This article appeared in The Palm Beach Post Notables on February 6, 2023.
A chronic issue of crisis proportions, the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties will light the way forward on mental health at its 10th Annual Founders Luncheon on Feb. 15.
From addiction to anxiety, depression to dementia, mental health challenges affect people at every stage — and walk — of life.
However, mental health services like counseling are often inaccessible, and locally, many of our neighbors are struggling to get the help they need.
In 2022 alone, more than 20,000 Palm Beach County residents called the 211 HelpLine seeking support for mental health or substance use disorders. More than 800 of those calls were suicide related. The next most frequent reason people called 211 searching for help? Housing concerns.
That’s why the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, a not-for-profit organization that leads partnerships with donors, nonprofits and community members to solve the region’s chronic and emerging issues, is putting the focus on mental health at its 10th Annual Founders Luncheon.
“Awareness and provision of mental health resources are growing gaps, particularly coming out of the pandemic,” said Julie Fisher Cummings, chair of the board of directors of the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. “That is why this year at our 10th Annual Founders Luncheon, we are compelled to rally the community around ‘Hope for Mental Health.’”
The event — being held Feb. 15 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach — will honor and celebrate the philanthropists and nonprofit partners making a difference locally in promoting community mental health.
“The key to addressing the mental health crisis is realizing that there is hope, and philanthropy has the power to democratize access to therapies and treatments,” said Danita R. DeHaney, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “The Community Foundation is proud to celebrate the people and programs who are on the front lines and inspire donors to join us in this fight.”
Dr. Randy Blakely, executive director of the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute, will deliver the keynote address, shining a light on the science behind successful mental health therapies. Blakely, who holds the David J. S. Nicholson Distinguished Professorship in Neuroscience and
is a professor of biomedical science in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at FAU, became the founding executive director of the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute in 2016.
He also serves as the Director of the Neuroscience Graduate Program at FAU. His research led to the cloning of genes that encode the brain’s major targets for antidepressant medications as well as those targeted by addictive and therapeutic psychostimulants, including cocaine and amphetamine.
Margaret C. Donnelley, a long-time mental health advocate in Palm Beach County, is the event’s guest of honor and recipient of the Community Foundation’s McIntosh Award, named after the organization’s founders Winsome and Michael McIntosh. Her long-standing leadership and support for organizations on the frontlines of this issue spans decades. She began volunteering at the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County in 1968 and as Chairman Emeritus helped the organization establish a nonprofit endowment fund with the Community Foundation in 2018 to support its work in perpetuity. Similarly, she has helped the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Palm Beach County and the Autism Project to establish philanthropic endowments with the Community Foundation.
Event sponsors include: Palm Health Foundation, Lovelight Fund, Julie and Peter Cummings, Marjorie S. Fisher Fund, The DiPaula Education, Empowerment and Enrichment Fund, Tiffany and Bill Meyer, The Kolter Group, Stoops Family Foundation, WLRN Public Media, Susan and Peter Brockway, Northern Trust, Findlay Galleries, The Palm Beach Post/LOCALiQ and Palm Beach Illustrated.
The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties leads philanthropy locally.
Since 1972, the foundation has distributed more than $200 million in grants and scholarships aimed at closing the area’s opportunity gaps.
“The key to addressing the mental health crisis is realizing that there is hope, and philanthropy has the power to democratize access to therapies and treatments.’ – Danita R. DeHaney, president and CEO of the Community Foundation