NAMI Collier County has announced sponsorships for its 19th annual awareness walk, Hope Shines, to be held Jan. 30. The annual walk will be from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at Baker Park in Naples and will include free food, fun and entertainment for participants. The outdoor scenic walk provides an in-person, socially distanced event to support NAMI Collier County. The event will also include the opportunity to participate remotely.

“COVID-19’s effect has drastically increased people’s symptoms of mental illnesses,” said Kristin Long, director of development for NAMI Collier County. “The demand for our services and support has reached an all-time high. We have delivered food to over 4,500 people in the last eight months, have supported hundreds of people via Zoom, and housed over 30 people in supportive housing since the pandemic hit. We depend on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical and free mental health support to all of Collier County.”

The Hope Shines walk will now serve as the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. Due to COVID-19, the organization canceled its annual March luncheon, which was expected to raise $120,000 for the operations of NAMI Collier County.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to cancel our annual fundraising luncheon for the first time in 14 years,” Long said. “The luncheon is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and we are now trying to focus on other events that can help us sustain critical funding for our services and programs that we offer free of charge. On the positive side, our loyal donors have stepped up to be more generous in our time of need, and we are forever grateful for their support.”

The family of Tommy August, a Naples resident who lived with mental illness, has donated $20,000 to support NAMI Collier County’s Tommy August Emergency Care Fund, which provides emergency financial assistance for psychiatric and medication co-pays or housing needs for people with short-term emergencies. Other sponsorship opportunities for the Jan. 30 walk are still available. For information about sponsoring or to register a team for the walk, visit namicollier.org/events/. To donate to NAMI Collier County, visit namicollier.org/donate/.

About NAMI Collier County

The mission of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Collier County is to provide advocacy, education, public awareness and support so that all individuals and families affected by mental illnesses can improve the quality of their lives. Education and services to help individuals living with mental illness along with their families, caregivers and health care providers are free of charge to the community. For adults, NAMI Collier County provides a statewide WarmLine; the Sarah Ann Drop-In Center, where persons with a diagnosis may visit five days a week with classes, support groups, daily activities, lunches and outings; Self-Directed Care; Peer Support programs, supportive housing, outreach, education and support groups. The HUGS (Health Under Guided Systems) program has System Navigators who provide community-based mental health screenings and early identification of Collier County children who have current, or potential for, developing behavioral health problems in order to connect them to resources. Every other month, NAMI trains 30 members of law enforcement and related agencies to be members of CIT (Crisis Intervention Team), providing information about mental illness and how to de-escalate potentially deadly confrontations. NAMI continuously provides over $30,000 in financial help for psychiatric evaluations and emergency prescriptions, shelter and food each year. NAMI depends on individual and corporate donations. For information, visit namicollier.org or call 239-260-7300.