Local Celebs Advocate for Mental Health

Over $60,000 was raised at Celebrity Tip Off this year, between raffle ticket sales, tips, live and silent auction items, reservations, and sponsorships, thanks to you and our celebrity waiters! You are creating a more healthy, happy and hopeful community.

At Celebrity Tip Off : Dynamic Duos last night, our neighbors came together to back local celebs as they championed mental health and continued to make our community stronger.

You got the dish on some of our Dynamic Duos already, and there’s still more of their stories to share. With #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth just a few weeks away, I asked our celeb waiters to talk about mental health and our community.

Damon Williams and Ramon Williams of Twin Hoops Sports were our champion duo last night! Raising over $6,000 to help some of the same neighbors they are also serving with their basketball programs. Already being committed to their community, mental health was something they were made more aware of once becoming waiters for Family Service. Damon explained he and his brother want to make sure conversations about mental health spread around, especially for the kids they work with. Damon and Ramon want those kids to be prepared as much as possible.

Ally and Tyler Bowersock of RunAbout Sports are super into health, obvi. They work to make health and wellness apart of their community and that includes mental health. Tyler was adamant in how important it is to really talk about mental health as part of a person’s whole wellbeing. He knows that for people to be physically well, especially after bouncing back from injury or committing to working out for the first time, they have to be mentally well. Spreading awareness and reducing stigma in our community is how he wants to help people accomplish full wellness. Ally spreads awareness through transparency. Talking about mental health was never taboo for her because of how much counseling helped her. She wants other people to know how much it could help them as well. She says people tell her all the time that she doesn’t “look like a person who went to counseling.” Making them challenge their stereotypes is the best part of the conversation.

Steve Ambruzs and Kelsey Harrington of Downshift made it their mission when opening the store to give back to their community. Steve had his own journey with mental health and Kelsey has a background of working with sexual assault survivors. Kelsey remembers a time before that, though, when she avoided a conversation about mental health because she didn’t know how to help. While they are both glad to have the tools to have these discussions now, they hope to make sure that no one else has to avoid a hard situation.

Anna Moncure and Susan Stanley-Zahorchak from Junior League of Roanoke Valley were proud to be representing the 2018 Celebrity Tip Off Waiter champion. Junior League has been partnering with Family Service to build a stronger community for a long time now. Anna and Susan are happy that they can keep the conversation going. When people don’t know where to go for when things grow out of their ability to manage or when stigma keeps people away, they believe our community needs to step up. More discussions about mental health equals more change in our community.

Chef T and John Park were so excited to be returning for another year and to be partnered with each other. Being mental health champions, having huge community support already, and getting to pair it with food was a dream come true for them. They know they are here to keep the conversations going. They’ve noticed in their friends in the food world that people are making personal wellbeing a priority. They are taking care of themselves and working to a higher quality of life. With the service industry being more susceptible to mental health issues and the news last year of high profile chef Anthony Bourdain who died by suicide, they are hopeful seeing more people taking place in the discussion. They are seeing people making a change and reducing stigma around mental health. They are honored to be advocates in these conversations and to grow a stronger community.

This is my third year having the glorious opportunity to talk with our celebrity waiters and every year I leave in awe of their willingness and determination to keep this conversation going.

Champions like them are the pillars of our strong community and people like you who support these discussions are what make it stronger.