4/3/14 meeting: Mental Health and School Safety

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (12): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Pat Bailey, Jim Leyhane, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Terry Brewer, Len Leonidas, Dick Drumm, Charlie Foote, Stewart Wagner.

Guests (2): Jim Butterworth, Ann Myers.


Program: Promoting Mental Health and School Safety


Ann Myers addresses the club.
Ann Myers addresses the club.

Ann Myers, Ed.D, director of the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Center at The Sage Colleges, was introduced by Terry Brewer.

The center was created in honor of the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, a Sage graduate student who was the first person killed in the mass shooting there.

In her current role, Ann works to improve and implement communications between communities and schools in the area of mental health and violence.

She said there are no sustainable models for dealing with mental health issues in the schools. In addition, boundaries, walls and traditions are changing.

She explained the history and progression of interrelated systems from institutions to BOCES to managed care and the problem now of incarceration of young mental health patients. Prisons are the three largest mental health providers in the country, and Ann noted they are both stressed and resource-poor.

She suggested this is a societal and community problem, as well as an educational and mental health problem. Solutions need to be local as school violence is raising awareness to a new level. Violence includes bullying, both in-person and cyber-bullying, the latter ratcheting up the level because there is no way to get away from it.

Ann touched on the lack of help for many mental health problems, including lack of treatment space for those who should be hospitalized but are not. Using the example of Sandy Hook, she spoke about school shootings across the country.

She invited us to attend a May 30 conference at Sage on improving the situation and how to make changes.


Announcements/Business:

MEMBERSHIP: The club welcomed prospective member Jim Butterworth.

EASTER BASKET PROJECT: President April suggested we all check the club website for photos of the Cub Scouts putting together the Easter baskets for Circles of Mercy. Len Leonidas, project coordinator, reported that 14 baskets were assembled and delivered, including a box of leftover items.

SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION: The club has received essays from students at four high schools — Columbia, Maple Hill, Tamarac and Troy — in the $1,000 scholarship project. April and Bill have read them and will pass them along to Terry Brewer and Jim Butterworth. Two winners will be selected.

SIMULATED GOLF TOURNAMENT: Event coordinators Murray Forth and Terry reported on this first-ever fundraiser. Thirty-three golfers participated, and Murray reported that $1,575 was raised. A portion of that was the from the Ronald McDonald House raffle. Murray suggested that $1,000 be added to our special Gift of Life fund drive, which would bring that total to $6,200 of the $10,000 we pledged to raise by June 1. It was suggested that the sponsors of the golf event be added to our website’s sponsors page. In addition, Murray and Terry recommended we hold three such events — in December, January and February — next winter.

ROTARY RUN: Murray provided the list of sponsors of last year’s Run and outlined who needs to be contacted to renew for this year by sponsoring T-shirts and signs. He, Terry and Peter Brown split up that duty.

FOURTH QUARTER GOAL: Not having heard any suggestions from members for a fourth quarter project, April stated her intention to continue support of Circles of Mercy, which was our third quarter recipient. Debbie Brown suggested supporting The Anchor, the Castleton food pantry we aided in December. So, we will adopt both organizations for the final quarter of this Rotary Year.


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at Quigley’s restaurant. Heidi Hill, site director of the Schuyler Mansion in Albany, will be our after-dinner speaker.


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