A record $1.43 Million raised at the 2016 Courage To Come Back Awards

New records were achieved at the 18th annual Courage To Come Back Awards on May 5th with over 1,500 attendees at the Vancouver Convention Centre and over $1.43 million raised to support Coast Mental Health.

_BE_1438_web - CopyEach year, Coast Mental Health hosts this coveted awards gala, an inspirational evening to recognize six truly remarkable British Columbians – their courage to overcome serious adversity, change their lives for the better, and move forward to help others do the same.

Funds raised will go directly to Coast Mental Health to support those dealing with mental illness. The event was chaired by Lorne Segal, O.B.C. and attended by The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. A key highlight during the evening was Minister of Health Terry Lake donating $100,000 from the Province on behalf of Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Finance, Mike de Jong.

During the evening, the following recipients were presented with spectacular glass sculptures designed by Susan Point:

  • Tom Teranishi, Vancouver, BC – Medical Category
  • Meredith Graham, New Westminster, BC – Social Adversity Category
  • Jemal Damtawe, Coquitlam, BC – Addiction Category
  • Christy Campbell, North Vancouver, BC – Physical Rehabilitation Category
  • Dr. Barbara Harris, Vancouver BC – Mental Health Category
  • Coltyn Liu, Vancouver, BC – Youth Category

In the words of Courage Recipient Meredith Graham – “People can and do change in remarkable ways. There is extraordinary potential in genuine kindness. Every act of kindness, no matter how small, has the power to heal.”

The Courage To Come Back Awards
The Courage To Come Back Awards are presented annually by Coast Mental Health Foundation to celebrate British Columbians who have overcome illness or adversity and have ‘come back to give back’ to their communities, and to inspire others to do the same.

Coast Mental Health
For over 40 years, Coast Mental Health has helped bridge the gap between diagnosis and recovery for individuals with significant mental health challenges. Through the generous contributions of donors and partners, Coast Mental Health offers innovative programs that address the three essential pillars of sustained recovery: Housing, Employment and Support Services. Through engaging clients in their own recovery and focusing on long-term success, Coast Mental Health envisions a future where possibilities become reality. To find out more about what Coast Mental Health does, go to www.coastmentalhealth.com

Coltyn Liu, 16, of Vancouver, is the 2016 Courage to Come Back Award recipient in the Youth category.

COLTYN LIU NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

Coltyn Liu
Photo credit: Mark van Manen/PNG

Look at him now and you’d never believe his story: hit by a steel vendor’s cart in a shopping mall food court as a toddler, slammed aside like a rag doll, suffering traumatic brain injury which left him having to learn to talk, to walk, to comprehend; left him hyper-sensitive to sound and the world around him, susceptible to screaming fits, seizures and ongoing secondary injuries and challenges.

Look at him now and you see an ‘A’ student, six-feet-four, a volleyball star, a leader and winner with the awards to prove it. You see a mentor to other kids, a volunteer coach and ref. You couldn’t imagine him slithering on his stomach, lashing out in pain, a crying violent boy, bullied mercilessly, not able to handle being touched or understand what was happening or being said around him, moved to home schooling. You’d never believe the daily heartache and struggles he still goes through to be in school, the effort it takes to do everyday activities and the things he loves or the anguish he lives with as he fights through a day and the continuing regressions and pain.

Look at him now and it’s easy to forget the years of poverty, the food bank line-ups, the scrounging to survive, the doctors, lawyers and therapists as his mother and sister fought the system to get him the help he needed. You’d never know the battles they still face and the hardships they continue to endure.

Look at him now and you will see his “me-do” attitude, his will to live and overcome perceptions and beat the odds, you see his love of sport, first as therapy, then as a passion. As one of his teachers puts it, Coltyn “is one of those elite-level athletes who has the innate ability to raise the level of all the people around him”.

Look at him now and you’ll find him helping others, founding, with his sister and mother, K.A.R.E (Kids Actions Really Energize) Power, an organization which identifies community challenges and comes up with solutions from a youth perspective.

Coltyn will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Sonia Deol interviews Coltyn Liu – click to view on Global News website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Coltyn Liu – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Coltyn Liu – click to listen on News1130 website>

 

Christy Campbell of North Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Physical Rehabilitation category.

CHRISTY CAMPBELL NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

christy-campbell
Photo credit: Mark van Manen /PNG

Christy Campbell, 41, of North Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Physical Rehabilitation category.

Christy had it all: active healthy life; loving partner, rewarding career, happy home, and great friends. Then, in December, 2005, at the age of 31, she was devastated by a stroke. Unable to walk or talk or read, Christy’s vocabulary was wiped out. She could not ask for help, type an email or say her own name. She lost every word but one and learned a new word “aphasia.” Aphasia is a communication disorder best described as being dropped into an alien land where you can’t speak the language and don’t understand a single letter of the alphabet.

Give up? Not a chance. The one word she had was “yes.” Christy was alive and with the support of her husband and many friends and family took her life in an unexpected direction. At the time of her stroke, beyond short-term therapy BC’s medical system had very limited resources for people Christy age with her conditions, this despite the fact that new aphasia cases arise in Canada at about the same rate as cases of breast cancer.

Courageously, Christy decided that she would improve the resources available to brain injury survivors in BC. Six months after her stroke she could say 12 words. Intellect intact, she spent countless hours learning to dress and write with her left hand, learning to walk, learning to drive and learning to read again. She’d lost her career but not her will to contribute; she wants people with aphasia to have the treatment, resources and support they need.

In the years since her stroke, her vocabulary and confidence grew and she continues to overcome the isolation aphasia imposes. Christy inspired and co-founded the annual Sea-to-Sky Aphasia Camp, now entering its seventh year. She established UBC’s Campbell-Purves Aphasia Education Fund and offers her time and energy as a volunteer to Providence Health Care, Columbia Speech and Language Services, the Stroke Recovery Association of BC and other organizations far and wide. She’s now a mother of an active four-year old who loves listening to her read bedtime stories.
Christy will receive her award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Sonia Deol interviews Christy Campbell – watch live on Global News Hour at 6pm May 2nd

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Christy Campbell – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Christy Campbell – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Jemal Damtawe of Coquitlam, is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Addiction category.

JEMAL DAMTAWE NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

Jemal-Damtawe-sm
Photo credit: Jason Payne/PNG

At age 15 in war-torn Ethiopia, he became a child soldier – at the point of a gun. His first escape, stowed away on a cargo ship, left him swimming for his life with other boys, two of whom drowned. In 1986, still a teenager, he tried again, reaching Canada in 1989, getting asylum, starting a restaurant in Montreal, getting married, having a daughter.

But he couldn’t shake his trauma, undiagnosed PTSD. He self-medicated with drugs and alcohol, left his family, moved to Portland, OR, joined a gang and became a drug dealer.

The threat of death led him back to Canada – Vancouver – in 2005. The overdose death of a friend led him to Union Gospel Mission. Sheer will, recovery programs and the caring support of others led him to quit drugs and get sober. He confronted his childhood trauma and vowed to help others kick the habit as he had. He became Reverend Jemal in June 2011.

On Christmas Day, 2015 Jemal Damtawe celebrated 10 years of sobriety. He began working as a volunteer swamper at the UGM Thrift Store and is now a full-time Outreach Worker and Preacher at UGM. He rescues those struggling with addiction and homelessness in the Downtown East Side. He is mentor to dozens of men who have walked on the road away from addiction and back toward self-respect.

Jemal has married again, has a three year-old son, and has joyfully reconnected with his 23-year old daughter.

Jemal will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca 


Global News Hour

Sonia Deol in-depth interview with Jemal Damtawe – click to view on Global News BC website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Jemal Damtawe – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Jemal Damtawe – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Courage Partnership – welcome to our newest sponsor

I wanted to do my part and make a small difference

by Duncan Robinson

Wimbleton LogoCourage as the name implies is taking your life, and having the dream or the Courage to imagine getting through something so difficult, and radically making an impact on your life. By making a radical impact in your life, the irony is your impacting many others around you.

I saw this demonstrated last year at the Courage Awards, from those at our table to those who attended the event, how each speech impacted me, and those close to me, realizing how fortunate we are, in our day to day lives. I wanted to do my part and make a small difference, knowing that small adds up to significance if we all participate at some level. I welcomed the opportunity to become a gold sponsor of this event.

Duncan Robinson
Wimbleton Financial Services, (impacting others through Strategic Planning)….


We are pleased to welcome Wimbleton Financial as a new Gold Presenting partner of The Courage To Come Back Awards in 2016. Duncan Robinson will be presenting one of the six awards on May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West.

Meredith Graham of New Westminster is The Courage To Come Back Award Recipient in the Social Adversity category

MEREDITH GRAHAM NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

by Gerald Haslam

Photo credit: Richard Lam/PNG

Meredith Graham, 27, of New Westminster, is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Social Adversity category.

Meredith’s childhood was influenced by her parents’ experiences of poverty, food scarcity, violence, periods of mental illness, and substance use. Meredith – from age eight on – was forced into the role of parent.

She was diagnosed with depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at 13, bi-polar disorder at 18 and borderline personality disorder at 26. She ran away from home as a teen, couch-surfing with friends. In high school she used coping strategies that further put her health at risk, such as disordered eating.

At the point where she could have given up, or worse, Meredith was embraced by people who cared: teachers and vice-principals at Princess Margaret Secondary School in Surrey. At 15, she now had a safe place to live with no more three-hour daily bus rides. She had medications, individual and group counselling, with support from psychologists, social workers, and, later, group home workers, women from her church, and landlords.

Overcoming setbacks, she graduated from high school (and sang the national anthem at the convocation), completed the Performing Arts program at Capilano University, graduated with a diploma in Child and Youth Care Counselling from Douglas College and is now a student in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program.

She is a youth and family development worker at St. Leonard’s Youth and Family Services in Burnaby, and has also made significant volunteer contributions in the community. She initiated Peer Health Educators at Douglas College to teach students about improving mental health and was active in the Douglas College Miles for Mental Health Run/Walk, has contributed training materials for the education of social workers and serves on two volunteer boards for the Vancouver Foundation. She’s open about her history, giving interviews, speeches, and sharing her poetry to focus attention on the issues illustrated by her own life and the need for resources to help others.

Meredith Graham will receive her award at The  Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Randene Neill interviews Meredith Graham – click to view on Global News website>

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Meredith Graham – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Meredith Graham – click to view on News1130 website>

 

Tom Teranishi of Vancouver is the 2016 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the Medical category

TOM TERANISHI NAMED COURAGE TO COME BACK AWARD RECIPIENT

by Gerald Haslam

Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG
Photo credit: Nick Procaylo/PNG

Tom was born in 1942 at a wartime internment camp for Japanese-Canadians. He had significant vision issues from birth, which later developed into retinopathy and macular degeneration, undergoing bilateral cataract and corneal transplant surgeries. Today he has about five per cent functional vision with light sensitivity.

There were early signs in his mid-teens and he began suffering from poor renal function by 1978 and was put under the care of a kidney specialist. In 1983 he was put on hemo-dialysis and in 1984 he was fortunate enough to receive a kidney transplant, which served him well for 30 years. Three years ago his kidney functions were decreasing so he was back on hemo-dialysis by 2014 followed by a second transplant in 2015.

None of this stopped Tom from getting an education and pursuing a career. He received B.A. and Masters of Social Work degrees from UBC and began full-time work at Shaughnessy Hospital in 1968, helping war veterans and others needing rehabilitation and support. When the hospital closed in 1993, Tom transferred to VGH, where he worked in the physical rehab unit and continued teaching and supervising social work students and future doctors.

His deteriorating eyesight and other health issues forced Tom to retire from hospital work in 2004 and from his activity as a private practitioner in 2013, but none of that has prevented him from aiding a rich diversity of community organizations as a volunteer. It’s a long list starting with Kits Neighbourhood House in his university days, then later goes on to include the Kinsmen Society, Lions Society, Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society, Metro Vancouver Cross-Cultural Seniors Network, and the Association for the Equality of Blind Canadians.

He has travelled widely, been a curler, bowler, hiker and cross-country skier. As his friends say of Tom, admiringly, there’s not much he won’t try.

Tom will receive his award at The Courage To Come Back Awards gala dinner on Thursday, May 5, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Tickets and information at couragetocomeback.ca


Global News

Randene Neill interviews Tom Teranishi – watch live on Global News Hour at 6pm May 4th.

The Province newspaper

Susan Lazaruk editorial about Tom Teranishi – click to read on The Province website>

News1130

John Ackerman interviews Tom Teranishi – click to view on News1130 website>

 

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.

 

I’m grateful just to be alive . . . Courage Recipient

by Mark Ash, 2010 Courage To Come Back Award Recipient

mark ash courage recipient

Courage Recipient Mark Ash

I’m very happy to be here and to share my story with you.   Actually, I’m happy to be anywhere and able to do things that “normal people” do.

I’m happy that I can use my hands again and for being able to speak.

I’m grateful just to be alive, for this is my second life.

The old Mark, well he didn’t make it. In December of 2001, I suffered a brain injury due to a car accident. When I woke up in the hospital I was paralyzed.

Every brain injury is different, and in my case, my mind and my memory were unaffected. But most of my muscles weren’t receiving proper signals, especially my fine motor skills. I couldn’t speak, could barely walk or use my hands and had trouble swallowing. Everyone thought it was all over for me. At the time I would have preferred death. You know, when you really start thinking about death, that’s when you learn to appreciate life.

In the two years that followed I struggled with insomnia and severe depression. I saw many doctors and often I was over-medicated. When I did go out, it was with a special group. One of the worst things I encountered was that people automatically assumed that because I couldn’t speak, I was mentally challenged. It was frustrating and demoralizing. Many times I felt like giving up, I didn’t want to continue this miserable existence.

I kept waiting for my body to fix itself. You know like when you have a cold or a broken bone, eventually your body will heal itself. But it doesn’t work like that with a brain injury. I was told by my doctors that most of the healing occurs within the first year of an injury — after that the brain gives up.

I had to accept the reality that no doctors or therapists could fix me. If I were to get better, I had to take my recovery into my own hands. So I began to learn how the human body works, and what I need to do to help it heal. I designed a program for myself. My whole life became a “boot camp.”

I had to motivate myself every day and although I was very working very hard, for a long time there was very little improvement. Many times I became discouraged, but instead of giving my self reasons why I couldn’t, I gave myself reasons why I could, and slowly I began to see results. On my journey I learned not to wait for something big to occur. Start at where you are, with what you have, and that will always lead you into something greater.

I was nominated for a Courage To Come Back Award by my good friend Carmen from Pathways Clubhouse. I was thrilled to be nominated. I didn’t think I’d win.

When Mr. Lorne Segal contacted me to let me know that I was chosen in Physical Rehabilitation category, I was deeply touched. For the next month I did interviews with NEWS1130, the Province newspaper and on Global BC, this was very exiting! I particularly enjoyed my interview with Deborra Hope.

The Award Gala was an absolutely wonderful and uplifting experience. It was an honour to share the stage with all the other recipients. Since then, CBC television did a segment on me and the CMHA Pathways Clubhouse on “Building Pathways for Hope.”

Today I volunteer at the Vancouver Adaptive Music Society studio at GF Strong, where I have many new clients. At the Headway Center for Brain injury and Pathways Clubhouse (where I’m a member), I facilitate “Wellness Through Music” programs. I’m can’t call myself a music therapist because I don’t have a license, so I became a musicologist. I also volunteer with a stroke support group at Douglas Park Community Center, where I have the pleasure of sharing my experiences and knowledge with others, and I volunteer at the Richmond Food Bank.

You know, at first I had to do a lot of cardio at the gym, I needed to force-feed my brain with oxygen, but now I find that “There is no exercise better for the heart then reaching down and lifting people up.”

I want others to look at me and say, “If he could do it, I can do it.” I want my life to be a message.

It’s been said that, “Time heals all wounds.” Obviously the guy that said that didn’t have my wounds. Nevertheless, today I stand before you a new and improved man. I have a new meaningful life filled with happiness. I get to help others and I’m surrounded by people who show me lots of love.

I am eternally grateful to the Coast Foundation through whom I found the inspiration and motivation to come back further than I ever dreamed I could and I’m not done yet.

If your dream happens to fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick up one of those pieces and begin again.

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

Visit Mark’s website >

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