On May 6, 1908, Clifford W. Beers founded Mental Health Connecticut (MHC), then known as the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene. After years of cruel and inhumane treatment in CT mental health institutions, Beers achieved recovery and devoted his life to changing the mental health system. His autobiography, A Mind That Found Itself, chronicles the harsh and unscientific treatments he endured and his journey back to wellness.
For 110 years, MHC has worked to improve mental health services, promote recovery for people with mental health conditions, educate the community about the importance of mental wellness, and combat discrimination resulting from a mental health diagnosis. Every day our staff helps those in need obtain safe and affordable housing, achieve whole health, realize meaningful purpose in their daily lives, and become active members of the community.
Our Campaign and Our Success!
In honor of our founder and our 110th anniversary as an agency, we chose to follow in his footsteps by setting the following goal in 2018: Raise $110,000 by asking Connecticut residents to become #Be1of110 Champions who were willing to share their personal stories, like Clifford Beers, and help us reach our fundraising goal. We asked the Champions to answer the question “#WhatMovesYou?” The answers were powerful and sparked more in-depth and necessary conversations about wellness across the state.
How did we do? Success! We raised over $116,000, thanks some amazing fundraisers, donors, and our friends in the business world who believe that we all should have the chance to achieve mental wellness.
Where is the money going? Like our founder, we are passionate about making a difference in the mental health system. Our health and wellness programs – such as Gardening, Recovery, and Opportunities for Wellness (GROW), Mending Art, Deaf Rec, and Write On! — are doing just that for our program participants but they require more funding so these programs can expand and make a difference in more lives.
Continue reading to learn more about our Champions, how we exceeded our goal, and where our dollars are making a difference for MHC’s wellness programs.
Individuals: Jackie Davis, Kim Pita, Suzi Craig, Rob Michalik, Rachel Prior, Melanie Kucko, William Hyde, Michele Agler, Luis Perez, Michael Culmo, Ursula Sowinski, Lyne Stokes, Scott Boulton, Edwin Norse, Jacquelynn Garofano, Laureen Guerriero, Diane Plourde, Ed Peltier, Deirdre King-Hooge, Victoria Pelka, Jean Parisi, Scott Brabant, and Bryanna Paternostro
Teams: Coast to Coast, Jill Siliva & Hollen’s Be1of110 Team, Froi & Nikki Cruz, Sea Tea Improv, Good Vibe Tribe, Michelle Barry & Sean Smedley, Jus Moves Studio, Fleet Feet – Hartford, Arooga’s Rte 32, Cross-CT Rail Trail Run, Lockton Companies
Our Champions represented 34 unique fundraising groups, that collectively included over 110 individuals. Click on the above names to see each individual fundraising page, many of which include personal #WhatMovesYou stories from our dedicated champions.
While our Champions hosted fundraisers across the state and online, our corporate sponsors helped support us throughout the year with funding and in-kind support.
Premier Sponsor, KÔTA donated goods and services throughout 2018 in honor of our anniversary. Thanks to their support we were able to host our annual Art of Wellbeing fundraiser at The Cabaret Theatre of Mohegan Sun, give away luxury items at this and other MHC events, and present our top fundraisers with exciting prizes at the close of the campaign.
Additional corporations and organizations like our friends at ConnectiCare, supported MHC throughout the year by sponsoring specific events, such as the Art of Wellbeing, Mind & Body Wellness Fair, and Annual IC Walk and Open House.
Every Champion shared their story in their own way. Some chose to do so on their personal fundraising pages, on social media, or in one-on-one conversations with their friends and family members. Some Champions stepped forward with a desire to publicly share their mental health journey with the world and we were fortunate enough to capture it on video through interviews with our friends at WTNH and through custom videos made by MHC with the help of Simms PR. Here are just a few of their stories:
Team Coast to Coast’s Story
Kim and Jus’ Story
Our first donation was given by a member of our Board of Directors in the amount of $110. With this, started a flood of support through the personal fundraising pages of our Champions, our Sponsorships, Facebook fundraisers, and unique events planned by our Champions and staff. By December 31, 2018 we raised $116,552, exceeding our anniversary goal. Funds are still coming in from Champions who are wrapping up their fundraising efforts and we are grateful to each and every supporter of this campaign and our agency.
In addition to the 34 personal fundraising pages set up by individuals and teams, countless social media posts were made by Champions to spread the word of this campaign and the importance of keeping the conversation around mental health going. MHC was featured on TV, radio, and print media year-round, not only discussing this campaign, but highlighting the programs we offer across the state. Our social media pages expanded its followers and we even joined Instagram, gaining over 200 followers in just a few months!
Our Programs (Where the Dollars Are Going)
The funds raised from this campaign have already been put to great use! Here are just a few programs that have been funded through this campaign:
- GROW (Gardening, Recovery, and Opportunities for Wellness) was designed as a skills building and wellness program that grows healthy food. With this program, MHC’s goal is to improve the health, wellbeing, and work skills of our program participants while producing fresh vegetables, herbs, and plants for under-served communities in Connecticut’s urban areas. In addition to the therapeutic benefits, participants get healthy vegetables to eat and MHC is able to donate to food shelters and sell produce to continue to fund the GROW program. Thanks to the dollars raised, GROW is growing! A new greenhouse will be added to our Walton Place property in Stamford, CT this spring, and more supplies will be purchased for GROW’s four other sites.
- Write On! is helping emerging writers find their voice and write their truth. MHC works with young adult writers, ages 18-29, who are diagnosed with a mental health condition and/or substance use disorder (or who have experienced trauma and live with mental health and/or substance use challenges), and who want to become powerful storytellers and self-advocates. Participants advance their writing skills, learn how to use writing as a healing mechanism, and educate the community on the realities of living with trauma and/or a mental health diagnosis. Writers also work with the award-winning team at Sea Tea Improv to gain confidence and improve public speaking skills. Thanks to the dollars raised, Write On! is doubling its offering in spring 2019, and funding researchers from the University of Hartford to study the impact of this program. Applications are being accepted through February 15.
We are so grateful to everyone who joined us in this campaign. We hope that you will continue to show your support of MHC and the work we do to improve mental health for all Connecticut residents. To learn more about us, visit www.mhconn.org.