From left, Liz Berman, Valerie Phimister, Darlene Grunke Sanders, Lucinda Eubank and Sydney Keegan of the Jefferson County National Alliance on Mental Illness present over $500 worth of movie gift cards to District Court Judge Jill Landes, who runs Jefferson County’s mental health court. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Gift cards presented to graduates of Jefferson County mental health court program

PORT TOWNSEND — Members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Jefferson County have teamed up with the Rose Theatre to reward people who have successfully completed programs through the county’s mental health court.

On Tuesday, five members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) came to the Jefferson County Courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St. in Port Townsend to watch the proceedings, presided over by District Court Judge Jill Landes.

The group also presented Landes with just over $500 worth of gift cards to the Rose Theatre, each worth $30 and going to a member of the community who recently completed or soon will complete the court program.

“It’s enough that they can bring a friend and still have money left over for some popcorn,” said Valerie Phimister, president of the Jefferson County branch of NAMI.

“There is a stigma around mental illness already, and everyone here committed a crime, and so when they go out, they feel everyone is judging them,” she continued.

“We wanted to give them the opportunity to get out in the community and do what everyone else does.”

Jefferson County uses a therapeutic court for people who committed crimes as a result of mental illness.

“It’s a sort of holistic approach, which, in regular court, you don’t get,” Landes said.

“This one specifically is geared to treat the whole person. They need to be held accountable, but many people with mental illness don’t have the resources to hold themselves accountable.”

Phimister attended Tuesday’s court proceedings.

“If you sit in, you see that they know her [Landes] and she knows them,” Phimister said.

“It is really a team in here, and we’re so glad that they so have much understanding for what these people are dealing with,” Phimister said.

The court works with the Port Townsend Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Safe Harbor, Olympic Peninsula Community Action Programs and Discovery Behavioral Health to help people not only be held accountable for their crimes but also get the treatment and support they need.

Support often includes temporary housing.

The gift cards went to people who “graduated” or fulfilled all that was required of them by the court.

NAMI has slotted another $500 in its budget for 2017 to provide more gift cards. Rocky Friedman, owner of the Rose Theatre at 235 Taylor St., is donating 25 percent of the cost on each ticket.

“It’s another way of reaching out and helping these people in our community with mental illness,” Phimister said.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.