Julie Payne’s Story

Tell me how and when you first became involved with the Nick Finnegan Counseling Center:

I know the Finnegan family and have supported NFCC since its inception because I believed then and still believe in their mission. I am currently a member of NFCC’s Advisory Board and decided to join because the former board chair, Alex Gallagher, spoke with me about the potential of serving on the board and I was so honored and excited to join such a smart and passionate board. 

What are your strongest beliefs on why mental healthcare is so critical?

Mental health resources have typically not been accessible or affordable to many people in our community, even if one has insurance. I remember many years ago, I first sought out therapy as I struggled with pregnancy loss. I had an idea of where to find help and once I did, I was stunned at how expensive everything was. I eventually found a trusted therapist who would serve as important of a role for me as members of my clergy or my medical doctors did. I have continued to seek out counseling over the years to work on my social anxiety and issues with all types of grief and loss. I am so thankful that I have this lifeline and always know that I have a safe place to work through the hard and confusing parts of my life. Therapy is forever for me, it is something I will always have in my life.

As a member of our Advisory Board, what are you most proud of in terms of the work NFCC does?

I’m continually amazed at the flexibility and speed with which the staff pivoted at the start of the pandemic to continue to provide services in a completely new way via telemedicine and Zoom.  No time was lost as they formulated their plan to continue to serve the Houston community. I so admire the staff and advisory board in their commitment to continuing to serve our clients. A lot of organizations may not have been able to pivot as quickly once the pandemic began. It takes excellent leadership and a good relationship between the staff and board to do so and NFCC is lucky to have both. This year has been so hard for so many, and it has been so important to continue to provide services. It would have been devastating if NFCC had not been able to pivot and continue to offer counseling during 2020.

What do you hope to see NFCC accomplish over the next few years?

I believe NFCC is on a great path with their strategic plan to continue to serve more and more people in the community and remain accessible and affordable. I do want to see more counselors added to the staff so we can reach more people in the community. I also want NFCC to continue to be in touch with the needs of the community and work to meet those needs whether through offering more marriage counseling, more grief and loss counseling, more support groups, etc.  Our community needs so many different things and NFCC is so diverse in who we serve and what issues we help with. I personally want to continue to serve as an ambassador to my friends and family who are seeking out counseling for a variety of issues and let them know about NFCC. 

What keeps you involved with NFCC and mental healthcare?

I love being part of an organization that is organized, well-run, and fiscally-minded and in-touch with the diverse mental health needs of the Houston community. It is exciting and satisfying for me to be around and work with smart and caring people. I have had the opportunity to serve on many different boards, I was also a social worker and a therapist, and I love being around an organization that encompasses all the things I think you need to thrive. I also love being around mission-driven people and NFCC’s staff and advisory board embody this. They keep me involved.