It’s the week of Thanksgiving and, in lieu of a traditional Tuesday Newsday, we would like to send you wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving and this personal note from NAMI NC Executive Director, Garry Crites.

Dear Friends and Family of NAMI North Carolina:

As I look back on Thanksgivings of my childhood, so many of my memories are about the people with whom I celebrated.

I remember how my dad, who did all the cooking in our household, would have a turkey in the oven, all the fixings on the stove, and (most importantly) a dozen pies baked from scratch before anybody arrived at the door. His specialty was a family favorite called Vanilla Cake Pie; my niece and I would fight over the last piece every year.

I recall that my Uncle Jim, a lifelong coach who tried never to show any softness, would make a beeline to the family room to watch the Macy’s Parade. He loved the floats and the balloons, and he became like a child when they were on.

After dinner, we four brothers, our cousins, and eventually our nephews and nieces would head to the backyard for the annual Turkey Bowl football game. We took it very seriously—one of the years we played, I ended up in the hospital.

You see, I love the food, the festivities, and the football. But it’s the people that I miss. Why? Because it is the people who matter. On this Thanksgiving, I would be remiss if I did not express my thanks for all of you in the NAMI family.

I am thankful for your passion. Whether you are a peer fighting each day for recovery and for respect, a family member whose unconditional commitment helps your loved one make it through the day, a volunteer who finds the time in a hectic week to serve those dealing with mental illness, or an advocate who hears the voices of the vulnerable and demands change (“No, this will not happen on my watch!”)—your passion for our field inspires me.

I am grateful for your generosity. Our beloved NAMI NC is able to accomplish so much on the state and affiliate level because, across the state, people who love NAMI have given faithfully to a mission in which they believe. Thank you! And with Giving Tuesday next week and the End of Year Campaign in December, please know that, whether you can give $10 or $10,000, you are striking a blow against stigma and for those who deal with mental health concerns every day.

I am thankful for your vision. I am honored to work with farsighted affiliate leaders, Board Members, volunteers, and staff who look to a day when all people will have equal access to adequate mental health care. Each day, NAMI members like you are in the field, looking high and low for vulnerable people among the traditionally overlooked or oppressed, and giving them hope for a brighter future. NAMI NC members come from different backgrounds, different religions, different political affiliations, and different careers, but we are bound by a vision that transcends all these things: a belief that we can make a difference in the lives of those who deal with mental health issues.

Thanksgiving is all about the people—the people we love, the people we serve, and the people we are. And this Thursday, with my family gathered around the table, I will give thanks for you, my NAMI family. Thank you for all you do.

In gratitude,

Garry J. Crites

Executive Director

NAMI North Carolina