Your Foundation at Work
The Advocate: What drew you to serve on the Foundation board — and to chair it?
- Nancy Benz: I believe in AMHCA, and I believe in the responsibility to give back to our profession, our students, members, and the public to raise awareness and advance the understanding of mental health issues. I have been active with another Foundation, and I can see the valuable impact that Foundation support can have on people in their lives.
The Advocate: Why is the Foundation important to the profession of mental health counseling?
- Nancy Benz: The AMHCA Foundation Mission is: “To improve the mental health of all Americans through public education about mental health issues, mental health research, access to mental health services, and promoting high standards for mental health practitioners.”
Our current top priorities include:
- Expanding our webpage with information about the Foundation, including a “donate now” option;
- Increasing visibility for the Foundation through the Advocate and at the Annual Conference;
- Publishing guidelines for fund disbursement for scholarship, research and education, and awareness; and
- Recruiting potential new board members.
We have a wonderful board, which includes officers Dan Holdinghaus, LPC, vice-chair; Bill Wheeler, PhD, treasurer; and W. Mark Hamilton, secretary; as well as members Bob Bakko, DMin, LCPC, PC; Marion Turowski, LPC, NCC; and Gary Gintner, PhD.
The Advocate: How can members participate or contribute to the work of the Foundation?
- Nancy Benz: We invite members to make tax-deductible donations to support the work of the Foundation. We are a 501C(3) nonprofit organization, are self-funded, and do not receive financial support from AMHCA. Raising funds through events, projects, and directly from the membership will enable us to support and advance mental health for all Americans through our mission. We also invite interested members to volunteer for board membership—we are looking for some new members!
The Advocate: What are the Foundation’s fundraising plans and goals?
- Nancy Benz: While AMHCA and other professional associations are supported by membership dues, foundations are different—they’re supported by donations and grants. The Foundation plans to seek donations and grants from corporations and other foundations. However, before making a donation or grant, outside sources of funds want to see that our membership backs our foundation financially. That’s why it is vital for members to continue contributing to the Foundation.
The Advocate: What have the Foundation funds raised so far been devoted to?
- Nancy Benz: The Founda-tion’s revenue as of November 2010 was about $18,000, and of course we would like to increase revenues to allow us to support scholarship, research and education, and awareness initiatives during this year. The Foundation is still in a new start up phase —it takes a little time to get things going! We appreciate the past support of the AMHCA board and the continuing support of AMHCA members as we move into this exciting period of growth.
The Advocate: What excites you most about the Foundation’s mission?
- Nancy Benz: The privilege we have of helping a deserving person or project to achieve or benefit in improving the mental needs of people—that is a really exciting goal—to empower our members to show off their incredible talents, skills, and competencies.
The Advocate: What would you like members to know about the Foundation that they may not know?
- Nancy Benz: AMHCA’s board decided a few years ago to pursue the development of a separate charitable Foundation to complement the mission and vision of AMHCA. Also, most professional associations have foundations.
AMHCA focuses on enhancing the profession of mental health counseling through professional development, advocacy, standards, and ethics. In contrast, the American Mental Health Counselors Foundation (AMHCF) strives to improve the mental health of all Americans. The Foundation does that through funding projects that promote the highest standards for mental health professionals, provide public education, encourage research, and demonstrate access to mental health services.
I would also like the membership to know that—just like our members—the Foundation board members are dedicated and talented folks (and volunteers) who want to make a difference in the world and in the lives of people—and we welcome your continued support.