Raising the roof to help area kids

The fifth annual RoofRaiser, a fund-raiser for Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well-Being, a Fridley-based clinic and non-profit serving more than 4,000 families each year, will take place Friday, Oct. 12 atop BoB’s Produce in Fridley starting at 5 p.m.

Food fund-raisers and live entertainment played a key role in last year’s Lee Carlson Center’s annual RoofRaiser at BoB’s Produce Ranch. This year the event will be held at BoB’s Produce Oct. 12 with the funds benefitting the Fridley-based Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well-Being, a non-profit that’s provided mental health services to individuals and families for more than 30 years. File photo by Tim Hennagir

Food fund-raisers and live entertainment played a key role in last year’s Lee Carlson Center’s annual RoofRaiser at BoB’s Produce Ranch. This year the event will be held at BoB’s Produce Oct. 12 with the funds benefitting the Fridley-based Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well-Being, a non-profit that’s provided mental health services to individuals and families for more than 30 years. File photo by Tim Hennagir

Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah is one of the dignitaries who will spend the night on the roof unless they each meet their goal to raise $5,000 on behalf of their community team.

“As a public servant and a mom, I think we all need to recognize that mental health is as important as physical health,” Sivarajah said.

“It is critical that we work together to ensure youth and families have access to affordable mental health services.

“Over half of their clients are uninsured or underinsured and would never get the mental health services they need if the agency didn’t offer services on a sliding fee scale.

Other 2012 RoofRaisers include teams from Spring Lake Park. Blaine, Ham Lake/Oak Grove, Andover and Coon Rapids.

According to Lee Carlson Center Executive Director Kathy Samilo, about one in five children experience mental health problems and well over half never get the help they need.

In an average classroom of 25 students, five could meet the criteria for a diagnosable disorder, Samilo said. “Some, seeking relief, develop poor coping strategies such as skipping school, social withdrawal and high risk behaviors, including substance abuse and unfortunately sometimes resulting in a suicide attempt,” she said.

“That’s why in addition to the professional mental health services we offer at our Fridley clinic, we have staff at 20 schools in four school districts throughout the northern suburbs.

“We know many families would not be able to navigate the sometimes tricky mental health system and/or finances would not allow them to get help for their family.”

According to Samilo, events like the annual RoofRaiser help support the work the agency does by:

• Funding in-school mental health programs for 1,600-plus at-risk students (at no charge to families).

• Helping to offset the cost of high deductibles for struggling families who’d otherwise not get the help their child so desperately needs.

It costs roughly $1,000 to pay for short-term counseling for a youth at risk for truancy, depression, school failure or criminal behavior due to a chaotic home life, Samilo said.

“When youth don’t get the help they need it hurts families but it also impacts communities,” she said.

According to YIPA (Youth Intervention Programs Association), a division of the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), it costs taxpayers $86,000 per year to incarcerate a youth and about $2,000 per year to help them in a community-based program.

A Minnesota Department of Justice Program survey found that 80 percent of youth involved in a youth intervention program (like the programs provided by Lee Carlson Center at area schools) did not commit more crimes.

Donate online at www.leecarlsoncenter.org or send your check for Lee Carlson Center to Patty Halvorson, Lee Carlson Center, 7954 University Ave. N.E., Fridley, MN 55432 or call 763-230-7836 to pledge your support.

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