Agency marks four decades in community

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Pictured (L-R) are Michael Lloyd, executive director; Ron Graham, board member; Roger Miller, CMHA Ontario; and Roger Villeneuve, recipient of the Earl Eaton Award.

CORNWALL, Ontario - The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Champlain East marked 40 years in the community at its annual general meeting on Monday evening.

As well as matters of business on the agenda, executive director, Michael Lloyd, gave a brief history of the agency from its humble beginnings on Second Street, with limited staff of a 12, to its present location, on Pitt Street with a staff of over 50.

Service awards were presented.

The annual Earl Eaton distinction award, given to an individual for outstanding dedication in the field of mental health, was presented to Roger Villeneuve. A board member since 2007, Villeneuve was praised as a “truly inspired leader.”

As well, the Mental Health Service Award (group or individual) was presented to ten testimonial speakers from the TAMI program (Talking About Mental Illness), in recognition of the commitment and significant contributions made to the mental health movement in the community.

“These speakers, week after week, volunteer their time to talk to students and share their personal struggle with mental illness, said Angele D’Alessio, mental health promoter CMHA Champlain East. “They talk about how they overcame their struggles and what resources they reached out to,” she said. “This helps the students know that it’s ok to talk about this and that there is no shame, that people do recover.”

D’Alessio explained that this program has been part of a larger project that evaluated its impact over three years, by the mental health commission. Results showed that there was a significant decrease in the stigma as a result of the presentations and hearing the testimonials.

In the last year, over 12,000 students (in the five counties) have attended the presentations.

TAMI has been so successful, said D’Alessio, that the commission has acknowledged it as being one of the top three that is delivered to students.

The award recipients included: Raymond St-Germaine, Louise Myre, Tony Hall, Deborah Robitaille, Michael Amell, Thomas Hickey, Pierre Quenneville, Augusta Wadell, Karen Roach and Emily McBain.

“I am very nervous,” said testimonial speaker said Raymond St-Germain, about speaking to the students, “but when it’s all over and the kids come up to me after the presentation and shake my hand and ask me questions. Some of the questions are so thoughtful. It’s so nice to have that happen.”

Staff recognition awards were also handed out, including the 25 year service award to Kim Heath.

At the conclusion of the meeting a tour was given of the newly renovated facility followed by a small reception in the Starbright Centre.

For further information regarding CMHA Champlain East and its programs visit www.cmha-east.on.ca.

Organizations: Canadian Mental Health Association, Mental Health Service, Starbright Centre

Geographic location: Champlain East, Second Street, Pitt Street

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