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A Tribute to Phylis Holliday

From the NAMI Augusta Azalea newsletter, July 2009

After years of selfless and cheerful service, Phylis Holliday is retiring soon as the Executive Director of the Friendship Community Center in Augusta, Georgia. Phylis (people who know her would never say Ms. Holliday) was a founding force behind mental health treatment and advocacy in the Augusta and East Central Georgia area. She has made a career of standing up for those with mental illness and, more importantly, helping them to stand up for themselves.

Phylis shared in the nurturance and growth of the local mental health center and years later stood firm against very real threats to help uncover and eliminate rampant criminal activity in the administration of that center. Her efforts to protect local consumers of mental health services contributed to four federal criminal convictions and a complete restructuring of the center.

While that may have been a defining moment in Phylis's efforts on behalf of mental health consumers, it is by no means her only heroic act. She founded and has guided the Friendship Community Center in Augusta. The Friendship Community Center was established to provide socialization opportunities and has pioneered peer support for adults recovering from severe mental illness. We at NAMI owe a special thanks to Friendship for donating office and meeting space for our activities.

Phylis helped found and is the long-serving Director of Mental Health America of Augusta. She played a leading role statewide in the 811 Study Commission and the passage and implementation of HB100. She was instrumental in the formation of the Augusta Coalition for Mental Health Advocacy, a ground-breaking organization which united local professional organizations to advocate together for mental health issues. She brought together local chapters of NAMI, MHA, and DBSA in a joint fund raising effort which resulted in the highly successful annual Yancey Mental Health Golf Tournament.

Phylis has also served on the DMHDDAD Planning and Advisory Council, the Human Rights Committee of the Regional Hospital of East Central Georgia, and the Augusta Task Force for the Homeless.

Phylis Holliday has spent her adult life bringing people and organizations together in support of persons with mental illness. She has done so with seemingly boundless energy, a generous spirit, and a ready supply of self-effacing humor.


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