We all know the purpose of the annual NAMI Walk is to raise public awareness of mental illness and funds for NAMI’s mission. It takes a monumental effort to put on the event and coordinate such a huge fundraising effort among hundreds of generous sponsors, teams and donors. We have many, many people to thank.
But today, the morning after our 9th Annual NAMI Walk, we offer our first thank you to the volunteer set-up crew that literally, physically puts on (and takes down) the event.
These aren’t professionals. They are our family members and dear friends. They show up at 6 a.m. to unload, set up, lift, carry, move, hang, fix and do anything it takes to have the walk site ready when the sun comes up. It it exhausting work.
This year the set-up crew had new challenges. The closure of streets around Towne Center, the muddy conditions caused by rain on Saturday, and another rescheduled event at the Waterfront caused a lot of extra work and effort for our volunteers. If you saw a half dozen people traipsing through the Waterfront with 30 bags of trash yesterday, that was our volunteers after the Walk.
It’s a dirty job, and our crew does it with a smile, a cup of coffee and a lot of laughter. After nine years, they take ownership of the Walk and make quick decisions based on what they know will be best for the event.
The NAMI office is always closed the Monday after the Walk. However, most of our set up crew – drained as they were – had to wake up early and go to work or school today. Some even had to work after the Walk yesterday.
This crew saves us thousands upon thousands of dollars we would otherwise pay professionals. For those of us who work at NAMI, we are grateful to our loved ones, of course, but more so even to each other’s loved ones who show up and help, year after year.
As mentioned, we have many people to thank. This morning, we begin with our volunteer set-up crew. You know who you are – Chris Caban, Shawn Paterson, Corey Michaels, Jordan Mamone, Scott, Michael Ference, Charlie Brown, Arnie Levine, Ian Cummins, Jen Lukondie, Jeff Mikula, Sharon and Dave Vogel, Pappyday Michaels – because you are probably a little sore today.