can often be isolating, he said, but NAMI works to connect people to treatment and resources.

Attendees included representatives from Monarch, Cardinal Health, the W.G. Hefner VA and the Grievous Gallery in Salisbury. Peggy Mangold, president of NAMI Rowan, said she was very happy to see so many people turn out to support recovery and those with mental illness.

Award winners include: Michael Evan Hardy, James Henderson, Jonathan Allison, Ricky Witherspoon, Jason Hilton, Wanda Jones, Robert Cole, Rodney Richardson, Gary Warren, Joyce Moore-Gray, Jim Newman and Brandon Bryan.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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