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The Rotary Club of the Abingtons and the National Alliance on Mental Illness is teaming up for a fundraiser next month to benefit the advocacy group.

The Rotary usually holds a few fundraisers through the year and while kicking around ideas for new ones, Rotarian Lauren Calvey suggested one benefitting NAMI Scranton and Northeast Region, the local chapter of the group. NAMI provides education, support and advocacy for people suffering with mental illnesses, their loved ones and the public; many programs are free. Calvey is a mental health counselor and the impact NAMI has in raising awareness of and aiding people with mental health issues is profound, she said.

Mental health “is something people don’t take time to learn about,” Calvey said. “Things like NAMI are crucial because there just aren’t enough resources for mental health in the community. It’s so expensive and a lot of insurance plans don’t give coverage for it.”

All proceeds from the benefit dinner, scheduled for May 22 from 5-9 p.m. at State Street Grill, 114 S. State St. , Clarks Summit, will go to NAMI, Calvey said.

Money raised will help fund local programs and initiatives NAMI provides, said Marie Onukiavage, executive director of NAMI Scranton and Northeast Region. The benefit in Clarks Summit is timely, too. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, she said.

Programs the group offers locally include two annual Family to Family programs, held one night a week over the course of 12 weeks to provide information for families on how to support loved ones with mental illness, available treatment options and more, she said.

On top of the fundraising aspect, events in the community like the benefit planned for next month provide outreach opportunities, Onukiavage said.

“Each one provides an opportunity to reach new people,” Onukiavage said. “They’ll be a little more aware than they were.”

Tickets, which cost $25, are required to attend the dinner. Tickets can be bought ahead of time from a Rotarian, online at or at the door at the event. Ticket includes hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta and potato salad, soda and beer. A cash bar will be available featuring wine at a happy hour price. A signature nonalcoholic beverage will be available, too.

Anyone who is struggling with mental health issues or has a friend or family member that needs help or information on resources available locally can call NAMI Scranton and Northeast Region at 570-342-1047 or visit or

Contact the writer:; 570-348-9100 x5363;

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