It’s time to get out your walking shoes for a locally operated charity.

Campbell River’s Beacon Club hopes to move people from mental illness to mental wellness.

It’s hosting Hats Off for Mental Health to increase mental health awareness issues and raise funds to support its programs and activities.

Participants are asked to meet at Spirit Square on May 30th at 10:00am before walking to the Museum at Campbell River and back.

Douglas Craig, volunteer at the club, says it’s the very first walk where all funds raised will go back into the local community.

“We were involved with a national campaign for the last five or six years. A decision was made by the board, as all of the money went federally and was divided among all of the places. We thought that we’d be able to support ourselves with our own fundraiser, due to the fact a lot of people really didn’t want to donate to a cause that was not going to be staying in Campbell River.”

Established in 1993, the Beacon Club is open five days a week and serves close to 100 regular members. 

It prides itself on being a safe, non-judgemental place for people diagnosed with a chronic mental illness to rediscover or learn how to interact with others, learn life skills and coping strategies, and be with others who have faced similar obstacles.

This includes depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

“Mental illness has been pretty much ignored and put on the back burner,” Craig says. “A lot of people have anxiety problems and can’t go to the food programs that are sponsored. So, we have three meals a week for them. There are music and art programs and people come in and have general talks, helping people talk to other people on a much easier basis.”

He says it’s a program that really needs support.

“There’s never really enough to do what you need to do. If we can get more, we can expand our programs.”

The planned expansion will include topics such as budgeting, tenant relations, cooking and other life skills.

People of all ages are welcome to participate in the walk and any support is greatly appreciated, with a tax receipt given to cash donations or new silent auction donations of $25 and up.

Craig adds organizers are “encouraging businesses to form a team and come out. We’ll have various activities on the day of the walk and fun competitions.”

There’s three levels of sponsorship available for businesses with a minimum $250 donation required to make the sponsor list.