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Anonymous Gift Buoys Mental Health Association

Anonymous Gift Buoys Mental Health Association

The Frederick News-Post

January 06, 2010

Jan. 6—An early Christmas gift of $1,000 brightened spirits at the office of the Mental Health Association of Frederick County.

An envelope containing 10 new $100 bills came in the mail on Dec. 18, development director Jan Sullivan Dockter said. Mystery and excitement have surrounded the gift.

Virginia Horner, administrative assistant, opened the hand-addressed envelope and found a note that read: “Please use this donation to support programs helping those with mental health concerns. Merry Christmas!”

The money will go toward counseling services, Dockter said. Clients pay for professional counseling on a sliding scale, so the association needs outside funding to help defray the costs.

“This (money) will help those folks,” she said.

The mail came late in the day and everyone else had left the office when Horner opened the envelope, Dockter said. Donations sometimes come in from regular sources, but this was different.

“This was an ‘oh my gosh,’” Dockter said. “To receive cash like that was really something.”

Horner called other staff members at home to share the news, Dockter said.

The association promotes mental health and supports those with mental illness by providing advocacy, education and direct service programs.

Founded in 1965, the private, nonprofit agency serves residents of Frederick , Washington, Allegany, Garrett and Carroll counties. The association provides more than 15 major programs for children, youth, families and senior adults.

In 2009, the association reported serving more than 41,000 families, children and individuals.

The donation comes at a “time of a tight budget at MHA and a difficult economy that finds increased numbers of county residents seeking mental health services,” wrote association board member Matthew Robb in an e-mail.

“Some two weeks after this cash gift materialized — MHA’s staff is still abuzz and still overjoyed that someone would be so generous anonymously in giving a gift of hope for Frederick County residents with mental health issues.”


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