Dr. Brendan McCollum perhaps explained it best when he told the crowd at the Celebrating the New Compeer Sarasota’s Children Program Luncheon that mental illnesses are often invisible illnesses, which is why so often, people suffer in silence.
Compeer Sarasota, the local chapter of the international nonprofit, pairs Sarasota-area residents who are living with life-altering mental illnesses with individuals who are not living with such illnesses in order to foster a meaningful friendship that has a positive impact on both involved.
The April 6 event at The Francis was in honor of the nonprofit’s newly launched children’s program, which allows the organization to serve individuals aged five-17, whereas it previously applied exclusively to adults.
Festivities began with some mingling before guests took their seats and were welcomed by Compeer Founder Bunny Skirboll.
Dr. Brendan McCollum, executive director of outpatient children’s services for Coastal Behavioral Healthcare (the parent organization for Compeer Sarasota), then spoke about his experience growing up with depression. His illness left him feeling alone much of the time, and he expressed that after working with Compeer, he realized how much he could have benefited from the program as a child and young adult.
Compeer Sarasota volunteer Niki Kottmann then spoke about her experience with Compeer client Ashley W., and local philanthropist Betty Schoenbaum spoke about the importance of addressing mental health problems in our community before Paul Tarantino gave the closing remarks.
Throughout the event, guests also had the opportunity to bid on two original prints by artist Susanne Schuenke, and all of the proceeds went towards the new Compeer youth program.