Tenth Annual Mental Health Matters Gala Exceeds Expectations

As attendees filed out of the Meydenbauer Center at the end of the evening, stomachs full and hearts swollen, the buzz was that Mental Health Matters, SMH’s annual gala, was one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling in the 10 years that it has been held. The event, “Celebrating Healthy Families,” was also one of the most financially successful, with the agency netting more than $100,000 in funds. The money donated, designated to support SMH’s programs serving children and families, will offer real hope for recovery and reunification for the community’s most vulnerable.

Last year, Sound Mental Health reached more than 5,500 familes and 3,400 children with these services, which ensures that children have the opportunity to engage in school and the community, that parents are able to create a nurturing and stable environment and that the family unit has a real chance at normalcy.
The support of the gala’s sponsors, led by Event Sponsor Aegis Living and 24 other organizations, coupled with the donations by event guests, made these aspirations possible.

For a second year, local media icon Margaret Larson served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the gala, adding elegance and pathos to the evening’s proceedings. She also assumed duties of making the donation “ask” during the event, inspiring attendees to support the work of SMH. In a compelling twist, Ms. Larson shared a family experience with mental health issues (her father, a military veteran, lived with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among other issues) to underscore the importance of access to quality mental health services. The award winning journalist has agreed to serve as Mistress of Ceremonies next year, during SMH’s 50th Anniversary celebration which will culminate with the 2016 Gala.

A true highlight of the evening’s festivities was an interactive keynote address by critically-acclaimed musician, actor and storyteller, Swil Kanim. A member of the Lummi Nation, and a product of the foster care system, Swil Kanim impressed and inspired attendees with his message of hope, perseverance and self-expression.  His story of personal healing, punctuated by virtuoso violin playing, left the audience enthralled.

Special thanks go out to these sponsors which made Mental Health Matters possible: Aegis Living (Event Sponsor), Enterprise, Martyn Family Foundation, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe and Puget Sound Business Journal (Gold Sponsors); Boeing, Genoa Healthcare, Heritage Bank, Regence, Keeney’s Office Supply, Perkins Coie, Seattle Children’s and Unimark (Silver Sponsors):, Argosy University, Amerigroup RealSolutions, Bennett Bigelow & Leedom, Clark Nuber, PS, Copiers Northwest, Linn, Schisel & DeMarco, PS, Seattle Counseling Service, Michael & Alexander, PLLC, Parker, Smith & Feek, Shelgren Financial Group and US Bank, (Table Sponsors); A&A printing, Inc. and ThinkAlike (In-Kind Sponsors).

The Development Department is currently making plans for Sound Mental Health’s big 50th Anniversary celebration, of which the gala will be part.  Continue reading the pages of “Mental Health Matters” for occasional updates.