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June 05, 2007 - AuMHC: Rx for Living Life to the Fullest

What: Spring Benefit Luncheon

Where: Doubletree Hotel Denver South, 13696 E. Iliff Place, Aurora

When: Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Ticket Prices: $100

Master of Ceremonies: Molly Hughes of CBS4 News

EMCEE: Molly Hughes of CBS4 News

Founders: Founded by volunteers in 1975

Executive Director: Randy Stith

President(s): Larry Davila

Introductions: Wendy Mitchell

Welcome: Wendy Mitchell

Speaker: Jeannie Ritter, First Lady of Colorado, and Marianne Neifert, M.D., a.k.a. "Dr. Mom"

Catering: Doubletree Hotel

Entertainment: Dr. Marianne Neifert

Sponsors: Kaiser Permanente, Thrive, Citywide Banks, Arapahoe/Douglas Mental Health Network, Metro Community Provider Network, Aurora Housing Authority, Aurora Economic Development Council, Aurora Mental Health Center's Executive Team, La Cueva Restaurante, Dr. Randy & Shirley Stith, 1st Bank, Behavioral Healthcare, Adolfson & Peterson Construction, Sheldon & Associates LLC, Aurora Public Schools, Aurora Mental Health Center's Business Management Services, US Bank, IMA, Majestic Realty Co., Wal-Mart, Community Reach Center, Xerox, The Hanson Group

Menu: Ham-wrapped chicken, crushed potatoes, fresh steamed asparagus, berry tart with mint sprig

Attendance: approximately 240

Attire: Business Casual

Special Thanks: Wendy Mitchell, volunteer board member and event chair

Event Coordinator: Wendy Mitchell and Cindy Bohl

Board of Directors: Linda Ashburn, Ricky Bennett, Terry Campbell, Caron Harrison Cochran, Becky Cromley, Kevin Cunningham, Larry Davila, Stephan Ghadaifchian, Larry Grandison, Jim Kramer, Elsie Lacy, Shelley Lazear, Marty Mann, Rich Martin, Sue McCollum, Wendy Mitchell, Ernie Ortiz, Madolyn Paroske, Suzann Reikofski, Ruth Ryan, June Smigel, Jo Snell, Sue Spiller, June Sturm-Roller, Sudhir Verma, Pat Wojciechowski, Cyndie Wozniak-Behrens, George Zierk Appointed Representatives: Barbara Shannon-Banister, City of Aurora Alice Nichol, Adams County Frank Weddig, Arapahoe County Paul Zimmerman, Cherry Creek School District Judy Edberg, Aurora Public Schools

Blacktie Photos by: M. Darcy

 Dr. Randy Stith, left, Wendy Mitchell, Molly Hughes and Larry Davila (seated)
Dr. Randy Stith, left, Wendy Mitchell, Molly Hughes and Larry Davila (seated)

One out five Americans suffers from a diagnosable mental illness, yet only 14% of them actually receive adequate treatment. For 32 years, the Aurora Mental Health Center (AuMHC) has been helping people in Colorado cope with mental health needs, from stress management to more severe illnesses, so they can live life to the fullest.

On June 5, 2007, Wendy Mitchell, a dedicated volunteer AuMHC board member, welcomed partners, sponsors and AuMHC staff to a benefit luncheon she organized to help the center function more efficiently and continue their award-winning programs. She then introduced Molly Hughes, that familiar face of CBS4 News, who acted as the very congenial Mistress of Ceremonies for the luncheon.

As a special anniversary creation, The Hanson Group, a Denver-based marketing firm, dedicated a moving presentation to those whom the AuMHC has helped and the thousands more they will help in the future. Silently, portraits of individuals suffering from depression, fear, anxiety and hopelessness faded on and off the screen; then a voice rose up singing “Amazing Grace,” and the images became laughing faces of children and adults posing with friends or family--integrated back into society where they belong.

This is the view that the luncheon’s special guest speaker, First Lady Jeannie Ritter, is trying to bring into focus. It’s become Jeannie’s mission. Watching her brother struggle with bi-polar disorder, Jeannie recognized that her position as First Lady presented a unique opportunity to bring more awareness to mental health issues. She lamented that we speak casually of herbal remedies, but the subject of mental illness is still taboo and stigmatized. By becoming more open and accepting of those affected by mental illness, she believes more people can be helped to “live life to the fullest.”

Keynote speaker, Dr. Marianne Neifert, best known as Dr. Mom, had some serious and not-so-serious prescriptions to help us “live, love, laugh.” She pointed out that everyone in the room was a leader, and that “our own model can have a tremendous influence on the other families that come into our sphere.” She later noted that “friends are God’s way of apologizing for our families.” Dr. Mom had many such witty proverbs on breastfeeding, doing too much, and aging, such as, “if you’re not beautiful by 17, that’s unfortunate; if you’re not beautiful by 70, that’s your own fault.” Another was, “perfectionists are people who take great pains and give them to other people.” Near the end of her hilarious anecdotes, Dr. Mom donned a lei and explained that the word “aloha” implies a wonderful philosophy on relationships. It means: to welcome the stranger and seek the good in him.

As community leaders, this should be our goal. The AuMHC has been a leader in Colorado since its inception by a group of concerned volunteers. Dr. Randy Stith, the Center’s Executive Director, noted that the AuMHC was the only agency that New York state asked to help victims of the 9/11 tragedy, and, more recently, that the state of Colorado requested them to work with Hurricane Katrina survivors who were relocated here. As a true community center, AuMHC partners with the public schools, shelters, basic needs agencies and other healthcare providers, working through Medicaid to ensure that their services are available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

If you’d like to learn more about the many ways you can contribute to the center, or just wish to live your life to the fullest, visit or call (303) 617-2300.

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