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October 18, 2006 - Aurora Mental Health Center: Celebrating 31 Years of Service & Retirement Celebration

What: Aurora Mental Health Center Annual Meeting & Presentation

Where: Doubletree Hotel Ballroom, Iliff & I-225

When: October 18, 2006

Time: 5 p.m. Reception & Silent Auction; 6 p.m. Program

Ticket Prices: Free Community Event

Beneficiary: Money from Silent Auction will go directly to the Children & Family Programs.

Master of Ceremonies: Kevin Cunningham, Board President

Honoree(s): Frank Bennett, PhD, Director of Child & Family Services.

Executive Director: Randy Stith, PhD

Introductions: Ruth Ryan, Board Member - 11th Annual Board of Directors Awards to Staff.

Welcome: Kevin Cunningham

Speaker: Frank Bennett, PhD, Director of Child & Family Services

Catering: Doubletree Hotel

Of note: Recognition of Retiring Board Members & Introduction of Board Candidates & Annual Election.

Quote of the evening: Kevin Cunningham: "In the tough times we were going, and in the good times we were growing."

Menu: An array of hot & cold Hors D'Oeuvres with a beautiful chocolate fountain and fruit for dipping.

Attendance: 200

Attire: Business Casual

Special Thanks: Silent Auction Donors & the Community Relations/Legislative Committee.


Board of Directors: Linda Ashburn, Terry Campbell Caron, Harrison Cochran, Becky Cromley, Peter Cukale, Larry Davila, Stephan Ghadaifchian, Larry Grandison, Tim Huffman, Elsie Lacy, Rich Martin, Marti Maxey, Sue McCollum, Wendy Mitchell, Wendy Nunez, Ernie Ortiz, Madolyn Paroske, Suzann Reikofski, Ruth Ryan, June Smigel, Jo Snell, Sue Spiller, June Sturm-Roller, Sudhir Verma, Pat Wojciechowski, Cyndi Wozniak-Behrens, George Zierk, Kathy Zinter, Barbara Shannon-Banister, Frank Weddig, Judy Edberg, and Paul Zimmerman.

Blacktie Photos by: Nancy Koontz

 Carla Bennett with her husband, Dr. Frank Bennett, honoree & keynote speaker with Cindy Jaster & Gus Jaster.
Carla Bennett with her husband, Dr. Frank Bennett, honoree & keynote speaker with Cindy Jaster & Gus Jaster.

By: Nancy Koontz

The house was packed for the Aurora Mental Health Center's 31st Annual Meeting & Retirement Celebration entitled: "Fads & Facts: Challenges & Champions: 35 Years in Community Mental Health."

Aurora Mental Health was founded over 30 years ago by a group of Aurora residents who were determined to bring mental health services to the city. One of the founders, Ellin Mrachek, noticed a child playing in the street one day and stopped to see why she wasn’t in school. Ellin came to find out that the little girl’s mother had to travel out of the city for mental health treatments. At that point Ellin Mrachek realized how necessary it was to open a community mental health center in Aurora to serve adults, children, and families. Now, no mother and child must leave the city to get help.

The togetherness and dedication of the Aurora Community for The Aurora Mental Health Center - a private, non-profit agency that provides mental health services - was evident at the meeting as people gathered to honor Aurora Mental Health Center for its high quality service to the residents of Aurora, and to honor one of its departing leaders, Dr. Frank Bennett. Frank Bennett, PhD was also the keynote Speaker at the 31st Annual Meeting, and Dr. Bennett will officially retire on October 31, 2006. At the October 18th meeting, Dr. Bennett was honored for his 35 years of service in the Mental Health Community. Dr. Bennett has been the Director of Child and Family Services at Aurora Mental Health Center for the last 20 years.

Aurora Mental Heath Center recently received top honors for the best community mental health center in the state. To earn the award, Aurora Mental Health Center (AUMHC) consistently scored among the best in 10 measures of performance and quality. "I am proud and delighted with the results of this year's performance indicators." said Randy Stith, PhD, the Executive Director of the Aurora Mental Health Center. In addition to the recognition Dr. Bennett received at the event, Ruth Ryan a Board Member, gave awards to this year's "Board of Directors Awards to the Staff," and the recipients were: Intern/Volunteer: Keri Linas, MA; Administrative: Amy Zuckerman; Clinical Adult Services: Todd Nice, MA, LPC; Clinical Family Services: Annette Rothman, RN, MS; Manager: Marlene Husson, MA, LPC. Retiring Board Members were also recognized: Ricky Bennett, Jim Kramer, Marty Mann, and President, Kevin Cunningham. Board Candidates were introduced and voted on: Linda Ashburn, Becky Cromley, Elsie Lacy, Wendy Mitchell, June Smigel, Sudhir Verma, Peter Cukale, Kathy Zinter, Tim Huffman, Marti Maxey, and Rachel Nunez.

One in four Americans will have a mental illness in the next 12 months, and people who are "medically indigent," have no insurance, or aren't eligible for assistance - and can't afford to pay for services - can count on the Aurora Mental Health Center to be there with the best services available. Whatever your age or mental health need, you can be assured that the AUMHC makes individual, child and family counseling available so people can live better and richer lives. If you are interested in volunteering at the Center, or would like to make a donation, please contact Heather Dolan at or at 303-617-2313.

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