Building Hope in Summit County

When long-time Summit County resident Patti Casey took her own life in January 2016, the community was in shock. She was a loving and devoted mother, and the family wanted to find a way to honor her. Almost immediately, the Casey family decided to positively channel their grief to help other people struggling with mental health and addiction. 

“As a family, we knew what it was like to live with that stigma, and we wanted to open the conversation so that other people would know there’s no shame and it’s ok to talk about it,” said Tim Casey. “We are here for each other, and we need to help people get assistance if they need it.”   

The Patti Casey Memorial Fund was established at The Summit Foundation, and over the past year, more than 150 people have made donations to the Fund. With these memorial contributions and additional support from the Casey family, the Building Hope initiative was launched in June 2016. The Summit Foundation convened over 60 community leaders to begin the conversation among service providers, law enforcement, county officials and employers. Participants were immediately engaged and committed to working together to reduce stigma and improve access to care and coordination in Summit County. Previous efforts were brought under the umbrella of Building Hope, and a large cadre of volunteers has been working diligently to quickly move the community-wide initiative forward. 

Plans for the initiative include:
    Stigma Reduction
•    A coordinated community-wide information and education effort to open the dialogue and reduce stigma
•    Training for community members on how to recognize symptoms and help each other     
•    Workplace training for major employers to provide education and peer support programs for employees
•    Easily accessible information, including available resources and self-assessments

Access to Care and Coordination 
•    Financial assistance for those with no insurance or means  
•    Development of new and innovative support and therapy programs
•    Encouragement of an integrated care model for medical providers to include mental health screenings as part of an exam
•    Analysis of local protocols and coordination to determine gaps and improvements in service

The Building Hope effort has been led by Gini Bradley, local nonprofit expert and Trustee for The Summit Foundation. Betsy Casey, Tim and Patti’s daughter, has also been a strong force behind the action-oriented and quick moving project. An Advisory Board has been established which includes Foundation Trustees Cary Cooper and Julie McCluskie. A full-time manager for Building Hope will be housed at Summit County Public Health.   

In addition to providing leadership for Building Hope, The Summit Foundation has committed $50,000 a year for three years to the initiative. Other donors to date include the Glenn Cooper Memorial Fund, Town of Breckenridge, Summit County Government, St. Anthony’s Summit Medical Center, Breckenridge Grand Vacations, Mind Springs Health, and numerous individuals. To make a donation or get involved, contact Jeanne Bistranin at The Summit Foundation. 
Call Out Boxes: 

“Let’s create a community where people talk about their mental health like they talk about a knee replacement.”  - Betsy Casey 

Why Building Hope?
•    Summit County’s suicide rate in 2016 was three times the national average
•    The number of residents reporting poor mental health days in the last 30 days has doubled in the last four years
•    The number of mental health holds in the jail increased by 2,000% from 2014 to 2016
•    Summit County leads the state in the number of adults reporting binge drinking in the last 30 days 
•    Mental health and substance abuse are consistently identified as the number one needs on numerous local health assessments 

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