News & Events

Enrollment Open for Fall Programs

NAMI of Erie County’s programs are unique because they are peer-led by trained volunteers. These programs bring empathy, support, and education to individuals searching for hope.  NAMI of Erie County is hosting two programs this fall, Family-to-Family, a family education program, and Peer-to-Peer, a recovery education and workforce development program.

Family-to-Family is a free, 12-week educational course for family members and caregivers of an individual with mental illnesses. Many program graduates explain their experience as “life-changing.”

Peer-to-Peer is a free, 10-week educational program for adults with mental illness, who are looking to better understand mental wellness and their journey toward recovery. Participants will learn communication skills, a general understanding of mental health, and workforce development skills.

No formal diagnosis is required to attend either program. Both programs launch in early September, and will be held at the NAMI of Erie County Office, 1611 Peach Street. Registration is required, and participants must be at least 18 years of age. Please call the NAMI office at (814) 456-1773, or visit to apply today!

Support Exploring the Arts with NAMI on Erie Gives Day

Thanks to The Erie Community Foundation, and generous donors, the second Tuesday in August has become a local holiday, Erie Gives Day. On this special day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., every donation over $25 will receive a prorated match, so that your donation can make a larger impact. With over 360 organizations participating this year, your heart (and wallet) may be pulled in many directions, so how do you choose who to support? Your donation to NAMI of Erie County will help us continue our Exploring the Arts with NAMI Program.

Exploring the Arts with NAMI, held in partnership with Early Connections, seeks to teach children the positive impact that art can have on mental health and wellness. The day includes music, art, and mental health education that encourage children to explore how art and creativity can positively affect mental health and wellness. In previous sessions, NAMI collaborated with Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture (MIAC), and it featured Matuto, a world-renowned musical ensemble. After Matuto’s performance, the children completed their day by creating instruments of their own out of recycled materials. The craft served as a mental health lesson, focused on developing confidence, cooperation, and healthy relationships.

Pictured above is an Early Connections student who enrolled in our program last year. He was shy, but with encouragement from his classmates, he was able to demonstrate the drum he made.

Please consider supporting NAMI of Erie County and our Exploring the Arts Program on Tuesday, August 8th by making a donation at, and search for NAMI.


Third Annual Guns & Hoses Softball Challenge

For the third consecutive year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County will be the beneficiary of the 3rd Annual Guns & Hoses Charity Softball Challenge. The game, which pits local police officers competing against local firefighters and EMS workers, will be held on Saturday, August 26th. The games will take place before the Erie SeaWolves face the Akron RubberDucks at UPMC Park.

For more information, check out the Guns & Hoses page.

Pictured above is Denise L. Kolivoski, MBA, Executive Director, with the the 2016 winning team.



NAMI Offers Mental Health First Aid Training

This past month, the NAMI office had the pleasure of hosting another course of Mental Health First aid provided to the Erie community at a minimal cost. Participants were trained and certified to provide initial help to people experiencing symptoms of mental health problems. Participants learned the impact of mental stress, how to respond to people who may need mental health services, and how to connect people with appropriate care. Topics included depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and substance use disorders. This past session in June included concerned friends and neighbors, healthcare professionals, social service, and nonprofit staff.

There is an upcoming course on July 26 & 27, from 4:30 PM – 8:30 PM, hosted at the NAMI of Erie County Office. This course is taught by Eileen Zinchiak, Erie’s Certified Mental Health First Aid Trainer. Anyone interested in signing up for the course can send an email to, or call (814) 456-7217, to register for July’s course.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course that teaches you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The training gives you the skills you need to reach out, and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or experiencing a crisis.

Dine to Donate

NAMI of Erie County has a great partnership with the Mu Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American women. Last summer the two organizations partnered together for a picnic out on Presque Isle to bring mental health awareness to the African-American community, where one in four people is likely to face a mental health challenge each year.

This group of influential women has organized a Dine to Donate event with IHOP to benefit NAMI of Erie County. The event will be hosted all day, Thursday, July 20th, at the IHOP located on upper Peach Street. Feel free to stop in any time that day, and present your server with a printed version the voucher below, so that 10% of your food purchase will benefit NAMI of Erie County.

Make sure you take a printed copy of this voucher when you dine out on July 18th.

Gannon Greek Life Supports NAMI

Recently, Gannon University’s Greek Life presented a check for over $2,500 in support of NAMI’s educational programs. Representatives from Greek Life are shown left to right: Mike Coyle, Lacey Rovnak, Shelby Malone, Elisabeth Duer, Margaret Carroll, Jake Braddock and Denise L. Kolivoski, MBA, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County. Denise is a Gannon alumna with a Bachelor of Arts in 2001 and a Master in Business Administration in 2008.

Mental Health First Aid Course to be held at NAMI

A new course on Mental Health First Aid will be taking place soon, and you are invited to attend. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County will be hosting Mental Health First Aid training sessions beginning March 27-28, with later dates taking place in April and May. Through this course, which will be eight hours and held on two evenings for each session, participants will be trained to provide initial help to people experiencing symptoms of mental health problems.

In addition, participants will learn the impact of mental stress, how to respond to people who may need mental health services, and how to connect people with appropriate care. Over the course of the two-day course, participants will study a variety of topics including: depression, anxiety and panic disorders, psychosis, and substance use disorders.

In addition to the class dates on March 27-28, additional classes will be held April 25 and 27 and May 8-9. All of the classes will be held from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the NAMI office, which is located at 1611 Peach Street, Suite 105, inside the Professional Building in Erie, PA. Eileen Zinchiak, a certified trainer, will be the instructor. Cost to attend the training sessions is $35 per person, and the class size is limited. For any questions, please contact Eileen Zinchiak at 814-456-7217 or

‘Fabulous’ Fat Tuesday Event Kicks Off Golf Outing

On Tuesday, February 28, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Erie County was the proud beneficiary of a Celebrity Bartending event at the Brewerie at Union Station.

At the event, which coincided with Fat Tuesday, there was live Dixieland Jazz by the Dixie Doodlers, and the proceeds raised from the night went to support NAMI’s programs and services.

In addition, this event served as the kickoff for our Fifth and Fabulous Annual Golf Outing, which will be held Friday, June 23 at Venango Valley Inn.

Thus far, $100,000 has been raised from the previous four golf outings, and we’re excited to make this upcoming golf outing bigger and better than ever.

For more information on the Fifth and Fabulous Golf Outing, please visit

Save the Date!

NAMI Staff Reads to Local Kindergarten Class

Denise L. Kolivoski, MBA, and Jason Kisielewski, Kiwanis Club of Erie Members and NAMI of Erie County Staff, read a story to a kindergarten class at Lincoln Elementary School yesterday. The books were donated to the students by Hooked on Books.