BRATTLEBORO -- One hundred and fifty people on Saturday evening gathered at the Lawton Hall 100th anniversary celebration at the Brattleboro Retreat, to learn more about the Retreat's programs for mental illness and addiction, while supporting the launch of the 178-year old hospital's Endowment Fund
As a part of the celebration, the Retreat honored former board member Larry Cassidy with the Anna Marsh Award for advocacy on behalf of those suffering with mental illness and/or addiction. In addition to his work with the Brattleboro Retreat, Cassidy also has served on the board of trustees for several community-based organizations.
Before presenting the award to Cassidy, Retreat President and CEO Rob Simpson recognized the three recent Anna Marsh Award honorees: actor Ken Howard, former board chair Julie Peterson, who was in attendance, and Senator Robert Gannett, last year's honoree. Simpson donned a bowtie as tribute to the late Senator and former Retreat trustee.
"Larry was able to bridge the gap between Vermont sensibility and the complexity of modern health care," Simpson said. "As the Retreat underwent a significant transformation, Larry advocated strongly for us to make several significant changes, because he understood that the Retreat's success would mirror our patients' success. His perspective brought business smarts, but it was always with an eye to patient care at its heart."
In a prepared statement, Cassidy
"From the administration to the maintenance staff, nurses and clinicians to mental health workers and the leadership, the Retreat employees have developed a cohesive language," Cassidy said. "It's a language of caring. And, so it is on behalf of these employees that I accept this award and honor the Retreat employees for their dedication to caring for those with mental illness and addiction."
Cassidy also took a moment to reflect on how much has changed since the Retreat's humble beginnings 178 years ago, when a charitable gift from Anna Marsh helped found the hospital.
"I've been thinking about Anna Marsh recently and wondering about if she came back to see the Brattleboro Retreat today, what would her response be?" Cassidy said. "First, she might ask: why, in the richest country in the world, do we have the highest incarceration rate, that is due much in part to incarcerating those suffering from mental illness? She might remind us that we all -- directly or indirectly -- we've all had an encounter with mental illness. Yet, the stigmatization of mental illness remains."
Cassidy said Marsh would be proud of the Retreat's effort.
"She would be smiling down at the Retreat for its ability to navigate the tricky waters of mental health industry, while staying true to her mission for the past 178 years," Cassidy said. "She would be so proud of this endowment effort that will allow the Retreat to carry forward her mission for another hundred years."
During the event, Simpson announced that the endowment fund is well on its way to the $100,000 year-end fundraising goal, with $80,000 already raised. He thanked the 37 "Inaugural Donors" of the endowment, all of whom made significant financial contributions to launch the fund. Donors who make gifts of $1,000 or more to the Brattleboro Retreat by the end of 2012 will be recognized as Inaugural Donors of the Endowment Fund. Efforts to launch the endowment fund were underwritten with a $25,000 challenge grant earlier this year from the Thomas Thompson Trust to help build fundraising capacity at the Retreat.
Also on Saturday, Kirk Woodring, a member of the Retreat's executive staff, presented the hospital with a $10,000 gift to establish a memorial fund for his brother, Kyle Woodring. Kyle Woodring, a drummer and musician who performed and toured with bands on a national basis, died three years ago, on Sept. 8, 2009, as a result of suicide after a lifelong struggle with depression. The $10,000 gift reflected donations made by friends, family and fans in Kyle's memory.