Deb Hinkel was staring out at the crowd of people lined up in the parking lot where Devine Eats had parked its food truck. Regardless the chill of the day — and it was biting at times — people kept showing up.

For Hinkel, the turnout demonstrated people still cared nearly two-and-a-half years after her son, Robbie Ramirez, was shot and killed by an Albany County Sheriff’s deputy in November 2018.

“We had people here 25 after 11,” said Hinkel, a good 35 minutes before the noon start of the “Ramen for Robbie” fundraiser.

As she observed, Jason Baker, and his 11-year-old son, Charlie, approached and asked to speak with her.

“I wanted to say thank you for what you do,” Baker said. With that, he and Hinkel hugged.

As the crowd kept building, one of the food truck volunteers, Jaxon Porterfield, dismounted, yellow writing tablet and pen in hand. He went from person to person, taking down their names and explaining how the process would be working.

“Take this order form, fill it out and then we will call your name and bring the food out to you,” Porterfield said.

The killing of Ramirez was still fresh to several who patiently waited in line, and for some of them, they had traveled at least an hour.

“We all used to skateboard when we were young,” Jacob Ward said. He and several compatriots had traveled from Wheatland for the fundraiser. “I think being out here is making a statement about police brutality.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go towards training, according to Hinkel.

“The biggest think we’re trying to do is for training,” she said. That training costs nearly $2,000 per person, and is through the Clubhouse International organization. It’s a hands-on approach toward building community, she explained. “You’re trying to create a space. It’s creating community.”

Hinkel provided an example of Clubhouse International’s effectiveness.

“There was a person in Casper, who had a mental issue,” Hinkel said. A couple of years back authorities were contacted 11 times in 11 months. Then he became involved with Clubhouse International. “Last year there were no incidents.”

ABOUT CLUBHOUSE INTERNATIONAL

Clubhouse International is a free, community-based membership organization aimed at helping people living with mental illness around the world regain a respected place in society.

According to its website, clubhouse-intl.org, it help start and grow Clubhouses globally where people with mental illness can go to get their lives back.

It’s a growing issue. Accordingly, there simply are not enough resources today for everyone with a mental illness who needs help. It’s a crisis situation and the numbers are growing.

Clubhouses powerfully demonstrate that people with mental illness can and do lead productive, happy lives.

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