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Bring Change to Mind celebrates, with help from Melissa McCarthy and Alanis Morissette.
On October 19, laughter proved to be the best medicine when Bring Change to Mind (BC2M)—the mental health non-profit co-founded by actress and activist Glenn Close—celebrated its 10th Annual Revels & Revelations fundraiser at San Francisco’s iconic Bimbo’s 365 comedy club.
Between ticket sales and a two-lot live auction that included a holiday home makeover by Property Brothers’ Drew and Jonathan Scott and a wine country weekend complete with Michelin-starred meals and a stay at San Francisco-based designer Jay Jeffers’ Madrona Hotel in Healdsburg, the room of nearly 350 revelers helped raise $1 Million in support of BC2M’s advocacy, education, and support programs.
This year the organization bestowed its Robin Williams Legacy of Laughter Award—which was presented by the late entertainer’s son Zak Williams—to comedian and actress Melissa McCarthy. On hand with her husband, actor Ben Falcone, McCarthy—along with Close—spoke with T&C about the award and the ongoing need to address the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
“When I got the call about the award, the 10-year-old Illinois farm girl version of me went ‘oh my god, Glenn Close is calling me—she’s in my phone!’ It’s still a freak-out moment,” McCarthy said. “I mean, she’s so remarkable on so many different levels and her heart is so completely in this—the fact that mental illness affects one in four people, and we’re still trying to bring awareness to it.”
Close said, “I called Melissa and she immediately said yes [to receiving the award], and it was a big deal for us because she’s someone who gets a lot of requests,” said Close. McCarthy is the sixth recipient of the award, which was first presented to Williams’ friend Billy Crystal in 2017.
Founded in 2010, BC2M was Close’s response to her own family’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma attached to it after her sister, Jessie Close, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and her nephew, Calen Pick, with a form of schizophrenia. “Our mantra in the beginning was to ‘start the conversation,’ because we were a family who didn’t have the vocabulary to discuss mental illness,” she said. “I had no idea what I was getting into, and after immediately getting help for Jessie and Calen, it took me a good two years to figure out what to do.” Close first spent time volunteering at Fountain House, the New York-based non-profit that, with its clubhouse model, helps those with mental illness reach their goals through a variety of hands-on programs. “I volunteered in the cafeteria and with their newspaper, because if I was going to be an advocate, it was really important to be with them face to face.”
Primarily focused on supporting children and teenagers struggling with—and affected by—mental illness, BC2M now has 480 clubs in schools across 35 states, with 120 in California alone. “There are 380 schools on the waiting list, and it’s the kids reaching out to us, not the teachers, school boards, or county officials,” explained Pamela Harrington, the organization’s executive director, who notes it costs $3,500 per year to fund each individual club. “Which is fucking cheap for an investment on saving a life,” added Close with passionate directness.
For her part, McCarthy has long tapped into her enviable talent for inciting joy and laughter to make a difference in people’s lives. “I don’t know anyone who isn’t affected [by mental illness], so whenever Ben and I start a comedy project, it’s never without the thought that we’re doing it to make people laugh,” she said. “I can’t fix a lot of things, but if I can make someone laugh and forget their troubles for an hour and a half, I’m going to do my damnedest to keep doing it.”
The evening’s program, hosted by actor Erich Bergen, also included sets by singer-songwriter Andy Grammer and comedian Jay Pharoah, as well as a special performance by seven-time Grammy-winner Alanis Morissette.
Guests at the sold-out event included Marsha Williams, Olivia June Williams, Geoff Callan and Hilary Newsom Callan, Jay Jeffers, Isabelle Bacucci, Aaron and Krista Giovara, Jacqueline Wickert, Debby Magowan, Kathryn Ramstad, Shaina Farrow, James and Zem Joaquin, Daniel de Ullys, Janine Metmer, John and Becky Ternus, Mauri Waneka, Scott Miller, Doug Piper, Alan Stuart, David Ehrenberg, and Scott Nevins who served as auctioneer.