Two mental health events focus on socializing, networking, building a stigma-free society

The Momentum Center (MC) and Community Mental Health of Ottawa County (CMHOC) are hosting separate events on the same date that will focus on socializing, networking, and engendering a stigma-free society for those with mental illness, addictions and disabilities.

The Momentum Center will host its inaugural Family Fun Night on Thursday, Sept. 22, from 4-7:30 p.m. at its Holland location, 345 W. 14th St. The free event is open to the public and will include a resource and craft fair, live music, bounce house, face painting, yard games, and ice cream. A food truck will also be available.

It also will offer cardio drumming, a way to exercise and get the heart pumping via high-intensity drumming.

Community Mental Health of Ottawa County’s Recovery Fest, also Sept. 22 from 4-7:30 p.m., will celebrate people in recovery by giving them an opportunity to connect with one another. It will be at the Holland Civic Center, 150 W. Eighth St. Free T-shirts, resources, and networking activities will be available.

A bus will shuttle people back and forth between the two events.

Different services, same goal

There is no one method to help people live healthy, productive lives, which is why the Momentum Center and CMHOC have collaborated over the years.

“We have a long history of working together because mental health requires many different kinds of services with many different entry points,” says Barbara Lee VanHorssen, co-founder and executive director of the Momentum Center.

“We started with community conversations about social justice and human rights. Mental health came up over and over again, so we formed the mental illness task force (MITF) and invited CMH to be part of it. The MITF began visualizing what would become the MC. We wrote the (request for proposal) for the program and received funding from the mental health millage to open.”

“The Momentum Center is one of the social and recreational programs that Community Mental Health refers people to,” says Jenna Vipond, chief operations officer of the Momentum Center. “We (Momentum Center and CMHOC) also provide free educational opportunities for the community to learn about mental illness, disabilities, and addictions, and this past August we had a summer series every Monday night and had a speaker talk about mental illness and schizophrenia, so these are other examples of how we collaborate.”

Recovery Fest will be an opportunity for people to connect with others in recovery, learn about community resources, and sign up for recovery coach training.

“We’re essentially providing something for people who have something in common,” says Jessica Irvin, prevention specialist for CMHOC. “For this networking event, it’s individuals who are in recovery and have other options like basketball leagues or different ways to get together
such as support groups.”

Recovery impacts many people in the community, according to Irvin, and it takes a lot of work to reach needed accomplishments. People in recovery should be celebrated, she says, and not the other way around.

“I think a lot of people sometimes feel shame, and so we celebrate and encourage people to connect with others who’ve had that same experience,” Irvin says, “because community makes everything better.” 

Read more articles by Paul R. Kopenkoskey.