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NAMI in Buffalo & Erie County to celebrate National Mental Health Awareness Month

BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | April 28, 2014

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will hold its 30th annual awards and dinner celebration at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 8 at Sean Patrick’s restaurant, 3480 Millersport Highway, Getzville. In conjunction with National Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI welcomes as the evening’s keynote speaker Randye Kaye, a well-known national media personality whose credits include hosting talk show “Issues and Answers,” as well as appearing on PBS’ “To the Contrary” and WBAI’s “The Positive Mind.” Kaye’s appearance in the educational video “Dealing with Stigma in Mental Illness” came as an extension of her commitment to end the stigma that too often makes the already-serious challenges of dealing with a mental illness in one’s life, or in a family’s life, even more difficult. Kaye knows whereof she speaks.

Kaye developed a “second career” on the topic mental illness when her son Ben’s inexplicable behavior changes marked the onset of a mental illness that would alter her family forever. Her experience with Ben’s illness and recovery taught her a lot about diversity, tolerance, stress management, and the importance of communication and conflict management. Out of this experience she authored “Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope.” She will share some of that insight as the keynote speaker on Friday, May 8.

In bringing Kaye to Buffalo, NAMI president Marcy Rose notes, “Families need to know that they are not alone and that there is support and hope: support for the often difficult, confusing and painful realization that a loved one is seriously ill; and hope for a loved one’s efforts at recovery with treatment, family support, and community awareness of the realities and challenges in mental illness. NAMI addresses these challenges in our community every day and works to eliminate stigma around them. We are pleased to bring Randye Kaye to Western New York with her encouraging message.”

Honorees at this year’s dinner are: Kristin Adduci of Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service, Inc.; Matt Spina of “The Buffalo News;” Dr. Herman Szymanski, NAMI volunteer; Ann Venuto; Dr. Patrick Welch of the Daemen College Center for Veterans and Veterans Families Services Center; and Chief David Zack and Lt. Brian Gould of the Cheektowaga Police Department.

NAMI members and supporters will also be raising mental health awareness and working to end stigma around mental illness with volunteer gift wrapping on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 at Barnes & Noble on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

NAMI in Buffalo & Erie County is a volunteer membership organization that supports families coping with a loved one who has a serious mental illness, advocates for improved mental health services and programs, and works to end the stigma associated with mental illness. More information about these events and NAMI’s mission are available at 226-6264 or

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