Outstanding volunteers named
Mental Health America of Putnam County would cease to exist without the dedication of volunteers.
Each year, the organization gives two awards -- Person of the Year and Educator of the Year. This year, three people were recognized with those designations.
Lisa Bishop was named Person of the Year, while Troy and Becky Greenlee shared Educator of the Year honors.
Honorees are nominated by the public, and an MHAPC committee selects the winners.
"I'm glad I wasn't on the selection committee," said MHAPC Executive Director Eileen Johnson. "We had several very good nominees."
Bishop has been involved with MHAPC for two years, and currently sits on the board. She works with the local PIE and Safe Schools coalitions.
"If it's a coalition, chances are I'm in it," Bishop said with a chuckle.
She became acquainted with MHAPC through her professional contacts.
"I work professionally with most of the people on the board," she said.
Troy Greenlee is an eighth grade U.S. history teacher and counselor at Greencastle Middle School. Becky Greenlee, his wife, is a counselor at Deer Meadow Elementary.
"I not only feel like it's mental health," said Becky. "I feel like there is also a stigma against kids raised in poverty. The most important thing is that we build relationships with these children. You could have every therapy in the world, and without a relationship you can throw it all right out the window, because it won't work."
Troy meets children when they are on the precipices of major life changes, so he deals with many issues.
"Middle school is a level when they're growing physically, mentally and emotionally," he said. "As a teacher, I try to keep my eyes open for kids who aren't getting positive peer acceptance. They're flying high one minute; they're really low the next. They need people there who really care and understand, and I try to provide that."
Bishop has assisted MHAPC with planning community events and public education.
"Our focus is to make the community aware of issues related to mental health and to de-stigmatize those who are affected by mental illness," she said.
Bishop became involved with MHAPC through her place of employment, Cummins Behavioral Health, where she is a social worker.
"I realized that kids are aware from a very early age that they are 'different,' and they're the ones who end up stigmatized," she said. "I've always worked with children, and I think the best thing for them is just to know that someone 'gets' them."
In her position, Bishop deals with children who have been involved in multiple systems, and she relishes the opportunity to help those children triumph and do well.
"It's so important to let the family take part in what's happening to the child," she said. "I really enjoy the sappy stuff … when the kids send you letters or call you three years later."
Bishop is not afraid to stand up for children she believes have been wronged by the system.
"Schools shudder when they see me coming," she said. "I know what the kids are entitled to, and I know what their rights are."
Becky feels two of her most important duties are to help families feel connected to the school their children attend and to help meet the practical needs of students. By doing these things, she said, she communicates to children that she really cares about them.
"I want them to know that," she said. "If you do it right, these relationships are enduring."