St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in LaMarque has an impeccable legacy and passion for raising mental health awareness, advocacy and support of individuals and families. Through partnerships with organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and ADA House, St. Michael’s provides education and support to families dealing with mental and behavioral illness, and teaches them how to advocate for health services.
Additionally, through these partnerships, St. Michael’s is able to host noteworthy community events such as the Celebration of Freedom Dinner, where women from the ADA house are celebrated for their sobriety, and the NAMI Dinner, which allows fellowships for individuals and families coping with mental illness.
For the past 10 years, St. Michael’s has celebrated their Thanksgiving by giving back to hundreds of very special people in their community. This year, the congregation hosted more than 170 individuals who suffer with severe and persistent mental illness for a wonderful, home-cooked Thanksgiving meal.
The event, hosted by the local NAMI Gulf Coast chapter, allows people living with mental illness and families who support them, an opportunity to experience fellowship with one another and provides a “safe place” where they feel welcomed and accepted. Community events like these create opportunities for those with mental health conditions and their families to build relationships and connections for reducing stigma associated with mental illness, and for normalizing supportive and active responses to meeting mental health needs.
The congregation’s EYC along with the girls’ volleyball teams from Friendswood and LaMarque helped serve the Thanksgiving feast. Volunteers from NAMI Gulf Coast cooked eight turkeys and parish members prepared a baker’s dozen of pies for the special celebration. As the hall was being decorated and the tables were being set, the church was turned into a “bingo parlor”. Bingo prizes included gifts galore. Hundreds of dollars in gift cards were also offered as door prizes. Volunteers provided transportation for guests – driving buses to homes in Galveston and Brazoria counties.
The day was filled with fun and social connections that many of these individuals would just not be able to experience otherwise. This extraordinary event has become part of the fiber of St. Michael’s each year.