NAMI Far North held an event called "Take a Seat at the Table" combining a charitable auction of artist-created chairs with an old-fashioned ice cream social/community awareness and educational event on September 26, 2009. This event, sponsored by the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, provided a feast for the senses and promoted better access to care, better housing and more just and equitable treatment of the mentally ill.
"Take a Seat at the Table" is a metaphor for our shared responsibility to improve the lives of people with mental illness in the North Idaho region with its scarce resources of psychiatrists, supported workplaces, and transitional housing. The only commodity that is not scarce here is stigma, the fear of and discrimination against mentally ill people arising from ignorance, lack of understanding and long-held misconceptions about neurobiological brain diseases. NAMI Far North’s mission is to advocate for better treatment, services and support for those with mental illness and their family members, and to educate and inform the general public in the interests of eliminating stigma through better understanding.
By inviting individuals to take their own seats at the table, NAMI Far North invited people to learn more about mental illness, add their voice and their financial support to improving local services, and join those who are already engaged in efforts to empower mentally ill people to take their rightful place at the table of our community. The community was invited to pull up a chair and join NAMI Far North on Saturday, September 26, 2009 at the Panhandle State Bank Building Atrium in Sandpoint, for ice cream sundaes, live music, a silent auction and the highlight of the evening, a live auction of one-of-a-kind, artist-created chairs!
This lively and entertaining evening offered a feast of educational information in addition to the ice cream and the silent and live auctions. Informational literature was available regarding the major mental illnesses and their treatment. Attendees had the opportunity to talk to NAMI members who were willing to share openly with them about their lived experiences, either having lived with mental illness, or family members with a loved one who suffers from mental illness. They could learn about NAMI’s telephone helpline, its regular educational and support meetings, and its programs of family education and Crisis Intervention Training for Law Enforcement.
Live harp and guitar music provided the background for examination of the chairs that were the theme of the evening and the stars of the show. There were more than twenty-five chairs on display in the Atrium, all created, decorated, remodeled, reupholstered and/or otherwise crafted by local artists, who had donated their time and talent to support the charitable work spot-lighted by this event. Some of the chairs … to be used in a home, a cabin, an office, on a deck, or for grandchildren… were whimsical and fun. Others were beautiful and unique. Some were quite functional and some were works of art to be admired for years. As attendees reviewed the chairs to be bid on at the live auction and checked out the silent auction items that included quilts, works of art, hand-made dolls and other hand-crafted items, they enjoyed their choice of ice cream and toppings to which could be added sprinkles, nuts, whipped cream and all the fixings to make a truly unique and delicious sundae. The event was a family affair with children welcome and proved that good fun, good food and good friends are the essence of community – and that when a good cause is the reason for the gathering, the health of the community is enhanced through increased awareness of the connection between mental illness and homelessness, discrimination and stigma. Sandpoint is a community known for its caring: taking a seat at our table is a way friends and neighbors exhibit care and find ways to roll up their sleeves to help empower the mentally ill to become productive citizens.
NAMI Far North is one of twelve grassroots Idaho organizations receiving a grant from Fund for Idaho, making "Take a Seat at the Table" possible. This community-wide awareness and fundraising project will increase membership and sustainability, enabling NAMI Far North to lead community collaborative efforts for more just and equitable treatment and housing for the mentally ill in north Idaho. All proceeds from Take a Seat at the Table will be used by NAMI Far North in Bonner and Boundary Counties to further its mission of improving the lives of people with mental illness and their families through information, education, support and advocacy. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
September 26, 2009 Bonner County Daily Bee - NAMI Social Today at PSB
September 25, 2009 Bonner County Daily Bee - "Take a Seat" and Help NAMI Far North
September 12, 2009 Bonner County Daily Bee - Community Invited to "Take a Seat at the Table"
December, 2009 Fund for Idaho - 2009 Grant Update
September 20, 2009 Spokesman Review - Event Shines a Light on Mental Illness
September 20, 2009 Sandpoint - Its Places and Its People - NAMI Far North Hosts Fundraiser