LAWRENCE — Chief Executive Officer Carina Pappalardo is pleased to share that a volunteer at the Daybreak Shelter is raising funds for The Psychological Center as she hikes the Appalachian Trail.
Nicole Hamel, 29, is a career nurse who spent the last two years working as a traveling nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling the country to work in locations where nurses were needed, and then taking extended time off to recover.
After working for about six months at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where mental health and substance misuse disorder issues were raging even amid the pandemic, Hamel decided to take a few months off.
“I’ve only been working about six months out of the year because burnout is a really big thing in the nursing field right now, and there have been times when I was really struggling,” said Hamel. “After my last few months on an assignment, especially working with sick COVID patients, I really needed a long length of time to get my head together.”
Hamel didn’t use her break just to recover, though. She decided to attempt a long-time goal of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, and to raise money for The Psychological Center, Inc., with that hike. She is specifically raising money to assist the Women’s View and Pegasus House women’s programs, operated by the Psychological Center.
“I’m super lucky and privileged to be able to take time off,” Hamel said.
Hamel has helped raise money for the shelter in the past, and this time accepted donations via the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, raising $5,000 for the Psychological Center. She is now trying to raise an additional $3,000 through a personal fundraiser for the non-profit.
Hamel started her trek on March 27, taking her first steps north from Spring Mountain, in Georgia. Hamel and the group she is hiking with have been trying to average about 18 to 20 miles of hiking per day, though they hope to step up their pace after passing the halfway point in the approximately 2,181-mile journey. She is now in Pennsylvania and continuing her trek north.
Hamel was first introduced to the Daybreak Shelter and The Psychological Center, Inc., by her mom, Penny Hamel, a longtime volunteer who visits the shelter to prepare a dinner for residents about once a month. Penny Hamel is also a member of the Board of Directors at The Psychological Center.
“I started helping my mom with her efforts and I started raising money for them a couple years ago, but especially in this last year working in Albuquerque amid huge drug and alcohol and mental health challenges solidified for me wanting to work with The Psychological Center,” Nicole Hamel said. “I went to high school in Lawrence and spent a lot of time working with people there. There’s just a huge need there, especially when it comes to mental health and addiction.”
Nicole Hamel said she hopes her efforts will also draw attention to those struggling with substance misuse disorder and mental health issues and help reduce the stigma against the medical conditions.
“The biggest thing people with mental health and addiction issues need is support. They need a support system and help with basic needs in order to be able to help fight their addiction and to be able to break through the issues they’re having,” Nicole Hamel said. “I’m especially proud to support Women’s View and Pegasus House, because both programs focus on women and women aren’t always treated as well when it comes to their health. I wanted to work with an organization that specifically helps women with different mental health disorders and addiction.”
“In the eleven years I have been at The Psychological Center this is the first time a volunteer has taken on a goal of this magnitude, which makes this $5,000 donation even more exceptional,” said CEO Pappalardo. “We are using this donation to renovate our kitchens at Pegasus House and Women’s View. We are blessed by the support.”
Penny Hamel said she got involved with the Psychological Center Inc., and Daybreak Shelter, after she started dropping off miscellaneous donations, such as paper goods, and was drawn to the residents and efforts to help.
“As I visited the shelter more and more I started to talk with some of the residents I realized that they are truly a segment of the population that have been left behind,” said Penny Hamel. “I just want to show them that there are people who care.”
To contribute to Nicole Hamel’s personal fundraiser for the Psychological Center, visit: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/nicolehamel295.
About the Psychological Center, Inc.
The Psychological Center, established in 1971, is committed to serving individuals living with substance abuse or alcohol addiction, mental health issues or homelessness by providing structured and comprehensive environments that offer hope while empowering individuals to achieve recovery with respect and without stigma. Each person receives individualized treatment to make changes happen toward a healthy and meaningful future. For more information on The Psychological Center, please visit: https://psychologicalcenter.com/.