This year's annual holiday party for children and adults with mental illness at the Kent United Church of Christ was sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Portage County, Coleman Professional Services, and the Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County.
More than 150 area residents filled the church's Fellowship Hall for the party, which included gifts, a meal, and hats and mittens for winter.
Children had their faces painted by Coleman board member Roger Cram. Santa and Mrs. Claus (Phil and Laura Dotts) arrived after dinner to talk with the children, and each child received new toys, a stuffed animal donated by Kohl's, and gently used books from the County Clothing Center in Ravenna.
NAMI members who plan for the party all year include Melissa Millis, Patti Smith, Anna and Warner Rosenfeldt, Karen Cox, Dave Brokaw, Alison Ward, Linda UmBayemake, Carrie Martin, Tim Jarrell and Amie Cajka.
"Elves" who helped included Coleman board members Joe Vero and his wife, Barbara, Laura Cessna, Toby Ann Weber, Linda Walker, Roger Cram and his wife, Mary Elisabeth Leinthall, Payton Phile for her mother, Sabrina Christian-Bennett, and Coleman Chief Executive Officer Nelson Burns.
The festivities also had a hand from members of the Mental Health & Recovery Board, including Alberta Caetta, Gene Mills and his wife, Carol, Jeff Langstaff, Bill Wisniewski, Jennifer Colgrove, and Executive Director Dr. Joel Mowrey.
Support for the event came from NAMI Portage County, Kent Kiwanis, the Coleman Foundation, Pizza Hut of Kent, Valley Home Health Care of Boardman and Gene Mills.
NAMI is a local support and education organization for individuals and families dealing with mental illness. Coleman Professional Services is a nationally recognized not-for-profit provider of behavioral health and rehabilitation programs, including adult and child psychiatry, counseling and case management, as well as residential, employment and adult day services.
The Mental Health & Recovery Board of Portage County is a county government agency that plans and funds local mental health and substance abuse treatment services and provides crisis services for Portage residents.