Connect Summit County is a grassroots community advocacy organization that helps people who are struggling with mental health challenges. New leadership has been named to take on fundraising challenges and strategic planning.
Deanna Rhodes has been hired as the Executive Director of Connect Summit County. She comes from a communications, marketing and fundraising job with the Park City Community Foundation. Her bio states she worked on branding and community outreach, and she had noted success in development and acquiring major donors for the foundation.
In 2016, a mental wellness survey was initiated in Summit County shortly after the drug overdose deaths of two Park City boys, both 13 years old and friends, who died within two days of each other. They had obtained a dangerous synthetic opiate through the dark web.
Rhodes says her interest in community mental health was peeked in 2016. Since then, she’s worked as a citizen advocate and has spent time at the legislature working on issues that affect mental health access and public awareness.
“Three years ago, about the same time Connect emerged, and started working with the health department and the county to make this a priority. And, at that time, I thought, wow, how enlightening and exciting. A community could really take this on as an issue and as a priority. And so, about that time, I started going to the Board of Health meetings and it was really natural because at the same time Park city Community Foundation was taking a lead as part of the Mental Health Alliance.”
Rhoades started August 1 and she’s not quite ready to talk about sweeping initiatives. However, they’re working on a couple of things right away.
“It started with Mental Health Awareness Month in May. And really expanding the program so it’s year-round, it’s consistent. Something that we’re just now rolling out is our navigation services. And that’s peer led. And, I think that’s something really powerful about Connect. It really is about the people in our community and how we can help each other through times of need.”
Rhoades says the educational programming is a big part of the services they’ll continue to provide. However, she says knowing how to access different resources is also critical for people who are struggling.
“Really giving people good information. Really helping them navigate through the services that are out there. Cause there’s a lot of great programs. Cause it’s not one size fits all. You know, when you’re confused and really not thinking well and you’re trying to help a family member or a friend, you really don’t know where to turn. So, having the peers lead you through that is really a key to that.”
Deanna Rhoades is the new Executive Director of Connect Summit County. She can be reached at http://Deanna@connectsummitcounty.org