NAMI and Alpha Kappa Alpha Walking for a Purpose

NAMI and Alpha Kappa Alpha Walking for a Purpose

Story and Photos By Carla Calhoun

On historic September 11, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Cleveland (NAMI GC) sponsored their annual walk to bring awareness and support to the mental health community and beyond.

It was an amazing sunny day on the shore of Lake Erie by the beautiful Edge Water State Park, where American flags blew in the summer breeze to honor the victims of 9/11. Individuals and groups from Northeast Ohio came out to support NAMI GC. The groups included the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Lambda Phi Omega Chapter (AKA) with women adorn in their official colors of pink and green.

AKA Lambda Phi Omega Chapter has been supporting NAMI since 2010.  Chapter President Belva Denmark Tibbs shared, “I am thrilled to be here today to talk about our S.W.A.G Walk (Sisters with A Goal), In fact, we have over 108 people who have registered to raise awareness and funds for National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Cleveland (NAMI) The reason we have joined NAMI, who provides support to those with serious mental illness, is because in the African American Community, mental health is often stigmatized. We want everyone to have good health, mental and physical. We are supporting the walk and offering our available resources as a sorority to de-stigmatize mental health issues. We are here to serve our community; in fact, our motto is ‘We endeavor to be Supreme in Service to All Mankind’.”

The Cleveland Observer spoke with Judy Minor and Laura Hennessey, two volunteers from NAMI. Judy shared, “I am a mental health professional who has walked with many individuals in my profession. I also have family members who struggle with mental issues. NAMI gives me the opportunity to support the greater Cleveland community and the mental health community all over the world. The crowd today is great, and the weather is a gift from God.”

Laura said, “I support NAMI because so many of us suffer from some sort of mental illness or may have a family member who does. I personally have depression, and I appreciate a group that advocates for me, [and] provides free support to whomever needs it. No one ever has to feel alone. I think it is important to advocate to end the stigma that comes from mental health.”

Lynetric Rivers is a mental health professional and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Lambda Phi Omega Chapter. Lynetric shared, “We are working in collaboration with NAMI today to bring awareness to mental health and how it affects African American women in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The race is also bringing awareness as a whole in regards to suicide prevention.”

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