Chamber Insider Blog

Spotlight on the 2020 SBA Finalists! Friends of Loudoun Mental Health

Congratulations to Friends of Loudoun Mental Health for being finalists for Nonprofit Organization of the Year! The livestream of the 26th Annual Loudoun Small Business Awards will premier Friday, November 13, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. on our Facebook Page.  View all 2020 SBA Finalists here.


Tell us your story of how your business/nonprofit evolved into what it is today. 

This year, 2020, is the 65th anniversary of our organization.  Since 1955, FLMH has been active in the community supporting those with a mental illness.  We provided first psychiatric services to Loudoun youth employing a psychiatrist from Walter Reed Hospital. In 1964, we became the Mental Health Advisory Board to the emerging Loudoun County Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Beginning in 1973, we raised funds for advanced education courses for a mental health therapist, purchased a PBX telephone system for the South Street mental health center, provided workbooks for abused children support groups, and covered transportation fees to transport Loudoun residents to mental health appointments, and more.

In 1983, established Representative Payee Program. In the 1980s, expanded Friends Being Friends Program for people with mental illnesses to provide socialization through community events.  In 1993 developed two new programs – A Place to Call Home (APTCH) and A Helping Hand.

In the early 2000s, purchased a geodesic dome designed as a greenhouse and installed it at Loudoun County’s Friendship House. In 2011, we helped launch the innovative Crisis Intervention Training (CIT).

In November 2014 partnered with Woodgrove High School and Loudoun Valley High School to initiate programs about teen suicide awareness and signs of mental illness.  April 2015 found Friends sponsoring and hosting a Suicide Loss Support Group for adults who had lost loved ones – family, friends, co-workers – to suicide, a different kind of loss than any other.  This program has served over 65 individuals.  In April 2016, they helped with the initial We’re All Human Walk. In April 2018, started the teen suicide loss support group that focuses on ages 13-18.

What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?

It would be a recognition of the hard work that our founders and past members put into getting this organization off the ground and the work our members have been doing since then.  For many years, we were one of Loudoun’s best kept secrets.  We worked behind the scenes, assisting the poorest of the poor and struggling to raise the money to help them.  Five years ago, we hired a PR professional and someone to write our grants.  People have begun to recognize our name, but some still seem to not accept what we do. This award would somewhat validate our existence and acceptance that what we do is important.  And I believe it will help us recruit more board members and volunteers.

What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?

Hiring a PR professional.  Due to his efforts, people have seen us all forms of media.  They recognize the name, and they are learning more about us every day.

Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

For me, there have been three – my parents, Glen and Evelyn Cole.  They taught me to be kind, accepting, tolerant and to give back to the community.  I remember that my dad was involved in the United Way campaign years ago.  The third person that I have watched very carefully and admired in the nonprofit world has been Jennifer Montgomery.  I first met Jennifer when she was working for Loudoun Cares.  When she moved to at that time Interfaith Relief, I watched how driven she was to grow the food bank program, how she sought out business partnerships, how she led the rebranding of the organization.  She is phenomenal in fundraising and getting their message out there.

What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?

The fact that there is support here for our programs.  But the most favorite thing is that we are helping neighbors, people who live in Loudoun County who might not otherwise receive the help.

How do you see your business evolving in the next 10 years?

Our future goals would be:

  1. That we wouldn’t have to provide the housing assistance because true affordable housing would available for ALL residents, including those living on Social Security Disability Assistance. But if that doesn’t happen, then our A Place to Call Home would have the funds to be able to help all who come to us.
  2. That our A Helping Hand program can assist not only with utilities but with other needs such as small house repairs, a winter coat or other personal needs.
  3. That we have erased the stigma of having a mental illness.
  4. That we have reached people with the message of the need to take care of their mental health along with their physical health. And,
  5. That our Suicide Loss Support Group is still supporting individuals who have lost loved ones.  To date, we have served approximately 65 people.

If you’re not in the office where can we find you/what is another passion you have?

Spending time with my son and granddaughter; watching Washington Nationals baseball, Washington Capitals hockey, and SEC football.  I am also working to launch a small business helping individuals take control of their health through the use of non-toxic essential oils.

What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?

I wanted to have a career that helped people.  Now, as President of Friends of Loudoun Mental Health, I get to do it as a volunteer and that truly makes my heart grow.

If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?

I would sit in a peaceful park, watching people, drinking coffee and reading personal development books.

What is one book that you would recommend everyone read?

My favorite book right now is Dare to Lead by Brene Brown.  I am learning to challenge current systems and take brave new steps in my management journey, breaking norms and facing the reality we have been given with courage.


Congratulations again to Katrina and the team at Friends of Loudoun Mental Health! Check out their website here.