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February 25, 2020

1/23/2020 7:30:00 AM
NAMI to host fifth annual Snowball Gala Jan. 25
Stephanie Kuski
River News Features Reporter

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and NAMI Northern Lakes Drop-in Center (NLC) will host the fifth annual Snowball Gala Jan. 25 at Holiday Acres Resort in Rhinelander.

Proceeds for the fundraising event will benefit NAMI Northern Lakes and NAMI programs, which provide education, advocacy and support for local individuals and their families living with mental illness.

"At the drop-in center, we provide support and education," NAMI Board Vice President and Snowball Gala Chairperson Mary Wright said. "We have support groups and all sorts of activities and outings. It's a stigma-free zone, so that a person living with mental illness can come there and spend their day."

NAMI is seeking reservations and donations for the Snowball Gala to benefit their programs.

Last year the Snowball Gala raised over $20,000 and the goal for this year's gala is $25,000.

"Each year, we beat our previous year's goal and we're hoping to continue that," Wright said.

All donations generated through the Snowball Gala will directly benefit local NAMI programs.

"All donations are tax deductible and will be used 100% to support the NAMI Northern Lakes Center and programs in Forest, Oneida and Vilas counties," Wright said.

Tickets are $50 per person or $600 for corporate tables that seat eight people. All donations are greatly appreciated, Wright said. Donations for the dessert run, live auction and bucket raffles are also requested.

Dinner reservations must be made in advance. Please contact Mary Wright at 715-362-8972 for more information.

The event will kick off with cocktails at 5 p.m. Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m.

Dinner will include a life auction, raffles and fun games throughout the night, including a dessert run.

Four choices of dinner are served with Italian green beans, salad, rolls and dessert: chicken marsala, salmon en croute, grilled beef loin and butternut squash ravioli (vegetarian option).

Al Elvins III of the Tomahawk Police Department will be the keynote speaker with a presentation on Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for police personnel to adequately de-escalate crisis situations involving people living with mental illness.

Providing education in an effort to destigmatize mental illness is a key goal of NAMI. At the drop-in center, volunteers are trained to provide emotional support in crisis situations for those living with mental illness.

Wright said the drop-in center provides a network of stigma-free support.

Although it can be difficult to be forthcoming about one's mental illness in a small community like Rhinelander, Wright said the drop-in center provides a safe place for clients to share their experiences and get support when they need it.

"We run peer-to-peer support groups at the drop-in center on Tuesdays and Thursdays," Wright said.

In addition, the drop-in center provides lunch Monday-Thursday and dinner on Fridays with advanced reservations. Throughout the year, NAMI also hosts different outings for clients, including a boat ride on Boom Lake during the summer, picnics, concerts and a Christmas party.

NAMI is also involved in training programs throughout the state in an effort to provide stigma-free education about mental illness.

NAMI's "Breaking the Silence" program has also been held at area high schools this year in an effort to help "Stop the Stigma" via a better understanding of mental illness.

In just their second year of operation, NLC had 1,214 total visits, shared a total of 1,051 meals and provided a total of 106 peer support groups in 2019.

NAMI also helps prevent unnecessary hospital visits.

"There are people who they call 'frequent flyers,' and hopefully we're stopping a lot of this with the drop-in center," Wright said. "If you talk to the members, a lot of them will say, 'I didn't go to the hospital because I came here and I could get support here.'"

"Last year the drop-in center saved an estimated $75,000 of avoided emergency therapy and hospitalization costs," Wright said.

The drop-in center, located at Trinity Lutheran Church on North Stevens Street in Rhinelander, is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 3 to 7 p.m. on Fridays.

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