Advocate for mentally ill honored

NEIGHBORS

October 08, 2001|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PEG BRIDGE'S son is 46 years old, lives in Howard County and suffers from mental illness. Perhaps it's no surprise that she's reluctant to share his name and other details about his life. Despite years of effort, a stigma clings to mental illness.

But Bridge and others like her are working to erase that perception. Bridge, 74, of Elkridge was honored recently by Howard County for her work with the Howard County chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, an advocacy and support group.

The award is given every year to a Howard County resident working on behalf of people with mental illness. On the award is printed: "For Your Compassion, Advocacy, and Unstinting Hard Work on Behalf of Persons with Mental Illness."

Bridge, who is retired from her job as a Montgomery County school administrator, was one of the founding members of the Howard County chapter of NAMI, and has been involved with the organization since. She is the major grant writer for the 95-member organization, securing enough money for NAMI to hire Jean Leslie as a part-time administrator.

Bridge also has served as president of NAMI's local and state boards and is chairwoman of its education committee. She said the group plans six meetings a year, which are open to the public.

Meeting topics might include job opportunities and treatment methods. Next month's meeting will be held at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center.

Recently, she has been busy planning events to coincide with Mental Illness Awareness Week, which began yesterday. A play was staged at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center last week, and books about mental illness are being donated to local hospitals.

Many of her efforts are geared toward erasing the stigma attached to mental illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia and panic disorders: "People don't realize that one in five people in the country will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. The stigma attached to it has been so bad, it has prevented people from living full and complete lives."

Information about next month's meeting: Peg Bridge, 410- 796-1109.

Fall Festival

Waverly Elementary School in Ellicott City will hold its Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Music will be provided by the Mount Hebron Marching Band, and the Oriole Bird will be on hand. Admission will be free. People who donate canned foods will be eligible for door prizes. Information: 410-313-2819.

BWI Airport Run

Because of security concerns after the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, the BWI Airport Run held Sept. 30 was moved from Northrop Grumman at the airport to Embassy Suites Hotel off Winterson Road. The competition was downgraded from a five-mile race to a one-mile run or fun walk.

For the fifth year in a row, Elkridge Landing Middle School was recognized for enrolling the most participants. More than 190 children, school staff and family members participated in the annual event, which raises money for the Kennedy Krieger Institute Down Syndrome Clinic.

Elkridge Landing Middle School won 100 MARC train tickets to Union Station in Washington. Pupils will use the tickets during a field trip later in the year.

Local voices

The 25th season of the Columbia Pro Cantare chorus is scheduled to open Oct. 20 with a performance of Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah at the Jim Rouse Theatre in Wilde Lake in Columbia.

Singers from Ellicott City and Elkridge include Robert Anderson, Craig Ballew, Florence Banikiotes, Celine Bissontz, Kathleen Bowen, Elladean Brigham, Jennifer Harville, Phyllis Hayes, Mary Ann Heine, Linda Kuberek, Jill Langhus-Griffen, Lisa Logan-Roussell, Madeline Mehalko, Shannon Miller, Al Morse, Sally Morse, Erica Murphy, Heidi Page, Mary Jane Recer-Daniels, Charlie Reisz, Melissa Stanford and Mark Wynn.

Tickets cost between $20 and $25. Information: 410-465-5744 or 410-799-9321.

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