The 2018 Courage to Come Back Award recipients, left to right: Suzanne Venuta (mental health), Josh Dahling (addiction), Ingrid Bates (medical), Jim Ryan (physical rehabilitation) and, in front, Alisa Gil Silvestre (youth). (photo by Norman Tam)
A record $3.1 million was raised at the 20th anniversary Courage to Come Back Awards on May 10 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The event was chaired by Lorne Segal, president of Kingswood Properties Ltd., and more than 1,800 people gathered to celebrate the extraordinary stories of triumph over adversity of the five awards recipients. Funds raised will go directly to Coast Mental Health to support those living with mental illness.
This year’s recipients were Josh Dahling (addiction), Ingrid Bates (medical), Suzanne Venuta (mental health), Jim Ryan (physical rehabilitation) and Alisa Gil Silvestre (youth). Venuta captured the essence of the evening: “If there’s only one thing you remember from my speech tonight, may it be this: that connections save lives. It did mine. Connections are what hold hope together and hope allows us to dream.” For more inspirational stories, visit couragetocomeback.ca/2018-recipients.
Each year, Coast Mental Health (coastmentalhealth.com) provides services to more than 4,000 people living with mental illness so they can find a meaningful place in their communities – a place to live, a place to connect and a place to work.
Courage to Come Back chair Lorne Segal, left, with David Richardson, president of Octaform, a longtime supporter of Coast Mental Health and a personal friend of Segal’s, says a few words about the cause and his commitment to mental health before donating $50,000. (photo by Avi Dhillon Photography)
A record $1.57 million was raised at the 19th Annual Courage to Come Back Awards on May 16 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where more than 1,500 people gathered to celebrate the extraordinary stories of triumph over adversity of the six awards recipients.
Each year, Coast Mental Health organizes this awards gala, an evening to recognize six remarkable British Columbians. Funds raised will go directly to Coast Mental Health to support those living with mental illness. The event was chaired by Lorne Segal, president of Kingswood Properties Ltd., and attended by many of British Columbia’s most notable business leaders and philanthropists.
After sharing their stories of how they have “come back to give back” in their communities, each of the six Courage to Come Back Award recipients received a glass sculpture designed by Musqueam artist Susan A. Point. This year’s recipients, with the category noted in parentheses, were Deborah Carter, Vancouver (addiction); Esther Matsubuchi, North Vancouver (social adversity); John Westhaver, Victoria (physical rehabilitation); Stephen Scott, Vancouver (medical); Rachel Fehr, Surrey (mental health); and Richard Quan, Vancouver (youth).
Westhaver perfectly captured the essence of the evening: “Looking back at my life, one thing I got is that anything is possible. Often we give up on our dreams because something gets in our way or we lose sight of our dreams. I invite you to never give up on your dreams. Anything is possible. The stories you have heard tonight are living proof.”
For 45 years, Coast Mental Health has helped provide housing, support services, and employment for people driven to recover from mental illness. Each program and service places clients at the centre of their own recovery. Coast Mental Health believes that recovery from mental illness is possible, but only when communities come together to break the silence around it, provide support and uplift the people it impacts. Coast Mental Health Foundation raises funds exclusively for Coast Mental Health. To find out more about the programs and services offered by Coast Mental Health, visit coastmentalhealth.com.
Lorne Segal, chair, Courage to Come Back Awards. (photo by Cynthia Ramsay)
In its chai year, the Courage to Come Back Awards had a record night on May 5 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, with more than 1,500 guests and more than $1.43 million raised for Coast Mental Health.
In his address, Courage to Come Back chair Lorne Segal pondered the question of why the event is so popular. “Because,” he said, “at these awards, like nowhere else, we feel the extraordinary power of the ordinary spirit and the deep humanity so often lacking in our daily lives.”
He said, “We all shed a tear tonight and, whether it was a tear of joy, of hope, of love, it was not because we wanted to, but because we needed to. You see, we need to know that, even against the worst hand we could be dealt in life, we too can triumph. Because our six heroes tonight could do it, so can we.
“Each of us came into this room for a different reason, but we will all leave with our nourished souls tied together by one common thread: the unshakeable belief that, by seeing the very best in others – courage, faith, hope, endurance – we will somehow find the strength to face our own fears and achieve our greatest dreams. And for that, we need to thank our six superstars who are symbols of the possibilities which lie within us all.”
This year’s six honorees were Christy Campbell (in the physical rehabilitation category), Jemal Damtawe (addiction), Meredith Graham (social adversity), Dr. Barbara Harris, (mental health), Coltyn Liu (youth) and Tom Teranishi (medical). Since 1999, Courage to Come Back has now honored 103 individuals who have had the “courage to overcome serious adversity, change their lives for the better and move forward to help others do the same.”
Co-hosting the gala evening were Randene Neill and Kevin Evans, while Howard Blank emceed the fundraising portion of the proceedings. In his comments, Blank noted that Coast Mental Health helps an average of 12 clients a day and that its programs address three main pillars: housing, employment and support services.
The largest donation of the evening came from B.C. taxpayers, as Minister of Health Terry Lake donated $100,000 from the province on behalf of Premier Christy Clark and Minister of Finance Mike de Jong. The largest private donation came from Joseph and Rosalie Segal, who contributed $50,000. Many other individuals and companies made donations, several citing the Segal family as their example of what it means to give back to community.
There was no shortage of role models for giving that night, with the six honorees leading the way. There were many meaningful takeaways, including Liu’s statement: “Mom’s lesson: don’t feed the negative monster inside; rather, fight with a belief in yourself and for a reality you want.” And Graham’s reminder that, “sometimes, you can give what you didn’t get.”
“What part will you play,” she asked the crowd, “to change lives today?”
Nominations for this year’s Courage to Come Back Awards are open until Feb. 12, 2016, 5 p.m. The annual awards recognize abilities, celebrate differences and give centre stage to six British Columbians who have overcome tremendous challenges, yet reach out to help others in the province.
Courage recipients show us that people can walk again despite the predictions of some of the best medical minds. They teach us that disabled does not mean unable. They prove that hearing voices in one’s head does not mean a lifetime in hospital. These are valuable members of our community despite injury or illness: they are role models.
Nominations are open only to residents of British Columbia and the nominee must agree to be nominated for a Courage to Come Back Award. All nominees will receive a special certificate of nomination, which pays tribute to their outstanding courage.
A team of volunteer health professionals and community leaders will select one recipient in each category to be honored with an award. If your nominee is unsuccessful, he or she can be nominated again next year.
Any material submitted to Coast Mental Health will not be returned. Coast makes every effort to verify nominee stories but takes no responsibility for errors or omissions, and Coast reserves the right to place nominations in their award categories. Video or CD nominations are not accepted.
To nominate someone, tell the nominee’s story of a courageous comeback accurately and in detail. Submit only one nomination form for the nominee, and submit a minimum of three letters of support and testimonials, and optional supplemental documents, to [email protected] Nominations will not be considered complete or eligible until a completed nomination form and all mandatory letters of support have been received.
Once you have clicked “submit,” an immediate message should appear confirming your nomination has been successfully submitted. You will also receive a confirmation email.