For years, Kimberly Hubert-Bickel struggled to navigate the mental health system to get help for her relatives who struggled with mental illness and addiction.
Hubert-Bickel saw a system that appeared convoluted to most laypersons, that often failed to provide crucial treatment and ignored simple and effective ways to improve patients’ quality of life.
One day in last winter, she vented these frustrations to her friend, Nadine Sturgess.
But rather than sympathies or sorries, Sturgess gave Hubert-Bickel a call to action.
“I was having a bad day, and I was kind of at a loss,” Hubert said. “I was saying, ‘This is a flawed system at times.’ She’s one of those people who’s a little pointed, and she said, ‘Well, change it.’ ”
So Hubert-Bickel and Surgess formed Anchoring Hope, a new nonprofit that aims to offer the services and support that Hubert-Bickel wished was available years ago. The organization plans to offer “quality of life scholarships” to those struggling with mental illness or addiction as well as their families.
The scholarships will help fund tamper proof medication boxes, medical co-pays, emotional support animals, tablet-based prescription monitoring programs and other items needed for daily living.
Hubert-Bickel said the medication boxes are particularly useful, as they can prevent one from overusing or abusing medications that are sometimes addictive.
“Often mental illness and addiction go hand-in-hand,” Hubert-Bickel said. “It’s not that they’re trying to get high; it’s that they don’t feel good.”
“It’s also a great thing as a reminder,” she added.
Hubert-Bickel also wants to create a program in which families struggling with mental health or addiction can counsel other families that may be unfamiliar with treatment systems. She envisions a program similar to Western New York Independent Living’s Addict 2 Addict — a peer support program for those with substance abuse disorder — but for families.
“I wanted this to be something where people have a sense of hope … and get some healing out of it,” Hubert-Bickel said.
“Sometimes families don’t know what (services are) out there,” she added.
Anchoring Hope is seeking funding sources, including state and federal grants, to fund its quality of life scholarships. The amount they receive, Hubert-Bickel said, the more they can offer per scholarship.
The organization is also holdings its first fundraiser, the First Annual Anchoring Hope Walk and Basket Raffle on Saturday in Krull Park, Olcott.
Registration for the walk, beginning at 11 a.m., is free. Attendees can purchase raffle tickets and receive a free T-shirt if they pledge more than $20. The event will offer feature free Narcan and training for the opioid antidote.