2021 At NAMI Finger Lakes

Together For Mental Health

2021 at NAMI Finger Lakes
A Year of Engagement, Growth and Connection

We’re so grateful for the gifts and talents of our community, volunteers and staff that made 2021 a year of engagement, growth and connection. For 35 years, NAMI Finger Lakes has provided a safe environment where people can learn and support one another while navigating the impacts of mental health conditions on their loved ones and their family. We know the milestones we’ve met together this year have improved the lives of people we love and strengthened family and caregiver understanding and support. NAMI Finger Lakes is here to ensure that no one is alone on their mental health journey as we work to enhance individual and family well being. Recovery is a journey and there is hope.

Thank you for the many ways you’ve supported the great work we’ve accomplished together this year.


Educational Opportunities– In 2021, we’ve grown our program offerings to educate, create connection and elevate voices in conversations about mental health. We offered two 8-week sessions of NAMI Family to Family and held two 2-hour Family and Friends presentations. These programs help individuals and families learn about mental illness and provide strategies for understanding and care of people they love, in a supportive group environment.

We’ve added two programs that elevate the voices of people living with mental health conditions and their families:

In Our Own Voice features people sharing experience and perspectives on mental health. IOOV changes attitudes, assumptions and ideas about mental illness through talking openly about what it’s like to have a mental health condition. We will grow this program in 2022.

NAMI Smarts for Advocacy is a step-by-step program that is effective for those who are new or experienced in the advocacy sphere. NAMI Smarts provides tools for effectively sharing our mental health stories and communicating with policymakers in person, on the phone, through email and more.

Support – Our number of support leader volunteers has grown over the last year and we’re excited to have a such a great team working together on group facilitation. We’ve tripled the number of trained Support Group Facilitators and doubled our group offerings to include both virtual and in-person connection. In spring of 2021, a long awaited Partner/Spouse support group got underway and has grown to meet a great need. Warm months presented an opportunity to start an outdoor in-person Family Support Group, a great alternative while we continue to experience pandemic concerns. In early 2022, we’ll begin Family Support Wellness Walks- opportunities for refreshing outdoor connection for adult family members seeking support.

The NAMI Finger Lakes Help Line (607-273-2462) has experienced positive changes too. Sponsorship for a new phone and phone service was procured through ATT. We’re grateful for our dedicated phone support team that has remained committed to this essential NAMI FL service for families seeking help. The compassionate voice on the end of the NAMI FL support phone is often the first time families know they are not alone in their experience and that free support and resources are available to them.

All support volunteers are connecting periodically for mutual support and resources. We look forward to building this team in 2022.

Family Forum- This year, we continued our in depth look at Crisis Response in Tompkins County, including alternative services such as Denver STAR and the Eugene, Oregon CAHOOTS community crisis response models. Additional programs explored local and state human services organizations dedicated to improving the lives of people living with mental illness. Our programs are recorded and may be found on the NAMI Finger Lakes YouTube Channel at bit.ly/namiflyt.

Outreach and Community Collaboration

Advocacy– During the 2021 Legislative budget session for New York State Lawmakers, NAMI Finger Lakes advocates met with NY Assembly Member, Dr. Anna Kelles, and with representatives from Senator Thomas O’Mara’s office, in virtual Zoom events. These meetings provide an opportunity for individuals and families to connect with their policymakers to express their needs and ask for support, and to inform them of the initiatives NAMI values. We hope to increase our efforts in this area in 2022 through NAMI Smarts workshops and In Our Own Voice program development. If you are interested in learning more about how to be a mental health advocate, please contact us. We have resources and support to help you.

CIT- Crisis Intervention Team Training- In spring of this year, NAMI Finger Lakes provided recommendations to Tompkins County policymakers that represented family needs in mental health crisis that would inform the Tompkins County Reimagining Public Safety Initiative. One of our recommendations was the implementation of Crisis Intervention Team training (CIT) for First Responders in our county. NAMI has always been on the forefront of CIT advocacy. And while we recommend that mental health crisis be met with a mental health care response, it’s imperative that officers be trained in this renowned and respected model of crisis response to keep everyone- our loved ones, officers and families- safe on every call. This program also emphasizes the incredible toll responding to crisis calls can have on First Responders and the importance of resources available to them that supports their well being. (Please participate in the Reimagining Public Safety Initiative. Your input is essential to creating the best crisis response system for our community. Visit https://us.qmarkets.cloud/live/tompkins)

Tompkins County policymakers recognized the importance of this program and this fall graduated more than 20 First Responders in the first CIT training. NAMI Finger Lakes joined  Mental Health Association Peer Advocates to bring personal perspective of the individual and family experience during times of crisis, which is an important component to CIT. NAMI FL provides a resource hand out for officers to carry and share with families to connect them to important crisis resources and help navigate their next steps. We’ll continue to work with the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Dept. and Tompkins County Mental Health to provide family perspective, resources and advocacy for CIT and the Reimagining Public Safety initiative. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to be engaged in this initiative and to elevate the voice of families in this way.

The Legacy Foundation awarded NAMI FL a grant to provide acknowledgements and resources for Crisis Intervention Team training graduates. We’re grateful to have this resource available to sustain this support for future CIT trainings.

Hospital Connections- This year, NAMI Finger Lakes began providing online resources for families in crisis while a loved one is hospitalized. Materials specific to their needs are shared by Behavioral Unit staff and weekly Zoom connection with NAMI FL volunteers is available to family members who are seeking support during this experience. This is a pivot from our popular in-person volunteers and resources that isn’t impacted by the limits COVID has presented in the hospital setting.

Student Engagement- We engaged our local campus communities in events that brought awareness to mental health needs for young people. For Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Cornell Student Athletic Advisory Committee students took on our challenge to share their thoughts on mental health with their friends, fellow students, families and on social media. 120 students and faculty participated!

This fall, NAMI FL engaged student leadership from Ithaca College Active Minds and Cornell EARS (Empathy, Assistance & Referral Service) to share unique perspectives as young adults who experience mental health conditions. These students participated in a panel discussion as part of the 27th Annual Tompkins County Mental Health Conference, providing a rich experience for families and providers in attendance.

Suicide Prevention– in fall of this year, NAMI FL hosted an event that opened up conversations around suicide. One Conversation Can Save A Life was an opportunity to learn about local Suicide Prevention services, the upcoming 9-8-8 crisis number implementation and other NAMI advocacy efforts, and to hear from courageous people who have contemplated or have lost loved ones to suicide. This event is available to watch at bit.ly/namiflyt

Workplace Mental Health– A workplace that provides safety and support for mental health is necessary for a positive life/family/work experience. NAMI Finger Lakes provides resources for employers who wish to observe best practices for workplace mental health needs.

Family Perspectives:  NAMI FL continues to provide speakers to classes, law enforcement and community organizations to advance awareness of mental health needs in our community and beyond. Our efforts to open dialog and share experiences changes the conversation around mental health without judgment or stigma. 

Friendraiser/Fundraiser– NAMI Finger Lakes has become a trusted partner for Cops Kids and Toys for the success of the Dump & Run sale/fundraiser for several years. This year, volunteers worked over 900 hours on behalf of NAMI FL to raise over $13,000!  This funding is so essential to meeting our goals to serve our community and provide free services to families when they need it most.

Dump & Run also provides time for NAMI friends and family to connect with each other while completing volunteer tasks. Our long-time coordinators, Dale and Kathy Taylor, will be stepping back this year opening an opportunity for someone(s) who may be interested in leading this really important funding event for us. Please reach out for more information and to participate in this great connection event. We’re so grateful for Dale and Kathy’s leadership on this initiative and the many volunteers who support NAMI families in this way.

Organizational Development

None of the achievements listed here could be met without the volunteer and staff support provided by the NAMI Finger Lakes Board of Directors and the Executive Director. The dedication of these individuals sustains the organization and builds a stronger future of support, education and advocacy initiatives.

Administrative Support- The funding of NAMI Finger Lakes relies on individual donations and grants for all of our operations, administration and programming. At this time, we receive no government support. In 2021, the Park Foundation once again expressed their confidence in NAMI FL’s need for an Executive Director by providing additional funding for this position. Having an Executive Director allows the organization to effectively coordinate and develop much needed programming, volunteer needs and development, outreach, community collaborations, funding and training requirements. It’s essential to the organization future funding sustains this position. We’re grateful for the Park Foundation’s confidence in the services we provide to so many in our community.

Board of Directors- 2021 has been a busy year for the NAMI FL Board of Directors. Since hiring an Executive Director, the board is working through a transition from a working board to a governing board. Adoption of new policies, training, outreach and recruitment have taken priority to engage an active and committed team that will  see NAMI FL through our next 35 years.

Strategic Plan- NAMI Finger Lakes has had remarkable success at meeting the ambitious goals set forth in our Strategic Plan. This year we’ve begun considering new goals and increased capacity to implement a new plan in 2022. We look forward to sharing our outlook for the future of NAMI Finger Lakes soon.

We look forward to the new year and the new possibilities. How can we help you in 2022? To share your story, find support and learning opportunities, or to express interest in any of the programs and initiatives shared in this report, please email Executive Director, Beth McGee at namiflexec@namifingerlakes.org or call 607-288-2460.

NAMI Finger Lakes thanks you for your continued support.
We couldn’t have met these goals and served so many without YOU!

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