A Look Into the Future Event Recap

NAMI CC’s “A Look Into the Future” Event Highlights Innovative Approaches to Mental Health Advocacy for Children and Families

Contra Costa County, May 22nd – In a testament to the community’s commitment to mental health advocacy, NAMI CC’s “A Look Into the Future” event brought together stakeholders, honorees, and inspiring speakers in a dynamic evening focused on preventative support for children and families impacted by mental illness.

The event kicked off at 5:30 PM with attendees streaming in, greeted by a reception table adorned with our green and black ribbons symbolizing the event’s core themes of mental health and social justice. Special seats were reserved for the evening’s distinguished honorees, setting the stage for an evening of celebration and enlightenment.

As the clock struck 6 PM, Gigi Crowder, NAMI CC Executive Director and Barbara Scott, 1st Vice President of the Board of Directors took the stage, welcoming guests and announcing the lineup of speakers. Notable figures in attendance included Contra Costa’s DA, Diane Becton and Public Defender Ellen McDonnell, Supervisor Candace Andersen’s Chief of Staff Jill Ray, and Supervisor Federal D. Glover, underlining the event’s significance in the community. Mark Ibanez, former KTVU Sports Director was the evening’s master of ceremonies. Mark was humorous and captivating as he shared personal anecdotes and reflections, emphasizing the pivotal role of community leaders and advocates in shaping the future.

The event’s entertainment segment began on a high note with January’s soulful rendition of “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, captivating the audience and earning a standing ovation. Pastor Horacio Jones from Mental Health Friendly Communities delivered a stirring address, dispelling myths about mental health and advocating for greater support for families and children through faith based connections.

Following a brief interlude for an absolutely delicious and hearty dinner, the program resumed at 7:20 PM with the presentation of awards to distinguished change agents in the field of mental health advocacy. Honorees such as Brandon Banks, Paige Meyer and his team of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, Rev. Dr. Alvin C Bernstine, PhD, and Dave Clark were recognized for their exceptional contributions to addressing systemic inequities, promoting innovative approaches to crisis intervention, and promoting awareness about mental health challenges through accurate and fair reporting.

A highlight of the evening was Peter Kim’s, Co-Director of the newly created Contra Costa Costa Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice presentation, in which he drew attention to the work the office is doing and the urgent need for racial and ethnic equity in mental health and beyond. Melvin Willis of the Racial Justice Coalition was honored for his tireless efforts to amplify marginalized voices and promote social justice within the communities across the county.

The event also featured an insightful presentation from Alex Briscoe, Principal of Children’s Trust fund, who is a brilliant visionary and underscored the systemic changes to come in California’s Medi-Cal Health Coverage program where peers serve peers more effectively and new forms of revenue are available to fill gaps moving forward. Change Agent Honorees Jane Voll, a long term passionate NAMI CC Volunteer; Federal D. Glover, Supervisor of District 5 who lead the efforts to allocate substantial funding for an African American Holistic Wellness and Resource Hub and MK Wong a an AAPI Family member and innovative artist accepted their awards and shared about their work and commitment to advocating for mental health support for families.

January’s second performance, a moving rendition of Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All,” brought the audience to their feet once again, reinvigorating an evening with inspiration and hope.

Ruth Fernandez, Executive Director of First Five Contra Costa, delivered a compelling call to action, stressing the critical importance of investing in early childhood mental health interventions for the ages of zero to five. Her impassioned plea underscored the need for dedicated resources and approaches to support families from the earliest stages of development.