Karla Smith Foundation Joins Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Kansas to Increase Mental Health Awareness

Karla Smith Foundation Joins Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Kansas to Increase Mental Health Awareness

Karla Smith Foundation Volunteers on the Set of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’

Ottawa, KS (PRWEB) August 09, 2011

The Karla Smith Foundation, a St. Louis area based non-profit organization that provides support to families and friends affected by mental illness and suicide, spent the first week of August on the set of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” working to build a new, dream home for the Allen Hill Family of Ottawa, Kansas. Retired Staff Sergeant Allen Hill was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb while serving in Iraq and now lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

BringChange2Mind, a partner organization of the Karla Smith Foundation, nominated the Hill Family for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”. BringChange2Mind was founded by The Fountain House in New York, the International Mental Health Research Organization (IMHRO), Children Adolescent and Bipolar Foundation (CABF), and Oscar-winning actress Glenn Close, whose sister, Jessie, has bipolar disorder. The non-profit’s mission is to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness. The show, set to air in October, will focus on Sergeant Allen Hill, his wife, Gina, and their children. In selecting the Hill Family, ABC Extreme also agreed to feature mental illness awareness in the two-hour episode.

“This week has been an outpouring of support from a local community for a very deserving family,” said Kevin Smith, Vice-President of Karla Smith Foundation, who has been in Kansas all week working as a Volunteer Lead and helped setup the Mental Health Awareness Tent. “The topic of mental illness has opened a lot of people’s eyes in this area and will touch many more across the country when the show airs.”

While SSgt. Allen Hill has recovered from the physical wounds of war, he has developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and just returned home from years-long inpatient treatment. Environmental triggers such as loud noises, crowds, dimly lit spaces and long hallways, can instigate Post Traumatic Stress Disorder episodes. The ‘extreme’ home is being built to make his treatment easier, as the home will be sound-proofed and will include a safe room for Allen to go in case of an episode. As not to trigger a PTSD episode for Allen, for the first time in the show’s eight year history, a silent revealing occurred. A crowd of several thousand people waving American flags showed their support by watching quietly for over 20 minutes as Ty Pennington welcomed the family during the famous ‘move that bus’ moment.

The Karla Smith Foundation has formed a strong relationship with SSgt. Hill and his wife Gina. Gina has become an active advocate for families whose loved ones suffer with PTSD. She is the author of an award nominated blog, has served on a media panel, and has spoken at mental health conferences and on Capitol Hill. In addition, Gina and her husband were interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey Show in May, 2009.

Gina will be speaking at the Karla Smith Foundation’s annual “Erase the Stigma Conference”, which will take place August 26-27, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. Gina will share her family’s hopes and struggles as she has steered her family through the maze of mental illness, treatment and recovery. Gina will address: journeying with loved ones with mental illness, family and marriage issues, and care giving as a mother of young children.

“This week a house was built with hammers, nails, sweat and tears, but a home was made with hope, grace and strength,” said Erin Hazen, a Karla Smith Foundation volunteer working in the catering tent.

The Hill Family edition of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is set to air in October, 2011 and will be a special two hour episode. You can learn more about Allen Hill and his family on the BringChange2Mind Facebook Page.

About Karla Smith Foundation

The Karla Smith Foundation offers support groups for family members of those with mental illness, support groups for families coping with suicide grief, peer-to-peer coaching, free education materials, public awareness events, a resource directory, and financial aid to family members and friends of those affected by mental illness and suicide. Since 2005, The Karla Smith Foundation has worked to combat the stigma of mental illness, and in 2009, partnered with the BringChange2Mind campaign co-founded by actress Glenn Close. For more information on the Karla Smith Foundation, visit http://www.karlasmithfoundation.org.



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