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NAMI History

NAMI Tulsa was formed in the early days of 1989. It was known as TAMI (Tulsa Assoc. on Mental Illness). As part of OAMI (Oklahoma Assoc. on Mental Illness). We were faced with many daunting tasks regarding some massive changes to state funding of mental illness programs.
In the following decade, Oklahoma saw many reforms in state agencies and many top leaders were pressed to resign after controversial policies proved unworkable. Then came the closure of state hospitals like Eastern State, at Vinita. Shortly thereafter, Parkside Hospital ended their long association with the state mental health agencies. NAMI Tulsa was instrumental in founding the Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health.

Today, NAMI Tulsa is heavily focused on education, support groups, public policy, training, and we have developed lasting relationships with many local, state, and national agencies for ​the betterment of the care of our mentally ill.

written by oscar kastner

Part 1 ​NAMI-Tulsa History Mileposts 

When the NAMI movement got started in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma alliance was called OAMI and the Tulsa alliance was called TAMI. The Oklahoma Alliance was officially incorporated on the 13th of May, 1985, and the Tulsa Alliance was incorporated on the 25th of July, 1989. People were so eager for information and for support that we went to meetings both in Tulsa and in Oklahoma City. The first President of OAMI died soon after the meetings began, and L. T. West of Tulsa took over as President of OAMI. L.T. and Catherine West were both leaders of TAMI in Tulsa. TAMI monthly meetings were at the OU Medical College Library in a classroom on the second floor. OAMI meetings were on an upper floor in the Children’s Hospital close to the Department of Mental Health building in Oklahoma City. There was also a close relationship between TAMI and the Mental Health Association in Tulsa. Our Christmas party in 1988 was held at the Mental Health Association, which was located in a house on the southwest corner of 15th and Denver at that time. The first TAMI Board meetings were held in members’ homes. 

Our first newsletters were printed on letterhead stationery, and showed OAMI at L.T. and Catherine West’s home as the return address. Soon after that, we got a post office box in the Fontana shopping center and began using the name TAMI.

State Dept. of Mental Health Resignations 

​In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Department of Mental Health experienced a lot of controversy. In an attempt to develop a way to supplement state funding, Commissioner, Dr. Frank James, tried to promote a foundation to take private donations, which could fund additional services. The State Legislature perceived this as an attempt by Dr. James to put money into his own pockets, and he was driven to resign. Don Anderson, a state Representative, who failed to be re-elected, was appointed as interim Commissioner, and then became Commissioner. Mr. Anderson had a degree in Social Work, but he did not understand mental illness, so he had the name of the Department changed to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services so that he could talk more about substance abuse which he did understand. 

When Clozaril was approved for treatment of schizophrenia, Commissioner Anderson opposed its use until Oklahoma became one of only three states which did not include Clozaril in its mental health formulary. TAMI members wrote letters to members of the Board of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Don Anderson was forced to resign. Sharron Boehler was hired to be DMHSAS Commissioner, and she was very responsive to NAMI advocacy for a more effective mental health program.

Part 2 1992 Planning Meetings

In late 1992, TAMI Vice President Jon Wallace made arrangements for a professional corporate trainer to lead members of the Tulsa Alliance Board in directed brainstorming to make plans and to set goals. Board Secretary Rosemary Hall, got her employer, HTB Incorporated, to allow us to meet in its offices, and a series of three meetings were held. The first order of business was to assess the current position of our organization, our strengths and weaknesses, our opportunities, and possible obstacles to achievement of our goals. The next step was to make specific goal statements and to assign priorities. At that time, our number one priority was to establish our own office with its own telephone listing, and to have the office staffed either by trained volunteers or by a part-time paid staff person. The second priority was that we work on a fund-raising plan. 

Presentations to ORU School of Nursing 

During 1992, TAMI made two presentations to the ORU School of Nursing. In the first of these programs, a team consisting of a family member, a professional, and a consumer each shared their personal experience of how mental illness had impacted their lives. In the second program, Judy Leaver, a TAMI Board member and Executive Director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, and Catherine West, TAMI President, talked about the history of ment a l health care through the centuries and the origins of stigma. A copy of the book, The Broken Brain, and a copy of the video, When The Music Stops, were presented to Muff Gettel, the faculty member who arranged for these presentations. 

Events of 1993 Regarding Inclusion of Families in Treatment 

In 1993, many professional treatment programs were invoking "confidentiality" to exclude family members from being involved in the care and treatment of a relative who had a mental illness. The May 1993 issue of the Tulsa Alliance News had a front page article on the subject of "New Directions for Professional/Family Relations. The article quoted current literature stating that mental illnesses might be caused by "dysfunctional families" with statements by professionals who had mentally ill relatives, and who were not willing to accept the label of "dysfunctional." They had even coined the terms "iatrogenic distress" and "hygosystogenic distress" to identify and describe illnesses that were caused by the doctors or by the treatment system under the old theories of treatment. This article drew criticism from Dr. Dwight Holden, who later became the Chairman of the Board of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Dr. Holden's letter and our reply were published in the June 1993 issue of the Tulsa Alliance News. The reply stated in part: "Professionals are just as individual as are families and people who suffer from mental illnesses. There are a lot of really caring professionals in Oklahoma, and Dr. Holden is certainly one of those. But we don't think that Dr. Holden realizes how widespread is the professional abuse of families. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill supports the inclusion of families in the treatment of their mentally ill loved ones. If it were not an issue which needs to be addressed, NAMI would not have needed to include it in their Public Policy Platform. (A copy of Appendix D - Family Involvement in Treatment was also printed in the same issue of the Tulsa Alliance News.)

Part 3 Journey of Hope

In 1993, NAMI Oklahoma provided $5,000.00 for the startup of the Journey of Hope psycho-educational classes and support groups in Oklahoma. Dr. Joyce Burland, author of the educational program, trained approximately twenty leaders for the Journey of Hope classes. In February of 1994, Donna Mayeux, author of the support group program, came to train thirteen family members to be support group facilitators. Four Journey of Hope classes were started in Tulsa in September of 1993, and four more in the Oklahoma City area. The Journey of Hope programs were created under the auspices of a professional organization in Louisiana, which claimed copyright to the name "Journey of Hope." NAMI wanted to make the programs available without charge to its members and others. Eventually, Dr. Burland joined with NAMI to make the educational program which she had designed available under the name of Family to Family. January of 1995 marked the completion of the twelfth Journey of Hope class in the Tulsa area, including one in Claremore. The educational program and followup support groups have helped thousands of people in Oklahoma and in other states in the past 15 years.  Becoming More Involved  ​Commissioner Sharron Boehler spoke at the August 1993 TAMI meeting, which was promoted as "a new day dawning for cooperation between family members and professionals in Oklahoma." The Commissioner appealed to us to become more active on various planning and governing boards. At that time, Tulsa Alliance members were attending the monthly Board meetings of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and meetings of the Boards of Tulsa's community mental health centers. We had representation on the Parkside Board, but were only observers at the other Board meetings. Commissioner Boehler announced as her principles for mental health services in Oklahoma that they be community-based, outcome-oriented, and consumer and family-driven. For three years we had to oppose a proposal in the state legislature to separate the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services into two separate departments. This would have caused unnecessary duplication of administrative costs, and would have complicated services for consumers who had dual diagnoses of mental illness and substance abuse. Fortunately, our advocacy prevailed. The November 1993 Tulsa Alliance meeting consisted of a panel discussion of Tulsa County mental health needs. At that time we also had an active Legislative Committee.  A Psychosocial Clubhouse in Tulsa  ​Also, in late 1993, we began to investigate the possibility of establishing a Fountain House model clubhouse in Tulsa. Interest began when Bob Harvey, Executive Director of Independence Center in St. Louis, spoke at the OAMI Family Conference in October. A delegation from Oklahoma, including representatives of OAMI, TAMI, the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, and the Oklahoma Mental Health Consumer Council, went to St. Louis in December to visit Independence Center. The TAMI Board endorsed the idea of a Tulsa clubhouse in January of 1994. The clubhouse was incorporated under the name of Crossroads, Inc. with initial pledges from family members in the amount of $30,000, and it officially opened for business on February 6, 1995. 

Part 4 NAMI-Tulsa History 1995, 1996, and 1997

During 1995, 1996, and 1997, the Tulsa Alliance became much more proactive in advocacy. In addition to the continuing battle with professionals over confidentiality, communications, and listening to input from family members, several major victories were accomplished. We also continued to oppose the proposal of Senator Ben Brown to divide the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services into two separate departments.

Programs about Mental Illness Presented to Area High School Classes ​The first week in January 1995, three teams, each composed of a mental health professional, a family member and a consumer, made presentations to psychology classes at Broken Arrow High School. The presentations were coordinated by TAMI with representatives from the Mental Health Association, Associated Centers for Therapy, and Family Mental Health Center. The same kind of presentations had been made at Union High School in Tulsa during previous years.

Advance Directives Bill This bill, also known as the Jimmie Davis Bill, was signed into law by Oklahoma Governor, Frank Keating on May 25, and it became effective on November 1, 1995. Jimmie Davis had worked for eight years to get this law to permit consumers to specify ahead of time the treatment that they want in case they become too ill to know what treatment is best during a psychotic episode. This can be used, even by a doctor who may not be familiar with the consumer, to continue effective treatment.  Grassroots Leaders ​In September 1995, the Grassroots Leaders movement was organized under the leadership of John and Mary Taddiken. NAMI members who joined in this effort worked to promote our priority issues by visiting with legislators, writing letters and opinion editorials, publicizing the major needs for improvements in mental health services.  ​Professional Recognition of Family Caregivers A November 1995 article in Psychiatric Services, a publication for professionals, recognized the beneficial effect of a support network such as the Alliance for the Mentally Ill. It found that those who were participants in NAMI were more successful in coping. Families who learned about the brain and its illnesses, about medications and side effects, about empathy, communication, problem solving and advocacy, were no longer condemned to be sitting idle, mired in misery. NAMI advocacy was beginning to make a difference.  Communicating with Families  ​In March of 1996, it was reported that the TAMI (now NAMITulsa) office was being flooded with complaints that local community mental health centers were not cooperating with families. The Tulsa Alliance Board was asked to file complaints with those centers and with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the purpose being to help those agencies to understand how to work with families without violating the principle of client confidentiality.

Mobile Outreach Crisis Services ​A Mobile Outreach Crisis Service (MOCS) was established by Tulsa's Parkside, Inc. as a pilot program. However, it took hard work to convince the state legislature to provide funding to continue the program. Strong advocacy in early 1997 bore testimony to the value and effectiveness of the MOCS program. Personal visits with legislators by Parkside MOCS director, Bob Althoff, and by NAMI advocates won approval for continued funding of the MOCS program.  Hospital Site-Based Hearings  A major project during 1996 and 1997 was advocacy for mental evaluation hearings in Tulsa to be conducted at Parkside, Inc., which was our crisis center at that time. Evaluation hearings in Oklahoma City were being held in their Crisis Center. But in Tulsa, people who were mentally ill were being transported in handcuffs from Parkside in Tulsa to Eastern State Hospital in Vinita, and then they had to be brought back to the Tulsa County Courthouse for evaluation. Advocacy to promote hospital sitebased hearings for evaluation began with a Town Meeting forum in the regular Tulsa Alliance meeting at the Children's Medical Center Auditorium on September 12, 1996. Invitations were sent to Tulsa judges, police, the sheriff and his deputies, the Public Defender, District Attorney, Parkside, Inc., other care providers, consumers, family members and others. The meeting was attended by a standing room only crowd. In that initial forum, the reactions of the judges, the District Attorney, and others were originally opposed to change. But later the Mental Health Association in Tulsa was able to get Tulsa judges to visit the Crisis Center in Oklahoma City to see how the hearings were working there. After that, within the next year, a Tulsa judge was going to Parkside, and hearings were being held there.

Part 5 Prime Movers 

​A history of the Tulsa Alliance on Mental Illness would not be complete without mention of Catherine and L.T. West, who led the organization from its beginning, even before its incorporation, until December of 1993. L.T. West was President of the Oklahoma Alliance (known then as OAMI) for a while, and Catherine was President of TAMI for about six years. The Wests helped NAMI-Tulsa (known then as TAMI) to be incorporated as a 501 c (3) non-profit organization in 1989. NAMI-Tulsa also benefited from the significant long-term involvement by John and Mary Taddiken. They both gave up other employment in order to devote their entire attention to NAMI. John served a term as President of OAMI. Mary served as NAMI-Tulsa President in 1996, 1997, and 1998, and again in 2001. John was NAMI-Tulsa President in 1999 and 2000. John organized volunteers, known as Grassroots Leaders, who performed many advocacy functions. In March of 1997, John reported that 260 people had volunteered to be Grassroots Leaders, and in April of 1998, there were 335.  Liaison Meetings With Parkside and Associated Centers for Therapy (ACT)  ​In October of 1996, the Tulsa Alliance established a Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) Liaison Committee, consisting of John and Mary Taddiken, Melonnie Dauben, and Oscar Kastner. The purpose of the committee was to advocate for our members who had particularly difficult problems with the Oklahoma mental health service delivery system, and to work with local CMHC representatives to find ways to solve those problems. At the same time, Parkside, Inc. had been working to establish an ombudsman procedure to receive such information without affecting confidentiality. Parkside also used the liaison to announce policy changes and procedural improvements. The Liaison Committee also worked for a similar relationship with ACT. But ACT had already taken steps to include a family member on the treatment team wherever possible, so liaison meetings were not as necessary with ACT. But the liaison committee members did attend ACT Board meetings.  Prison Visits  Prison visits were organized by the Oklahoma Alliance in 1996, and NAMI-Tulsa members participated in those visits. The purpose was specifically to learn about the mental health care that was being provided in Oklahoma prisons. In August of 1996, visits were made to the state prison at McAlester, and to the new Corrections Corporation of America prison at Holdenville. In October the NAMI delegation visited the Department of Corrections (DOC) Joseph Harp and Lexington prisons. In January 1997, they visited the Mabel Bassett prison, which is Oklahoma’s DOC correctional facility for women. 

Insurance Parity   ​

In 1997, a major advocacy issue was insurance parity, or equal insurance coverage for mental illnesses and for other biological disorders. The Federal Mental Health Parity Act became law in January of 1998. The Oklahoma legislature had passed a weakened version of parity in 1997, but it was vetoed by Governor Frank Keating. NAMI has continued to work for insurance parity on both national and state levels.  Inadequacy of Crisis Beds in Tulsa County  A major advocacy issue in 1995 was the inadequacy of crisis beds in Tulsa County. The record showed that 774 people from Tulsa were court ordered to Eastern State Hospital in 1993 and 502 in 1994. The number of Tulsa people who were being transported to Eastern State Hospital was approximately three times as many as were being transported from Oklahoma City to Griffin Memorial Hospital. This continued to be a problem and was even worse when Eastern State Hospital was downsized in 2000, and was later closed. NAMI-Tulsa continued to monitor and to continue the crisis bed situation for several years.  Managed Care  A major change in the provision of all sorts of health care in America occurred with the system known as “managed care.” NAMI-Tulsa and NAMI-Oklahoma had to learn how to deal with this system and to deal with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. The part of mental health care that was covered by Medicaid became complicated with new words and acronyms. NAMI national provided a study of managed care contracts in ten other states, and a pilot program was supposed to be started in eastern Oklahoma on July 1, 1997. But in November of 1997, it was reported that ODMHSAS had stopped trying to forecast when the program would begin. In January of 1998 in conjunction with the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, the Tulsa Alliance hosted a two-day mini- conference at the Rogers University Tulsa campus on the subject of “Making Managed Care Work for You.”  Regional Advisory Boards ​ In 1996, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services intentionally sought legislation to create Regional Advisory Boards composed of “volunteers who could assess local service delivery and facilitate changes needed.” A formula was developed to establish eligibility for Board membership and appointments were made by the Commissioner. Each Board was to have 21 members, with at least seven of those members to be consumers or family members. Board members went through “training” in March of 1997, and the Tulsa Metro Regional Advisory Board held its first meeting on April 24. A Department liaison person was assigned to carry information to the Department from each meeting, but instead, the liaison person actually ran the meetings, and all of the input was from the Department, and not from the stakeholders. The Tulsa Advisory Board had not achieved its design membership, resignations were frequent, and in January of 1998, it was reported that Board membership was only 14. In October of 1998, the Tulsa Metro Regional Advisory Board did issue a Resolution, which recommended that additional intensive care beds be provided in Tulsa. Responsibility for the Resolution was credited to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office, which complained about unreimbursed expenses for transporting people from Tulsa to Vinita. Advocates were complaining that there was a lack of cooperation and coordination between Eastern State Hospital doctors and Tulsa area professionals. This issue was discussed in the Tulsa Alliance legislative forum in October of 1998.

After a long history of serving Oklahoma's mental health needs, Eastern State Hospital was closed in the first decade of the 21st century.

Part 6 NAMI-Tulsa History: 1997-2000

During the years 1997 through 2000, NAMI-Tulsa was involved in intense advocacy for improvement of systems and services for dealing with people who have biological brain disorders. The Tulsa Alliance News carried articles about major changes at Parkside, Inc., advocacy to continue the Mobile Outreach Crisis Service, insurance parity, inappropriate use of confidentiality, housing issues, stigma, alternatives to prison, suicide reduction, and the use of seclusion and restraints. But by far the main issue was the downsizing of Eastern State Hospital in Vinita, and the problems that it was causing in Tulsa. Some of the issues were national mental health issues, and in others, NAMI-Tulsa had the support of NAMI Oklahoma or the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, but it had little or no help from others in trying to slow the downsizing of Eastern State Hospital and establish greater capacity in community services before the hospital was eventually closed to civil sector clients. Court evaluation hearings were begun at Parkside on February 19, 1997, and that was a positive improvement. But on top of every other issue, we had to learn to deal with Managed Care, changes in Medicaid rules and payments, and the effects of those programs on mental health service provision. 

NAMI-Tulsa Growth

Probably because NAMI-Tulsa was so active in advocacy, & as a result of its Journey of Hope educational classes (later called Family-to-Family), it attracted new members, and its membership grew by 48% in 1998 and by 56% in 1999. In July of 2000, our meeting place was moved from the Childrens Medical Center to the Martin East Library. The NAMI-Tulsa office was moved to 124 North Greenwood, and a NAMI-Tulsa lending library was established with an initial contribution of approximately 300 books. In December of 1999, a NAMI-Tulsa Web site was established. 

Downsizing of Eastern State Hospital
In March of 1999, Commissioner Sharron Boehler spoke to the Tulsa Alliance meeting about Governor Frank Keating’s budget proposal to reduce the number of civil sector beds at Eastern State Hospital to just 38, while increasing the number of secure forensic beds for those who had criminal charges. The budget did provide for an increase in funds for community mental health services, but not enough, and not distributed according to need. From that time on, NAMI-Tulsa began to advocate for slowing the downsizing of Eastern State Hospital, and increasing the capacity of community services.
Program of Assertive Community Treatment


Advocacy for Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) services began in December of 1998. Termed similar to a “hospital without walls,” PACT services help to facilitate mental health treatment in the community. This was a NAMI-Oklahoma project, & the advocacy for its start-up consumed the entire 2000 calendar year, but it was successful in getting the initial 2 PACT teams started, 1 in Oklahoma City, & 1 in Tulsa.

Part 7 Early Years of the 21st Century


The downsizing of Eastern State Hospital caused many problems during the time that John Taddiken was President of NAMI-Tulsa. During that period that many letters were written to state legislators. An intense dialogue was maintained with the Board of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services over the funding formula to pay for community services. The NAMI-Tulsa position that funding needed to be prorated according to the number of clients actually served was eventually adopted. ODMHSAS Board Chairman, Dr. Dwight Holden, called attention to the fact that community mental health providers had funding sources, such as Medicaid, in addition to their DMHSAS contract funding, and that the providers needed to do more billing to Medicaid.  ​Parkside ​The largest part of the problem of switching mental health care from Eastern State Hospital fell on Parkside, Inc. which, at that time, was providing services for approximately 75% of Tulsa County. The Department offered Parkside a contract with increased funding, but it was rejected. Parkside’s services included high usage of psychiatrists for their clients, and they could not see how they could continue to provide that level of service for the amount in the offered contract. So the Department contracted with Family and Children’s Services to provide mental health care for former Parkside clients.  ​It is not possible in this short historical account to convey an appreciation for the amount of intense advocacy which NAMI-Tulsa volunteers contributed during this transition period, or the number of hours spent by Mary Taddiken and others to make sure, as nearly as possible, that people who needed treatment were not lost in the shuffle. Individual tracking numbers were used in order to protect confidentiality while following about 2,000 individuals as they transitioned from one provider to the other.  ​Parkside had also provided Tulsa’s Crisis Center, so it was necessary for the DMHSAS to establish a new Crisis Center. The site chosen for the facility was the former Doctor’s Hospital at 23rdand Harvard in Tulsa. The original plan was for the Crisis Center to be managed under a contract with Grand Lake Community Mental Health Center. It was given the name of Tulsa Center for Behavioral Health (TCBH). The number of beds at TCBH was not adequate at first, and overflow Tulsa patients were being sent to Griffin Memorial Hospital in Norman. It was through NAMITulsa monitoring and advocacy that the number of beds at TCBH was increased, and the Department took over direct operation without using a contract provider. 

A courtroom was built into TCBH

A courtroom was built into TCBH so a Tulsa judge could conduct mental evaluation hearings in the facility without the need to transport patients to the county courthouse. We believe that Tulsa now has a mental health Crisis Center as fine as any in America. We also believe that NAMI-Tulsa advocacy had a large part in making it happen.  PACT ​At the same time, NAMI-Tulsa, in cooperation with NAMI Oklahoma, was promoting the Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT), which is like a hospital without walls. PACT helps people who have the most intense need for mental health services to live successfully in the community, and reduces the need for them to spend time in hospitals or prisons. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services was highly in favor of the PACT program, and had asked for help from NAMI to get it started in Oklahoma. The national NAMI organization had published a PACT Start-Up Manual, and was promoting PACT in every state by 2002. So we got a lot of help from our national NAMI organization, and two Oklahoma PACT teams began operation in 2001, one in Tulsa, and one in Oklahoma City.  ​So during the early years of the 21st Century, NAMI-Tulsa was busy advocating for community mental health services, including a Crisis Center and the PACT program. 

Part 8 NAMI-Tulsa History

Since incorporation, we appreciate the services of more than 80 volunteer members who have served on our Board of Directors during those years. The following list names those who have been officers of the Board and the years in which they served: 

Tulsa NAMI Leadership

In addition, we appreciate Melonnie Dauben, Ellen LaGrone, and Judy Smith, who have been employed as office managers.  We remember with gratitude those who have given volunteer services to NAMI-Tulsa, and who are now deceased: Oscar Whiston, Dr. Robert Glenn, Rosie Wagenblatt, Charles Carwell, Sr., Jack Knippa, and Dorothy Kastner

Part 9 Volunteer Contributions 

The history of NAMI-Tulsa should include recognition, with appreciation, of the many volunteers who may not have served on the Board, but who have contributed time and energy to help in many other ways. NAMI is a grassroots organization of volunteers. And volunteering has drawn us together in friendships, for the sharing of life’s problems and for living above and beyond mental illness. 

Bob and Jo Ann Flake have continued to facilitate a support group which has met in their home for about 15 years. 

Joan Stuckey has helped in many ways, but we remember especially the way that she has inspired the students of Union High School to bring gifts for hospital shut-ins at Christmas time, and she made possible special NAMI presentations to psychology classes at the school. 

Refreshments at our meetings have been provided by Joan Stuckey, Ellen LaGrone, Rosemary Hall, Millie Thoman, Rosie Wagenblatt, Dorothy Kastner, Crossroads members, and others.  Willie Thoman was responsible for the “Wyatt Hertz” articles in the newsletter.  James and Judy Haney masterminded the gathering of Garage Sale items and the planning of those sales, which were our major fundraising activity for several years.  Mary Jo Neal conducted Journey of Hope (Family-to-Family) classes in Claremore, and Susan Rollins facilitated a support group in Cleveland, Oklahoma.  Betty Jane Bailey and Carole Herwig established a Journey of Hope (Family to Family) support group at Asbury United Methodist Church about 15 years ago, which has since become a faith-based support group at the church. L.T. and Catherine West got the Consumer and Family Advisory Council started at Eastern State Hospital, and Elaine Brady,  Mary Blackard, Barbara Webb, and others participated in monitoring wards at the hospital before the hospital was closed. Charles and Alice Carwell used to drive from Sapulpa to help to prepare the Tulsa Alliance News for mailing each month in our early days.  Amy Sebran and William Fosterr provided music for our holiday parties. Our office furniture was moved by volunteers in our two major moves. Then there were volunteers who manned our cell phone “virtual office” to help callers to find the services which they needed.  After this volunteer retired as editor of the Tulsa Alliance News a few years ago,Vi Gunnells took over with assistance from Ellen LaGrone. 

Perhaps other volunteers should be mentioned, but we are depending on the memory of the oldest living fossil still active in the organization. Their services were all valuable. The purpose of this article is to show the ways in which many grassroots volunteers have helped NAMI-Tulsa to grow. 


Catherine West 1988-93
Stephanie Cesar 1994-5
Oscar Kastner 1996, 02-3
Mary Taddiken 1997-8 & 01
John Taddiken 1999-00
John Hair 2004-5
Vi Gunnells 2006
Ellen Harris 2007
Mary Ellen Jones 2008
Leta Lofton 2009
Ken Gunnells 2010
Cassie Place 2011

Francis Whisman 2013
George Salley 2014
David Van Risseghem 2015



Gene Casey 1998-9
Jon Wallace 1990-3
Charles McGowen 1994-5
Mary Taddiken 1996
Jimmie Davis 1997-8, 02
Rosemary Hall 1999
Oscar Kastner 2000
Wilfred Thoman 2001
John Hair 2003
Stephanie Brandsness 2004
Vi Gunnells 2005
Kevin Lee 2006
Deborah Hunter 2007
Leta Lofton 2008
Rose Weller 2009

Francis Whisman 2012
George Sallee 2013
David Van Risseghem 2014
Kelly Walker 2015


Oscar Kastner 1988-90
Geneva Culwell 1990-1
Rosemary Hall 1992-5
Alice Carwell 1996
Byrl Gaden 1997-8
Mary Diacon 1999-00
Rick Ruhr 2001
Jan Dean 2002-3, 05
Wilfred Thoman 2004
Mary Ellen Jones 2006
Carolyn Stueve-Martin 2007
Joanne Colbert 2008
Ellen LaGrone 2009

Mary Ellen Jones 2013-5


Oscar Whiston 1988-91
Harold Ebeling 1992-5
Rosemary Hall 1996-8
Joan Stuckey 1997, 03
Wilfred Thoman 1999-00
Mary Diacon 2001-2
Vi Gunnells 2004
Leanne Campbell 2005
Pam Witte 2006-7
John Hair 2008
Ellen Harris 2009.

Stephanie Jones 2013-5

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