Kernan Receives State NAMI Award
Marianne Kernan, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)-Moore County, received the Advocate of the Year award at NAMI's recent statewide conference in Raleigh.
NAMI North Carolina says this award is given to an individual who has had a "significant impact on the lives of people living with mental illness and their families in a local community."
Since arriving in Moore County six years ago, Kernan has served as treasurer, vice president and now president of NAMI Moore County.
In 2005, she bid on and won the right to host NAMI's national medical director, Dr. Ken Duckworth. His talk at Sandhills Community College drew more than 350 attendees.
In 2006, she initiated the annual Pathway to Awareness weekend, which has hosted national speakers on brain illnesses and has been its co-chair for the last four years. Sunday's events include a two-hour session of "Ask the Psychiatrist," a book signing, a short walk with posters of famous people who suffer from brain disorders, and the launching of hundreds of helium balloons bought in honor or in memory of a loved one. A number of attached cards are returned yearly as far away as Wilmington from the east or Wadesboro and into South Carolina to the west and south, telling their own stories of connections to mental illness.
Kernan also has been the biggest fundraiser for the organization. Through her efforts, the local affiliate has purchased Linden Lodge, an adult care home, which is only the second one in the county for those suffering from a brain disorder.
For the last two years, she has co-taught three Family-to-Family classes (80 students) of 11 weeks each, when no one else volunteered to offer this valuable course to families.
Other initiatives have included hosting biannual parties for NAMI families and loved ones, which began at her home during the summer gatherings. Kernan researched, and with board approval, purchased "Field of Hope" garden flags of irises to sell and display honorariums and memorials to loved ones. She started NAMI Moore County's Web site, which gives updated info on the many activities of the local affiliate.
In addition to implementing all these initiatives and tasks of the various offices Kernan has held, she still answers the NAMI-MC hotline daily for several months a year, hosts the support meetings more than any other person, and "is there for anybody who needs support, education and advocacy for themselves or their loved one," a spokesman said.
Kernan has said many times: "I can't change or cure my son's schizophrenia, but I can work to improve his quality of life and those just like him. Maybe one day there will be a cure, but until then, I want to help our loved ones lead fulfilling and respected lives."
Anyone needing more information on monthly meetings and various educational programs of NAMI Moore County, call (910) 295-1053 or visit its Web site, http://www.nami-moorecounty.org.
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