The Brien Center Spring-Summer 2016 Newsletter
On Thursday, May 12th the Brien Center held its annual UNICO Dinner at the ITAM Lodge in Pittsfield. This is our annual fundraiser where Brien Center staff, community members and representatives from our partnering agencies in Berkshire County gather to support the mission of the Brien Center. This year the theme of our dinner revolved around honoring the courage and leadership of two individuals– Maria Congelosi and State Senator Benjamin Downing.
At the UNICO dinner I was able to introduce a brave young woman named Maria Congelosi, an orphan from Romania, who told her story about her struggles with depression and how she learned to face her fears, stabilize her mood and to improve her self-esteem with assistance from the services received at the Brien Center.
As a lead in to Maria’s powerful story, I stressed that May is Mental Health Awareness Month and that the Brien Center fully supports the current state-wide campaigns (one headed up by NAMI and one by Governor Baker) to eliminate the stigma, shame and the secrecy associated with mental illness and addiction. Mental illness and addiction are just that…illnesses, diseases (like cancer and diabetes) and impact almost everyone… it’s our family member, friend, neighbor, colleague at work. And we as a community must talk more and work harder to educate people about mental illness and addiction and de-stigmatize both. Talking openly with each other about mental illness and addiction is the best way to break down barriers and misconceptions and promote recovery and healthy communities.
As Berkshire County’s primary community-based behavioral health provider, the Brien Center works every day to address the needs of our community to facilitate a better understanding about how behavioral health affects everyone, and to make sure those who are affected by mental illness and or addition get the support they need. Prevention works. Treatment is effective and people can and do recover.
The Brien Center was also able to honor a second individual—State Senator Benjamin Downing, who was presented the Brien Center Leadership Award for his work in the State House providing unyielding advocacy and support of the Brien Center and the community.
The Senator has opted not to run for re-election after a decade of service. Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli of the fourth Berkshire District and the senior member of our local delegation was on hand to also praise Senator Downing for his support of Berkshire County. Thanks to everyone who attended and helped to make our annual UNICO dinner such a great success! Please look on page 5 of the newsletter for pictures of the event
Chris M. Christine Macbeth ACSW, LICSW