The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County hosted their 2015 Hope Shines luncheon on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at a private club in Naples, drawing in supporters from near and far. With a theme of “Believe,” the fundraising event was able to raise $200,000 due to the overwhelming generosity of hundreds that support the 1 in 4 families affected by serious and persistent mental illness.

Chairing the event this year were Lindy and Lindsey Thomas, of Naples, who were able to raise awareness and funds for the 16,000 children and families that NAMI of Collier County helps every year. Introducing a new segment to the luncheon titled “I am NAMI,” Mr. and Mrs. Thomas successfully demonstrated how the entire community is affected by mental illness.

Leading the event as the keynote speaker, Victoria Maxwell delivered a heartfelt and inspiring speech about her own personal experience growing up with mental illness, overcoming her obstacles, her road to recovery, and her current successes. Maxwell is an actor and playwright, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and psychosis. She regularly speaks candidly about accepting and living with a psychiatric disorder. With over 20 years’ experience in acting and playwriting, Maxwell has appeared alongside David Duchovny, John Travolta, and Johnny Depp, among others. As one of North America’s most sought-after speakers on the ‘lived’ experience of mental illness and recovery, Maxwell now works diligently to dismantle stigma and address workplace mental illness.

The event also showcased various awards and winners. Receiving the 2015 Amada Hope Award was Dana Foglesong, for her commitment to providing help and hope to others and for exemplifying recovery. Rosemary Pace received the 2015 Believe Award for her continued efforts in believing in NAMI’s mission, goals, and the 1 in 4 families affected by mental illness. Additionally, presented with the CIT Officer of the Year Award was Cpl. Crafton for his commitment, dedication, and service to the students and staff at Gulfview Middle School. Lastly, Alisa Helms, NAMI of Collier County’s Board Chair, and Kathryn Hunter, NAMI of Collier County’s CEO, were both given awards from Sheriff Rambosk and the Collier County Sheriffs Office for their outstanding work with those affected by mental illness in Collier County. Sheriff Rambosk also spoke about CIT (Crisis Intervention Training), which is a program specifically designed to improve the way law enforcement and the community respond to people experiencing a mental health crisis. With NAMI’s efforts to provide this vital training for 7 years now, this training has seen over 900 graduates.

Corporate Sponsors of the event included Arthrex, Park Royal Behavioral Health Services, Amada Senior Care, Naples Illustrated, Naples Daily News, Driftwood Garden Center, Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, The Garden District, Estero United Methodist Church, Legacy Options, Norman Love Confections, MARKIT Group, Residence Inn, Naples Pilot Club, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, Stock Development, PBS Contractors, US Trust, and Wynn’s Catering. Table Sponsors of the event included Barbara and Ed Billman, George Drobinski, Linda Flatley, Jane and Phil Francoeur, Susan Gallagher and Newton Davis, Emily James, Rosemarie Kirk, Mary Lane, Shelley McGirr, Anne McNulty, Gayle Miller, Alisa and David Mirts, Sandy Overton, osemary Pace, Lorraine and Joe Padulo, Susan Pfeil, Karla and Larry Phillips, Patricia and Jim Pike, Lila Shaw, Lynne Shotwell, Karen and Sam Smith, Vicky C. Smith, and Lindy and Lindsey Thomas.

Funds raised at the Hope Shines Luncheon will go toward providing and maintaining NAMI’s many programs and services, which are all offered to the public absolutely free of charge. Funds will also contribute to raising awareness of mental illness, educating and advocating for the acceptance of those involved, and providing emergency financial assistance to those that NAMI serves.