By Dawn Brown
My NAMI membership expires every April and I automatically renew. It’s been the same routine for 15 years.
I joined NAMI in April 2001, when my family had its first experience with mental illness. We were feeling scared, confused and hopeless as our son became more and more lost to us. Fortunately, we were introduced to NAMI and all that comes with it— amazing programs, dedicated volunteers, supportive community, workshops and conferences, publications and online resources and so many opportunities to improve our life and the lives of others affected by mental illness. Today, even though our family is enjoying more peaceful times, I still keep my NAMI membership active and stay involved.
This year, as I pulled out my credit card to renew, I stopped and asked myself, “Why am I a NAMI member?” To help me answer that question, I put together a Top 10 list—David Letterman style— explaining why belonging to NAMI will always be important to me and my family.
10. It doesn’t cost a lot. $35 is all it takes to join NAMI. It costs even less with an Open Door membership from a NAMI Affiliate.
9. Discounts. Receive member-only discounts in the NAMI Store and reduced registration fees for the NAMI National Convention.
8. Excellent articles. The NAMI Advocate magazine and access to online member-only content and subscriptions to online newsletters and reports provide important and timely information.
7. Wide-spread assistance. Each NAMI membership benefits an extensive network of NAMI Affiliates and NAMI State Organizations as well as the national NAMI organization. Receive notices about local meetings, support groups, educational programs and advocacy alerts.
6. Connect with social media. OK2Talk, You Are Not Alone and NAMI AIR create new, important, virtual ways to share, learn and receive encouragement. Membership dollars help keep these channels open.
5. Fight stigma. Membership helps NAMI to present more than 8,000 stigma-busting community awareness presentations each year like NAMI In Our Own Voice and NAMI Ending the Silence.
4. Aid the NAMI HelpLine. Membership dues keep the NAMI HelpLine phones and emails answered. The HelpLine provides information, resource referrals and peer support to more than 50,000 people each year.
3. Keep programing free. Membership helps ensure that NAMI’s programs like NAMI Basics, NAMI Family-To-Family or NAMI Peer-To-Peer, NAMI Family Support Groups and NAMI Connection stay free to anyone wanting to attend.
2. People will listen. The voices of NAMI members strengthen the organization’s impact with local, state and national leaders and legislators to spread awareness, shape legislation and remove stigmas.
How many these reasons resonate with you? What motivates you to be a NAMI member? Share your ideas in the comments section below—we’d love to hear your thoughts.
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Individual membership—$35 per year
Open Door membership (discounted) available from your local NAMI Affiliate
Dawn Brown is a long time NAMI member and volunteer. Dawn joined NAMI’s staff as an Information and Referral Specialist on the NAMI HelpLine and currently, leads the NAMI Information and Engagement Services team. She has an adult son living with schizophrenia.
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