“Peers in Cayuga County,” a local charity, provides one-stop access for people navigating the labyrinth of paperwork and knowledge necessary to obtain help after being diagnosed with mental health issues. They offer clients individual support and advocacy. They also provide a phone line 24/7 for people who wish to talk to someone who understands. They visit patients at the Behavioral Health Unit at Auburn Community Hospital and are available for drop-ins at their office in the Mental Health Facility at 146 North St. during early afternoon hours when the facility is open.

The members of Peers are all volunteers who themselves struggle with their own illnesses or have experienced loss due to mental illness. While they have been able to begin their work through small donations, bake sales and T-shirt sales (hoodies too), they will require a steadier source of revenue to thrive. Please keep them and their clients in mind when planning your charitable giving. For those planning their shopping, Peers has registered as a participating charity in the Amazon Smile program for not-for-profits. If shopping at Amazon, you can use the Smile Portal https://smile.amazon.com and by going once to “Your AmazonSmile” under “Accounts & Lists,” clicking “Change Charity” and entering “peers of cayuga” as your charity in the search field. The Amazon Foundation will donate 0.5-percent of your purchase to this helpful local charity. Amazon Smile does not work through the phone app, so log in directly through a browser.

Whichever ways you give and shop this season, this year and beyond, please remember the individuals and families affected by mental illness in our community. When you may have opportunity to support Peers mission or help their clients, please do.

John Bisgrove III​