Why I volunteer: Joanna Kalp on NAMI

Joanne Kalp

Editor’s note: In the spirit of our spring Nonprofit Issue, we reached out to volunteers from several local nonprofit organizations, asking them to reflect on what inspired them to begin their work and the impact it has had on both the community and themselves. 

I have been with the National Alliance for Mental Illness of Western North Carolina for a little over three years. I started out as a volunteer working to connect NAMI more closely to the greater Asheville community and now serve on the board as vice president.

When I retired and my husband and I moved here, I knew I wanted to give back to the community in a way that was meaningful to me and would be significant to the community. We have a family member with a serious mental illness. She was able to get the help she needed and is now doing very well. Working with an organization to end the stigma of and provide support to families and individuals experiencing mental illness is very rewarding to me, as I have walked a mile (at least!) in their shoes.

NAMI WNC’s grassroots, peer-led support groups are the day-to-day support that can help individuals and families affected by mental illness build better lives.

State and national levels of NAMI create training to be used by local facilitators and provide advocacy with state and federal lawmakers. This combination of local, state and national services provides a comprehensive approach to creating a caring community supporting people affected by mental illness to live healthy, fulfilling lives.

I am very honored to be part of an organization that has such a positive impact on individuals, families and the local community. And our family member is very pleased to know how I am spending my time during retirement — and maybe just a little proud.


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