S-p-e-l-l-i-n-g Bee Contest Benefits Mental Health

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For the fifth straight year, residents from Putnam County and the surrounding region participated in a relaxed but competitive spelling contest that brought money and awareness to mental health.

Last Thursday, Putnam Family & Community Services, Inc. hosted its annual Adult Spelling Bee Team Championship. The mission of the agency is to partner with individuals, families and the community to cultivate hope, wellness and recovery by addressing mental health needs, substance abuse and other social and emotional issues.

“We’re here to help people who live in Putnam,” Diane Russo, the executive director of the organization, said.

The spelling bee featured multiple teams that sat around a table and worked as a team to spell words announced on stage. The first word, read off by deputy county executive Bruce Walker was walrus. The words got increasingly harder from there. The Patterson Ninjas from the Patterson Library came away the victors, spelling the final word “videlicet” correctly to claim first place.

More than $5,000 was raised from the event, development manager and Brewster resident Debbi Levin said. She said the event brings partnerships between the agency and the community, “which I think is very, very important.”

Former development manager who was helping out, Cheryl McKeever said how mental health is a challenge that everyone has either experienced, or knows someone who has suffered from.

“I think everybody has some sort of experience with mental health dependency, they just don’t talk about it,” McKeever said. “So as an agency, one of our goals is to try and reduce stigma.”

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