Assemblyman Dan Logue was the keynote speaker for Colusa County’s 12th Annual Stamp Out Stigma Wellness and Recovery Rally held at Steelhead Lodge Bar & Grill on May 13. The dinner rally kicked off a week-long commemoration of the annual national effort to bring attention to the struggles of individuals dealing with mental illness.
The nearly sold-out event mingled Behavioral Health staff and clients with county and city dignitaries and area business owners and staffs.
Logue reminded the guests of the importance of not only seeing the need, but acting on it. He said he commends the community of Colusa County for its obvious show of support of this very important cause. Logue reminded the audience of Proposition 63 expenditures and said the services in Colusa County are a model of how those funds were intended to be used. “This is where the resources should go,” he said. “I’ll go back to Sacramento and I’ll tell them what you’ve done here.”
A “from-the-heart” presentation by Behavioral Health client Rob Wilson brought the audience to its feet in applause. Wilson shared his story of losing his job as an engineer geologist, then losing his wife to cancer resulting in him losing his home. He was thrown into deep depression.
At this time he lived in another California county and although he sought medical attention, he found himself spiraling down deeper into depression and having an adverse reaction to the medication which had been prescribed.
Because he had family in Colusa County he came here where they welcomed him and gave him a place to live. Again he sought the services through Behavioral Health and was then introduced to Safe Haven Drop-In Center.
Wilson said that Safe Haven saved his life. Still having a reaction to the medication when he first visited the Center he said that he just sat on the sofa in the media room. Eventually he ventured out to mingle with the other participants.
That is where he found suport and friendship. Wilson has continued to improve. He now helps others by teaching GED classes, sometimes cooks for the Safe Haven clients and has started another business doing odd jobs. He was recently elected president of the Colusa County Literacy Council. “A wise man once said, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Wilson said.
Mary Winters, a longtime member of the Mental Health Board was also honored during the event.
Behavioral Health Director Terrence “Terry” Rooney presented Winters with an award in appreciation of her for her efforts and support for mental health. The inscription on the
award stated that the Department of Behavioral Health and its clients want to extend their gratitude to her and that she is their champion.
This is the first time this award has been given, and Rooney added that it represents the establishment of the “Mary Winters Safe Haven Award” which will from this time on be an annual award.
“This is a huge event for our clients,” said Mental Health Services Act coordinator Dereck Parks who with peer support specialist Valerie Stirling oversees the day to day operation of Safe Haven.
Parks expressed how important it is to provide these types of events for the behavioral health clients. “It is very important not only to give them an opportunity to enjoy a nice dinner at a wonderful place like Steelhead Lodge, but more importantly it gives them an opportunity to meet and socialize with other members of the community.
“I had one client tell me that he was so happy to have been included and that he knew without an event such as this one he would have never had the opportunity to meet Assemblyman Logue,” said Parks.
“Things we take for granted hold great value to others,” he added.
Colusa County Chamber Executive Director Gary Teragawa served as master of ceremonies for the event, and Samuel Krouse provided musical entertainment.
Rooney also addressed the guests thanking them for their support and acknowledging that they can make a difference right where they are. “We can stamp out the stigma of mental illness right were we stand,” he said.
There were a number of donated raffle items from community members and local businesses. Additionally, Russ Woody, an Emmy-winning television writer and author donated a number of his books.
Woody, who will appear in Colusa County on July 24, sent five autographed copies of his book “The Wheel of Nuldoid” for the raffle and he also provided a case of the novels for sale for the benefit of the Safe Haven Fund. There are still books available for purchase at Safe Haven located at 131 5th Street in Colusa. While the rent and the utilities for the center are provided by Prop. 63 funds, all other expenses rely on donations.
Woody will sign the books during his July visit here.
Throughout the week there were ongoing tours of the Safe Haven Drop-In Center in Colusa and on Wednesday there was a free screening of the movie “Pay it Forward” at the Colusa Theatre. P