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Goodwill to Hold Shoe Drive at NAMI 5K & Wellness Festival

Employee: Both Nonprofits Help Those With Mental Illness

Logan Stewart is seeing one of her goals realized — a connection between two nonprofit organizations that have shaped her life.

Stewart, the assistant manager of Goodwill’s retail store in Donelson, has been hoping for a way to bring Goodwill and the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI)  together on a project. So, when Stewart’s retail district manager recently asked whether anyone knew of a good volunteer opportunity for employees, she seized the moment and made the connection happen.

From 6:30 a.m.-11 a.m. on Saturday, April 8, Goodwill will participate in the NAMI Wellness Festival at Shelby Park in Nashville. The festival will include live music, a community walk, certified 5K run and a village of vendors. The event is a benefit for NAMI of Davidson County, which is dedicated to improving the lives of people with severe and persistent mental health issues and those of their loved ones through effective and innovative support, education and advocacy.

More than 20 team members from Goodwill Industries of Middle Tennessee have already signed up for the event, and Stewart is encouraging more Goodwill employees and their families to participate. Goodwill is also accepting donations of shoes at the Wellness Festival to support its own mission of changing lives through education, training and employment.

Stewart said she has been a volunteer with NAMI since she was 14. Several members of her family have mental illness, including her mother, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, and Stewart said the nonprofit saved her family with its services. Her father now works as deputy director of the statewide NAMI organization, and Stewart, her father and mother have all spoken at NAMI events across the country.

Mental illness is often one of the barriers to employment faced by people who receive training and placement assistance from Goodwill, Stewart said.

“It can go hand-in-hand with substance abuse disorders and mental and physical disabilities — things that can keep people from finding work,” Stewart said. ”Even people receiving treatment for mental illness may struggle to keep jobs because they have residual symptoms or have to see a psychiatrist frequently.

“And a steady job is is one of the best things things for people with mental illness. Having that security in your life can do wonders,” she added.

Stewart said she came to work for Goodwill two and a half years ago because it had common goals with NAMI — helping people with disabilities through education and training.

“I feel very passionately about both nonprofits,” she said. “I am really excited that both will benefit from this event.”

“I feel very passionately about both nonprofits,” she said. “I am really excited that both will benefit from this event.”- Logan Stewart  

An estimated 700 people are expected for the certified 5K, Walk and Village of Wellness vendors.

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