Menlo Park non-profit, Young Minds Advocacy Project, celebrates 1st anniversary

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on September 23, 2013

Annabelle and Patrick Gardner of Young Minds Advocacy Project

“Children don’t walk into legal aid services offices,” says Menlo Park resident Patrick Gardner about one reason he founded Young Minds Advocacy Project (YMAP). “So their mental health needs often go unmet.”

The non-profit organization, which is headed by Patrick’s daughter Annabelle, will be celebrating its first anniversary with a fundraiser at Cafe Zoe on Friday, Sept. 27.

“Another issue is that the area of adult mental health is very different than children’s mental health — and understanding the difference is important,” he continues. “Adults who receive services give up some autonomy. But kids aren’t autonomous to begin with.”

According to Patrick and Annabelle, young people with unmet mental health needs often fail in school, are removed from their homes and families, or may be confined in institutions or juvenile halls. Poor and minority children are especially at risk for adverse outcomes.

YMAP works in the areas of legal advocacy, policy analysis, and community education to assist low-income youths and their families and communities in accessing appropriate mental health services and to promote improved performance and accountability of mental health care providers, programs and systems.

“There are a lot of challenges in coordinating care — who does what, when, where, and how,” says Patrick.

Patrick is an attorney with deep experience in the human services area. Annabelle is a 2010 graduate of the University of Oregon who has long been interested in a career in the non-profit sector. “There is so much to learn in the area of children’s mental health, especially around Medicaid,” she says. “Plus there is the challenge of starting a small, non-profit.”

Both father and daughter underscore the great support they’ve received from their Willows neighbor Kathleen Daly, owner of Cafe Zoe, where the September 27 fundraiser is being held from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. “She’s gone over and above, helping with the music, food and silent  auction,” says Annabelle.

Suggested donation for the  fundraiser is $25. To get more information about auction items, visit the organization’s website or email info@youngmindsadvocacy.org.

Photo by Irene Searles

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