NAMI Piedmont through the Years……..
NAMI Piedmont arrived on the scene in 1991. This affiliate was referred to as PAMI (Piedmont Alliance for the Mentally Ill) at that time. At the urging of NAMI Virginia, all state affiliates placed NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) before their regional name in 1997. Thus we became NAMI Piedmont.
The first meetings were held in the basement of the RRCS Clinic in Culpeper. They were changed to Warrenton, several years later, due to the fact that most attendees were from the Fauquier County area. NAMI Piedmont Meetings continue to be held there today.
Joanne Lyons was NAMI Piedmont’s first President (1994 – 1999). Her passions were the Harvard Brain Bank (Information about this worthwhile endeavor will be coming to our website soon.) and dispelling the myth of the “schizophrenogenic” mother. She took much pride in advocating for mental health needs in our Piedmont region and encouraging members to
become involved in CSB (Community Services Board) activities.
After Joanne’s wonderful leadership, Dick Appelt took the reins as NAMI Piedmont’s second President (1999 – 2013). His main focus was making sure that more individuals living with a mental illness began attending our meetings. He even began conducting some meetings in Culpeper at the Visions Center.
Under Dick’s term, NAMI Piedmont began participating in NAMI Virginia Walks. He was Team Captain for our Walk team for many years. He garnered much Walk recognition from the state during that time for collecting a high number of donations state-wide. He also received the Spirit of Recovery award at the NAMI Virginia State Convention in 2014.
After Dick’s many dedicated years as NAMI Piedmont President, Bill Howard became our acting-President (4 months). During our first-ever election process for officers in May 2014, Sylvia Dugan became our third President (10 months).
During Sylvia’s time as NAMI Piedmont’s President, she became involved in the beginnings of the CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) Program. Decisions about our affiliate’s re-affiliation process occurred during her time too.
After Sylvia’s hard work, Kathy Weigel took-over as acting NAMI Piedmont President (14 months). She then ran in the next election for officers, becoming our current President. She is extremely enthusiastic about NAMI’s many educational and support programs and is always trying to make them part of NAMI Piedmont. She is thrilled that NAMI Piedmont’s youth initiative will begin next year with NAMI’s Ending the Silence Program. She would also like to see programs starting up in the Culpeper area.
Her goal is to increase attendance at NAMI Piedmont meetings, classes, and support groups. She would also like to see more family members of and individuals with mental health challenges involved in the running of affiliate activities, because this fantastic group can only exist with everyone’s help. We need the entire team working together to have an effect on mental health concerns.
Kathy currently is coordinator / facilitator of the Family Support group. She also teaches the Family-to-Family Class with her husband, Bob. At the moment she is involved in NAMI Virginia Walks 2017 as a Co-chairwoman.
NAMI Piedmont has been recognized by NAMI Virginia in many ways. We were twice asked to host the regional Affiliate’s Appreciation Day. Our affiliate has won awards for our efforts with NAMI Virginia Walks too. Several times we have been honored by being one of the top three state affiliates in Walk donations……quite an achievement for such a small affiliate as ours. Our biggest honor was being named Affiliate of the Year at the NAMI Virginia State Convention in 2015.
NAMI Piedmont has progressed through the years as an active NAMI affiliate. We will continue to achieve our goals in supporting, educating, and advocating for both family members of and individuals living with a mental illness, with the combined efforts of all those in the Piedmont region pulling together and supporting this affiliate’s initiatives.