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The St. Lawrence Valley chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill seeks new members

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CANTON — The St. Lawrence Valley chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is accepting new members, and, in an effort to make the group more accessible to families and friends of those with mental health diagnoses, members are changing its regular meeting date and location.

NAMI-St. Lawrence Valley, which first met in the 1980s, brings parents, family members and friends of loved ones with mental health diagnoses together once a month to promote positive and lasting change through advocacy and education.

The group shares information with members about treatment and local community resources.

“We encourage people to come and share their stories,” group coordinator Lynne M. Matott of Gouverneur said Tuesday. “It’s a comforting place where people can also listen and hear what challenges other people face in similar situations.”

Mrs. Matott said the group of about nine members decided to move its meeting dates from Sundays to the first Friday of every month at 3 p.m., and its location from Ogdensburg to the Community Services Building in Canton.

“We hope that with the move, more speakers and will be able to attend,” Mrs. Matott said.

The group meets for two hours, usually beginning a 45-minute guest speaker session followed by a sharing period.

Anyone can join NAMI-St. Lawrence Valley, Mrs. Matott said. For a small registration fee, members will gain access to the NAMI’s state and national websites, where they can access benefits.

“We also do a lot of things within the community,” Mrs. Matott said. “We’re putting together packages for Northwood Manor. We do that at Easter time. There is about 24 people that live there. We collect shampoo, conditioner and body wash and all those kinds of things for them.”

The group has also funded a music program in the Trinity Building at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, and an ice cream social called, “Sundaes on Sunday.” Alliance members have also held picnics for patients at the psychiatric center in the past.

“We do what we can to make lives better for the people that are the psych center,” Mrs. Matott said. “Many of them don’t get out often, so we do what we can to enrich their lives and to give comfort to family members who have someone living at the psych center.”

For more information, contact Mrs. Matott at 287-9180.

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