WHIPPANY, NJ- The Mental Health Association of Morris County (MHAMC) held their 12th annual ‘Food For Thought’ fundraiser last Monday June 9 to raise money and awareness for their mission for mental health and honor those who have supported the organization. The event featured samples of food and drinks from numerous local eateries, including Randolph's own Burrini's Market, who was the food sponsor and sole server of elegant appetizers during the VIP cocktail hour. A tricky tray, silent auctions, a performance from the Mental Health Players, and a keynote speech from Senator Anthony R. Bucco rounded out the evening.
Chairman of the Board of Directors for the MHAMC Jeffrey Green began the ceremony by thanking all the attendees for their support and urged attendees to show their thanks by being customers of the event sponsors, all who have helped greatly. Green ran a smooth event and presented three different awards to men who did an excellent job supporting the MHAMC.
Senator Bucco was first to receive his award as the 2014 MHAMC Community Leadership Award for his excellent work with those who are disabled. Bucco gave an emotional keynote speech after the acceptance of his award; he talked about growing up with a mentally disabled sister and how it has turned him into a strong advocate for awareness and proper treatment of those who cannot speak for themselves.
“Whether it’s the addicted or the mentally ill, somebody has to stick up for them, and that’s what I’m here to do,” said Bucco.
At the end of his speech, Bucco promised to continue the great work he has done for a great cause, “My son and I will keep fighting in the legislature, but we need the army of you to support us,” he said.
Next, Chris DePatria received the 2014 MHAMC Philanthropy Award; although Chris was not able to attend the ceremony, his mother accepted the award in his place. Chris was honored for soliciting more than ten thousand dollars in donations for sponsoring the ‘Manuary’ and ‘Movember’ events, where men grew beards and moustaches to gain donations for mental health awareness.
The final award given on the night was the 2014 MHAMC Volunteer Services Award to Brian Caine. Caine, the President of Soul Search Records, donates his time regularly to help the mentally disabled sing, play instruments and produce music. In an impromptu acceptance speech, Caine described a typical mentally disabled person’s daily stresses and was proud to say, “music melts the stress away.”
Finally the event ended with a short performance from the Mental Health Players; a volunteer organization that role plays with some humor and interaction to shed light on important topics and eliminate negative stigmas.
President and CEO of the MHAMC Lou Schwarcz was delighted with the turnout and success of the event, stating that there was roughly more than twice the amount of attendees this year than last.
“Tonight you are supporting and celebrating the work of the MHAMC, and for that, all of us who represent this organization are deeply grateful and appreciative,” said Schwarcz.