Supporters recently gathered in West Hartford for a ‘Yoga and Paint Night’ to Benefit Mental Health Connecticut.
On Thursday, Jan. 31, about 35 supporters of Mental Health Connecticut (MHC) had a fun evening of yoga and painting at West Hartford’s Rockledge Grille while raising money for MHC’s wellness programs.
The fundraiser was created by Suzi Craig, a West Hartford resident and senior director of Strategic Partnerships and Policy at MHC, in collaboration with the event’s primary sponsor, Maria Librio of Frank J. Librio CPAs of West Hartford and Rose Hill Funeral Home and Memorial Park of Rocky Hill. The two met on the West Hartford Neighbors and Friends Facebook page.
Together, Craig and Librio raised almost $2,200 for MHC.
“The event was successful because our friends and family came together to do yoga and painting, whether they knew how to or not, just to support us,” said Librio.
“When I came across Suzi’s request for a venue for her event on Facebook, I felt compelled to help. After meeting Suzi, I learned that MHC offers programs unlike what I’d ever heard before. For example, Sea Tea Improv works with MHC to bring to life students’ stories about their own journey with trauma and mental health. As a CPA, with Frank J Librio, CPAs, I’ve seen a lot about how mental illness plays a role in family finances. As the CEO of a funeral home and cemetery (Rose Hill in Rocky Hill), I feel an immense sense of purpose to help those families whose loved ones are affected by addiction or suicide to deal with their mental illness,” said Librio.
The theme for the event was “We Don’t Make Mistakes, Only Happy Accidents” an homage to Bob Ross, the popular (and now deceased) host of PBS’ “Joy of Painting” TV show. Ross continues to be a popular symbol of mindfulness and an inspiration to take on things that intimidate us, like painting, to find joy.
For the event, Suzi Craig (also a nationally-certified yoga teacher trained through Wild Essence Yoga School) taught a gentle and fun yoga class for about 25 of the attendees. Following yoga, all 35 attendees enjoyed delicious appetizers and cupcakes from Ethel Rose Cakes, while taking a painting class from Pamela Jordan of Hartford Paint Parties.
“Yoga and paint night was the best way to spend a cold winter night. We enjoyed some fun and relaxing yoga with beautiful sunset views over Rockledge golf course, followed by painting our “happy trees” during the guided paint instruction. It was my first paint class and while I was intimidated at first, it ended up being a lot of fun and almost meditative. Overall, it was a fun night supporting a great cause!” said Esta Amedeo, attendee and West Hartford resident.
In 2018, Mental Health Connecticut ran a year-long anniversary campaign to celebrate its 110th year, where they raised over $116,000 through events such as the yoga and paint night where individuals chose a fundraiser in their backyard to help MHC reach its bigger goal.
“Mental Health affects us all. MHC is committed to growing our wellness programs – from gardening to the arts, and stigma-busting storytelling to yoga and mindfulness and more. These programs may seem like side notes to the healing process but they can become powerful channels for recovery. We are so grateful for people like Maria who are passionate about raising awareness and making mental health a priority, and who are willing to go above and beyond to help us grow these important programs,” said Craig.
“I hope my involvement with MHC will help me gain more knowledge and tools to help others more effectively. I believe everyone deserves to live an abundant life,” said Librio.
“What a fun way to exercise, be creative and relax with friends. This event was the perfect way to spend a Thursday evening after a hectic work week. We hope to host many more artful and fun events throughout 2019 as part of our focus on wellbeing,” said Kim Pita, MHC Board Chair.
To learn more about Mental Health Connecticut, go to: www.mhconn.org
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