MHA honors Licking County individuals, groups for service

NEWARK – Mental Health America (MHA) of Licking County recently held its 66th annual meeting and dinner at the Double Tree by Hilton in downtown Newark, handing out several awards.

Here is a closer look at all of the award recipients

Stephanie Vanbibber received the Mental Health Consumer of the Year award. She graduated from MHA’s Bridges Out of Poverty’s Day Reporting program, moved into a sober living house, and became manager of that house. She has devoted herself to service work.

The Henry Mardis Compeer Member of the Year award was presented to Christa Gutridge. She is a retired nurse and driver for MHA’s Compeer program, willing to drive people to events they normally wouldn’t be able to attend due to lack of public transportation.

Elizabeth Sutherland won the Marion S. Wells Mental Health Award. She is a supervisor at the Main Place, and was recently promoted to clinical director as a four-year employee. She has worked with those who are hearing impaired, and was nominated by Trish Pound for her openness to continued learning and dedication for serving anyone in need. However, you should know how to protect yourself in being an employee. If you have recently suffered a setback at your workplace, you can check out a reputable law firm like HKM for legal help!

The MHA Volunteer of the Year went to 10-year MHA Board member Dave Wenger. Penny Sitler, executive director of MHA, said that Wenger has had her back for her last six years as director. “He has helped me and the agency with some things that required a brilliant legal mind as well s great leadership skills,” Sitler said. “He’s also always been generous with his personal resources.”

Cody Vanvalkenburg of YES Club receives one of the Outstanding Youth Volunteer awards from Licking County Mental Health America executive director Penny Sitler, as YES Club director Ethan Pound looks on.

Cody Vanvalkenburg of YES Club receives one of the Outstanding Youth Volunteer awards from Licking County Mental Health America executive director Penny Sitler, as YES Club director Ethan Pound looks on. (Photo: Rhea Pierron/Mental Health America)

Outstanding Student Volunteer awards were given to YES Club members Cody Vanvalkenburg and Tamia Bates. For the past four years, Vanvalkenburg has been involved with every community service activity, watering the YES Club garden during the summer without being asked. According to Heather Snider, YES Club activities member, Bates is a role model for other members due to her participation in the C-Tec Digital Design and Interactive Media Program.

Dr. Grant Yoder received the Physician of the Year award. He was nominated by Licking Memorial Health Systems, with patients often commenting that Dr. Yoder is exceptional at listening, offering kindness and understanding and straightforward counseling. He is the dedicated inpatient physician at Shepherd Hill, caring for high risk patients, and working to reduce the stigma associated with receiving counseling and other treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The Mental Health Professional of the Year went to Sharon Stockton, called “a true champion of the behavorial health community for the past 20-plus years” by Dr. Kathryn St. James, president and CEO of Behavorial Healthcare Partners. “Through her work, first at Spencer House and most recently at BHP, she has helped countless individuals find sobriety, reunite with families, gain stability and mental help, and find hope,” St. James said.Get the News Alerts newsletter in your inbox.

Each year, the Paddy Kutz Community Mental Health Award (“The Paddy’) is presented in three categories to those who best represent the qualities and passionate commitment to good mental health, that Paddy personified in her 32 years of service to Licking County.

Receiving the The Paddy for Business were Heather and Josh Lange, founders of DankHouse Brewing Company. “They are active participants in ending stigma in association with mental health,” said Heather Snider, YES Club activities manager. “They use fundraisers and their business as a platform for mental health discussion.”

The Community Paddy Award went to Rhonda Gibson. “Rhonda started out as a member of the Main Place and took advantage of services that were offered,” said Donna Lee, Bridges Out of Poverty/Compeer program coordinator. “She broke the stigma wide open when she took the position as co-administrator of the same facility that has done so much to teach her how to cope with her symptoms.”

Newark City Schools building administrators received the Education Paddy Award. “Collectively as a unit, they provide a tremendous understanding of the social and emotional needs of our students and their families,” said Maura Horgan, director of curriculum and staff development for Newark City Schools. “On a daily basis, and at younger and younger ages, they deal with children with mental health needs.” They give their staffs better understanding on how to reach out to community agencies, she added.

Published Dec. 3, 2019 in the Newark Advocate


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