TROY – As early as last fall, members of the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation Board had begun to consider FirstHealth’s Kids in Crisis Fund as the beneficiary of their 2015 Spring Event fundraiser.
By the time they had heard stories about Montgomery County children with mental health needs from Gina Smith, FNP, of the Montgomery County School Health Centers, they were convinced that’s where the event’s proceeds should go.
“It pulled at our heartstrings, just thinking about kids with mental health issues,” says Debby Barden, who chairs the Foundation Board. “I think we have all been touched in some way by kids who have issues and have nobody to help them, and Gina had lots of poignant stories.”
The “Off to the Races” Kentucky Derby Day Spring Event will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Flashbacks from The Ford Place in Mt. Gilead Saturday, May 2, coinciding with the annual running of the Kentucky Derby. Past Spring Event fundraisers have supported a variety of FirstHealth services including the Montgomery Memorial Hospital Pulmonary Rehabilitation and medication assistance programs, diabetes screening and education, the Cancer CARE Fund, and dental health care for both children and adults.
Since 2002, the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation has directed more than $312,000 toward the health care needs of Montgomery County children, including:
- $64,000 to a 2002 Kids in Cars program that purchased vehicles for transporting children to medical appointments and to the School Health Center
- $90,000 disbursed between 2005 and 2014 to the Kids in Crisis Fund for general needs use
- A $30,000 distribution in 2010 along with another $53,207 raised during that year’s Spring Event to supplement the work of the School Health Centers
- $21,000 raised by the 2013 Spring Event to support school obesity/Get Active programs
- $50,000 raised in 2003 for Montgomery Smiles, a program that identified children needing dental sealants and then provided sealants to all kindergarten through fifth-grade students in Montgomery County
- $12,000 distributed to the FirstHealth Dental Care Centers for emergency dental work and needs for uninsured children
Gina Smith’s recent presentation on the centers, with her emphasis on mental health needs, struck yet another chord with Foundation Board members.
“Gina came to me several times in the past year with requests for emergency Foundation support for behavioral counseling for children who have come through the School Health Centers,” says Montgomery Memorial President Beth Walker, “and our Emergency Department has seen numerous involuntary pediatric commitments in the past few years. In addition to that, we hear news stories practically every day about what’s going on in mental health in general. That’s what stemmed our idea to support Kids in Crisis again this year and to dedicate money to the mental health piece of it.”
According to Smith, Montgomery County’s two School Health Centers recorded 265 behavioral/mental health visits for problems related to anxiety, depression, substance use and abuse, and family dysfunction during the 2013-14 school year alone.
“Last year, we had a budget shortfall for paying for mental health screenings for which we were approved to use Kids in Crisis funds,” she says. “We used some of the funds for ongoing counseling for some students who are uninsured. I should add that 76 percent of the children we see at the School Health Centers are considered economically disadvantaged as they have either Medicaid or Health Choice or are uninsured.”
A retired teacher, Barden recalls several personal encounters with students who were experiencing one type of mental health crisis or another. Her concern is that children whose mental health issues go unmet will grow up to be “less than fully functioning adults.”
“We want adults who are able to live full lives,” she says. “Our world, our town, our county, our society are better places if they do.”
Mt. Gilead venue to host annual Spring Event
Louisville’s Churchill Downs may be the site of the 141st running of “the greatest two minutes in sports,” but some of the fun related to the 2015 Kentucky Derby will also take place more than 500 miles away at the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation’s Spring Event.
“The Off to the Races” Kentucky Derby Day Spring Event will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 2 – in plenty of time for party-goers to gather around an on-site big screen for the Derby’s 6:24 p.m. post time – and the fun will continue until 11 p.m. at Flashbacks from The Ford Place in Mt. Gilead.
Guests are encouraged to wear “Derby attire” while enjoying cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres, live and silent auctions, and dancing to music from House Call. Derby-themed games and activities will include a Ladies’ Hat Contest.
Tickets are $60 per person, and reservations can be made by calling Jamie Lariviere at (910) 571-5024 by Monday, April 27. Proceeds will support the Kids in Crisis Fund to help offset the cost of mental health care for students identified through the FirstHealth Montgomery School Health Centers.
What: FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation Spring Event
When: Saturday, May 2, 5:30 to 11 p.m.
Where: Flashbacks from The Ford Place
Why: To support mental health care for students seen at the FirstHealth Montgomery School Health Centers
Tickets are $60 person; call Jamie Lariviere at (910) 571-5024 by April 27.