On an immediate level, last night’s inspirational gala would not have been possible without the vital connections we have with our generous sponsors, our over 200 dedicated volunteers, and the almost 2,000 people who joined us in a stirring show of support for people in need. For our recipients, the impact of meaningful connections carried even deeper meaning. As they shared their courageous stories of overcoming adversity, each recipient articulated this same message – that connections are crucial for anyone overcoming adversity – in their own way.
For Youth recipient Alisa Gil Silvestre, the connections are close to her heart: “I am so lucky to be able to come before you today, and be proud of who I have become because of what I have had to overcome. I could not have been able to do this without the support of my family and friends.”
Suzanne Venuta, recipient in the Mental Health category, highlighted the importance of her mental health team to her recovery journey, and went on to explain: “if there’s only one thing you remember from my speech tonight, may it be this: that connections save lives. It did mine. Connections are what hold hope together – and hope allows us to dream. Connections do not cost a lot of money. They can be big, small, or what I call micro-connections, those tiny, seemingly irrelevant moments that take seconds but leave a huge impact.”
Josh Dahling, recipient in the Addictions category, recognized the fundamental importance of people coming together to provide support while explaining his ability to work with people at the hardest times of their lives: “it takes a community for us to be able to do it. It takes a community of people giving.”
As a provider of community-based mental health services, Coast Mental Health (the beneficiary of last night’s overwhelming show of philanthropy) recognizes that our greatest asset is our people as we help our clients imagine life beyond mental illness. We are experts in making often life-saving connections between people in need and the people trained to help, and between hospital services and our communities. Our proven housing, support, and employment programs and services make lasting recovery from mental illness possible. Further, we explore new paths to recovery through innovative research and programs, inspired by our dedicated team of professionals, our visionary volunteers and donors, and our courageous clients. People, truly, make all the difference.
Physical Rehabilitation recipient Jim Ryan best describes the kind of hope Coast aims to inspire through our skilled mental health teams and programs: “we cannot forget or perhaps understand or even try to forgive what has happened in the past but I hope, like me, that we can move forward and try to find the courage to come back.”
At the end of the night, Ingrid Bates, recipient in the Medical category, brought the spirit of the evening into focus: “I truly believe we can influence each other to be and do better.”
Last night, with 34 past recipients joining this year’s five, the room was buzzing with motivation to carry this hopeful message beyond the event: to the dinner table; to the boardroom; and into public spaces.
Today, on behalf of Event Chair Lorne Segal, O.B.C., D.Litt. (Hon.), LLD. (Hon.), President of Kingswood Properties Ltd., and everyone at Coast Mental Health, we share our profound gratitude for our guests and supporters, our dedicated volunteers, and the courageous recipients who inspired this night – and this movement – 20 years in the making.
Tomorrow, we will continue working to rise to the challenge posed by recipient Suzanne Venuta: “…at times [I] struggle living with a mental illness. But I am making change happen, one conversation, one connection at a time. And so can you.”
The Courage To Come Back Awards recognize five remarkable people whose stories inspire acts of courage and compassion, and ensure that Coast Mental Health can continue to provide compassionate, meaningful support for anyone with the courage to come back from mental illness. To read the inspirational stories of this year’s five courageous recipients, visit couragetocomeback.ca/2018-recipients.
Coast Mental Health is the largest provider of community-based services for people living with mental illness in British Columbia. We are an established leader in our field, known for high quality, innovative programs and research. As a critical link between hospital services and our communities, Coast Mental Health provides housing, support, and employment programs and services for individuals affected by mental illness making lasting recovery possible. Each year, we provide essential services to over 4,000 clients living with mental illness so they can find their meaningful place in our communities – a place to live, a place to connect, and a place to work. Coast Mental Health Foundation raises funds exclusively for Coast Mental Health. To find out more about the life-changing programs and services offered by Coast Mental Health, visit www.coastmentalhealth.com.