Group holds Christmas party for those facing mental illness
Published 10:51 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Before heading to Alabaster’s Shelby Baptist Medical Center on Dec. 22 to prepare a holiday party for local residents affected by mental illness, Sherryl Treslar summed up her excitement in a succinct Facebook post.
“It’s on! Perhaps my favorite night of the year!” Treslar wrote.
For the past several years, NAMI Shelby County, which is an affiliate of the state NAMI organization providing many services and support programs for those facing mental illness, has organized a Christmas celebration for those who may not be able to celebrate the holiday with their family members.
The organization typically holds the party in a small conference room in the hospital’s Physician’s Center each year, but upgraded to the medical center’s main cafeteria this year.
The upgrade in space allowed NAMI to provide a home-cooked meal and Christmas gifts for about 75 adults with mental illness from local group homes.
“Most of these people are too ill to live with their families, so they live in group homes,” Treslar said while the guests listened to live holiday music. “Few will spend Christmas with their families, so this may be the only Christmas they have.”
After providing food to the guests, the organization set up a table filled with bins full of everything from puzzle books and socks to candy and stationery items and allowed the guests to stuff stockings with the items they wanted.
Shelby Baptist has worked with NAMI more extensively since opening its new inpatient psychiatric ward in the South Tower, said SBMC Director of Psychiatry Shanan Sims.
“We’ve been involved with NAMI a lot since opening our adult psychiatric unit, and it’s turned out very well,” Sims said. “They offer a great service to those who are mentally ill. This may be the only Christmas they have.”
The celebration also featured appearances from national NAMI Director Mary Giliberti and Alabama NAMI Director Wanda Laird.
“I’m thrilled to have a chance to come and join this celebration,” Giliberti said.