More than just food was served during a recent holiday event at the Veterans Memorial Park fellowship hall — hope was on the menu as well.
Various businesses and other organizations lent their support to an Easter Seals effort at the park which allowed more than 50 people to experience the true spirit of Christmas.
They are clients of the Assertive Community Treatment Team (ACTT) program serving residents of Surry and Yadkin counties, which is provided by Easter Seals/United Cerebral Palsy North Carolina & Virginia Inc.
That program provides comprehensive mental health and substance-abuse services to the chronic and persistently mentally ill.
Due to the severity of their mental illness, oftentimes these individuals are the most excluded, isolated and withdrawn from their community, according to Susan Crisp, a therapist for the local ACTT unit based on West Lebanon Street, and Melissa DeHaven, who also is involved with the program.
However, due to the generosity of businesses and other community entities, a holiday meal was enjoyed by persons who might otherwise have had little to no hope during this holiday season, the Easter Seals officials said. The event was “an opportunity for the entire community to connect as human beings and remind us that we must support and care for one another in order to keep hope on the horizon,” in the view of one observer.
“It wasn’t just the meal — there was fellowship and gifts,” Crisp said Friday.
Each person who attended received a gift, which included winter coats for everyone. The total cost of the event, counting the food, gifts and rental of the meeting place, was about $6,500.
This was made possible through a collaborative effort led by the Assertive Community Treatment Team.
“Belk made a huge donation,” Crisp said of the Mayberry Mall store that was just one of the supporters. Others were the American Legion Riders of Mount Airy and the Grace Moravian Outreach Committee.
Additional community collaborators included Mayflower Seafood, Holly Springs Cafe, Renfro Corp., Trio Restaurant and Bar, Bluebird Diner, Barney’s Cafe and Mount Airy Meat Center.
With the ACTT program designed to provide community-based mental health services to improve the clients’ overall quality of life, one avenue for meeting this goal is through identifying and collaborating with local partners.
That was true of the recent event in which the public-private partnership united with the common goal of instilling hope where there has historically been none, according to team members.
The harsh economic conditions and high unemployment now gripping the area presents an extra obstacle for the mentally ill and others in the target group, but there was no hint on those problems at the recent gathering, they agreed.