Jim Fox using gray area to create mental health awareness

Fox at The Guidance Center event last week

Like the Kings’ new jerseys, Jim Fox is a black and white guy.

“I’m usually on one side or the other, little gray area,” said Fox. “The thing that intrigues me about wine is there’s a lot of gray area. There are so many different elements to learn about, think about and educate yourself about – so, it’s tough to make a choice or be black and white with wine.”

Perhaps, the same could be said for mental health issues.  And last week, Fox used his extensive knowledge of one to help raise awareness for the other.

Although his work with the youth-focused Guidance Center may not have a direct link to his other passion – hockey – he’s able to draw some parallels there too.

“We’re seeing mental health issues being discussed now in the NHL,” began Fox. “That’s always been an interest of mine, the mental part of the game - whether it’s the positives or the negatives - and the struggles that everyone has.”

Specific to The Guidance Center, Fox has a long standing relationship with the group’s Executive Director, Patricia Costales. After years of trying to come up with a way to get more involved, last week’s wine tasting event in Long Beach seems to have brought it all together.

The event sold-out well in advance and raised over $26,000.

“Trish works with kids who aren’t getting help. They need a place like the Guidance Center to get that help,” said Fox.

So, he’s not only encouraged by the strong turnout and show of support, but also by a greater openness for society at large to talk about issues they may be facing.

“It’s something that I think we’re all getting better with. We’re starting to talk about mental health issues. It’s an illness. It’s something that can be treated – sometimes you get better, sometimes you don’t. But, you can treat it. Trish and everyone involved at The Guidance Center are a big part of that, trying to get people better.”

Just like it takes a team of people at The Guidance Center to make a difference, Fox needed some help from his friends to make the wine tasting event more attractive to potential ticket buyers.

Luc and Stacia Robitaille, Bob and Judy Miller, Ian Turbull and others were all eager to help.

“We’re trying to grow our Alumni Association and we’re trying to have more of an impact in the community,” Fox said. “This is that type of event – where we can do that. They all helped immensely.”

Former Kings defenseman Marty McSorley wasn’t so sure he had a choice.

“Jim asked me to show up, sit on the board, learn about the charity – and just give support,” McSorley explained.  “I said ‘Jim, that’s easy.’ He always goes out of his way to support so many charities. He puts so much time into the community, this was a no-brainer.”

Everybody in attendance seemed to have a great time too. Thus, even though Fox was unsure about future events, it would make sense to capitalize on the momentum of the evening.

“The biggest thing is raising awareness. We want people to talk about the event and who benefits. Maybe you know a family or a family member or someone who needs help, you might – because of tonight – be able to call someone or put someone in touch with a person that can help.”

Mental health issues are far reaching according to Fox and a simple conversation can be the start of improving the situation.

“It’s in all elements of our lives. Everyone is involved with it, someway or another - anxiety, depression, whatever. Sometimes there are concrete ways to help.”

If you’re interested in learning more, click here to browse the Guidance Center’s website.

Sure, there are hundreds of charities to get involved with or donate your time and/or money to. Yet, it just takes a few minutes to read a little about what they do. You may not use the information today…and that’s OK. File it away and when you come across somebody who could maybe use the help, share the message of what you learned.

Since 1946, The Guidance Center has been providing comprehensive mental health treatment to extremely disadvantaged children and their families – including more than 2,000 each year.

Link to The Guidance Center website – www.tgclb.org

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