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December 01, 2004 - "Annie" Helps A/DMHN Reach the S.T.A.R.s

What: Community Awareness Benefit

Where: Littleton Town Hall Arts Center

When: December 1, 2004

Beneficiary: Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network's S.T.A.R. Research Center

Honoree(s): Pat Echtermeyer, former board member

Welcome: Scott Thoemke, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network CEO and Michael Cooke, Board President

Speaker: Jason Kioko, Clinical Supervisor of S.T.A.R. Reach Center Clubhouse Program and Ann Frazier, S.T.A.R. Reach Center Clubhouse consumer

Catering: VMeals: Niccolini Espresso Bar Services, The Preppy Chef, Roberts Italian Restaurant and Deli

Entertainment: Performance of "Annie"

Sponsors: Behavioral Health Care, Inc.; Shawn Maloy, DDS; and Colorado Business Bank

Attendance: 150

Information: Please call 303.779.9676 or visit

Board of Directors: Board President, M. Michael Cooke; Board Vice President, Steven L. Kennedy; Board Secretary/Treasurer, Jay P. Ringhofer; Attila C. Denes, Jean M. Flynn, Peggy M. Gordon, Richard L. Horrocks, Robert M. Lauderdale, John R. Phillips, Gail E. Ploen, Jose Reyes, Dr. Richard F. Spiegle, James Q. Turner; Ex Officio Board Member Scott R. Thoemke, Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, Arapahoe / Douglas Mental Health Network

Blacktie Photos by: Elizabeth Byrnes Crony

 Pat Echtermeyer, former board member and long time volunteer with mental illness, was honored with the 1st Annual Community Hero Award.  She thanks Scott Thoemke, President and CEO of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network.
Pat Echtermeyer, former board member and long time volunteer with mental illness, was honored with the 1st Annual Community Hero Award. She thanks Scott Thoemke, President and CEO of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network.

Elizabeth Byrnes Crony

Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network ushered in the holiday season, on December 1st, at its first Community Awareness Benefit at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center. Board members, staff, community supporters and family gathered for a pre-show cocktail party, the honoring of the ‘Community Hero Award’ and for a performance of “Annie.”

Approximately $5,000 was raised to benefit the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network's S.T.A.R. Reach Center, a psychosocial and vocational rehabilitation program for adults with mental illness.

Scott Thoemke, Executive Director and CEO of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network welcomed the guests, as they settled into their comfy auditorium seats. “This is the second event in year for us,” he explaining that this was a new event for them. “We will continue to hold our annual May luncheon but wanted to add the Community Awareness Benefit each year, to a different area we work and serve in.”

Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network’s mission is to help improve the quality of life of all people in the community by promoting and providing professional, comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment services. They provide strength-based treatment methods that are solution-focused and they partner with consumers and their families in their recovery efforts.

Jason Kioko, Clinical Supervisor of S.T.A.R. Reach Center Clubhouse Program, spoke with passion about the unique program. “We focus on strengths of our consumers and help them to get back to work and their life.” The program offers consumers with persistent and severe mental illness a place to go, free of charge, to develop skills necessary for independent living including interpersonal problem solving, social skills enhancement and job preparation.

Ann F., a S.T.A.R. Reach Center Clubhouse consumer, knows first-hand the frustrations of mental illness. She spoke candidly about her experiences and how grateful she is for the staff, helping her to regain her independence.

This program is a pivotal piece of the Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, offering a continuum of services because of the dramatic fashion with which it benefits consumers and the community. Through focusing on consumers’ strengths, talents and abilities, providing training in various work units, and supporting and advocating the needs, S.T.A.R. Reach Center assists consumers in accomplishing their goal of rehabilitation.

Michael Cooke, Board President presented Pat Echtermeyer, a former board member, with the first annual ‘Community Hero Award.’ “The award was created with Pat in mind,” explained Michael, as she revealed the plaque, encircled in a holiday wreath. “Pat has worked for almost 20 years, volunteering her time to mental illness,” she continued. All future presentations of this honor will now be called the ‘Pat Echtermeyer Community Hero Award.’

Pat thanked the attendees, offering hugs to both Michael and Scott. "You all really surprised me with this honor - thank you so much!”

After the ceremony, guests relaxed into their seats for the production of “Annie,” directed by Sharlene Wagner. The cartoon character is brought to life with the classic melodies “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” and “Tomorrow.” Set in New York City in 1933, in the depth of the great depression, the story is of people reaching within to find the light of hope. Sharlene notes that in the lyrics, ‘the sun will come out tomorrow,’ is Annie’s anthem for looking to the future with hope for a better day – illuminating the story of human spirit.

Mental illness is actually quite common and its effects are widespread. It does not discriminate against age, race, religion or income. More than 54 million Americans (one in five) have a mental disorder in a given year (National Institute for Mental Health, Center for Mental Health Services, 1998).

The fact is, mental illness is biologically based and varies from moderate to severe. Mental illnesses are disorders of the brain that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, moods and ability to relate to others. Mental illnesses are brain disorders that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. Being diagnosed with mental illness is not a death sentence. Knowledge of the mind has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, and so have methods of therapy and the quality of medications - to the point where many brain disorders are completely controllable.

There is a light of hope in everyone; however people with mental illness have a harder time finding it. With the help and guidance of Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network and the S.T.A.R. Reach Center Clubhouse Program, one consumer at time discovers theirs.

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