Attendees raise their hands to donate at the Compass Health fundraiser at the Tulalip Resort Casino on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Courtesy photo)

Attendees raise their hands to donate at the Compass Health fundraiser at the Tulalip Resort Casino on Saturday, March 25, 2023. (Courtesy photo)

Compass Health gala supports ‘voices who might not be heard otherwise’

Comedian Aparna Nancherla will perform at the nonprofit’s event April 27, to support kids in need of mental health care in northwest Washington.

EVERETT — For 15 years, Megan Axley has helped families with kids in mental health crisis.

“A lot of families who come to us feel hopeless,” said Axley, director of the children’s intensive outpatient program. “We want to support voices who might not be heard otherwise.”

She’s hoping to continue her work with support from Compass Health’s upcoming fundraiser.

Compass Health is set to host its seventh-annual Building Communities of Hope Gala on April 27 at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

The fundraiser, slated for 6 p.m. in the Orca Ballroom, will spotlight Compass Health’s children and youth services. The nonprofit provides about 5,000 “episodes of care” a year for kids in northwest Washington, according to annual reports.

The night’s keynote speaker is Aparna Nancherla, a Los Angeles-based comedian, writer and actor. Nancherla has been open about her mental health struggles in her comedy, as seen in “The Standups” on Netflix and “The Half Hour” on Comedy Central. Last year, Nancherla released “Unreliable Narrator: Me, Myself and Impostor Syndrome,” a collection of essays exploring her severe anxiety, depression and self-doubt.

Nancherla plans to open the gala with her standup, and later take part in a Q&A about mental health.

“At a young age, I didn’t have the words for the sad feelings or the constant worry or fear,” Nancherla told The Daily Herald. “Resources (like Compass Health) would have been really helpful for me as a kid by giving me context for what I was experiencing.”

Last year, the Gala raised $225,000. This year, the goal is to surpass $250,000.

Donations ensure Compass Health can provide a full range of services for kids, said Tom Kozaczynski, the nonprofit’s chief advancement officer. Compass Health offers children’s outpatient therapy; intensive family services; foster care for children with mental health needs; abuse and sexual assault therapy; and two summer camps.

Axley’s program, known as WISe, provides 24/7 crisis support for families with struggling children. The goal is to help kids get mental health treatment in their own community and avoid trips to the emergency room.

The program helps families like Amanda Timm and her son Max, who suffered from post-traumatic stress and other mental health disorders. Timm turned to Compass Health for help navigating family trauma and grief. A team of therapists worked with the family until Max was stable enough to transition to outpatient therapy.

Therapists spend about 10½ hours a month with each family. In March, one family received over 50 hours of care, Axley said.

Gala donations fund a summer camp for kids in the WISe program. And at Camp Mariposa, a year-round camp based in Everett, kids who have family members with substance abuse disorders can bond.

“It’s a place where kids can talk, release shame — and just be a kid,” Axley said.

The gala costs $150 per person or $1,500 per table. Tickets sales are set to end April 16.

Sydney Jackson: 425-339-3430;; Twitter: @_sydneyajackson.

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