Chaundra and Tony Rush
The Rush family is part of the fabric of NAMI-Colorado Springs. Chaundra volunteers as a Connection Support Group facilitator and an “In Our Own Voice” presenter. Whenever we ask, Tony and Chaundra graciously talk to groups about NAMI. Their daughter, Anisha, is a talented jazz musician who recently organized a successful fundraiser on behalf of NAMI, performing with her group, The Anisha Rush Quartet. Tony and Chaundra are now hard at work on NAMI’s new multi-cultural outreach initiative.
Why We Support NAMI Colorado Springs
The two of you have been active in NAMI – as program participants, as volunteers, and as donors – for several years now. What brought you to NAMI, but maybe just as important, what keeps you at NAMI?
We came to and stay at NAMI for each other. Tony was frustrated and at his wits’ end when he participated in Family-to-Family several years ago. It was a last ditch effort to save our marriage. After getting a better understanding of my illness, and hearing other’s stories, he’s able to be proactive rather than reactive about my recovery. And for me, Peer-to-Peer provided the tools and knowledge to help prevent relapses.
How did NAMI become a “family affair” for the Rush family?
When Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall, and I’m hospitalized, it’s a family affair. I’ve been blessed with a family that’s supported me through multiple hospitalizations. NAMI has also helped our five children find their voices and share their stories in our journey through mental illness.
What would you tell other families who haven’t experienced NAMI?
Never give up hope. This is NAMI’s message of recovery. It won’t last forever, but you can’t do it alone. There’s often so much shame that it’s scary to reach out. NAMI’s a safe place to learn and teach others through support groups. It’s helped us come out of the darkness and heal.
You both have a passion for busting through the stigma that often surrounds mental illness in the black community. Why do you think this is so important?
We actually have a heart for destigmatizing mental illness with all ethnicities. But breaking down the stigma of depression and mental illness in the black community is especially important to us because of the historical and ongoing trauma associated with violence. These are wounds that have never been tended to, and more of us are completing suicide. There’s a lack of access to quality care and often a lack of “safe zones” – where we can safely share and process our experiences. Through NAMI, we want to create these intimate places and experiences, whether it’s a church or community center, and begin to take better care of our mental health and wellbeing.
Can each of you share one word that encapsulates what NAMI offers you?
Hope and understanding…and of course faith.