MHA gives awards at dinner

JOHNSTOWN – The Mental Health Association in Fulton & Montgomery Counties held its annual dinner and silent auction at the Johnstown Holiday Inn on May 29, with guest speaker James Gumaer, director of Montgomery County Community Services.

This year’s annual event was attended by more than 150 guests, a news release said. Throughout the evening, various awards were presented to individuals who personify the mission, vision and values of the agency.

The evening’s distinguished 2014 Ruth S. Voorhees Award was presented to former board member Kathy Paton. Paton is the director of Community Mental Health Programs at St. Mary’s Healthcare and has been a driving force in bringing personalized recovery-oriented services to our community. Janine Dykeman, MHA executive director, described Paton as having “a warm personality; a great sense of humor; and a true understanding of the complexities and every changing environment in healthcare and particularly, mental health.”

The second annual MHA Scholarships were awarded to two Fonda-Fultonville High School seniors. Lindsay Therrien and Jeananna Warner each received $500 for college-related expenses. The aim of the scholarship is to encourage the education of young adults to assist in the prevention and treatment of mental illness, the promotion of mental health and the empowerment of adults, children and families whose lives have been affected by mental illness, the release said.

Volunteer awards were given to individuals who participate in the Compeer Program. Jessica Trimarchi, coordinator of Compeer, presented awards to Charlene Fonda, Laura Falco, Patti Kelly, Marilyn Andrews, and Renee Madej.

Staff service awards were presented to employees with five, 10 and 15 years of service, and Employee Recognition Awards were given to 16 employees who demonstrate and model the Agency’s mission. Janine Dykeman was honored by board officer Letah Graff for her dedication, commitment and valued service to the Mental Health Association for more than 15 years, the release said.

The evening was completed with a silent auction and fashion show. Students from MHA’s After School Program paraded through the audience in summer clothing from Handy Ups N’ Downs Thrift Store. The dinner concluded with more than 20 gift baskets awarded to the highest bidders. Gift certificates and basket items were donated by MHA staff, board members, and area businesses.