02/01/12 — Mental Health Association won't dissolve

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Mental Health Association won't dissolve

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 1, 2012 1:46 PM

The Mental Health Association in Wayne County will not be dissolved.

At least for now.

After months of debating the fate of the organization -- as well as a Dec. 21 letter to supporters hinting at possible closure -- the board will instead pursue other funding options.

Money has become a problem for the organization, which focused on education and advocating for those with mental illness. Programs and services of the local branch, which has existed for more than 50 years, were sustained through the United Way and other supplemental funding. It had not been as reliant on the state Mental Health Association, which shut down services last fall due to highly publicized financial woes.

"It had been our intention at some point to maybe feel like this was the time to make a decision for dissolution, but we did not," board President Emily Peacock said Friday. "We decided that we would make some overtures for some support locally again.

"Basically, we didn't quite want to close the doors because we had some concerns."

Ten of the group's 14-member board convened Thursday evening.

"After doing a lot of soul searching last night, we just couldn't quite make a formal resolution that we would dissolve," Mrs. Peacock said. "We have not really closed the doors yet. We still need community support and we still want to be part of the community."

Since news became public that the MHA was struggling, in part due to the economy, support has trickled in, she said, even if it has not been entirely monetary.

"We get it individually and we did get response for Operation Santa Claus and we did get financial response from our appeal (at Christmas)," she said. "That enabled us to complete our year. We were able to complete our objectives for the year."

In a letter sent out in September, supporters were asked to donate to Operation Santa Claus, which provides gifts for the needy at holiday time. This year marked the highest number of recipients for the effort, Mrs. Peacock said, with 355. The amount collected, $4,500, enabled them to meet the need.

"We feel like we accomplished those goals that we set out, but also realized that we had to make some choices," she said.

Certainly, Mrs. Peacock acknowledged, response from the public has been heartfelt and appreciated. Unfortunately, it isn't enough to keep the association financially solvent.

"There's not, I would say, been a groundswell to the amount that in itself would keep us afloat," she said.

The group has discussed past money sources like United Way, which hasn't funded the association in recent years, as well as other options to pursue.

Meanwhile, the MHA continues to maintain an office and a mailbox, but the decision was made to discontinue phone service to alleviate that monthly bill.

The board is currently developing a position statement, Mrs. Peacock said, as it continues to determine how to move forward.

Mailing address for the MHA of Wayne County is P.O. Box 1476, Goldsboro, NC 27533. Mrs. Peacock can also be reached at 734-6026.