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Mental health supporters honored by NAMI chapter

Nov. 10, 2009

Mental Illness Awareness Week was honored recently by the Waukesha chapter of the National Association for Mental Illness at a dinner and awards presentation at Thunder Bay Grille in Pewaukee.

Executive Director Mary Madden presented the Mental Health Professional of the Year award to physician Juan Hernandez of Brookfield, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He volunteers his time at educational meetings, writes articles for the NAMI newsletter and attends "ask the doctor" sessions for NAMI members.

Jerry Frankenberg of Brookfield received a special recognition award for his many volunteer efforts for NAMI, including 20 years of portraying Santa at the NAMI Christmas party. Charley Olson of Waukesha also received a special recognition award for his many hours of volunteering, including providing transportation for those needing to get to medical appointments and shop for necessities.

The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Dan Bemi of Menomonee Falls, who has been an outstanding fundraiser for NAMI programs and has taken training to instruct NAMI's Family to Family classes. Roxanne Klejsmit of Muskego also received a Volunteer of the Year award for her work with many of NAMI's programs.

Three organizations shared the Community Service Award for working to provide additional shelter for the homeless. The Hebron House of Hospitality, the Salvation Army and St. Matthias Church, all of Waukesha, received the award for securing additional temporary housing for the homeless at St. Matthias Church.

The Family of the Year award went to Jer and Andy Werlein of Waukesha. Jer has secured important donations for NAMI and has traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak to politicians about the need for legislation to help those in need.

Wenona Gardner of Waukesha received the Consumer of the Year award for 2009. She also is a NAMI Peer to Peer mentor and the editor and writer of the newsletter "The Unlimited."

The Benefactor of the Year award was presented to Irving Raffe of Milwaukee. His financial assistance helped NAMI to continue its programs and services free of charge in a year when small not-for-profits were struggling.

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