Bonnie Cook, Executive Director of MHA-Dallas, and James Barclay

From the beginning, the Well has been a community, not only of our members but of individuals and organizations who come alongside those in the Dallas area who live with the daily struggles of serious mental illnesses. On May 13, at a luncheon for major donors celebrating the Well Community’s 20th birthday, two of these partners were recognized for their dedication and positive impact.

Honoring a Steadfast Volunteer

The Well’s Founders Award is given to an individual who has made a significant difference in the lives of our members, and this year we recognized volunteer James Barclay. Since he began serving at the Well Community the month after he retired from a 34-year career with the Dallas Police Department in 2015, he has faithfully volunteered every Tuesday, including assisting with the Well’s efforts to provide remote services to members during the pandemic. Each week he has helped prepare and serve meals and has stepped in to do whatever has been needed.

Our members look forward to James’ calming presence, and his listening ear and accepting spirit have conveyed a sense of worth that has chipped away at the effects of the stigma they so often face. He takes joy in seeing how, over time, he’s been accepted within the community and gained members’ trust. But he insists he’s not doing anything special—just showing up.

James is drawn to the Well Community by the way it serves as a family, a place where those dealing with serious mental health challenges can go, knowing that others care about them and that they can be themselves. “When they come into the Well, they’re completely different people,” he says. He shares how members light up when they’re called by name—something they can go days or even months without hearing.

James has also seen how the Well benefits the larger community. As members gain a sense of hope and as their needs are met, they’re able to be better neighbors. “It’s so important that this ministry continue,” he emphasizes.

As he continues to serve, James sees his time as a volunteer as a blessing. “It’s an honor and privilege to work with the Well,” he shares. “Sometimes I think I’m getting a greater benefit than [the members] are.”

Recognizing a Community Advocate

In addition, the Well presented the 2022 Courage and Advocacy Award to Mental Health America of Greater Dallas (MHA-Dallas). Bonnie Cook, the Executive Director of MHA-Dallas, accepted the award on behalf of this organization. This annual recognition is presented to an entity that combats stigma, provides education, promotes positive legislation or in other ways addresses the broad and complex societal issues of mental illness.

Founded in 1947, MHA-Dallas is nonprofit working to promote mental wellness through community education and advocacy. Since its inception, MHA-Dallas has protected and been a voice for the rights of individuals living with mental illnesses. It serves as a catalyst for identifying, assessing and responding to mental health needs in the community.

The organization’s many accomplishments have been deeply beneficial to the wellbeing of Well Community members and many others in the Dallas area. Starting in 2009, MHA-Dallas led the charge to establish boarding home standards in Dallas and then worked with city and county officials to develop and implement those standards in 2012. The organization has also collaborated with the Dallas Police Department to adopt a 40-hour mental health crisis intervention training course for all patrol officers.

MHA-Dallas is currently working to increase awareness about the rollout of 988, a mental health crisis and suicide prevention hotline similar to 911, as well as to increase preparedness for the launch of this important resource. It’s also advocating for policies that promote mental health equity and fight racism, as well as working to help shift the task of responding to mental health crises away from law enforcement and the criminal justice system and to public health, medical and mental health systems.

We’re deeply grateful for the ongoing efforts of MHA-Dallas and for the many benefits that our members reap from their tireless work. It’s an honor to serve alongside them!