Paramus Stigma-Free Zone Among Honorees at CarePlus Foundation’s Courage Awards Gala

The CarePlus Foundation is pleased to announce that the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone is among the honorees at the 16th annual Courage Awards Gala to be held on May 28th, 2014 at the Venetian in Garfield, New Jersey.

The Paramus Stigma-Free Zone is a coalition of concerned citizens, business leaders, local government, and school officials that support the elimination of stigma in the Paramus community. Since forming in mid-2013, the Stigma-Free Zone has pushed forward with the unified belief that ending the stigma associated with mental illness begins with a healthy conversation.

Spearheading the Stigma-Free Zone initiative is Mary Ann Uzzi. As the Stigma-Free Task Force Chairperson, Uzzi became an advocate for those with mental illness through her 10 years as a Board Member and volunteer for CarePlus. She envisioned a strong community effort to address the growing mental health crisis in our country and, with the help of CarePlus, created the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone.

“The Paramus Stigma-Free Task Force is honored to be the recipient of a CarePlus Foundation Courage Award,” Uzzi stated. “We are proud to be a part of a caring community that recognizes the need to eliminate stigma. Seeing the public embrace our efforts and get involved has been most gratifying,” she continued.

Since its inception last year, the Stigma-Free Zone has been involved in several community events, including training Paramus school staff members in Youth Mental Health First Aid, and the public dance presentation at Paramus Park Mall called, “Let’s Help”.

The Courage Awards Gala is a time when individuals, groups, and corporations are recognized for their work on behalf of others facing the daily and life-long challenges of mental illness and substance abuse. This year’s honorees include Stephen Gavosto, a local business owner and former CarePlus Trustee who has been a strong proponent in the fight to end stigma; and Sister Mary Foley and her therapy dog Luke, who together work with individuals and communities struggling from traumatic events as a member of the Bergen County Traumatic Loss Coalition.

The Courage Awards Gala includes a cocktail hour, dinner, silent auction, raffle, and more. The Gala is the Foundation’s largest annual fundraiser, attracting attendees from across the state, including representatives and supporters from the Northern New Jersey business community. The Foundation is currently welcoming sponsors and dinner guests. For more information, visit here or call 201-986-5070.