As the saying goes, give someone a fish and you've fed that person for a day; teach someone to fish and you've fed that person for a lifetime.


In that vein, a few of Greater Des Moines' most influential community leaders are showing a group of 16 emerging leaders their best casting techniques - as they help them launch a fundraising initiative to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The initiative is aimed at paving the way for a multimillion-dollar expansion of mental health facilities and programs at Broadlawns Medical Center.


The result is the Broadlawns Advocate Circle, a group that has spent nearly two years preparing for an informational and fundraising campaign to benefit the county hospital.


In addition to increasing public awareness, the campaign's goal is to raise $15 million to expand Broadlawns' current inpatient mental health services and to build a new outpatient mental health clinic. Currently there is a 120-day average waiting time in Central Iowa for public mental health services. The Broadlawns Advocate Circle hopes to significantly reduce that waiting time.  


The project also provided a handy way to involve and mentor a group of young leaders, said Connie Wimer, chairman of Business Publications Corp. Inc., who spearheaded the mentoring initiative with Johnny Danos, director of strategic initiatives at LWBJ Financial. Other mentors include Lynn Graves, Cara Heiden, Charlotte Hubbell, Douglas Reichardt, Tom Urban and Steven Zumbach.


On Oct. 24, the Broadlawns Advocate Circle will hold its first fundraising event, "Cake & Cocktails" at the Wakonda Club, to meet a goal of raising $200,000 for the mental health awareness campaign.Tickets for the fundraiser are $100 per person or $60 for those 35 and under. To order tickets,   


Health experts estimate that one-fourth of Americans live with some form of mental illness, ranging from depression and eating disorders to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Aggravating the challenge of treating the disorders is the tremendous social stigma surrounding mental illness, said Megan Ruble, 34, one of the young leaders handpicked for the initiative. Click here to read more.