For immediate release

LAWRENCE — Executive Director Carina Pappalardo is pleased to announce that a Daybreak Shelter volunteer is raising money for the psychological center as she hikes the Appalachian Trail.

Nicole Hamel, 29, is a career nurse who has spent the past two years working as a traveling nurse during the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling the country to work in places where nurses were needed, and then taking a extended leave to recuperate.

After working for about six months at a hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where mental health and addiction issues raged even amid the pandemic, Hamel decided to take a few months off.

“I only work about six months a year because burnout is really big in nursing right now, and there were times when I really struggled,” Hamel said. . “After my last few months on mission, especially with sick COVID patients, I really needed a lot of time to pull myself together.”

Hamel didn’t just use his break to recover, however. She decided to attempt a longtime goal of hiking the Appalachian Trail and raising money for The Psychological Center, Inc., with this hike. She specifically raises funds to help the women’s programs Women’s View and Pegasus House, run by the Psychological Center.

“I’m super lucky and privileged to be able to take time off,” Hamel said.

Hamel has helped raise money for the shelter in the past, and this time accepted donations through the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, raising $5,000 for the psychological center. She is now trying to raise an additional $3,000 through personal fundraising for the nonprofit organization.

Hamel began his trek on March 27, taking his first steps north of Spring Mountain, Georgia. Hamel and the group she hikes with have tried to hike an average of 18 to 20 miles a day, though they hope to pick up their pace after they’ve made it halfway through the roughly 2,181-mile trek. She is now in Pennsylvania and continues her trek north.

Hamel was first introduced to Daybreak Shelter and the Psychological Center, Inc. by her mother, Penny Hamel, a longtime volunteer who visits the shelter to cook dinner for residents about once a month. Penny Hamel is also a board member of the Psychological Center.

“I started helping my mom with her endeavors and started fundraising for them a few years ago, but especially in this last year working in Albuquerque amid huge drug problems, Alcohol and Mental Health has solidified for me to want to work with The Psychological Center,” said Nicole Hamel. “I went to high school in Lawrence and spent a lot of time working with the people there. There’s just a huge need out there, especially when it comes to mental health and addictions.

Nicole Hamel said she hopes her efforts will also draw attention to people struggling with substance abuse disorders and mental health issues and help reduce the stigma associated with medical conditions.

“The biggest thing people with mental health and addiction issues need is support. They need a support system and help with their basic needs to be able to help fight their addiction and be able to overcome the problems they have,” said Nicole Hamel. “I’m especially proud to support Women’s View and Pegasus House because both programs are women-focused and women aren’t always treated so well when it comes to their health. I wanted to work with an organization that specifically helps women with different mental health and addiction issues.

“In my eleven years at the Psychological Centre, this is the first time a volunteer has set a goal of this magnitude, which makes this $5,000 donation even more exceptional,” said said CEO Pappalardo. “We are using this donation to renovate our kitchens at Pegasus House and Women’s View. We are blessed with the support.

Penny Hamel said she became involved with the Psychological Center Inc. and Daybreak Shelter, after she began dropping off various donations, such as paper goods, and was drawn to the residents and efforts to help them.

“As I toured the shelter I started talking with some of the residents, I realized they were really a segment of the population that was left behind,” said Penny Hamel. “I just want to show them that there are people who care.”

To contribute to Nicole Hamel’s personal fundraising for the Psychological Center, visit:

About Psychological Center, Inc.

The Psychological Center, established in 1971, is committed to serving those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, mental health issues or homelessness by providing structured and comprehensive environments that offer hope while enabling individuals recover with respect and without stigma. Each person receives individualized treatment to make changes toward a healthy and meaningful future. For more information about the Psychological Center, please visit: