High Hopes Breakfast
The aptly named “High Hopes” breakfast, hosted by and benefiting the Mental Health Community Centers, did, indeed, deliver a message of hope to its more than 160 guests.
Among those seen were event chair Kristina Paape, Executive Director Arin Norris, Michael Zuckerberg, Judy Zuckerberg, George Kole, Heidi Brown, Andria Bilan, Barbara Brizdle, Johnette Cappadona, Carol Jean Miller, Geri Yonover, Sheila Birnbaum, Anne Garlington, Ken and Peggy Abt, Marie Monsky, Debbie and Dan Dannheisser, Carol Butera, John Zrebiec and Sue Jacobson, among others.
Guests were welcomed by Board Chair Steve Klindt, who began by paying tribute to philanthropists known for their “uncommon generosity and caring,” who passed away in the last year, including Betty Isermann, Betty Schoenbaum and Steve Seidensticker. As guests enjoyed breakfast, it was time to present the inaugural Howard and Betty Isermann Community Impact Award to Rose Chapman.
Rose accepted the award, noting, “I don’t like a lot of honors,” preferring to exert her influence behind the scenes. “For 25 years, however, I have been aware of the wonderful work of the Mental Health Community Centers,” she said. Rose has worked in the field herself for more than 40 years, 25 of those years with Jewish Family & Children’s Service of the Suncoast.
She recalled in the 1970s how people with mental health issues were often “dumped” into SROs (single room occupancies), with no clue how to survive out in the community. “It was a really big failure in the 1970s, and led to my commitment to continue in the mental health field,” she said.
With the help of organizations like MHCC, services have improved, she said, though there is still much work to be done. “Society still sees mental illness as a weakness, rather than as an illness, and that needs to change,” she said, reminding guests that one in four people will develop mental health problem at some point in their lives.
So, what can people do? Become a local advocate. Be a supportive friend. Encourage politicians to fully fund mental health programs. And support programs like Mental Health Community Centers. MHCC is currently helping around 600 people per year at its centers, with 96 percent of those saying that the center’s programs improved their quality of life. “We’re poised to do even more,” said Arin Norris, “building on our strong foundation, helping people to find pathways to self-improvement and positive change.”
Stephen Museo, Pam Baron-Mahoney and April Ranceful.
PHOTO BY ROD MILLINGTON