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Correct Chasco image by joining festival effort

Correct Chasco image by joining

In regard to the March 22 letter from Ruby Beaulieu, executive director American Indian Movement of Florida, I would like to make a recommendation. If the Chasco festival offends you due to incorrectness, why do you not join the committee and educate them on the proper dress, ceremonial or otherwise?

Instead of protesting a very worthwhile effort, can you not be a part of making it more representative of your true culture? Protesting, letters, and obnoxious behavior will not make people notice your real cause. They will only see you as arrogant, petty and a naysayer.

The festival will continue. It is a tradition here, and the financial benefits to charities and our local business community is tremendous. You cannot stop it, so how about instead of complaining, you take a positive step and work toward improving those things that you take offense at? Nothing like proposing an advisory board to make a difference.

Denise Blackford, New Port Richey

Support library through group

The week of April 12-18 is national library week and schools, campuses and communities across the country recognize the contributions libraries, librarians and library workers make to their communities every day.

Librarians and skilled staff provide services that help people locate recreational and informational (health, travel) reading and offer informational resources and answers to questions on a broad array of topics related to work, school and personal life.

The library provides a gathering place where residents of all ages can meet and interact with others in their community and can participate in programs of interest to the community.

Love your library? Show your support. Join the friends at your local library. A friends membership is your best way to show that the public library is important to you, your family and your community.

Loraine Cors, president,

Friends of the Pasco County Library System Inc., Hudson

Education on mental illness

In 1988 in Memphis, Tenn., the Police Department and the National Alliance on Mental Illness joined together with community mental health consumers, professionals, and family members to establish an education program for officers who respond to people with mental health issues. The University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis assisted.

This unique and creative alliance was established for the purpose of developing a more intelligent, understandable, and safe approach to mental health crisis events. The model is instrumental in offering special, trained officers to respond to crisis calls from families caring for the mentally ill.

The outcome is that the arrests of the mentally ill are reduced, and use of force is decreased. Underserved consumers and families are identified by officers and provided with direction to care. Patient violence and use of restraints in the emergency have decreased. Officers are trained and educated in verbal de-escalation techniques. Officer injuries during crisis events have declined. Officer recognition and appreciation by the community have increased. And, there has been a cost savings to the community, as persons are directed to care and education instead of jail. This program is now replicated across the country in our law enforcement communities.

The first week of March, the Pasco and Hernando sheriff's offices together offered this CIT program to officers in both counties. There were nine officers from Hernando, seven from the Pasco Sheriff's Office, three Dade City police officers and two from the city of New Port Richey Police Department who participated and graduated from this unique program.

On the second day of the program, my family spoke to the students, telling of our journey with our daughter and her mental illness since age 13, spanning occurrences in several states, hospitalizations, running away, drug abuse, and the tremendous toll to us all as she refused to accept her illness over many years. It was the first time we all spoke together, my daughter, my husband and myself. It was the first time she heard of our pain as we watched our beautiful, brilliant daughter spiral into illness. It was an emotional experience for us, and one of great and continued healing for us all.

As teachers of the Family to Family course for NAMI, my husband and I were able to tell the officers of the understanding that education can bring to families as they try to become supportive members of the team that moves a loved one to acceptance of their illness and then wellness. Our daughter spoke of how grateful she is that her family finally knew the truth about her disease and we were going to work with her in our own alliance to help her achieve wellness.

Later in the week, our officers visited several mental health facilities here in Hernando County and came to the Beautiful Mind Center run by our local affiliate of NAMI. There the officers met a number of consumers with a variety of diagnosed mental illnesses, and heard their wishes for an officer, if dealing with them, to first realize that they were ill, but had dignity, and to be treated with dignity. These were people the officers might meet in church, the local grocery store, on the street, and perhaps someday in a crisis. To have face-to-face interaction was a wonder for all. Both our consumers and our officers were moved. The 40-hour course concluded that Friday with graduation.

On May 16, the NAMI affiliate at our annual free seminar on mental illness will recognize these officers and present them with their official CIT pins to wear on their uniforms. The focus for this seminar will be "From Discovery to Recovery," with several speakers presenting on this topic.

Call NAMI at (352) 684-0004 for information on the program or support group activities, and (352) 544-0352 for information on family to family education. On, Saturday, May 16, at Grace Lutheran Church on U.S. 19 just north of State Road 50, we will pin our newest CIT officers.

Judy Thompson, vice president, National Association on Mental Illness/NAMI Hernando

>>your voice counts

We welcome letters from readers for publication. To send a letter from your computer, go to www.tampabay.com/letters and fill in the required information. Type your letter in the space provided on the form, specify that you are writing the Hernando section of the newspaper, and then click "submit." You also may cut and paste a letter that you have prepared elsewhere in your computer.

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Letters may be edited for clarity, taste, length and accuracy. We regret that not all letters can be printed.

Correct Chasco image by joining festival effort 03/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 23, 2009 6:09pm]

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