Laughter is the Best Medicine

On October 19, laughter proved to be the best medicine when Bring Change to Mind (BC2M), the mental health nonprofit co-founded by actress and activist Glenn Close, celebrated its 10th fundraiser. annual Revels & Revelations at San Francisco’s iconic Bimbo’s 365. comedy club.

Between ticket sales and a two-lot live auction that included a vacation home renovation by Property Brothers‘ Drew and Jonathan Scott and a weekend in wine country with Michelin-starred dining and a stay at San Francisco-based designer Jay Jeffers’ Madrona Hotel in Healdsburg, the venue for nearly 350 revelers made it possible to raise $1 million to support BC2M’s advocacy, education and support programs.

This year, the organization awarded its Robin Williams Legacy of Laughter Award, presented by the late entertainer’s son, Zak Williams, to comedian and actress Melissa McCarthy. Along with her husband, actor Ben Falcone, McCarthy – with Close – spoke with GTC about the cost and the continued need to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“When I got the call about the award, the 10-year-old Illinois farmer version of me said ‘oh my god, Glenn Close is calling me, she’s on my phone!’ It’s always a moment of panic,” McCarthy said. “I mean, she’s so remarkable on so many different levels and her heart is so completely in the fact that mental illness affects one in four people, and we’re trying always to raise awareness.”

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Close said: “I called Melissa and she immediately said yes. [to receiving the award], and that was a big deal for us because he’s someone who gets a lot of requests,” Close said. McCarthy is the sixth recipient of the award, which was first presented to Williams’ friend Billy Crystal in 2017.

Founded in 2010, BC2M was Close’s response to her own family’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma attached to it after her sister, Jessie Close, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and her nephew, Calen Pick, of a form of schizophrenia. “Our mantra at the beginning was to ‘start the conversation,’ because we were a family that didn’t have the vocabulary to discuss mental illness,” she said. “I had no idea what I was getting into, and after immediately getting help for Jessie and Calen, it took me a good two years to figure out what to do.” Close first volunteered at Fountain House, a New York-based nonprofit organization that, with its clubhouse model, helps people with mental illness achieve their goals through a variety of hands-on programs. . “I volunteered in the cafeteria and with their newspaper, because if I was going to be an advocate, it was really important to be with them face to face.”

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Primarily focused on supporting children and teens struggling with — and affected by — mental illness, BC2M now has 480 clubs in schools in 35 states, including 120 in California alone. “There are 380 schools on the waiting list, and it’s the children who contact us, not the teachers, school boards or county officials,” said Pamela Harrington, the organization’s executive director, who notes that it costs $3,500 a year to fund each. individual clubs. “Which is fucking cheap for an investment to save a life,” Close added with impassioned candor.

For his part, McCarthy has long tapped into his enviable talent for instilling joy and laughter to make a difference in people’s lives. “I don’t know anyone who isn’t affected [by mental illness], so whenever Ben and I start a comedy project, it’s never without thinking that we do it to make people laugh,” she said. “I can’t fix a lot of things, but if I can make someone laugh and forget about their problems for an hour and a half, I’ll do my best to keep doing it.”

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The evening’s program, hosted by actor Erich Bergen, also included sets by singer-songwriter Andy Grammer and comedian Jay Pharoah, as well as a special performance by seven-time winner Alanis Morissette. a Grammy.

Guests at the sold-out event included Marsha Williams, Olivia June Williams, Geoff Callan and Hilary Newsom Callan, Jay Jeffers, Isabelle Bacucci, Aaron and Krista Giovara, Jacqueline Wickert, Debby Magowan, Kathryn Ramstad, Shaina Farrow, James and Zem Joaquin, Daniel de Ullys, Janine Metmer, John and Becky Ternus, Mauri Waneka, Scott Miller, Doug Piper, Alan Stuart, David Ehrenberg and Scott Nevins who served as auctioneers.

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