Claud Riddles

How did you first become involved with NFCC?

I first became aware of NFCC in 2013, as I was serving a three-year term on the Discipleship Commission at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. I also had the opportunity to hear about the NFCC story through Amy Birchill-Lavergne, the former clinical and executive director of NFCC. That was my first formal exposure to NFCC, and her presentation to the church really spoke to me, so in June 2013, I made my first monetary donation to NFCC.

In 2015, Amy was relocating and the counseling center was at a crossroads. NFCC was in its seventh year and was experiencing significant growth and expansion of staff.  St. Luke’s and the Discipleship Commission were debating how to set up NFCC’s leadership structure and I was invited to serve on an informal nominating committee to interview potential candidates for a clinical director position. That’s how I first met Audrey Omenson and Mary Elizabeth Hand. After that, I was asked to serve on the Advisory Board and my first term began in 2016.

You’ve been a valued and beloved member of NFCC’s Advisory Board since 2016. What would you say is the most significant accomplishment or change you have seen NFCC undergo during that time?

I think the most significant change has been NFCC’s growth and getting the right people into the right positions to support that growth. I come from an operational background and was used to trying to strategically plan three years out. On the board, I was able to help reinforce that concept and help NFCC plan for the future, including their building expansion, growing their staff and helping to prioritize what needed to be focused on in year one, year two, etc. This allowed NFCC to set priorities and be in a perpetual planning mode for the future, and it is a model NFCC continues to use today.

The annual fund is also near and dear to me. When I first joined the board, the three fundraising events NFCC hosted were the main means of fundraising. As NFCC has grown in facility and staff, the financial support has also needed to grow and the annual fund has allowed NFCC to build up a self-contained fundraising vehicle that reached a much broader audience. Every year, there is another significant milestone reached through fundraising and it seems to have great traction.

Since becoming an NFCC volunteer and supporter, what have you learned about mental health? Why do you think it is so important?

I’ve learned more about the stigma often attached to mental health counseling and some of the opportunities that are out there to raise awareness. It could be City Hall recognizing a special day, a sermon series at St. Luke’s where the counselors present their perspective on therapy, or just generally talking about it with the larger community. The entire team at NFCC is fully focused on making those connections to create awareness and make sure everyone is able to access counseling when they need it. NFCC is very conscious about helping each individual through their mental health journey, whether through outreach, counseling, or even providing referrals if NFCC is not the right fit.

This is your last year serving on our advisory board. What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved with NFCC but has not done so yet?

Each advisory board meeting starts with a “Because it Matters” moment where the clinical director shares some story of how NFCC had a positive impact on its clients and/or the community. From those stories, you can definitely see how the counseling center has having a positive impact. I am not a counselor, but those stories help me support the therapists.

As a member of the advisory board, you have to be a cheerleader for the organization and support decisions that need to be made, such as expanding staff and making sure the counseling center has highly skilled counselors.

NFCC is also a family organization, it started out as a ministry for the Finnegan family and from there, everyone involved becomes a part of that family. Whether you are a chair on the advisory board, a staff member or a gala chair, you are a part of the family, and as an advisory board member, I found a place where I could fit in.