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Stamatia Pappas
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I became an advocate for mental health 17 years ago when our son experienced signs of emotional distress. We were just like many families who are blindsided by behavioral changes in their loved one. We were overwhelmed and unaware of what lay ahead. We listened as professionals predicted that our son would never achieve the dreams that he had for himself. They were wrong,

I found support through NAMI as so many people have. I registered for NAMI's Family to Family class along with my husband and I was hooked. I decided to give back after having been so well served by NAMI and was trained and taught Family to Family for years. I also chaired the College Outreach committee during a time when most institutes of higher learning managed students with mental health conditions by asking them to take leaves of absence - not so long ago. I have served on both the local Westchester Affiliate and New York State Boards. I served as President of NAMI Westchester. During my board tenure we began the local NAMIWalks that is now an annual event, created the NAMI Ribbon awareness program, expanded NAMI signature programs such as Family to Family, Ending the Silence, NAMI Basics, NAMI Connection and Family Support groups. I also served on the NAMI New York State Board and stepped off in November of 2019. I served on multiple committees. I am a passionate advocate and attend Legislature Day in Albany and Washington DC. I am an avid explorer of all things having to do with mental illness cases and treatment.

Our family has been very fortunate. Our son has recovered. He graduated from college and went on to receive certification in arts therapy. He is currently employed working with young adults with autism. He is a writer and a musician and uses both skills in his employment as well as public speaking.

I know that recovery from mental health disorders is possible. I am walking to let other people know that with the right care which includes community and family support people move on to lead productive lives. The family voices are getting stronger. Families make a difference.