Born out of frustration with the lack of services available for the care and treatment of family loved ones afflicted with mental illness a movement started by caregivers in Wisconsin in 1979 that rapidly evolved into a national NAMI organization that would grow throughout the nation.
An astute Charleston WV couple, Quentin and Frankie Capocefalo, quickly captured the momentum of this effort and brought it to the attention of other families struggling with similar concerns including Jess and Judy Krall from Wheeling. The Kralls learned from a psychologist from Northwood Health Systems that Dot and Jerry McCloskey were also concerned about the deficits in the mental health system and were asked to join the NAMI movement.
The Kralls and McCloskeys worked together to start the “Wheeling Alliance for the Mentally Ill” now known as NAMI Greater Wheeling. The Capocefalos recruited other families from around the state and subsequently seven affiliates worked together to establish the West Virginia Alliance for the Mentally ill.
The Wheeling affiliate grew in membership and stature offering monthly meetings of support, education and advocacy for individuals and families coping with mental illness. Eventually NAMI Signature Programs were presented in addition to annual Christmas parties and summer picnics for area mental health consumers. As more consumers began attending our monthly meetings it became apparent that a meeting place of their own was necessary to meet specific concerns and needs.
As fate would prevail, Dot McCloskey had been volunteering at Catholic Neighborhood Center where she befriended the director, Sister Constance Dodd. Dot often mentioned the struggles mental health consumers endured and shared that NAMI Greater Wheeling was looking for a safe meeting room for consumers to congregate. Shortly thereafter, Sister Constance informed Dot that the house next door was purchased by Catholic Neighborhood Center for NAMI Greater Wheeling to use as a meeting place.
NAMI Greater Wheeling officially became a 501(c)-3 nonprofit organization in 2005 and Amy Gamble joined on as the Executive Director in 2015. NAMI Greater Wheeling has been made possible by the unselfish dedication and tireless effort put forth by its members, directors, volunteers and consumers.