January’s Volunteer of the Month is Nancy Martell-Stevenson. Nancy volunteers in several capacities for NAMI MC. She is a presenter for our Ending the Silence presentations, educating middle and high school students about mental illness. Nancy also is an outreach volunteer and represents NAMI MC at various community events and health fairs. Most recently, Nancy received training to become a Family to Family course teacher and will be teaching her first class in the near future. We are so grateful for Nancy’s efforts to educate the public about mental illness. Thank you Nancy for being such a great volunteer for NAMI MC!
Read on to learn more about Nancy and why she volunteers with NAMI MC.
What motivated you to start volunteering at NAMI MC?
My favorite motivation for NAMI MC is that it is an organization that accepts people for who they are and helps them move themselves, and perhaps family members, to a more positive place in their life. For years I have used the services and resources of NAMI, to help me be a more understanding person for my family and for the students I taught. When I retired from teaching, I decided to use my time and energy to support NAMI by being more active in the organization.
How long have you volunteered with NAMI MC?
I’ve been volunteering for NAMI MC since my retirement, two and a half years ago. I began by taking their advocacy training for the Advocacy Day in Annapolis. I took the Family-to Family course. The course was really helpful , connected me with community families with much in common, and redirected how I communicate with family members. Now I have completed the training to be a Family to Family leader. Additionally, I do Ending the Silence presentations in the Montgomery County Schools. I really believe the presentation is immensely important for teens to understand mental health and the risk factors for suicide and risky behavior. The goal is to reduce stigma and give teens strategies.
What’s your favorite part about volunteering with NAMI MC?
The people associated with NAMI MC are very accepting, positive and generous. The organization supports us during challenging times and helps families to remain hopeful.
How has volunteering at NAMI MC impacted your life?
Since I was a child, I felt the stigma and loneliness of mental illness because my mother was ill with bi-polar disorder, sometimes institutionalized, and had co-existing disorders of alcoholism and drig abuse. Now I can see that medicine and access to appropriate therapies can really help both the individual and families. Being active with legislation and advocacy has helped me and motivated me to help other families.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I also volunteer for House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary in Gaithersburg. We have two senior forever foster dogs who were once abandoned. HWAH saved the dog’s lives and now they add love to my family.
When you’re not volunteering, what do you like to do for fun?
My husband and I have 4 adult children and 5 grandchildren. We love our time with them. I also quilt, sew, and go camping with my husband.