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Birmingham-chapter of Links, Incorporated elects new officers, collaborates with other chapters on health forum

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Members of the JCCEO Birmingham, Magic City and Tri-County Links discussed women's mental health in a forum. (PROVIDED PHOTO)

Special to the Times

Members of the JCCEO Birmingham, Magic City and Tri-County Links discussed women's mental health in a forum. (PROVIDED PHOTO)
Members of the JCCEO Birmingham, Magic City and Tri-County Links discussed women’s mental health in a forum. (PROVIDED PHOTO)

Alabama’s first and oldest chapter of the international organization, The Links, Incorporated, recently tapped some of Birmingham’s most accomplished professional women to lead the local chapter.

The newly elected officers of the Birmingham (AL) Chapter: Monique Gardner-Witherspoon, President; Stephanie Rayborn, 1st Vice President; Debra Nelson, 2nd Vice President; Martha Emmett, Recording Secretary; Brenda Adams, Assistant Secretary; Krysten Holloway, Corresponding Secretary; Angelene Whatley, Financial Secretary; Kim Hitchens, Treasurer; Gaynell Hendricks, Historian; Camelia Holmes, Chaplain; Cheryl Kidd, Parliamentarian.

“As a national organization, we’ve several outstanding initiatives planned, including a focus on building awareness about the devastating impact of human trafficking,” said Witherspoon. “At the local level, we will continue to build upon our award-winning initiatives that help improve the quality of life for citizens in our community,” she said.

Annually, members of the Birmingham chapter volunteer more than 3000 hours in community service. Their work covers a broad spectrum of initiatives including public education, health and wellness, mental health and voter education and awareness. The chapter’s signature program, JAMS (Joining Artists and Music in the Schools), is a comprehensive music education program that exposes elementary school students to various musical genres and an enriching educational program.

To underwrite these programs, the chapter will host a fundraiser “An Evening with Friends-Where Art Meets Soul” on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Alys Stephens Center, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nationally acclaimed artist Brenda Joysmith will be on hand to present a commissioned art piece. Music will be provided by the Eric Essix Move Trio. Visit http://www.bhamlinksinc.org to purchase tickets.

The Birmingham Chapter was established in 1956. Since then, chapters have been founded throughout the state to impact the social, political, and economic well-being of African Americans.

The chapter also recently collaborated with the Magic City (AL) Chapter and Tri-County (AL) Chapters of The Links, Incorporated Health and Human Service Facet to host a women’s mental health forum.

The forum addressed mental health issues that impacted women and families in the community; it also encouraged an open, interactive discussion of topics considered taboo due to stigma associated with mental health.

The focus areas of the forum included: Stress: How to manage doing it all and the Superwoman Syndrome; Recognizing and dealing with common mental health diagnoses: Mood Disorders, Substance Abuse, PTSD and Suicide and Tips for Caregivers: How to take care of yourself while caring for your loved ones who suffer from mental illness.

A panel of mental health professionals included: Psychiatrists Velda Pugh Kinsey, M.D. and Brandi Rudolph Bolling, M.D.; Psychologists Nadia Richardson, PhD, Renee Y. Moore, Psy.D and Jarralynne Agee, PhD; Deborah Harris, LPC, Vaneshia Jenkins, LPC and Tawanna Morton, LPC; Susan R. Sallin, NAMI Board of Directors.