Born in Newport, Ark., Rita Overfield lived in Michigan before moving to Cody in 1977 with her husband Bill. She immediately began volunteering with Rolling Meals after a friend invited her to help.
“Volunteering is a way to meet people. I learned about Cody. Everybody had a story. I found it very interesting. Cody is wonderful. Folks are always ready to help,” Overfield said.
Her passion is mental health awareness. When doctors diagnosed her daughter with Bipolar and Schizoaffective Disorder with addiction issues, Overfield began a journey to better grasp and meet the challenges mental health presents.
“It’s a long process, a series of steps that lead to greater understanding,” Overfield said. “At first, I didn’t know what we were going through. In the process, I realized lots people were struggling like us. Other people were in the same ocean trying in to swim. Since my husband and I’ve been there, I can share my experiences”.
While president of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, Park County for eight years and the vice president for two years she wrote “From the President’s Desk” for the NAMI newsletter. The post eventually transitioned to, “Mental Health Update,” a monthly column in the Enterprise about mental health awareness.
“Rita’s column is personal, meaningful, straightforward, and touching which is what makes it so successful,” said former editor Bruce McCormack.
Says Overfield about her column, “I want to give readers hope. People are looking for help. My job is to point out the issue. They may not know that what’s going on in their life is a mental health issue and has a name. They’re afraid. They can find a therapist and get help.”
In a recent post, “Pets are important mental health aides,” Overfield shares her insight, “Persons suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or a mood disorder such as bipolar or depression can benefit greatly from a service animal trained to help them through panic attacks, mania, and dangerous situations. They can be trained to ensure their owners get their medication and to help reorient their owners to reality and help alert emergency services if needed.”
Overfield is grateful to the publishers of the Enterprise, Sage Publishing, and editors of the Enterprise, including Bruce McCormack, Vin Cappiello and Amber Peabody for their vision in placing “Mental Health Update” prominently on the front page of the People section. Doing so lets the community know mental health is an important subject.
At Spirit Mountain Hospice House where Overfield volunteers, Randy Leisey, the volunteer coordinator and spiritual counselor, says it best, “Rita’s a gem of a person, a faithful volunteer. She knows what to say to people and how to make them feel comfortable. Rita cares. She knows her stuff. We’re blessed to have her in the community, a gracious, wonderful individual.”