It was overcast for the NAMI Walk, a walk for the mind, today. The clouds concentrated on holding the Spring showers tight in the sky. There were loaves of bread being passed out with bottled water at the Eastbank Esplanade in Portland and what seemed like pop western or reggae music being played on a sound system brought dancing beats into the atmosphere. There were poles standing tall on the concrete next to the tables with balloons attached in layers of every color of the rainbow. Tables showed their materials to raise awareness with banners waving above. Among them were NAMI Multnomah, In Our Own Voice (North Star), Family- to-Family, and Peer-to Peer to name a few. I grabbed the chance to volunteer at NAMI Multnomah’s table along with Michelle Moss, a member of North Star, my boss Jennifer Allen, education coordinator for NAMI Multnomah, and another member. Shannon Pullen, Executive Director was the organizer of the display. Our table was located adjacent to an information, registration, and T-shirt table. If the team members for the walk raised $100.00 for their team they would get a T-shirt which read- “Changing Minds… One step at a time- NAMI WALKS.”
Announcements were made by Chris Baouneff and speeches were given by Representative Jennifer Williamson, Representative Lew Frederick, Multnomah County Commissioner, Judy Shiprack, and Amanda Fritz. A band called Kukuva Marimba played spirited music.
Julie Fast, the critically acclaimed author, national speaker, and expert in the field of bipolar and depression, attended and my friends Amy Meyers who was the coordinator of North Star’s Music and Art for the Mind show and Jeana Wheeler, organizer, facilitator, and founder of Bipolar Recovery support group, made their appearances also. There were sponsors, as well as, two thousand seven hundred and fifty people.