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August 22, 2012

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August 22, 2012

ACT for Mental Health has been serving the needs of down town San Jose for over fifty years. It was started as a grass roots organization, in response to the closing of Agnews State Hospital, and continues to help the chronically mentally ill through its Drop in Center, activities, and nutrition program.
Today, ACT serves the surrounding community with Counseling Services, Parent and Child Reunification programs, and Support Groups for Spanish speaking parents. Although ACT is operated on a shoe string, it has an outreach program to the local Community School (alternative high school for troubled teens).
Services are provided on a sliding scale, but ACT takes pride in turning no one away because of their inability to pay. The recent financial crisis has caused additional stress in the community ACT serves, resulting in a large upsurge of requests for counseling for anxiety and depression.
Given ACT’s limited resources, it would have been expected that they would limit the number of new patients. Instead, ACT launched a grass roots outreach, placing small, hand lettered notices in coin operated laundries, schools and libraries to reach people that needed their help.
I’ve never met a harder working, or more dedicated group of people. And, the most amazing thing about ACT is it is a joyous environment. These people truly enjoy their work.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of ACT’s clients, during the Wednesday lunch ACT hosts each week. Their stories of the impact that ACT services made in empowering them to rebuild their lives is truly amazing.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If I could make one change in ACT, I would expand their reach to include more neighborhoods in San Jose. As it is, some clients travel long distances by public transportation to reach ACT's Counseling Center.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

ACT is somewhat legendary in the community, as is its long serving CEO, Wanda Alexander. I was told by a psychiatric nurse that, at ACT, the carpets are thread bare, but the services are first rate. That's true. ACT truly cares for, and respects their clients.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

ACT is stuggling to make ends meet, as are most non-profits in this economy. A critical short term priority is the Senior Life Story project, and outreach to isolated, possibly depressed elders, that would increase their involvement in the community, and provide young volunteers with an opportunity to understand the lives, history, and contributions of their elders.

What is its top priority in the long run?

In the long run, ACT hopes to increase office space, especially handicap accessible office space to serve more clients. That will require more fund raising and week end volunteers willing to weild a paint brush and run internet cables.

April 1, 2010

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April 1, 2010

This is one of those nonprofits which I am amazed is not more recognized. It has been around for over fifty years so is probably one of San Jose's oldest. Yet, I had never heard of it until a friend told me. This is a wonderful group of staff and volunteers who provide mental health services and referrals to those with very little or no income. They do this on a shoestring budget. Please see their web site http://www.actmentalhealth.org/ for more information.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the caliber of the people I have volunteered with and their kindness.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Friendly, caring, educated, informed, helpful.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Really help those with mental health needs who have no money!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 30, 2010

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March 30, 2010

ACT for Mental Health is setup in an old building in downtown San Jose. While the building could use a remodeling job, this is a very insignificant detail in comparison to the impact of ACT for Mental Health. Not only do they provide low-cost counseling for low-income individuals and families that need mental health services, but they provide opportunities for everyone involved to make a direct impact on their community. As a volunteer, I learned about ACT's great mission and was given the freedom to spread the word about our mission in my own creative ways.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

incredibly kind and generous.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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