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NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group Update

NAMI Connection – Realizing Nationwide Consumer Support at the 2009 NAMI Convention 

The NAMI Connection program is now in its third and final launch year, so we wanted to be sure to showcase what has been accomplished over the last 2 ½ years, and share our program’s success with all those involved at this year’s annual NAMI Convention in San Francisco.

 This year, we started with a bang, hosting our second annual NAMI Connection Celebration Luncheon on Tuesday, July 7. This year was especially unique for us, as we were able to sponsor Tuesday’s consumer luncheon in conjunction with the Connection event, and we had over 300 attendees! We were joined by NAMI Connection facilitators, state trainers, national trainers, state and local coordinators, executive directors, board members, and NAMI national staff members. We also welcomed some very special guests from AstraZeneca, including Dr. Mark Scott, executive director of Neuroscience Development.

 We were delighted to be able to present our first ever NAMI Connection Awards at the luncheon, including “Outstanding Facilitator” awards, “Program Expansion and Outreach” awards, and “Outstanding Trainer” awards. Four of our national trainers were present to receive their awards and gave some very heartfelt and emotional acceptance speeches.

The energy of the luncheon was amazing! We were thrilled to see so many of our program participants who are working hard to establish and grow the NAMI Connection program in their states. We were also excited to see many new faces, who will hopefully become involved in NAMI Connection as a result of hearing about how the program has changed people’s lives. 

On Wednesday, July 8, we hosted a NAMI Connection Executive Directors Breakfast. We are in 39 states right now, and hope to be in 46 by December, so we had quite a full house. Speakers included Mike Fitzpatrick, Sue Abderholden, executive director of NAMI Minnesota, and Pete Aresco, Connection coordinator of NAMI Connecticut.  Sue spoke about the success she has had in her state as she launches the program this year, and focused on her work with veterans. Pete shared some of his outreach tactics with the audience, and focused on the importance of facilitator support. Great ideas and questions were exchanged.

Later that day, we held the 3rd Annul NAMI Connection Symposium. The symposium consisted of two panels. The first was comprised of NAMI Connection state leaders which included Bill Lindsey, executive director of NAMI South Carolina, Barbara Bate, president of NAMI Washington, and Spencer Hinckley, programs coordinator for NAMI Utah. The second panel was comprised of NAMI Connection program participants including Deb Strong, facilitator and national trainer in Connecticut, Anthony Hoslcher, facilitator, national trainer and peer programs coordinator in Arizona, and Deanna Green, facilitator, trainer and field manager for NAMI National. Both panels did a fantastic job of sharing their own personal stories and experiences with managing and participating in the NAMI Connection program.

In addition to the above referenced events, the program hosted two NAMI Connection support groups each night of the convention, and had a display in NAMI Land. The national staff were able to meet and speak with many existing and potential NAMI Connection program participants. It was an absolutely wonderful conference and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!