Cindy Cordle has received assistance from NAMI and volunteered to help organize the soup cook-off.
PLATTSBURGH — Cindy Cordle survived 23 years of abuse and a divorce that provided escape as she moved from Alabama to Plattsburgh.
But her ordeal continued. Disabled by bipolar disorder and depression, mental illness continued to brutalize her until she sought the help of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which has an office on Healey Avenue in Plattsburgh that serves Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties.
“NAMI brought me out of a lot of it,” she said at the organization’s annual soup cook-off.
Cordle helped set up the event that raises money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which provides support and comfort to those stricken with mental illness and others impacted by it and combats stigma associated with mental illness.
“Uniqueness is fine,” said Theresa Bennett, a member of the local chapter’s board of directors.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, founded in 1979, is a nonprofit advocacy group that represents families and people affected by mental illness.
The group provides support, education, advocacy and research for people and their families living with mental illness.
It has organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
There was no signature fundraiser when Bennett started on the board the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Champlain Valley. They wanted one that furthered the mission statement.
They provide support and comfort to families and say uniqueness is fine, so a soup cook-off started with categories for most unique and most comforting.
Local businesses donate soups, and this is the third year the event has been held during the Battle of Plattsburgh.
“Some of the soups are unbelievable,” Bennett said.
The event has raised $1,200 the last two years with more expected this time around.
This year the funds raised go toward the Columbia Teen Screen program.
Bennett said there is a high need for mental health services in the area. Services provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness are free.
“We are very fortunate in our area to have grants and an office and staff,” Bennett said. “We provide more services than most NAMI groups.”
Mental illness touches nearly every family, she pointed out, and is recognized as a disability, yet there is still stigma associated with it.
“You can have a responsible job and have a diagnosis,” Bennett said. “NAMI wants to shine a light on it.”
The soup cook-off was an opportunity for the public to show its support for community organizations that provide free services to all with a mental illness, said Amanda Bulris, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Champlain Valley.
Since receiving help from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Cordle has gotten over her fear of talking with people, found permanent housing and medical insurance, and volunteers.
“It is very rewarding.”