Nominate someone – reading how my friends feel about me was mind blowing

Wendy St. Marie, 2015 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient – Speech, Courage Launch, January 6, 2016

Arlen Redekop / PNG photo
Arlen Redekop / PNG photo

I want to tell you how being nominated and going through the process has affected me and to ENCOURAGE others to nominate.

I had the very great honour of being the recipient of last year’s Courage To Come Back Award in the medical category.

When my friend told me that she would like to nominate me for this award I said sure. I didn’t think that there was a chance in the world that I would be a recipient of any award.

Having said that, I appreciated the intent.  She asked permission to contact other friends, one of which was my oldest friend. We have known each other since we were four year old. In other words my history was validated.

I was so positive I wasn’t going to even be considered that I purposely did not look at the website or any information on the Awards or Coast Mental Health.

This is why I am here today. I want to tell you how being nominated and going through the process has affected me and to ENCOURAGE others to nominate.

All nominees must sign the nomination form In order for it to be submitted. Upon reading it I was immediately overwhelmed by what my friends wrote about me. Regardless if I had never heard again from Coast Mental Health, to have in writing how my friends feel about me was mind blowing and that was MORE than enough. I will hold all of those words close to me forever.

I didn’t think about the awards again until I received a call from Lorne Segal.  After his introduction , Lorne spoke of the history and the value of these awards  and the selection criteria. I continued to listen thinking this man does a great “Decline”. I had been in the position of delivering bad news to staff before. Then he finally Congratulated me for being the recipient in the Medical category!

From there it was a whirlwind of Press and Media, and meeting the other nominees.

This experience ranks as my most exciting and memorable.  I look at my beautiful award on my mantle every day.  I have gained more confidence in my abilities and I recently completed my training to be an Ambassador for the M S Society of B.C.

I am passionate about these Courage Awards.

Please take the time to nominate someone. It is a short time out of your life to take the time to nominate.   There are so many worthy people in Vancouver.  You can change someone’s life!

 

Without Ted’s letter, no award for Jerome Bouvier.

by Gerald Haslam – founding member of Coast Mental Health Foundation, author, past member of The Courage To Come Back Executive Committee

Jerome BouvierJerome Bouvier received the 2011 Courage To Come Back award in the Addiction category because his friend Ted Kuntz wrote a letter.

No, that’s not the whole story, not by a long shot, but it’s a crucial part. Nobody achieves a pinnacle like this just because someone else sits down at a computer, but part of it is pretty simple: no nomination, no award.

Kuntz is a Coquitlam psychotherapist in private practice who met Jerome about 15 years ago. The two of them worked together on finding innovative resources for troubled youth. Years later, Ted made the connection between Jerome and the Courage awards. Bouvier is Executive Director of PoCoMo Youth Services Society, which offers street-level services and a mobile drop-in centre to young people in the Tri-Cities of Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody.

Ted Kuntz first learned about the Courage awards through stories in The Province. “I’d been captivated by the stories of recipients over the years,” he says. “I thought about it and wanted to put his name forward. It wasn’t about winning; this was a story that deserved to be told. I figured that a committee of people would read it, and once they knew what he’d accomplished, they’d want to honour him.” Without Ted’s letter, no award.

And they did, but not the first time, in 2006, or the second. The 2011 nomination of Jerome was his third.

“There are just so many great stories,” says Patricia Wiggins of Coast Mental Health Foundation, presenter of the Courage awards since their inception in 1999. She reads every single nomination and arranges the six ‘category panels’ of a dozen or so volunteers, including experts in the various fields, to make the short list of two to five nominees in each category. Then a group of 16-20 distinguished citizens, also all volunteers, makes the final selections. “The choices can be incredibly difficult because there are so many deserving people. A number of our recipients have been nominated more than once.”

Ted Kuntz says the nomination process is “exceedingly easy. For me, writing about Jerome felt like a celebration. People like him teach us how to move through adversity.”

Whether or not the nominee ends up receiving the award on stage at the gala dinner, Ted continues, being nominated gives people who have faced severe challenges an important boost. “I think they feel validated,” he says; “it lifts them higher and they want to contribute more.”

“We hear that all the time,” Patricia Wiggins says. “The nominating process brings people together, increasing their understanding of disabilities, and gives respect to those who have endured so much.”

So what makes a perfect nomination? There are tips on the Coast website, where the nomination form can also be downloaded couragetocomeback.ca “In general,” Wiggins says, “ just tell the story: Don’t overload the selection panels with too much information. Letters of support from others who know the nominee are very helpful.” (Ted Kuntz’s 2011 letter was four typewritten pages plus several testimonials from friends and colleagues’ of Jerome). “All the nominees have made a courageous comeback, but remember that giving back to the community—motivating and helping others—is very important. The panels are looking to be moved and inspired.”

Clearly, Jerome Bouvier moved and inspired them; his journey from drug addict to community leader has brought a tear to many eyes. But for Ted Kuntz and that letter, though, you might never have known.

To nominate someone who inspires you, visit couragetocomeback.ca.

 

BC Courage To Come Back nominations

BC-Wide Courage To Come Back Nominations

Lorne Segal Chair Courage To Come Back Awards

The Power of The Human Spirit

You can hear the passion in Lorne Segal’s voice when he talks about The Courage To Come Back Awards.

Segal, President of Kingswood Properties Ltd., is the Chair of the BC-wide campaign of recognition, and its number-one cheerleader.

“The Courage Awards are such a great initiative, who could remain unmoved?” he says. “Think about it: in this age of bad news and sad stories, we get to learn about and honour heroes.”

“I call nominees the ‘heroes among us’,” Segal smiles. “They don’t realize the impact they have. That’s why we are putting the call out for people to come forward and nominate someone they know. Nominating someone is a way of saying ‘you make a difference’.”

Segal knows about making a difference: he is a recipient of The Order of British Columbia and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, both recognizing his philanthropic work.

The Courage To Come Back Awards, presented by Coast Mental Health Foundation, recognize citizens in a number of categories: people who have overcome addiction to drugs or alcohol; others who have beat tremendous medical odds or undergone extensive physical rehabilitation; and people who have recovered from mental illness, or from dire social or economic adversity. There is also a special Youth category for people 22 years and under.

The common denominator in all categories is that the person nominated has overcome significant illness or adversity and reaches out to help others. They have “come back to give back.”

“The people who are nominated for these awards are simply amazing,” says Segal. “Every year I am astonished at the power of the human spirit. These are ordinary people but they have done extraordinary things, and because of that they encourage others.”

“Nominees don’t see themselves that way, usually. They are humble. They always say they were just doing what they had to do, but in the process of overcoming their own challenges plus helping others, they inspire their friends, family members and co-workers.”

The award recipients are chosen by a large group of experts and laypeople who volunteer their time to review the stories and select the final six.

Recipients will be honoured at a gala on May 5th at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.

To nominate someone who inspires you, visit couragetocomeback.ca.