Boca Raton’s Promise Receives $250,000 Donation Gift From West Palm Beach Philanthropist To Help “Break The ‘Deafening’ Silence” On Mental Illness In Palm Beach County
Its Largest Gift To Date Was Presented At Special ‘Inspiration’ Dinner For BRP’s
Recognizing that mental illness affects one in four residents and the great strides made thus far by Boca Raton’s Promise (BRP) and its subsidiary Palm Beach County Action Alliance For Mental Health, West Palm Beach resident Marla Kosec hosted an inspiration dinner for its advocates and partnering organizations this weekend at the Brazilian Court. As she opened the program and welcomed the distinguished guests, she presented a $250,000 donation to BRP – its largest gift to date – to support its continuing efforts that help ‘break the deafening silence’ that keeps those desperately needing help from seeking it.
On hand to celebrate the BRP and Action Alliance efforts, initiatives and programming were 50 government, school district, county sheriff’s office, social services agencies, healthcare, business and community leaders, BRP board members, Action Alliance partners and new ‘advocates and action-takers’. These included Florida State Representative Lori Berman, mayors from Boynton Beach and Highland Beach, the Palm Beach County Administrator, School District of Palm Beach County leadership and Bullying Specialist, Chief Deputy Michael Gauger of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, President of the Florida Psychiatric Association Dr. Abbey Strauss, Clinical Director for the Alpert Jewish Family Services, Dean and Assistant Dean at Palm Beach Atlantic University, along with several parents who have children with mental illness or have lost loved ones to it.
Through Kosec’s gift, she and her mother Rita Thrasher, a retired teacher who is co-founder and president of BRP (bocaratonspromise.org) and organizer and chairman of the Action Alliance, continues to break ‘their’ silence and encourage others to ‘break theirs’ throughout the county. Thrasher has a very personal reason to help propel this mission. She endured decades of caring for two daughters after they were diagnosed with mental illness at ages 14 and 29, and are no longer living. Kosec and Thrasher want to inspire a ‘community of understanding and acceptance’ so other families can be saved the ‘shame, pain and often guilt’ they and their family members experienced … which at times still haunts them.
Following the donation announcement, attendees learned more about the great strides made thus far by the Action Alliance, municipalities, schools, clergy and BRP’s 100 Brave Women movement underway to engage 1,000 women in the county to ‘speak up and out’ about mental illness. Dessert discussion opened an interactive dialog on the critical next steps and organization’s ‘action’ wish list that will generate greater awareness, acceptance, support and resources for those living with mental illness and those who love and care for them.
As part of the evening program, a new resource tool premiered: an original film Mental Health: A Community Takes Action that was created by BRP in partnership with Information Television Network (ITN). The 10-minute film shares how the Boca Raton nonprofit created the Action Alliance, a collaborative of County stakeholders and thought leaders to engage communities and municipalities ready to address community mental health education. Action Alliance steering committee members are featured to enlighten the film’s audiences on the mission-critical actions the organization partners have taken to engage educators, school administrators, youth, businesses, police departments, emergency services agencies, community and spiritual leaders and elected officials to understand mental illness and effective treatments and resources available in Palm Beach County, Florida.
“It was indeed a night of celebration and gratitude as the key Palm Beach County action and advocate leaders ‘raised the volume’ on mental health education and awareness and engaged in conversations with all key resources all in one room,” noted Thrasher, “Marla’s gift will exponentially increase our capacity, capability, programming, resources and community engagement to foster understanding and education to make an indelible impact today and for generations to come.”
Kosec added that “Boca Raton’s Promise continues to brilliantly demonstrate the adage, ‘When good people get together good things happen.’ I am humbled and honored to both salute and support the compassionate commitment and advocacy of our leaders and partnering organizations who diligently work daily to shine a light on a dark, feared topic and community need. They do it through opening engaging and empowering conversations that unveil shame and fear held by some many who call Palm Beach County home.”
Since 2009, BRP has been working to ‘break the silence on mental illness’ in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County. Recognizing documented community need, BRP created the Palm Beach County Action Alliance to bring together experts and leadership from various agencies including the Palm Beach County District of Schools on the subject to collaborate ‘thoughts and efforts’ to best support municipalities in their efforts to support their citizens. To support its own City, BRP launched a BOCA BRAVE grassroots awareness initiative at a Shades of Blue Luncheon in 2014 to start critical community conversations among leadership in schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, law enforcement, houses of worship, nonprofits, healthcare organizations, sports etc. and introduced an ‘I AM 1’ campaign of 100 Boca Brave Women (to be duplicated in other cities) to breakdown the barriers and recognize the signs of mental illness so that those who in need or their loved ones are encouraged to seek out support and treatment. Each year BRP and its auxiliary, the Action Alliance presents the VOICE Awards to community leaders and organizations that have ‘spoken up’ to ‘serve up’ support to assist in ‘breaking the silence’.
For more info, visit http://www.bocaratonspromise.org.