Staff photos by Allison Potter
Actor Giancarlo Esposito laughs at remarks made by Margaret Weller-Stargell, president and CEO of Coastal Horizons Center, during the organization’s annual fundraising luncheon on Thursday, May 2 at the Country Club of Landfall.
Coastal Horizons Center hosted its annual fundraising luncheon last Thursday, May 2 at the Country Club of Landfall and raised $62,000 for its ongoing mental healthcare and substance abuse services in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties.
Throughout the event, the staff and affiliates of this local nonprofit organization presented some of the statistics behind the comprehensive services in mental illness and substance abuse it provides each year.
Guest speaker Jack Barto, CEO of the New Hanover Regional Medical Center, said that these services are greatly needed in North Carolina, where mental healthcare is a “disaster” and that fundraisers like these attempt to supplement the mental healthcare programs cut in recent years.
Guest speaker actor Giancarlo Esposito helped close the luncheon by sharing his personal experience with mental illness. Esposito stars in NBC’s “Revolution” taped in Wilmington, but first came to the Port City 29 years ago for the film “Maximum Overdrive” and also appeared at last year’s Black Film Festival.
Last week he addressed the real-life misconception that mental illness tends to carry.
“Mental illness is a stigma, and for me at 17 years old with a mother in and out of depression that kept growing … I soon realized that it was more than that, that the depression that afflicted her was bipolar disorder, grew into her overmedicating herself and was on the way to being quite a tragedy in my life,” he said, addressing the sold-out luncheon.
“It took me weeks to get over the embarrassment that someone in my family was afflicted with this … it’s misunderstood for many reasons and part of what Coastal Horizons does is raise understanding that this is real and that people can find a way to re-enter society and contribute even with this challenge,” he said.
Esposito went on to say that community programs like the Coastal Horizons Center often bring understanding and education to a misunderstood disease, often connected with substance abuse.
“You are helping each other,” he said to the audience. “You are helping your community, you are doing what many shy away from doing in acknowledging that this does exist and you all as a group are doing something to change the tide and change someone’s life.”
Esposito said in an interview after the luncheon that while there were conversations with his mother about her illness, it took a lot of his support to get her to seek and accept help.
“To get her to a place where she could get help and understand that she was worthy of help was very important and it changed the way she thought about herself and … with counseling and, sometimes medication, people can really come back around and have a full understanding of what they’re going through,” he said. “I’m here because Coastal Horizons provides this service and it’s a service that’s not provided by the government, it’s a community program so it’s very important that the word gets out there.”
For more information about the services that the Coastal Horizons Center offers, visit www.coastalhorizons.org