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Team Awards

Team Awards

Recognizing outstanding employees and volunteers across our organization

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York Region South Simcoe recently hosted its annual Beacon of Light Awards recognizing the outstanding employees, volunteers and community partners who contribute to CMHA’s culture and strategic growth pillars of access to care, operational excellence and innovation. 

The Beacon of Light Awards celebrate staff, volunteers and partners who exemplify CMHA’s team values and go above and beyond to support clients, families and our community. Congratulations to the individuals, teams and community partners selected as CMHA’s 2023 Beacon of Light Award Honourees!


Beacon of Belonging – Edna Bazante

Family Worker, H.O.P.E Early Psychosis Intervention

The Beacon of Belonging Award recognizes outstanding team members who actively create belonging at CMHA and constantly demonstrate respect and kindness.

“Edna is always encouraging and embracing of others in the CMHA community to build them up. She is talented at helping colleagues identify their strengths and strive for further skill development. And she has made a large impact in this organization by motivating others by exemplifying her passion to improve the mental health and well-being of clients, families and co-workers.” 

Beacon of Inclusion – Karen Kugelmass

Social Worker and Mental Health Educator, Gender Affirming Healthcare Clinic

The Beacon of Inclusion Award recognizes outstanding team members who take action to facilitate diversity, equity and inclusion policies and practices at CMHA.

“Karen is an amazing advocate in fighting for equity among both colleagues and clients. She has been a huge advocate and leader in the Gender Affirming Health Clinic since its inception and has done tremendous outreach to the community at large to encourage other service providers to open their practices to servicing individuals seeking gender affirming care. Karen provides valuable input into processes at CMHA to ensure they reflect the needs of the client population we serve.”

Beacon of Operation Excellence – Marina Machado 

Business Analyst Coach , BounceBack

The Beacon of Operational Excellence Award recognizes outstanding team members who consistently deliver, improve operational excellence and plan and build for the future at CMHA. 

“Marina is a passionate BounceBack Coach who is focused on providing excellent care for her clients. She is also highly skilled in documentation and extremely knowledgeable in the OSP health information system. As our Business Analyst she works seamlessly with our IT partners and third party vendors to successfully bridge the gap between technology and service provision. Marina is always an absolute pleasure to work with. She is the ultimate multi-tasker and exemplifies everything CMHA stands for and more. Her perseverance, positive attitude and commitment to our program is admirable and worth celebrating.”

Beacon of Excellence In Care – Lindsey Russell

Registered Practical Nurse​, Assertive Community Treatment Team

The Beacon of Excellence in Care Award recognizes outstanding team members who provide exceptional quality care that significantly improves the lives of our clients and families. 

If a team were like a tree, Lindsey is like its trunk. Whatever team she is on, she helps stabilize that team during the strong winds of change that inevitably come its way. Whether she is the only Nurse on the team or not, she works SUPER hard, is SUPER reliable, and is a SUPER asset to CMHA. She consistently shows respect to everyone, despite her busy schedule and needs to know we love and support her.”

Beacon of Mentorship – Denise Miedzinski 

Manager, People and Culture

The Beacon of Mentorship Award recognizes outstanding team members who uplift others and provide extraordinary knowledge-sharing, coaching and development to members of their team.

As Manager of People of Culture, Denise is a wise, trusted advisor to her colleagues at CMHA. Her expertise and guidance support staff and leaders in the organization in understanding, addressing, and resolving sometimes challenging issues. Her contributions to developing the skills of her colleagues in all facets of human resources are exceptional. She builds the capacity of others, sharing her knowledge of best HR practices. Denise demonstrates her commitment to our people and clients every day – she speaks up and she shows up.”

Volunteer Beacon of Light – Bev Milligan 

The Volunteer Beacon of Light Award recognizes outstanding volunteers who consistently deliver, going above and beyond to improve the lives of our clients and families.

Bev is an exceptional and dependable volunteer who supports Philanthropy in a variety of ways such as taking on multiple data cleanup projects, serving at our 1st annual donor appreciation event, and joined us on the golf course not only serving as a volunteer for the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame, but running her own golf tournament that benefitted our agency.” 

Service Team Beacon of Light – The Camping Team

The Service Team Beacon of Light Award recognizes outstanding direct service teams who deliver exceptional quality and access to care for CMHA clients and the communities we serve

“The Camping team brings together cross program individuals that undergo months of planning above and beyond their daily work. During the event, team members take time out from their personal lives and families to spend full days – not just work days – and even overnights with clients who participate.  They handle on the spot challenges that can be clinical, weather related, operational or logistical. They plan and cook meals and execute various camp activities for participating clients who often look forward to this event all year long. This year in particular, the team had to deal with a difficult weather event on the second last day that required heavy and detailed work after normal working hours in a downpour and did an absolutely fantastic and enviable job!”

Team Beacon of Light – Ontario Structured Psychotherapy (OSP)

The Team Beacon of Light Award recognizes outstanding teams who build better by working smarter with care to introduce new ideas, services or practices to improve the quality of service and operational excellence at CMHA. 

“The Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Team has made significant advancements in creating new practices to improve faster access and quality care to our clients. They enthusiastically embrace change and their innovations involve collaboration with their entire team including admin, staff, managers, directors, IT, communications, operations, coaches, CBT clinicians, and clinical psychologists.”

Community Beacon of Light – Judy Brunton

The Community Beacon of Light Award recognizes the contributions of local businesses and donors who support and uplift CMHA and serve as champions for Mental Health for All.

“Since 2015, Judy has raised more than $150,000 in support of youth mental health through Mental Health in Motion. Judy has organized community-based events and reached out to her personal and professional circles to encourage them to pledge their financial support to her efforts.  We are proud to work closely with Judy, whose dogged determination to reduce the stigma that still unfortunately surrounds mental health, has translated into being one of our top 3 Mental Health in Motion fundraisers for the past 9 years.  Thanks to Judy’s efforts, thousands of young people have had access no-wait, no-cost, and no-judgement mental and physical health care through our Mobile Youth Walk-In Clinic (MOBYSS).  Judy’s tireless fundraising, advocacy and education work she has done through her support of Mental Health in Motion and MOBYSS truly make her a Beacon of Light in our community.”

Partner in Care Beacon of Light –Blue Door INNclusion Program 

The Partner in Care Beacon of Light Award recognizes the achievements of CMHA partner agencies to help us deliver on our promises, work smarter and build better service integration and excellent quality client care in our community.

Blue Door is a leader in preventing and ending homelessness. Founded in 1982 and the largest emergency housing provider in York Region, Blue Door is a registered charity that offers more than 10 innovative and collaborative housing, employment, and health programs aimed at addressing the root causes of homelessness.

The Blue Door iNNclusion Program is the first safe housing in York Region for 2SLGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing homelessness often because of identity-based abuse and discrimination.

After coming out to their parents as non-binary, two suicide attempts, risky substance use behaviour, and trips in and out of the hospital our client was welcomed into iNNclusion and now, six months later, they are ready to begin working on housing independence and want to move out to be on their own. They feel ready to take care of themselves and are looking for ways to continuously look to a future they never thought possible a year ago. Without the continuous wrap-around support CMHA offers in conjunction with partnering programs like iNNclusion, who specializes in unique and much needed housing supports for our 2SLGBTQIA+ community members, we might not get to witness life-saving recovery stories like this for our clients.”

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