Masks help to raise awareness

The Baltimore Sun

Masks were the center of attention at the annual fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Sure, there were some great ones on the faces of several guests at the party at the American Visionary Art Museum, but the masks that had everyone talking were those on display, as part of NAMI's "Many Faces of Mental Illness Mask Project."

These masks were created by artists, business people, health providers and other members of the community to show their thoughts about mental illness.

"I love looking at the masks because they're such a powerful statement of what a mentally ill person feels like," said Linda Fauntleroy, hotline services director for Baltimore Crisis Response.

"A lot of people are blown away by the mask display," said NAMI board chair Derek Savage. "I don't think they've thought about mental illness and its effect on the people involved. This gives you better insight, a better understanding."

The exhibit provided plenty to talk about.

Guests examined the artwork while sipping cocktails and catching up with friends, while party co-chairs Barty Carr and Pamela Pasqualini kept the festivities running smoothly. The crowd was a mix of NAMI supporters and mental health and public safety professionals, now having a chance to catch up outside of work and enjoy the night off.

Faces in the crowd included Sheppard Pratt president Steve Sharfstein and his wife, Margaret; University of Maryland psychiatry chair Dr. Anthony Lehman; UM psychiatry professor Dr. Lisa Dixon; Baltimore Behavioral Health vice president Terry Brown; Howard County public school teacher and speech pathologist Sharon Allen; Baltimore attorney Neil Hoffberg and wife Bev; former NASDAQ president Alfred Berkeley and wife Muriel; Towson University professor Charles Schmitz; Maryland Humanities Council program officer Judy Dobbs; and former WMAR-TV anchors Jack Bowden and Susan White-Bowden.

A Drink With Chuck Tildon

Honoring ancestors, and trying not to trip

Chuck Tildon, 44, comes from a well-known Baltimore family. His father, Charles G. Tildon Jr., is a retired president of Baltimore City Community College. His late uncle, Dr. J. Tyson Tildon, was an associate dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Chuck Tildon serves on several boards, including CollegeBound Foundation and First Tee of Baltimore. For six years, he has been vice president of marketing and communications for United Way of Central Maryland. He lives in Mount Washington with wife Maria, daughter Drew, 13, son Kyle, 10, and chocolate Lab, Ralph, 8 months.

Do you ever get tired of being recognized for who [your father and uncle] are and were?

No. Particularly now that my uncle has passed away and my father is 80. When I'm recognized for my last name, I'm very proud and honored. ... It's a very daunting legacy. My father was my hero. My uncle was my mentor. Every day I think about how to honor what they've left me. ... It worked in my favor growing up as an African-American in Baltimore in the '70s. That [recognition] helped me cut through red tape I might not have been able to do otherwise.

What has most surprised you about your own life?

I thoroughly underestimated the overwhelming responsibility of being a parent. Every step we take is a step that our kids are watching. And when you walk as a matter of habit, sometimes you trip. You can't afford to do that as a parent.

You and your wife were college sweethearts. That's a long time to be together and happy. What's your secret?

I picked the right woman. ... It all comes down to chemistry and diligence. We are very much alike in the things that are most important. And we're different in ways that keep us interested in each other. ... She is my heart and soul.

What are some of your main interests?

I love to cook. ... I make the best rigatoni with meatballs and sausage. ... And baseball. I'm living vicariously through my son right now, who is a Little League star.

Any guilty pleasures?

The dog walker. Somebody comes in every day to take Ralph for a walk. I feel really guilty about it because it feels like it's an extravagance.

How about hidden talents?

I am an incredible parallel parker.

Do you have any obsessions -- things you absolutely love, or absolutely hate?

I absolutely cannot tolerate racism. And when I see it blatantly, I can't contain myself.

What do you do?

I almost always challenge it. Sometimes that's not always the smartest thing to do because, depending on the situation, it could be dangerous.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

They're both the same thing -- my ability to give the benefit of the doubt. It's a strength because it allows me to see and appreciate both sides of an issue. And it's a weakness because that can be mistaken for gullibility.

Would Maria agree with you on that?

This is the only time in this interview I'm going to say "no comment."

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