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2020 Journeys Magazine

Grateful Families

Families of graduates stay connected to Skyland Trail in many ways. They answer questions at family orientation, speak to other families considering treatment, or share their stories in the community. Many families make charitable gifts to help others access and complete treatment. We are thankful for our Grateful Families.

Why One Mother Gives Back

Nanette H. decided to include Skyland Trail in her charitable giving after two daughters completed treatment. Nanette cites Skyland Trail's family programs, which are made possible through community giving, as a key to her family's recovery.

portrait of Nanette, a smiling black woman with locks

Recovery isn’t a linear process. It’s a journey with ups and downs, setbacks and successes, a journey that works out best when you’re surrounded by support, particularly family. The journey for one mother started in 2016 when her oldest daughter began to struggle with mental health while away at college.

“Things were starting to deteriorate, so I just started researching places. I didn’t want her to be hospitalized again,” said Nanette H. about her oldest daughter, who was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and experiencing anosognosia, a condition when someone is unable to perceive or accept a diagnosis of mental illness. “She didn’t realize she was ill and stopped taking her medication.”

Her oldest daughter enrolled in the Skyland Trail residential treatment program in 2017.

While her oldest daughter progressed through residential and day treatment, Nanette attended Skyland Trail’s Family STEP program, a free weekly support and education program for family members and loved ones of Skyland Trail adult clients that is made possible through charitable donations. During each meeting, attendees learn about different mental health topics from clinical experts and provide support for one another as fellow family members of someone with a serious mental illness.

“Every week, STEP helped me learn how to communicate with my daughter better or how to handle certain situations. It can be difficult,” Nanette says. “Without an understanding of what they are going through and what you need yourself to handle it, you become a part of the problem. You go around in circles. I learned so much.”

Since graduating from Skyland Trail in 2017, Nanette’s oldest daughter has improved greatly. She recently secured a full-time job, takes her medication as scheduled, and has shown increased cognitive and executive functioning, which often are impacted by psychosis.

A few years later, when Nanette’s youngest daughter began struggling with anxiety and depression while at college, Nanette again turned to Skyland Trail for help.

“She knew if it could help her sister, it could help her as well,” Nanette says. “It was actually through STEP and Family Orientation where I began to understand how to best help my youngest daughter. It really helped the entire family with the education and information that is shared there.”

Her youngest daughter, who graduated from Skyland Trail in 2019, recognizes that recovery is not a linear process. When she still occasionally struggles, she remembers that her sister experienced ups and downs as well. Recovery takes time.

Now, Nanette hopes that by giving back to Skyland Trail as a Grateful Family, she can help provide this same kind of knowledge and support to future client families.

“There’s so much stigma behind mental illness, and there are so many suffering. I think society can really benefit from having more education around mental illness," says Nanette.

"Skyland Trail is incredibly unique. The ability to cover every aspect of these illnesses is really important. Few places are as comprehensive, and I wish that more people understood the impact of donating and contributing has on the clients and their families."

Alumni Families Endowed Scholarship

Earlier this spring, a group of 10 alumni families joined together to contribute $50,000 toward an endowed scholarship fund, with a goal of challenging other alumni families to match their support and establish a $100,000 named fund.

This endowment will exist in perpetuity and will provide critical financial assistance to eligible patients, helping to ensure that future generations have access to quality mental health services.

To bolster the families’ fundraising campaign, the Skyland Trail Board of Directors voted this fall to contribute $25,000 toward the scholarship. Now with nearly two-thirds of the funds raised, they are well on their way to reaching their $100,000 goal and establishing the inaugural Alumni Family Endowed Scholarship at Skyland Trail.

Thank you to the families whose early contributions made this initiative possible. We are grateful to you and the entire Alumni Family community for the many ways you support Skyland Trail and our clients.

“For many, the cost of services remain a barrier to accessing and completing mental health treatment. As a Grateful Family, we wanted to do what we could to help alleviate the burden that other families may face when considering effective treatment options for their loved ones. We are proud to be part of the Skyland Trail community and hope that our gift will inspire others to make contributions of their own.”

Randy Avent, alumni parent and early supporter of the initiative

Scholarship Challenge Donors

Terri and Randy Avent
Susan Lare Baumgartel
Janine and Rob Brugh
Lisa and Cove Geary
Ellen and David Herold

Patricia Toy Johnson
Meredith and Harry Lamberton
Shauna and Jim Muhl
Beth and Jerry Shaifer
Lynn and Peter Valentino


Thank You to Our Event Sponsors


DID YOU KNOW?  In 2019, Grateful Families' support of the Annual Fund increased by 30 percent over the previous year.