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CAMH Stories Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Archie Awards celebrate client recovery journeys

Archie Awards 2015
CAMH client Marianne (left) with her sister Jennifer. Many clients’ family members and friends attended the event at the CAMH Downtown West Outpatient Clinic (Archway) in Toronto

Six days a week, Marianne Petrone rises at 4:30 a.m. to start cooking breakfast for hundreds of people at St. Stephen’s Community House in Kensington Market.  Bacon, sausage, eggs, fruit, toast, coffee and other goodies are on the menu. “It’s a big responsibility. It’s the most important meal of the day, as everyone says. I love it.”

Marianne says her volunteer work is a big part of her recovery process. Originally from Thunder Bay, she studied at Lakehead University before struggling with cocaine addiction and mental health challenges. Marianne has been a client at CAMH’s Downtown West Outpatient Clinic (Archway) for several years.

“I get a lot of support from both staff and clients here – we support each other.” Group sessions every week such as spirituality and harm reduction are focused on client needs, she says. “I want to change my life. I want a more secure and healthier life.”

Marianne was one of seven clients recognized by the clinic for success in their recovery journeys at an event hosted by the clinic on March 27th. They received Archie Awards for special accomplishments in areas such as education, creativity, peer support and spiritual wellness.

“The accomplishments of our clients are a sign of hope,” said event host Kate McGee, a Peer Support Worker at the clinic. “The Archie Awards are a chance for clients, their families, friends, and staff to come together and be proud of the community we’ve built at Archway.”

The event included musical performances by a client/staff band (the Archway Music Group), a slideshow of recovery messages and photos from the past year, seven award presentations, and a dance and reception.

Meet clients Marianne and Nelson and hear their stories. Learn more about the awards, and how Matt, Seharish and their CAMH colleagues support clients

In addition to her dedication as a volunteer, “Marianne has worked hard this year to maintain wellness and make strides in many areas of her life,” says Matt Tsuda, CAMH Occupational Therapist. “She is always very encouraging of her peers, and consistently brings a positive energy.” Marianne also improved her budgeting skills, notes Matt. “This has enabled her to take pride in treating her family members to special dinners and gifts.”

Archie Awards 2015
Road to Recovery Award winner Marianne, with Matt Tsuda, CAMH Occupational Therapist 

Archie Awards 2015 image
Vocational Award winner Rodney, with Maria Lainas, CAMH Registered Practical Nurse  

Rodney has helped prepare and serve up nutritious meals to both clients and staff at CAMH’s Out of this World Cafe for 15 years. “Rodney finds meaning in his work and takes pride in it, never missing a day unless he is sick,” said Maria Lainas, a Registered Practical Nurse at the clinic. “The committee felt that the dedication and commitment Rodney has shown could be an encouraging example for his peers.”

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Education Award winner Barry, with Erica Schott, CAMH Occupational Therapist    

A weekend work shift was the latest milestone in Barry’s journey to pursue education and training. Starting in September 2014, Barry met with CAMH Occupational Therapist Erica Schott to explore different employment and education options. After attending an information session at the Hospitality Workers Training Centre, Barry interviewed and was accepted into the full time, eight-week Kitchen Helper Program. “Barry attended every session through the long, cold winter,” says Erica. On completion of the course, Barry was given a temporary job and worked a long weekend at Exhibition Place. “Barry’s dedication to his goal of education and employment is inspiring.”

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Spiritual Wellness Award winner Filomena (left) with CAMH Peer Support Worker Kate McGee  

Prayer plays an important role in Filomena’s wellness, “and that has a balancing effect in her life,” says Kate McGee, CAMH Peer Support Worker. “Filomena often says that prayer helps her face the challenges of life, and is a way for her to maintain hope for herself and for the people she loves. Filomena provides a wonderful example for her peers of how spirituality can play a positive role in recovery.” In receiving her award, an emotional Filomena thanked Archway staff for “a wonderful job. We all face challenges. We are meant to live in this world with love and care. I appreciate everything you do for us.”

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Peer Support Award winner Toshio (left), with Leikun Teshome, CAMH Case Worker 

“Toshio is a huge inspiration to his peers because of his dedicated pursuit of marathon running,” says CAMH Case Worker Leikun Teshome. More than that, Toshio encourages his peers at Archway to participate in the annual Terry Fox run, and takes them to sporting events such as Blue Jays baseball games.  “He is committed to his own wellness, and seeks balance and meaning in his life through running, working a part-time job, and volunteering in CAMH’s Sunshine Garden and at St. Andrew’s Out of the Cold program in the winter.” A university graduate in biology, Toshio fought to manage mental health challenges with the support of his family and staff at Archway. “When I came here in 2007, I was lost,” Toshio told the audience. “But I found a family here at Archway.”

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CAMH Registered Practical Nurse Kathy Kong (left) with Peer Support Worker Kate McGee. 

Kathy presented the Healthy Living Award to a client who prefers to be anonymous. Alberto (his name has been changed) was selected this year for the Healthy Living Award because he has made great progress in his wellness, particularly because of his advocacy for his own health care. “He never misses an appointment, is good at staying motivated, and takes consistent steps toward achieving his wellness goals,” Kathy says. “Having made so much progress in the area of his health, Alberto is looking forward to starting a job hunt.”

Archie Awards 2015 image
Creativity Award winner Nelson, with CAMH Registered Nurse Seharish Jindani  

Creative expression and appreciation play a big role in Nelson’s ability to bring positive energy to his peers, says CAMH Registered Nurse Seharish Jindani. “Nelson enjoys music, dance and the positive journaling club. He has demonstrated active participation and commitment to many of the skill building, therapy-based and community-based groups at Archway.” Nelson always takes time to say hello to everyone at Archway. “He has a determined spirit and positive attitude, and has made huge gains in his recovery this past year.” Nelson told the audience what Archway means to him: “I come here every morning, go to groups and make friends. Thank you!”

“I came here because I needed help,” Nelson said. “The staff at Archway is kind and caring to us.”

The event at the Downtown West Outpatient Clinic “promotes and celebrates pillars of recovery,” said co-organizer Matt Tsuda, Occupational Therapist. “These include hope, empowerment, meaningful life roles and wellness.” The entire staff at the clinic participates in the nomination process each year for the Archie Awards, he says.

“Our clients’ accomplishments really show the importance of those pillars as well as all of their hard work towards recovery,” said co-organizer Erica Schott, Occupational Therapist at CAMH.

CAMH Complex Mental Illness Executive Director Jim McNamee and Manager Bridget Akioyamen gave their best wishes to clients, friends and families, and to staff who organized the event. A big thanks to the Archie Awards Organizing Committee: Matthew Tsuda (co-chair); Erica Schott (co-chair); Sarah Robinson – Registered Nurse; Kate McGee - Peer Support Worker; Kathy Kong – Registered Practical Nurse; Sonja Mehrzad - Administrative Secretary; and Seharish Jindani – Registered Nurse.

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Getting the party started: Award winner Nelson (above left), with clinic staff. Below: CAMH volunteers Andrea (keyboards) and Sandy (guitar) backed up the client/staff singers.

Archie Awards 2015 image

Archie Awards 2015 image
Marianne (left) gets a kiss from her sister Jennifer 

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Looked great and tasted even better: The Archie cake  

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