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

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>