Delk, as many local people know, has been fighting for the rights of mentally ill patients since 1987 when her son was diagnosed with a mental illness and was placed in jail because there were no facilities available at the time.
Delk, who recently had back surgery, was unable to attend the meeting in Montgomery, so Sue Guffey, president, NAMI of Cherokee County, later presented the award to Delk in her home.
“Jerry Delk is one of the most dedicated advocates that anyone could meet,” said Wanda Laird, executive director, NAMI of Alabama.
“She works tirelessly from her home with her telephone and fax machine to accomplish many tasks. Mrs. Delk not only promoted the use of telemedicine in rural areas but advocated for the guidelines for telemedicine services be amended to remove the 50 mile service stipulation.”
“Mrs. Delk contacted top officials to put an end to Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) financial documents, in Dekalb County, being signed in the preoperative room,” said Guffey.
“As a result, the consent form has been updated, the language has been clarified, and the form is now included in the patient registration process to give patients enough time to review the form and ask questions. As of September, this process will be in effect nationwide.”
“Mrs. Delk is frequently on the phone speaking on behalf of mentally ill and physically disabled individuals,” said Guffey.
“Due to having a son with a mental disorder, she learned early on the importance of advocacy and we are proud to present the Outstanding Advocate of the Year Award to Mrs. Jerry Delk.”
NAMI Alabama also awarded another local familiar face, Representative Richard Lindsey, as Legislator of the Year.
Lindsey, Laird noted, served as chairman of the House Education Appropriation Committee for 12 years and was a key part of the leadership of the Alabama House of Representatives during that period.
He currently serves on the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee and on the House Constitution, Campaign and Elections Committee.
“Representative Lindsey was nominated as Legislator of the Year by NAMI Alabama for his many years of work and devotion to the mentally ill and their family members in Cherokee, Cleburne and Dekalb counties,” she said.
“He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1983 and by listening to his constituents, worked diligently to coordinate with the Department of Health for Project Lifesaver, a program which brought peace and comfort to the families of those suffering with mental illness.
“Rep. Lindsey was responsible for purchasing the bracelets and implementing that program. This was implemented partially, through the thorough guidance of one of his constituents, Mrs. Jerry Delk.”
“In addition, his work with the Department of Mental Health resulted in telemedicine services for District 39,” she noted.
“This program alone has provided immediate medical services to rural areas of the state where many mentally ill citizens had very limited opportunities to seek and receive medical attention.
Again, his constituent, Jerry Delk, was instrumental in guiding him to develop this program in Dekalb County.”
Rep. Lindsey has worked many years to acquire a Mental Health Crisis Center for the three counties that he represents.
“We look forward to the completion of this Center seeing it be fully operational,” said Laird.
Some of Lindsey’s past awards include Legislator of the Year, State Representative of the Year and Lifetime Legislative Leadership Award.
Rep. Lindsey is an official member of the board of directors or advisory board of several organizations including First Southern Bank, Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, Howells Cemetery Association, Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, Cherokee County ALFA Organization, the Alabama Cotton Commission and the Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association.
“NAMI Alabama is pleased to recognize Rep. Richard Lindsey as our Legislator of the Year,” said Laird.
Delk commended Lindsey for his help and support with Project Lifesaver and numerous other projects dealing with mental illness awareness and services.
She noted that he always responds in a timely manner when she calls and seeks his assistance.
Delk expressed her appreciation to her family, including her husband, Bill, and her son Mark, for their continued support while advocating for citizens who are mentally ill and to NAMI for the valuable role the organization serves in the community and the state.
“You don’t know what this means to me because when innocent peoples’ lives are at stake you will do what you can,” said Delk.
“I am excited. I hope we can make this known nationwide and that everybody can be treated with the respect they deserve.”