IN THE NEWS: Pauley advocates for mental health

Randall P. Lieberman, Staff Writer


Mar 7, 2014

Jane Pauley was famous for being "normal" and she says her boss at NBC once said she had the best mental health in the business.

However, that all changed in 2004 for Pauley (the celebrity journalist and Emmy Award-winning television broadcaster who has been a national figure since 1976), when the previously private Pauley publicly revealed she had developed bipolar disorder — a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings for which she would need to take medication every day for the rest of her life.

Now a tireless advocate for mental health, Pauley was the keynote speaker at the Second "Reflections of Hope" Luncheon, held on Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton, to benefit Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS). Pauley was introduced by Luncheon Grand Benefactors Marilyn and Jay Weinberg.

"I had some hard times and my family sometimes calls me 'Crazy Lady,' but I've bounced back and landed on my feet," Pauley told an enthralled crowd of 535 guests. "I make sure to take my medications every day and to get the proper sleep."

Added Nancy Schiller, co-chair of the luncheon: "Years ago, you never would have had a celebrity of her stature admit she had a mental illness. As the daughter of a schizophrenic mother and the mother of a schizophrenic daughter, I felt early (and learned deeply) the stigma and challenges of mental illness. What a wonderful world we live in where we can so openly discuss these things and have an organization like JFS that helps so many with mental illness."

The purpose of the event was to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness, and to raise funds for mental health services at JFS. JFS provides access to a comprehensive range of mental health services for people who might otherwise not be able to afford it, and this luncheon will go a great way to helping the agency do this.

"We are extremely grateful to those whose generosity has enabled this opportunity to raise awareness and vital funds for mental health," said event co-chair Judi Donoff. "We definitely need more donations of money at JFS, but we also need people to donate their time to volunteer to help with our programs. When I came down to Florida, I wanted to get involved in an organization that would be like a family to me and I have found that in JFS."

Vice-chairs of the event were Michelle Blair and Talia Klein.

Said Klein: "The community welcomes and supports our efforts to raise awareness and provide these services. We had another huge turn-out to support the cause just like last year."

Added Blair: "JFS offers an array of essential mental health services too often out of reach for many, even those with insurance. We offer psychiatric care, psychological evaluation, counseling, support groups and our remarkable Welcome Home Program, South Palm Beach County's only drop-in day center for adults with long-term mental illness."

Much of the funding raised from the "Reflections of Hope Luncheon" will go to support the Welcome Home Program. Founded in 2003, in response to a critical community need, Welcome Home provides a supportive, caring and creative therapeutic environment where adults with long-term mental illness can improve their independent functioning. Therapists teach life skills and socialization, arts- and-crafts, interactive music appreciation, yoga, financial literacy and job readiness.

A video about the Welcome Home Program and some of its clients was shown during the luncheon. It brought tears to the eyes of Sue Davis, project director for Welcome Home.

"I cried throughout the video," Davis said. "To see the program through the camera was unbelievable. I am usually working the program, not watching it. But, I know how much some of our clients have gone through just to be able to speak comfortably on that video. I was watching the faces of the people in the crowd while they were showing the video. I can tell they were deeply touched."

For more information about JFS, and volunteer opportunities there, or to make a donation, visit or call 561-852-3333.

Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) provides help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, vocational training, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information about JFS volunteer opportunities and services for seniors, contact 561-852-3333. Learn more at

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