Jim Lafferty Annex opens in Milford Wellness Village

Terry RogersHeadlines, Health, Milford Headline Story

Mental Health of Delaware held a ribbon cutting for the new Jim Lafferty Annex in Milford Wellness Village

Mental Health of Delaware (MHA) officially opened their Jim Lafferty Annex in Milford Wellness Village on Friday, June 7 with a ribbon cutting. The new office will offer mental health and peer counseling services to those in need. It is named for James Lafferty who dedicated his life to mental health awareness.

“We’re really excited to be able to open up this new space. So, for those of you who know Jim Lafferty, he was always driving up and down the state. That’s some of my fondest memories are just riding in the car with him to meetings up and down the state,” Emily Vera, Executive Director of MHA, said. “And I know when he started at MHA, before I was there, he established a lot of peer support groups throughout the state. And that was really important to have people be able to access support and services no matter where they were, if they were in a city or in a rural area or anywhere. He worked really hard to make that happen. And that was back before peer support was recognized as an important service that actually really contributes to people getting well. And so, Jim definitely left a legacy and just wanted to honor him by opening up this new office.”

Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall Long sent a message recognizing her good friend, Lafferty.

“Mr. Jim Lafferty was a one of a kind, incredible inspirational leader. His expertise in mental health was invaluable to me as a nurse and a policy maker and to his family, friends and colleagues,” Lt. Governor Hall Long said. “As Lieutenant Governor, I continue to build on his ideas for  the state’s behavioral health system. Today the state of Delaware is pleased that we are cutting the ribbon for the Jim Lafferty Annex, as many Delawareans will come and gather and his name will be a constant reminder and presence in our state. Through his words and deeds he gave voice to the voiceless, a true champion and advocate for mental health awareness.”

Frannie Marti, Deputy Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health stated that she was honored to be there and celebrate the memory of Lafferty.

“I know Jim is looking at this and is just so proud of everything that’s been done,” Marti said. “And for anyone that doesn’t know the services at MHA range from suicide prevention and intervention, suicide prevention intervention training for mental health workers, fpeer support services, peer live wellness groups, our statewide peer support workforce development, which includes the certification pathways for those in the community, but also those who are incarcerated, the apprenticeship program and so many other continuing education opportunities. The efforts that have been made are just incredible.”

Marti continued, reminding everyone of Lafferty’s gifts.

“And, Jim had this reputation of being such an amazing behavioral indicator, but he also had this reputation of just kindness, deliberateness and being very thoughtful. He made a difference in so many ways, obviously to his friends and family. But beyond that to his colleagues and even acquaintances just by being himself,” Marti said. “This expansion, for me represents not only a physical space for your association, but a testament to Jim’s vision of compassion. And it symbolizes the spirit of collaboration and resilience that really defined spark.”

Lafferty passed away in September 2023 at the age of 78. Born in Wilmington, he graduated from Salesianum School then attended the University of Delaware before joining the United States Air Force Reserves. He worked as an Information Systems Consultant for 27 years at DuPont before taking early retirement. After his retirement, he started a second career at MHA, eventually serving as the Executive Director before retiring a second time in 2016. His wife, Janet, who attended the ribbon cutting with her daughter, Charlotte and her son, Charlie, said her husband was very compassionate.

“He had the great personality and a way of talking to people, making them feel comfortable. He wanted everyone to have access to mental health services, and he would also meet with all kinds of people and talk to them about mental health, whether it was the Delaware legislature or anyone,” Janet said. “But actually, he served on several committees to do with Medicare and Medicaid, trying to advocate for mental health. He was approachable but he was also very humble at the same time.”

Janet stated that she and her husband were married for 57 years and that their first date was his senior prom. She feels his spirit lives on in his children and grandchildren who he enjoyed immensely, but also in the people he has helped over the years.

“He was not a mental health professional,” Janet said. “He was a deacon in the Diocese of Wilmington, and he just had a very strong spiritual sense. He ministered children and adults at St. Anne’s Church, but even when he was at DuPont, he had an interest in connecting people to mental health assistance. He just kind of learned the ropes at MHA and eventually became their Executive Director. He was just open to everyone, no matter what color they were, no matter what their socio-conomic background was, he was just someone who touched lives.”

Mental Health of Delaware is located in the Milford Wellness Village. They can be reached by calling 302-654-6833 or email at [email protected].






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