Porter-Starke Services Foundation Hosts Worthwhile Symposium

By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: May 22, 2014

It was a gorgeous morning that welcomed guests to Valparaiso University's Harre Union the gathered for Porter-Starke Services Foundation's 5th Annual Living Health, Balance and Hope Symposium.

This annual symposium brings together leaders and innovators from the field of mental health, clinicians, sponsors and community members to educate and empower individuals to take hold of and embrace Porter-Starke Services modus operandi of living a life of hope, balance, and health. A positive light is shed upon mental health and wellness as those involved in the symposium delve deeply into the subject and share their knowledge with those in attendance.

The symposium began with a keynote breakfast. Over 350 guests sat at large round tables that filled the banquet hall and ate a delicious breakfast that was provided by VU. As the meal wrapped up, the first guest speaker was introduced by Bob Jacobs, a member of the Porter-Starke Foundation Board of Directors. Steven Lunn, CEO of Porter Regional Hospital stepped up to the podium to speak.

"What an amazing asset for a community to have with a facility like this and good people who provide this kind of service," Lunn said of Porter-Starke. "Many of you know that mental health is one of those unspoken things of healthcare reform. It's a growing need with a shrinking reimbursement. So the fact that a service is provided in a community like this is pretty rare."

Following Lunn was Porter-Starke President and CEO Rocco Schiralli. Schiralli spoke of the previous year's symposium and the recognition that the organization received for its unique and huge impact that it has on all who enter its doors.

"Last September the Indiana Physiological Association honored Porter-Starke with the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award for our employee health and wellness initiatives. We were the sole winners last year and it was the first time a mental health center received the honor. As a result, we were nominated for the American Psychological Association Award, competing with winners from all over the United States. We were one of seven winners honored for our best practices in part due to the Inspiration Project," Schiralli said to the crowded room. "I'm not telling you this to brag, but rather to thank you for your support of our projects, projects like this, and to share the credit with you. Because of you we were able to win these awards."

Schiralli proceeded to read an essay he wrote to pay homage to the Inspiration Project. His story, titled "This I Believe", was about his little dog named Spike who beat the odds and inspired Schiralli and his family. Spike was with the Schiralli family during a difficult time when a family member was struggling with addiction and the little pooch helped them get through it and learn valuable lessons along the way.

The keynote speaker came next: William C. Moyers, Vice President of Public Affairs and Community Relations for the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. Moyers is the son of the well-known journalist Bill Moyers and he shared his personal struggles with addiction. He has told his story all over the world and helped to move and inspire all those who heard him.

Moyers read from his memoir about his downward spiral with drugs and alcohol addiction. He spoke of the hard road that he traveled back to wellness thanks in part from his supportive family and community, and he gave a nod to Porter-Starke Services for helping people like him get back on the straight and narrow.

Addiction is a complex disease that does not yet have a cure. But thanks to advances in technology and furthered education on the subject, people who suffer from addiction are getting the help that they need, families are learning and coping with a loved one's struggles, and medical professionals are making more well-informed decisions and saving lives.

The breakfast was concluded with an interesting Q and A session in which guests wrote down questions that Moyers answered to the room at large.

The rest of the symposium was dedicated to an anxiety workshop lead by Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg, Psy. D. Dr. Wehrenberg is an expert in the treatment of anxiety and depression, and she talked about the physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of anxiety, from everyday worry and stress to panic, generalized anxiety and social anxiety.

Anxiety disorders are the most common disorders that Americans carry today. Using basic brain science, Dr. Wehrenberg explained how and why a person's brain causes anxiety, how to identify triggers, and she shared the top ten techniques for managing anxiety.

Click here to see more photos from the Keynote Breakfast!

Sponsors for the symposium: Porter-Starke Services, Porter Regional Hospital; Blachly, Tabor, Bozik & Hartman LLC; HighTower; Indiana Beverage; The Times Media Comapny; Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP; Golden Tech; 1st Source Bank; Bartholomew Funeral Home; Blue & Co.; Centier Bank; Senator Ed Charbonneau; Donald Nordstrom Estate; Extra Mile Fitness Co.; First Merchants Bank; Franciscan WorkingWell; Genetos Reston & Yoon; The Schiralli Family; SDG Global, Inc.; Task Force Tips; Teachers Credit Union; Amereco/Lifestyles Unique Gifts; Campagna Academy; General Insurance Services; Great Lakes Labs; Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce; Home Mountain Printing; Kramer & Leonard; Lakeside Wealth Management; Miller's Sealcoating; Nick Sommer; Peoples Bank; The Caring Place; Tudor Carpet One