By Emalee Gillis, NAMI Spokane Blog Editor.

As NAMIWalks Spokane fundraising event scheduled for June 1 draws closer, two NAMI Spokane Board members shared why they are participating and why they encourage others to join them.

Heidi Curnow is the Vice President of the NAMI Spokane Board. She joined the Board of Directors for NAMI Spokane four years ago because it fit perfectly with her interest in reducing the stigma around mental illness. She has many friends and family who struggle with mental health issues, so the opportunity to serve NAMI Spokane resonated with her. Because Curnow has a background in marketing and communications, she became the Chair of the Fundraising Committee for NAMI Spokane.

Tamara Sheehan is the President of the NAMI Spokane Board and also the Senior Director of Behavioral Health for Inland Northwest Washington which is a part of Providence. Providence is the Presenting Sponsor of NAMIWalks Spokane, the largest sponsor of the Walk. Sheehan said that Providence is the Presenting Sponsor of the Walk because it fits with the values of the organization. Two of Providence’s values are compassion and dignity. NAMI supports these values by providing very powerful education and outreach to families as well as those who have a mental health condition. She said that some of the testimonials that come from the NAMI Spokane programming that she has heard make it one of the most valuable resources in our community.

Last year, NAMI Spokane had two fundraising events—the Walk and a Depressed Cake Popup Shop. This year the Fundraising Committee is adding a silent auction. According to Curnow, the Walk is one of NAMI Spokane’s most important fundraising events because it is their signature fundraising effort.

NAMIWalks supports the goal of Mental Health for all in three ways by: 1)  promoting awareness of mental health and reducing stigma, 2) raising funds for NAMI’s free top-rated mental health programs, and 3) building community and letting people know they are not alone.

NAMIWalks invites participants to share their stories, build community and walk together. The event starts off with brief presentations at the Rotary Fountain in Riverfront Park. The walk is about a mile long and ends with a celebration.

Curnow said that she is pleased that at two months ahead of the walk, NAMI Spokane already has five sponsors. Providence is the Presenting Sponsor. Gold Sponsors include: Katie Thew’s Unconditional Love Fund; Frontier Behavioral Health; and Branches Spokane, a service of Inland Northwest Behavioral Health. Bronzer Sponsors include: Chas Health Clinic. NAMI Spokane is actively looking for additional sponsors. Learn more about how to become a sponsor.

Alternatively, you can join a team of walkers or create your own. You can start with your own meaningful donation then reach out to your network and share the support and services of NAMI Spokane. 38 community members on 15 teams have already signed up. Sheehan is hoping that between 25 and 50 participants will walk from Providence and many others will join other teams. NAMI Spokane is looking for more people to sign up to help achieve the goal of mental health for all.

NAMIWalks Spokane is a fun family-friendly event. Sheehan said that previous participants from Providence have shared that they volunteer for the walk because they have family or friends who have suffered from mental health conditions at various levels. This is something they want to do to support others are in a similar situation.

Sheehan said that it is important to support the great work of NAMI Spokane. She said that NAMI Spokane is continuing to grow and it is important to foster that growth. Sheehan said, “The Strategic Plan for the next few years is focused on how NAMI Spokane can expand its services. NAMI Spokane is a community program, for the community. It can only continue to be in existence if our community supports it.”