David Lawrence Center Celebrates Community Healing and Support with Tree Lighting Ceremony

Donors Needed to Be a Light of Hope for Mental Health

David Lawrence Center (DLC), Collier County’s only not-for-profit mental health and addiction recovery treatment center serving children, adults, and families, kicked off the giving season with the inaugural Tree of Hope Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The event gathered donors, community partners, and families to celebrate hope and healing with the lighting of the Tree of Hope, an enormous and sprawling banyan tree that was planted by residential clients in the late 1980s.

“The Tree of Hope is the centerpiece of our main Polly Keller campus,” said Scott Burgess, David Lawrence Center President and CEO. “It represents how one small seed, when nurtured, can grow beautiful and strong – unshakable even in the fiercest of storms. The roots holding up the limbs are like friends, family, and community, lifting one another up with hope. We can’t think of a better place to get into the holiday spirit, honor donors and celebrate the healing that happens every day on our campus than under the beautiful lights of this gorgeous banyan tree.”

The free family friendly event included refreshments, gourmet food for purchase from the Sizzle Truck, festive carolers, and holiday themed activities for children.

During the evening, donors who made a contribution of $100 or more were acknowledged for joining DLC’s donor recognition program The Center Society and being a Light of Hope for those struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.

Diana and Garrett Richter

Garrett Richter, President of First Florida Integrity Bank and a former Florida legislator for more than 10 years, is a longtime supporter of DLC and was one of the first people to become a Light of Hope cdonor. He knows firsthand how mental illness can wreak havoc onc someone’s life.

“When you know someone who has struggled, it pulls at your heart,”csaid Richter. “Mental illness needs to be treated just like any other illness, not like it is a problem. It’s not their fault they are sick.”

With suicide, homicide, and deaths induced by drugs and alcohol now being the leading causes of death among children and young adults, Richter understands that more resources a reneeded to help people in crisis.

Richter adds, “We got my loved one back, in part, due to the help she received at DLC. She’s living independently now and doing much better. Not everyone is as lucky as she is. ”After witnessing his loved one’s transformation, Richter became more motivated than ever to be part of the solution to improve mental health resources in Collier County.

In addition to his personal donations, Richter used his public platform as a member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce to advocate for the one-cent sales surtax that recently passed; it will fund a new multimillion dollar Centralized Receiving Facility at DLC where more children and adults in crisis can receive emergency crisis stabilization services.

“Nearly everyone knows someone who has been impacted directly or indirectly by mental illness and addiction,” says Richter. “As Collier County’s population has grown over the past decade, so have our needs. The community needs to come together to embrace these challenges. I am happy to do my part and hope others will follow.”

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