Mainers who feel strongly about the work of Maine Behavioral Healthcare showed their support in a big way at the Signs of Hope fundraiser July 13 at Portland Country Club, which brought in over $138,000.

Corporate sponsors – The Boulos Company, Genoa Healthcare, Saco & Biddeford Savings, University of New England and Wex – contributed $2,500 each, skewing the numbers for average donation size, which landed at $770 per person at the event.

“We’re indebted to the host committee, which gave a huge base of support,” said co-host Sheri Boulos, a longtime development committee member. ”I will never take it lightly that so many of you come year after year to help our friends and family in the community to find the hope that they’re looking for in the world of the disordered brain.”

Jessica Gil, who has a 19-year-old son with paranoid schizophrenia, talked about how Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s team-based approach has been life-changing – for the whole family.

“For seven years, my son struggled every day and night in torment with this disease of the mind,” Gil said. “I thank you because you gave hope to a family that was grieving the loss of a loved one who was still alive. … Now my boy has a renewed mind. He’s taking his medications, he’s attending his appointments, he’s exercising, he’s reading and he’s able to have conversations without his mind wandering off to a scary place.”

Lucy Tucker, who chairs the development committee, said, “One great thing about this event is that it is an opportunity to speak freely about mental health.” Gesturing to the Gil family, she added, “Thank you for sharing your story, because you are changing lives just by doing that.”

“Mental health didn’t always get the attention it needed or deserved,” said Maine Behavioral Healthcare President Kelly Barton. “It is events like this that help us bring behavioral healthcare to the forefront and will allow us to extend our team-based model across our programs and services.”

Proceeds will go to the Maine Behavioral Healthcare Fund, which supports the organization’s areas of greatest need, including the team-based patient services that were so helpful for the Gil family. Last year, Maine Behavioral Healthcare’s Assertive Community Treatment team of social workers, psychiatric staff, case managers, nurses and vocational specialists supported 279 patients with schizophrenia or other serious and persistent mental health issues.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at

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