Dinner Dance Supports Mental Health Awareness

The struggle for wider understanding of mental health issues got more support in Ontario on March 29 when the Etobicoke based Crown Jewels for Mental Health held their fifth annual dinner and dance in support of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). La Primavera Hospitality and Convention Centre in Vaughan, ON played host to the event which attracts more attendees every year.

CAMHCrown Jewels launched as a response to the suicide of twenty year old Rosario Scalcione in 1999. His family and friends soon realized that “the topic of suicide or mental illness had never been discussed among the Scalcione family, and due to the lack of awareness, they did not know that Rosario was struggling.” They formed Crown Jewels in 2010 in Rosario’s memory, and look to “promote awareness so that people today, and going forward, can recognize the signs and help their family and friends with mental illness.”

In the four years since their inception, the volunteer run organization has raised about $24,000, with special attention being paid to fundraising for the CAMH Child, Youth and Family Program. This year’s dinner dance, titled A World of Difference, featured a five course meal, live performers, a DJ and a silent auction. The evening raised $10,000 for CAMH.

CAMH is the largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital in Canada. They consider themselves “an integrated community committed to supporting recovery” and see over 400,000 outpatient visits every year. Their programs help to “enhance recovery, ignite discovery and innovation, revolutionize education and knowledge exchange and drive social change.”

There are 10 major clinical care programs at the hospital. The aforementioned child, youth and family program is joined by geriatric mental health, women’s, mood and anxiety, schizophrenia, addictions, law and mental health, emergency psychiatric, Community Support and Research, and dual diagnosis which serves those with both a developmental delay and mental illness. The Toronto facility has clinics and wellness centres across the city, as well as support offices in other communities.

Crown Jewels director Marie Podnar says the non-profit used word of mouth, social media, an internet magazine, the CAMH website, and their website to publicize the fundraiser.  Podnar believes that as long as you have an organized and dedicated force of planners any event will turn out fine. “It is a lot of work,” she notes. “My best suggestion is to have a lot of volunteers that are accountable and reliable.”

How do you organize your volunteers when planning an event?