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Passionate mental-health advocate makes bid for hope

Angie Green-Hill planning third annual online auction to support mental health; Last year, suicide survivor raised $25,000
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Angie Green-Hill, of Orillia, is hoping Orillia will carry on its generosity and help raise funds for mental health through the third annual Online Auction in Support of Mental Health. Mehreen Shahid/OrilliaMatters

Angie Green-Hill has come a long way since she came face to face with suicide a few years ago.

The founder of the Online Auction in Support of Mental Health has raised thousands of dollars for the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) Day Hospital program, which provides interventions to those with acute symptoms of mental illness.

Three fundraising auctions later, she’s still grateful and thankful to all those who helped her come out from under the dark cloud that engulfed her earlier in 2017.

“I started (the auctions) because I wanted to give back to those who I felt were a huge component in my recovery and throughout the process,” said the Orillia resident.

Last year alone, Green-Hill raised $25,000 for the OSMH program. This year, she said, she’s decided to spread the love.

For 2019, funds raised through the week-long auction, starting May 12, will go toward the recreation therapy program component of the Integrated Medicine Rehab Services at the hospital.

According to the hospital’s website, it’s a program that focuses on a model of wraparound care, enhancing transitions between phases of care and the continuity of care provided by inpatient, outpatient, and community teams working together.

“Right now, there's very little equipment available for that program,” said Green-Hill, adding program staff want to purchase equipment, games, and art supplies to ensure people's stay is as comfortable as it can be.

“I want this program to succeed and help those who have to live on the sixth floor for a short amount of time,” she said.

Because that's where it all starts, Green-Hill noted. That's the beginning of a turnaround — that's when help arrives.

When she started planning the auction this year, she said she felt as if Orillia may be tapped out for donating to her fundraiser.

But the Sunshine City surprised her once again. Green-Hill said she is delighted at the response she has received from new donors, as well as previous ones, about 65% of whom return every year.

“This was my first year getting a donation from Casino Rama,” she said. “I'm not going to say what it is; people will have to watch out for it on our Facebook auction event page.”

Green-Hill said she couldn't do this year after year without the kindness of people donating and participating in the auction.

She said a few people who especially help out bringing in items for the auction include Angela Lewis, Leslie Newhall, Trish and Rob Carson, Melissa McIntyre, and Eva Thompson of Olivia’s Freezer.

Another returning donor is Wes Brennan Construction, said Green-Hill. The local business always gives something big, she added, “And this year the men will really want to jump in on the prize they've donated.”

Green-Hill said she does this not only to support people going through mental health crises, but also because she’s deeply invested in Orillia, a community she was born and raised in.

“It's not about me getting kudos for this; it's about raising money for a cause that affects us all,” she said. “The whole reason is so that program can be better for the people who live in the hospital for that time.”

It’s also about educating people that there are community programs that can help, said Green-Hill.

She said she knows how much of a need there is in the community to support these programs.

“I work at the Salvation Army Thrift Store and I see how much need there really is,” said Green-Hill. “People come in every day and sometimes they just want to talk. They don't want to buy a DVD, but just say Hi to someone.”

That's why she continues to raise funds.

“It's also because I've been there,” said Green-Hill. “I struggle every day, still.”

She hid her bipolar diagnosis for a number of years and knows the pain it brings.

“And it's those who have stuck by my side that I'm still grateful for, especially my husband,” said Green-Hill. “I couldn't have gotten through what I've been through if it wasn't for him. He's still my rock today. He lets me vent and I listen to his opinions.”

Strengthening local programs also helps out family members of those going through the situation with their loved ones.

Green-Hill said even though her husband understood mental illness, two years ago he was exposed to a whole new side of it with her suicide attempt.

“He stepped up and educated himself about it,” she noted. “He talked to my nurses, and I even took him to one of my therapy sessions.”

That’s why Green-Hill said she wants people to know there are systems in place to make life better.

“And that's what you learn through these programs at the hospital: coping strategies that you can use every day,” she said.

Those who want to donate or help out can contact Green-Hill through Online Auction in Support of Mental Health Facebook page or email her at pamperedbearcub@hotmail.com.

As well, she said, on May 4, between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., she will be Monsignor Lee Catholic School's bazar selling Silver Icing Clothing.

“All the money from my sales will go towards this auction,” Green-Hill said.




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