2012 Mental Health Hero Cartoon-A-Thon
Drawing done by Chato Stewart
Steve Moeller, High Country NAMI President,from Boone NC. Steve is such a nice guy and I’m privileged to draw him for this year’s cartoon-a-thon for Mental Health Heroes.
I envision his generosity like a genie granting wishes for others in need… So I drew Steve as the genie in the lamp.
No matter where you go in Boone with Steve Moeller, he sees people he knows. Although he’s only been here since 2000, Steve is out there every day, volunteering, raising awareness, and reaching out to people dealing with mental illnesses or loved ones with mental illnesses. Everyone greets him with a smile.
A native of Minnesota, Steve graduated from the state university in Duluth, where he also lettered in wrestling. His marriage in 1972 ended in divorce eight years later. Steve’s path has taken him to Illinois, Washington state, Arizona, and finally North Carolina where we in NAMI are glad he has settled!
Blind in one eye and deaf in one ear from a childhood injury, Steve struggled with unemployment and feelings of worthlessness his entire adult life. “I just thought I was a screw-up,” he says. “I always thought life sucked.”
Just before December of 2004, Steve was diagnosed with Clinical Depression. “I had no idea I had an illness that could be treated,” he says. “I just thought I never did anything right.” With treatment, Steve’s journey of recovery began. He stopped beating himself up and learned to think positively, not only about others but about himself.
Once he knew what he was dealing with, Steve jumped in with both feet. He educated himself about his disorder and became involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Through NAMI, he has served on committees setting up Crisis Intervention Training for law enforcement officers and led NAMI “Connections” and “Peer to Peer” classes. From March 2008 to January 2012 he worked as a Peer Support Specialist for New River Behavioral Healthcare. Steve is also certified as both a speaker and a trainer for NAMI’s “In Our Own Voice” program, in which people in recovery from mental illness go out into the community and tell their stories to help reduce stigma among the general public.
Steve is completely open about his illness. “I’m not ashamed of it,” he says. “I’m proud that I have worked at getting better. I think the struggle has made me a stronger person.”
In the community, Steve is known for his humor, openness and outreach. You might find him visiting someone suffering from a mental illness in jail, working in the kitchen for the Project on Aging and the Meals on Wheels program, giving an interview at a local radio station, or volunteering with the Watauga Chapter of the NC Council of the Blind. In 2006, he was named the Watauga County Volunteer of the Year for Adult Services.
“Steve just keeps on giving,” says High Country NAMI Board Member Karen Gross.
“He has the biggest heart of anyone I know,” adds High Country Vice President L.A. Middlesteadt.
Steve says he is finally at peace with himself. “I’m in a good place now; I’m happy,” he says, adding, with a characteristic twinkle in his eye, “The only thing that could make it better would be if I could find a woman!”
Friend me on Facebook @chato B Stewart.
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