Melody Madaris

I am the executive director of Communicare, the local community mental health center serving Calhoun, Lafayette, Marshall, Panola, Tate and Yalobusha counties. We provide mental health and primary health care services to individuals with or without insurance in our county offices. In addition, we have multiple inpatient programs to help individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. My role, beyond the title, is to make sure my staff have what they need to ensure our clients are taken care of. 

I grew up in a home riddled with mental health and substance use disorders. Although it was my normal, it never felt like life should be that chaotic and challenging all the time. As I grew up, I struggled finding something that I enjoyed doing. I decided to go into counseling to see if I could possibly help people change their life trajectories, because people with mental health disorders can and are successful members of society. They just sometimes need a little help. Through that, I started learning more about the business side of mental health and substance use disorder treatment and realized I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspects even more than I enjoyed practicing therapy. 

Never believe that any job within an agency is beneath you nor your responsibility. All jobs are ultimately your responsibility as a trusted member of the team. I have cooked for 48 clients when it snowed, cleaned parking lots, plunged toilets, completed intake assessments, provided therapy, responded to crisis calls and everything else in the middle. If I am not willing to do it, I would never ask a coworker to do it. 

Completing my PhD. I started my PhD process during COVID-19, hoping that I would show my children that you can be successful when going to school online. I also wanted them to possibly mirror some of my behaviors to ensure they kept their own school work up. It didn’t work… But once I started, I couldn’t give up. So, I kept going and finally finished a little over a year ago. 

This one is hard… I feel like a part of my job is to know intimately about all the other nonprofits in the area. 

Hometown: Birmingham, AL 
I can’t start my day until: I have had my coffee and fed my spoiled dog cottage cheese because he has to take a pill twice a day and will only eat it in cottage cheese. So, he eats while I drink my coffee staring at him. He is totally worth the frustration…  I can provide a picture of him too! HAHA! 
Hobbies: I don’t know what hobbies are… HA! I feel like my job is also considered a hobby. I do love the theater, art and music. I am a season ticket holder to the Orpheum’s Broadway Series, and you can find me at any of the symphony concerts in town, especially since my kid plays in it! 
Binge-watch: It depends on my mood… But it would have to be “The Big Bang Theory,” terrible dating-based reality TV such as “Love in Blind,” “Love After Lockup” or “90 Day Fiance,” and “Harry Potter” (all of them). 
Last Good Read: Most of my reading is connected to my work, so I haven’t read anything that would interest anyone that isn’t in the field.  I have a lot of books that are on my “I want to read one day” list! 
Favorite Meal in Town: The Grillhouse – filet with a baked potato and fried green tomatoes. Pretty much anything at The Grillhouse makes me happy!