‘Hope and Heroes’ awards presented

May 16th, 2008    Author: Michael Bradley    Filed Under: News

Celebrating “hope” for three individuals affected in some way by mental illness and also honoring seven individuals as mental health “heroes” making a positive impact on the daily lives of those suffering from mental illness, the Partnership For Mental Health Inc. has bestowed its third annual Hope and Heroes awards.

Attended by 200 guests and held at the Eastgate Receptions May 13, the Celebration of Hope and Heroes is an annual event designed to draw much-needed attention to the many mental health issues in our community, and, perhaps most importantly, to help fight, and hopefully someday eliminate, the pervasive stigma that still surrounds many mental health issues.

“This is always a very special day for the Partnership,” said president Ann Hoffman-Ruffner. “The celebration honors those persons whose recovery process has inspired ‘hope’ to others on the road to recovery, and to honor and recognize our community advocates, or ‘heroes,’ who serve as exceptional role models in the mental health community.”

The “hope” awards were presented to Dean Carter, who was honored with the hope in recovery award, Sarah Gallant, with the making a difference peer support award, and Luke Beischel, who was presented with the Patty Duke advocacy award.

This year's Hope award recipients are, from left, Luke Beischel, Sarah Gallant, and Dean Carter.
The professional mental health "heroes" who received recognition this year were Marsha Skaggs, with Child Focus, Inc., Linda Chernus, with the University of Cincinnati's Central Clinic, Randy Strunk, with IKRON, Shauna Smith, with the Clermont County Adult Probation Department, Janice Bogner, of the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, and Deb Clancy and daughter Sara Gage, representing the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"All of this year's award winners are more than worthy of recognition from the community and the Partnership For Mental Health," Hoffman-Ruffner said. "The awards are one way for the Partnership to break down the stigmas still associated with mental illness and the notions of what mental health is - those are two of our primary goals."

Formed in 2006, the Clermont County Mental Health Alliance, as it was then known, has grown to include more than 20 agencies and organizations that work in the mental health profession. As the alliance has expanded and grown over the years to become a very effective regional collaborative, changing its name to the Partnership For Mental Health Inc. last year, many programs have been developed to provide education and awareness to the general public about the issues of mental health, one of which is the annual Celebration of Hope and Heroes.

The celebration, which was sponsored by Lilly, Pfizer, Abbott Neuroscience, Mercy Hospital Clermont, and the Clermont County Board of MRDD, included opening and welcome remarks by Partnership president Ann Hoffman-Ruffner, a presentation on the recent advances in the understanding and treatment of serious psychiatric disorders by the Chief Medical Officer of the Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services Dr. Tracey Skale, a musical performance by Elliott Ruther, who is the development director of Cincinnati State, and the hope and hero awards ceremony, which were presented to the recipients by Clermont Counseling Center executive director Tricia Burke, and by Liz Atwell, the area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The celebration also included an art exhibit called the creative brain, which included paintings, sculptures, and photographs by local consumers which focused on the understanding of the neuroscience of creative genius through the use of artwork.

For more information on the Partnership for Mental Health, contact Hoffman-Ruffner at (513) 732-8558 or via e-mail amhoffman-ruffner@health-partners.org.
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