02/03/05 — Mental Health Association honors volunteers, members for efforts

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Mental Health Association honors volunteers, members for efforts

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 3, 2005 2:06 PM

The Mental Health Association of Wayne County recognized volunteers and association members for their efforts on behalf of the mentally ill at the organization's annual meeting Wednesday.

Bobby Jones, a member of the association board, received the A.H. Zealy Award. Outgoing association president John Chance described Jones as "the board member who has made the most difference."

Chance said that Jones had served as chairman of seven lunch-and-learn seminars presented last year by the association.

"He even got corporate sponsors to pay for the lunch, and you know when you give a free lunch people will come," Chance said.

The award is given in honor of Dr. A. Hazel Zealy Jr., a former general practitioner who was the association's first president. Zealy's efforts helped found the county's mental health clinic.

Volunteers Ron and Bobbie Carter received the S.B. McPheeters Award, named for the late Dr. S.B. McPheeters who served as director of the county Health Department and was instrumental in the formation of the Mental Health Association in 1961.

In 1991, the Carters' son was a resident at the O'Berry Center and was unable to come home for Christmas. They decided to throw a Christmas party at the center and have continued the tradition for years. This year they bought gifts for 80 patients.

Amanda McCollum, a member of the association board, said that the Carters always ask for two suggestions for gifts, and the gifts are always very personal.

"They've traveled as far as Tennessee to get presents, and even to Cherokee because you couldn't get authentic Indian gifts at K-Mart," said Ms. McCollum. "Mrs. Carter is very particular."

Family and church members help defray some of the cost of the gifts, but the Carters pay for most of the presents themselves.

"In 2001 Mrs. Carter had breast cancer, but she kept the party going because she knew many clients didn't have any family," Ms. McCollum said.

Gerale Condron received the first William J. Condron Award in memory of her late husband's efforts on behalf of the mentally ill. Bill Condron was the former director of the Wayne County Mental Health Center. He died in December 2003.

Board Member Penny Withrow said that Mrs. Condron has worked at Cherry Hospital, O'Berry Center and with other organizations that serve people with mental illnesses.

"She is a joy and truly exhibits what an advocate for the mentally ill is," Mrs. Withrow said.

Mrs. Condron thanked the association members for the honor, and said she would keep her remarks brief because she didn't want to become emotional.

"All I'll say is, I challenge you all to be advocates."

During the meeting, which was held at the Goldsboro Country Club, the board installed officers for 2005. Bobby Jones received the gavel as president from outgoing president John Chance. The other officers are Pat Faulk-McCarter, president-elect, Libby Dukay, secretary, and Kim Bunch, treasurer.