From dream to reality

Appleton Downtown, Inc. honors Flight to Building Opportunities

Harriet Redman (Fox Valley Sibling Support Network), Maria Turner (CASA of the Fox Cities), Sonia Barham (The Arc Fox Cities), Beth Clay (NAMI Fox Valley), and Mary Sullivan (Prevent Suicide Fox Cities) proudly display the ADI President's Award 2014.

Harriet Redman (Fox Valley Sibling Support Network), Maria Turner (CASA of the Fox Cities), Sonia Barham (The Arc Fox Cities), Beth Clay (NAMI Fox Valley), and Mary Sullivan (Prevent Suicide Fox Cities) proudly display the ADI President’s Award 2014.

About two years ago, Beth Clay, executive director of NAMI Fox Valley, and Beth Hoffman, The Arc Fox Cities’ former executive director, got to talking and realized they shared a similar dream.  Each agency had outgrown its small, cramped building and needed a new home to accommodate their growing programs, services, and staff.

That dream turned into a fundraising campaign known as The Flight to Building Opportunities, and was led by an amazing group of public servants who affectionately became known as The Flight Crew.  Led by Hoffman and Joe Troy, former vice president of NAMI FV’s board, more than a dozen Flight Crew members accomplished an amazing feat. They raised more than $1 million to turn that dream into reality.

Fast forward to present day. The Arc Fox Cities and NAMI Fox Valley are now co-owners of their  beautiful and spacious new home at 211 E. Franklin St., Appleton.  We also rent space to other nonprofits. The Fox Valley Sibling Support Network, Prevent Suicide Fox Cities, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the Fox Cities, and the Down Syndrome Association of Wisconsin-Fox Cities, have also moved into the building.

211 E. Franklin Street, Appleton, is now home to six nonprofit agencies.

211 E. Franklin Street, Appleton, is now home to six nonprofit agencies.

Collectively, we have created a downtown nonprofit park, connected by a common theme within our missions: Each agency is committed to serving vulnerable, marginalized and underserved people in our community. We are all agencies of  “people helping people,” operating on tight budgets and the generosity of volunteers, supporters and donors.  By sharing a building and other resources, we can now stretch our dollars even further for programs and support services.

So what a surprise it was when Appleton Downtown, Inc. (ADI) paid tribute to its new neighbors (us, the nonprofits) by bestowing the The Flight to Building Opportunities with one of its top honors: its annual President’s Award.

On behalf of the Flight Crew, Beth Clay and Sonia Barham, current executive director of The Arc, accepted the award (to a standing ovation!) at the ADI annual Dinner & Awards Celebration held March 12 at the Raddison Paper Valley. Thank you, ADI, for this special honor and such a warm welcome to the downtown community.

Thank you, also, to the nearly 400 community donors – individuals, families, corporations, foundations and participants, for believing in our dream. With donations ranging from $2.11 to $100,211, the collective power of each and every gift has created new opportunities, strengthened our community, and will touch countless lives – today, tomorrow and well into the future.

NAMI FV welcomes three new staff members

NAMI Fox Valley is excited to introduce three new employees to its staff. Ryan Kust has been hired as a peer advocate, bringing the total number of peer advocates at the agency to four. Tracy Aliota, a longtime school counselor, meanwhile, has been hired as the agency’s community outreach  coordinator. And finally, Megan McLachlan, who brings a wealth of nonprofit experience, is succeeding Jill Mitchler as the agency’s new volunteer coordinator. We are thrilled to have them all on our team!

Ryan KustRyan Kust, Peer Advocate 

Ryan, who in January became a Wisconsin Certified Peer Specialist, has been hired as a peer advocate for the agency. In his role, Ryan will serve as an advocate and support person for individuals living with mental illness, offering encouragement, guidance and resources to support recovery.

Since joining NAMI Fox Valley in 2012, Ryan has served as a volunteer, an In Our Own Voice presenter, support group facilitator and recently was trained as a REAP facilitator and Peer-to-Peer mentor. As a precursor to being hired in his new role, Ryan recently finished a 100-hour internship with the agency as part of his peer specialist certification requirements.

Ryan credits NAMI Fox Valley with making his recovery journey easier and more meaningful. “There is no doubt that my life would not have the focus and stability I currently enjoy without the warmth, understanding and guidance that the wonderful folks at NAMI Fox Valley have shown me,” Ryan said. “Words can’t describe my appreciation for the opportunity to hopefully give back some of what I have received from the NAMI Fox Valley family.”

Ryan grew up in the Black Creek area and currently lives in Appleton. He enjoys music, fishing, being  outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. The love of his life will forever be his daughter Samantha.

Tracy AliotaTracy Aliota, Community Outreach Coordinator 

Tracy, who was recently trained as one of our new Teen Support Group facilitators, joined us in mid-February as our new Community Outreach Coordinator. She brings with her many years of experience in the field of school-age mental health and is a Wisconsin certified Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor.

Tracy is an Appleton native and has 13 years experience working as a school counselor in Northeast Wisconsin schools. She has deep connections in the Valley that will benefit our affiliate and increase our capacity for new and continuing collaboration and partnership.

I’m so excited to work at NAMI and have the opportunity to reach more people and help break the stigma of mental illness,” said Tracy. Tracy and her husband, Matthew, have three sons, ages 7, 8 and 10, who keep them very busy.

Megan McLachlanMegan McLachlan, Volunteer Coordinator 

Megan comes to NAMI Fox Valley from the Parent Connection program of Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, where she served as the Family Wellness Coordinator for the past seven years. Megan has coordinated volunteer presenters and facilitators for the local Topics to Increase Parenting Skills community education program and is well known in the Valley for the quality of the programming she provides.

Megan and her family have also lived in South Carolina, where she worked as a high school teacher, and in Washington state, where she coordinated family and parent education through a Family Resource Center and served as a Family Services Advocate.

Megan is looking forward to bringing her experience and community connections to her new role. ”I strongly believe in the mission of NAMI Fox Valley,” she said. ”As a volunteer and community member I have seen what a dynamic and exciting place it is and I’m thrilled to be part of it.” Megan and her husband, Tom, and their two teenage sons enjoying spending time at their cabin in Sturgeon Bay.