NAMI Finger Lakes In The News

NAMI Finger Lakes is active in our local community, and we do many community mental illness education and advocacy projects that are covered by local media.

This page presents our many newsletters and news articles. For some documents you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

NAMI Fingerlakes Newsletters

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NAMI Finger Lakes In The News (Links to Stories)

News in 2013

News in 2012

News in 2011

  • NAMI Finger Lake member Carol Booth comments on Kendra's Law in a letter to the Ithaca Journal.

News in 2010

News in 2009 News in 2008 News in 2007 News in 2006
  • NAMI-Finger Lakes becomes a  501(c)(3) not-for-profit tax-exempt charitable organization.
News in 2005 News in 2004

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News Stories in 2010

NAMI Finger Lakes Comments on Cornell Suicides

On March 22, 2010 the Ithaca Journal published this letter from NAMI Fingerlakes President Elizabeth Grantham, which was written in response to the recent student suicides at Cornell.  The letter expresses our sympathy for the family, friends, and classmates of the students who died so tragically, and encourages individuals and families to seek treatment when problems arise, and to contact NAMI Finger Lakes for support, education, and advocacy.

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News Stories in 2009

NAMI-FL member Elizabeth Grantham completes her first In Our Own Voice Talk

NAMI-FL member Elizabeth Grantham gave her first In Our Own Voice (IOOV) talk about living with mental illness, with assistance from her sister Deb, on Tuesday, October 20, 2009, 7PM at the Borg Warner Room,

Elizabeth talked in front of eighteen people about her life with schizophrenia and how Ithaca's support services and family support helped her ongoing recovery.  IOOV is an opportunity for those struggling with mental illness to gain confidence and share their individual experiences of recovery and transformation, and Liz is the first Ithaca graduate from this program.  If you would like to have Elizabeth talk to your organization, call NAMI Finger Lakes at 273-2462 or e-mail us at and visit the NAMI In Our Own Voice Site.

NAMI Finger Lakes Comments on Cayuga Heights Murder

On Oct 14, 2009 the Ithaca Journal published this letter from NAMI Fingerlakes President Carol Booth, which was written in response to a recent murder in Cayuga Heights, where a severely ill young man killed his mother.  The letter expresses our sympathy for the family; seeks to reassure the public that such violence is rare among those diagnosed with mental illnesses; and encourages families to contact NAMI Finger Lakes for help.

NAMI Finger Lakes Receives an Outstanding Service Award

On May 27, 2009 the Tompkins County Mental Health Services Board held its first Recognition Event, described as "a celebration and recognition of the community of care that serves the people of Tompkins County." Consumers were recognized for their personal achievements. Both individual and organizational service providers were recognized for their dedication and impact on consumers.

Carol Booth, President of NAMI-FL, accepted an Outstanding Service Award on behalf of NAMI-FL. Congratulations to Carol and to all of those people who work hard to make NAMI-FL a success and a valuable resource in the community.

Bob De Luca, Commissioner of Tompkins County Mental Health Services speaking to audience.

Approximately 100 people attended the event and the RSS Chorus opened the ceremony. Many thanks to Susan Larkin for the photos and to Trisha Engelhard and her colleague for their music.

NAMI Finger Lakes Completes It's 8th Family-to-Family Course

In May NAMI Finger Lakes completed its 8th Family to Family Education Course, taught by Carol Booth and Ann Carter and assisted by Kathy Taylor. Twenty-two family members graduated from this free twelve-week course.

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New Stories in 2008

NAMI Finger Lakes Completes its 7th Family-to-Family Education Course

In May NAMI Finger Lakes completed its 7th Family to Family Education Course, taught by Jean Poland and Janet Lynch and assisted by Joanne Denison. Sixteen family members graduated from this free twelve-week course.

Disabilities Benefits Workshop

On March 18, about 30 NAMI – FL members squeezed into the office at 104 East Lewis Street in Ithaca to learn about disability benefits from Kevin Nickerson, Disability Program Navigator, Tompkins County Office of Employment and Training. Kevin spoke and answered questions for over 2 hours, simplifying and clarifying as much as possible the complicated system of federal and state benefits for people with disabilities.

It was a remarkable presentation, packed with very practical and critical information.

Kevin is available during business hours for individual appointments in the Tompkins Workforce New York offices in Center Ithaca on the Commons (two floors up from food court). His telephone number is 607-272-7570, extension 136. He also offers a monthly workshop during the day on disability benefits. You can find information on that workshop at (choose “Calendar” from the left hand column)

One in Five Rally

The weather held off long enough on May 17, 2008 for us to celebrate our work with the community. Our second One in Five rally was sponsored by NAMI – Finger Lakes in partnership with the Mental Health Association, Cayuga Medical Center, Compos Mentis, and Mental Health Services of Tompkins County, and was covered by the Ithaca Journal in this  May 19, 2008 story about the Rally.

DeWitt Park proved to be a very pleasant venue, with park benches and walls for seating and trees and shrubs to define a area for the rally. Some members of the public joined us, and others passing by learned a bit about us from banners and signs set around the periphery of the park.

Carol Booth and Ann Carter were the fires behind the rally, recruiting about 25 other volunteers and rounding up some impressive speakers and defining a great agenda.

  • Robert DeLuca, Tompkins County Mental Health Commissioner spoke about local issues;
  • Tom O’Clair, NYS Office of Mental Health, came from Albany to speak about Timothy’s Law and other NYS issues, including increasing mental illness among veterans and the continuing dire need for health care insurance and public services;
  • Dr. Henry Gerson, Cayuga Medical Center, spoke about the hospital’s work on integrated mental and physical health;
  • Dawn Kucerak, Trumansburg High School, spoke of the value of the Breaking the Silence Education to her students and her children;
  • Family members Bill and Andrea Staffeld, Rebecca Schwed, and Liz and Deb Grantham spoke about their experiences.

The story repeats itself from family to family. It is a story of challenge and pain, as we all know, but there also is joy and miracles can happen and recovery can occur.

Many thanks to our community supporters for their donations: Greenstar, Kinney Drugs/Northside, Walmart, Tops, Ithaca Bakery, and Hickey’s Music.

NAMI Finger Lakes founder Jean Walters Profiled in  Ithaca Journal Article

In 1985 Mrs. Jean Walters helped found the organization that became NAMI Finger Lakes, and this July 15, 2008 Ithaca Journal profile article highlights her efforts over the last 20+ years, and mentions that NAMI New York State formally recognized her decades-long commitment to helping families struggling with mental illness.

NAMI Finger Lakes Fall 2008 Education Seminar:  Mind and Body: Integrated Health

Approximately 80 people attended our major annual educational event held on October 22, 2008, Mind and Body: Integrated Health, featured keynote speaker John Allen, Director of Recipient Affairs, NYS Office of Mental Health. Mr. Allen was an inspiring speaker, talking about NYS efforts and the need to focus on integrated health care, and his personal efforts at achieving good mental and physical health.

We have created a special page that contains the Powerpoint slides and a video recording of Mr. Allen's "Increasing The LifeSPAN" talk.  

A panel of local speakers included Dr. Henry Gerson, Cayuga Medical Center; Susan Spicer, Clinical Supervisor, Tompkins Mental Health Services; Nancy Peckenpaugh, Registered Dietician; and Deb Siegert, Registered Dietician, Cayuga Medical Center addressed the need for a holistic approach to health, requiring exercise, nutrition, medical and dental care, and mental health care to be effective.

Local services and opportunities were identified. Nikki Bonanni, Exercise Physiologist, Island Health & Fitness and Liz Grantham, Recipient, described Liz’s challenges and accomplishments as she worked with Nikki for the previous 8 months. Stamina, balance, weight management, and confidence were among the benefits, and Liz particularly noted that competitions and incentives offered by Island Health were motivating.

Exhibitors included The Yoga Center in Community Corners, Cayuga Heights; Trish Engelhard, massage therapist; Rasa Spa; and Cayuga Medical Center.

Cornell Fraternity Donates $1000. to NAMI Finger Lakes

November, 2008 - The brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Cornell held their annual Fall sweater sale on Cornell campus  and as a result, donated $1,000  to NAMI-Finger Lakes. We are most grateful to them for their hard work and generous donation.

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News Stories in 2007

Mental Health Rally Held at Cass Park May 19, 2007

On May 12 NAMI-Finger Lakes co-sponsored a Rally to raise awareness about mental illness and to support mental health treatment services.  The Rally - organized in partnership with the Mental Health Association, Cayuga Medical Center, Compos Mentis, Mental Health Services, and SPACE - was held Saturday, May 19th, 2007 from 1-3PM at the Cass Park Pavilion. 

The rally featured 2 hours of inspirational speakers, lots of information about mental illness, donated snacks, and wonderful music, provided by Trish Engelhard and Friends.

The speakers included Bob DeLuca, Tompkins County Mental HealthCommissioner; Dr. Robert Dean, head psychiatrist from Cayuga Medical Center; Eric Weaver from Rochester, NY , retired Sgt. from the Rochester Police Department and a consumer himself); David Bulkley of the Mental Health Association; Gary Tracy from SPACE; Carole Stone from Compos Mentis; Casey Carr from Cornell University’s Minds Matter student group; Barbara Lifton, our local state Assembly Woman; Paul Fairbanks from Elmira Psychiatric Center and Tompkins County Mental Health Services; Mark Lenzenweger, a noted researcher on mental illness; Deb Grantham, a NAMI-FL member and hersister Liz; Carol and Ann, as MC. The Rally ended with a cheer by all NAMI-FL members in attendance and people were already talking about next year’s Rally!

Many people signed petitions supporting a mandate for teaching about Mental Illnesses in all schools and also petitions for a housing waiting list. I sent these on to the Governor and to Michael Hogan, our new Commissioner – Mr. Hogan responded soon after with encouragement for our “grass roots” efforts

NAMI-Finger Lakes Completes Sixth Family-to-Family Education Course

NAMI-Finger Lakes completed its sixth Family-to-Family Education Course in May 2007.  Held at the Henry St. John building in downtown Ithaca, the twelve-week course gave20  students vital information about mental illness diagnosis, treatments, and how they can best help their ill relatives while maintaining their own well-being.  This year's course was taught by instructors Susan Larkin and Jean Walters, who were assisted by Jane Lynch.

NAMI-Finger Lakes will sponsor another Family to Family Class in spring, 2008. If you know anyone interested in taking the class, please have them call the NAMIFinger Lakes office at 273-2462 or write to

NAMI-Finger Lakes Presentation at Cornell Cooperative Extension Seminar

NAMI-Finger Lakes member Deb Grantham has been working with Cornell organizations to develop a  program on mental illness and its impact in/on the workplace.

On February 2, 2007, the program debuted with a two-hour workshop to  40 Cornell Cooperative Extension employees, and included  administrative assistants, human resources, finance, state specialists, assistant and associate directors, and the director of the Cooperative Extension .

The program - developed by Deb Grantham in collaboration with The  Employment & Disability Institute of the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations and Cornell's Employee

  • An overview of mental illness as a brain disorder, and how it affects families (presented by NAMI-Finger Lakes members Bruce McKee)

  • The American Disability Act and its implications for managers with employees in recovery from a major mental illness       

  • Information on NAMI and NAMI-Finger Lakes programs and services

  • Information on the new Compos Mentis farm-based recovery program

The information was well received, with many questions from the audience.

The program is now being revised for distribution to  Executive Directors of Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations across the state and ultimately for staff of those Associations (56 associations across the state with a total of about 1700 employees).

Cornell Fraternity Donates $5000.53

November, 2007- The brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Cornell held their annual Fall sweater sale on Cornell campus  and as a result, donated $5000.53  to NAMI-Finger Lakes. We are most grateful to them for their hard work and generous donation.


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News Stories in 2006

 NAMI-Finger Lakes presents "Breaking The Silence" program to 600  elementary, middle, and high students.

In 2006 Carol Booth presented the Breaking The Silence >education program to 35 local elementary, middle, and high school classes, comprising an estimated 600 students. Schools participating included Lansing HS, Newfield MS and HS, Trumansburg HS, Northeast Elementary, Dewitt MS, Fall Creek Elementary, Dryden Elementary, and Cayuga Heights Elementary.  

>Carol reports that all the teachers seemed enthusiastic and wanted to repeat the experience next year, and the students were inquisitive and interested -- always lots of questions and comments.

Carol also traveled to Amsterdam, NY to give a presentation about "Breaking the Silence" to 150 BOCES and Community Leaders.

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NAMI-Finger Lakes contributes Guest Columns and a Letter to the editor

Co-presidents Carol and Bruce contributed guest columns to the Ithaca Journal on mental health issues. The columns identified the need for mental health housing reform, and also highlighted the personal bravery of those suffering from a mental illness.

In addition, Carol  also wrote a letter to the editor on coverage of a mentally ill man who was killed by Binghamton police.

Readers can view scanned copies of the articles by clicking on the links below (these require the Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Cornell Fraternity donates $6,999.60 to NAMI-Finger Lakes

November, 2006- The brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Cornell held their annual Fall sweater sale on Cornell campus  and as a result, donated $6,999.60  to NAMI-Finger Lakes. We are most grateful to them for their hard work and generous donation.

NAMI-Finger Lakes sponsors a Successful Fall Education Program on "What is it like to have a Mental Illness"

NAMI Finger Lakes organized a major community education program in the Fall of 2006.

Running from September 18 through October 19th, the program's theme was "Empathy - What Is It Like To Live with a Mental Illness"?

Our goal was to educate ourselves and the Ithaca public about how mental illness impacts the lives of our loved ones; the challenges they face in living a normal life; and to recognize their courage in persevering in the face of personal pain and societal stigma.

Our fall program consisted of three events:

More than 167 people attended the public lecture and the Simulator showings, and the Tompkins County Library hosted the informational library table for two weeks.

Fall Event #1: Information Table at the Tompkins County Public Library

The education program began on September 18 with an information table at the Tompkins County Public Library, organized by Joanne. The table contained books, pamphlets, and information about mental illness - including autobiographies of people suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

The information table was intended to reduce stigma by showing that major mental illness is a common affliction (like cancer & diabetes), and that with proper treatment and support many individuals can lead productive and fulfilling lives.

The table was in the Library's main corridor from September 18th through September 29th. Joanne reported that she had to regularly restock brochures on the information table, indicating that many families took advantage of the free information.

Fall Event #2: "In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness" - a talk by Ms. Rachel Greco

On September 19th Ms. Rachel Greco gave a talk on "Living with Mental Illness". Ms. Greco is the Program/Outreach Manager for NAMI New York State, and she talked about how Bipolar Disorder has impacted her life, and the challenges she faces in managing her illness while maintaining a successful personal and professional life.

Ms. Greco gave her talk as part of NAMI's "In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness" program, an education program that encourages mental health consumers to become actively involved in education about severe mental illnesses.

Rachel's talk was held Tuesday, September 19th at the Borg Warner Room East, Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca, NY. Event organizer Carol reported that seventy-five people attended the talk, and almost everyone stayed to ask Rachel questions after she concluded her formal presentation. Many of these same people also took home free information from the NAMI-Finger Lakes information table set up in the lecture hall.

Fall Event #3: Showing of the Schizophrenia Symptom Simulator

Empathy is defined as "feeling concern and understanding for another person's situation and feelings."

It can be difficult to empathize with individuals suffering from mental illness because we would have to have their illness to truly "walk a mile in their shoes". However, with one major mental illness - schizophrenia -computer technology can give us a hint of the unquiet and disturbing world of untreated schizophrenia.

On October 17-19 NAMI-Finger Lakes sponsored showings of Janssen Pharmaceutica's Schizophrenia Symptom Simulator to the general public, families, and mental health and social workers.  Here is the flier advertising the Simulator Visit ).

The Simulator is a virtual reality machine that uses a computer, video goggles and headphones to simulate the frightening delusions and auditory and visual hallucinations associated with untreated schizophrenia.

Janssen originally developed the simulator to help doctors appreciate the difficult "inner world" of their schizophrenic patients. The simulator was developed in close consultation with individuals suffering from schizophrenic illness, and it simulates the paranoia and visual/auditory hallucinations that they experienced before treatments brought their symptoms under control.

By showing this to Ithaca residents and officials, we hoped to build empathy and understanding for those diagnosed with schizophrenia - and admiration for their bravery.

We feel that we succeeded in these goals - ninety-four people - including many from local agencies working with mentally ill clients - came to view the simulator. In addition, at two showings we also displayed art by Elizabeth Grantham, a local artist in recovery from schizophrenia.

Many attendees commented that after seeing the Simulator, they better appreciated the challenges facing their relatives and clients suffering from schizophrenia.

We would like to especially thank the following people for all their help:

NAMI-Finger Lakes becomes a  501(c)(3) not-for-profit tax-exempt charitable organization.

NAMI-Finger Lakes - a New York State not-for-profit corporation - was granted IRS 501(c)(3) status on July 19, 2006. 

Our new 501(c)(3) status brings many benefits to NAMI-Finger Lakes:

We give special thanks to NAM-New York State, which sponsored a special low-cost program that helps local NAMI affiliates get both New York State not-for-profit status and IRS 501(c)(3) status.

We also thank Sean Moran (NAMI New York State) for organizing this program; paralegals Jennifer Lockwood and Melissa Mackey for helping us with the forms and paperwork; and Attorney Michael West of the Council of Community Services of New York State for shepherding the paperwork through the state and federal systems.

NAMI Wraps up Fifth Family-to-Family Course

NAMI-Finger Lakes completed its fifth Family-to-Family Education Course.  The course - taught by Carol Ann, and Joanne -  ran from  March 1 through May 17th, 2006 and had a record 22 students from the greater Finger Lakes region. 

The Family-to-Family Education Program is for family members who have close relatives suffering from:

This free series of twelve weekly classes helped family members understand and support their ill relatives while maintaining their own well-being. The class size was kept small so that everyone can share their thoughts and emotions about their own family situations, and all information was kept confidential.

The course was  taught by trained volunteers who know what it's like to have a mentally ill family member. Course participants received extensive handouts on mental illness symptoms, diagnosis, and medications; caretaker "self-care"; and strategies for helping and communicating with their ill relatives.

Classes were held Wednesday evenings starting March 1st,  6:30-9:00PM, Suite 103 in the Henry St. John Building, corner of West Clinton and South Geneva Street Ithaca, NY. 

Please consider joining us - over 80,000 family members in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico have completed this course, and we think that you will be pleased by all the assistance the program offers.  Call us at 273-2462 or 272-6573 for more information on the 2007 Family-to-Family Course.

NAMI-Finger Lakes Talks With Cornell Sociology Class

On April 26, 2006 we gave a talk on "Mental Illness as a Family Stressor"  to one hundred undergraduate students of Cornell's "Families and the Life Course" (Human Development/Sociology 250).  This presentation discussed how major mental illness affects families, and how families are forcing change onto the US mental health care system. 

Course instructor Dr. Kristi Lekies (now at Ohio State) invited the talk because the course textbook did not contain any information on how mental illness impacts families. Dr. Lekies was pleased with the presentation, and sent NAMI-Finger Lakes the following note:

"I wanted to thank you again for coming to speak to my class this spring.  The semester is now over, and a number of students commented on their evaluations how interesting your presentation was.  I learned a great deal and have a much greater appreciation for the challenges faced by families dealing with mental illness.  You were realistic, but also hopeful"

NAMI-Finger Lakes Becomes a New York State Not-for-Profit Corporation

On March 21, 2006 NAMI-Finger Lakes became  a Not-for-Profit Corporation in New York State.  This new status will give NAMI-Finger Lakes more visibility within the Finger Lakes, and will also help us raise additional funds for our educational programs.

NAMI-Finger Lakes is now pursuing IRS tax-exempt status, which would allow donors to write off their donations on their federal income taxes.

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News Stories in 2005

Huge turnout for "Out of the Shadow" showing

On October 20, 2005, at the Holiday Inn in Ithaca, NAMI-Finger Lakes, the Tompkins County Mental Health Services, and Janssen Pharmaceutica sponsored a presentation of the movie Out of the Shadow by Susan Smiley.

This documentary chronicled the filmmaker’s mother, Millie, and her family through Millie’s battle with schizophrenia, and her subsequent trials within the public health system. (See the movie trailer)

The movie was immediately followed with a question and answer
session facilitated by:

Much work went into the presentation of this movie and we were pleased with the excellent turnout. Over 150 people came to see the movie and ask questions afterwards. We set up a special table with information about the Family to Family class and several people signed up to be contacted. Members of Lambda Chi Alpha were present along with their banner showing the support they provided from their fall clothing sale.

We are most grateful to all the people who made this excellent presentation possible. Please let us know any ideas you have for next year’s program.

Cornell Fraternity donates $3,140 to NAMI-Finger Lakes

October 20, 2005 - The brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Cornell held their annual clothing drive last Fall and as a result, donated $3,140 to NAMI-Finger Lakes. We are most grateful to J.P. Madarasz and the other members of Lambda Chi Alpha for their hard work and generous donation.

Ithaca College Grad Student Kjersti Aastad designs new website & advertising posters for NAMI Finger Lakes

December, 2005 - Ithaca College graduate student Kjersti Aastadhas designed a new Web site and advertising posters for NAMI Finger Lakes.   Dr. Steven Seidman. 

The page you are reading uses Kjersti's web site template, and her poster pictures are listed below.  Kjersti's efforts are a great help in improving NAMI Finger Lakes visibility within the community.  Kjersti has since returned to her native Norway for an internship, and we thank her for her fine work.

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