NAMI Merced was founded prior to 2006, by the work of two dedicated local women, Belinda Foutz and Ida Mae Frade. They joined together to teach the Family to Family class once per year as each had family members affected by serious mental illness and wanted to help other families in crisis. In 2006 NAMI Merced County was incorporated into a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support, education, and advocacy throughout Merced County on behalf of individuals, families, and friends affected by mental illness.
Since 2006, NAMI Merced County has blossomed under the leadership of presidents Mary Hofmann, Jan Morita, and Kristi Rieg. Volunteers facilitate at least two 12-week Family-to-Family classes each year as well as a Spanish class when available. Local support has expanded to include bi-weekly Family Support Groups, a 10-week Peer to Peer Recovery class for those living with a major mental illness and a weekly Connections support group during the weeks that classes are not held.
In 2016 NAMI Merced County created a video production about the importance of NAMI and family and consumer education in the lives of several local families that has been well received. In years past NAMI Merced County operated on memberships, donations, and grant support from the Merced County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services. Grants and gifts from Dignity Health and a major gift from Child Support Services have enabled us to rent a small space at Vault Works, Main and N Street in Downtown Merced, as well as hire a part-time Outreach Director to conduct outreach and organizational work so volunteers can devote their time to providing the valuable classes, groups, and presentations that make a difference in so many lives.
In 2017 we expanded our school training to assist with suicide prevention aimed at staff and students. This includes our Ending the Silence, Parents and Teachers as Allies and developed 3 hour staff training.
For 2018 we are continuing our school training and looking to host a training for Family to Family and Peer to Peer to certify more facilitators.