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Announcing the 2020 Community Partnership Celebration Award Winners

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As we announced last week, our 7th Annual Community Partnership Celebration will be on Monday, November 16th, at 5:30 pm, and it will be our first Virtual Celebration. This online celebration will be streamed on our Facebook page using Facebook Live. You can sign up online to become a sponsor or register for a free ticket.

Each year, as part of the celebration, we honor and recognize the outstanding people and organizations that exemplify our four core values: Caring For Every Child and Family, Excellence, Partnership and Accountability. We would like to share with you this year’s award winners.

The Helen Reddy Johnson Memorial Award for Caring for Every Child and Family is named for a former board member who spent her life caring for children and bringing communities together, and who never lost her focus on insuring that Families as Allies was accountable to the families it served and stood with them. Her life exemplified respect, compassion and dignity and serves as an inspiration for our work every day.

This year, we would like to recognize Nichole Wray, Certified Family Peer Support Specialist and Lead Family Involvement Specialist with Weems Community Mental Health Center and NFusion Crossover XPAND, for her commitment to families and her tireless devotion to finding ways to support them throughout the COVID crisis. We appreciate how active she has been in participating in our trainings, as well as in our peer support and leadership coaching sessions. Nichole is always open, eager and committed to the principles of family-driven practice.

The Rusty Turner Memorial Award for Excellence recognizes an individual or organization that exemplifies excellence in what they do, and holds itself to the highest standards. Rusty exemplified in his life and in his work as an attorney our vision that all children have the opportunity to reach their potential and be successful.

This year’s recipient of the award is Dr. Dustin Sarver, UMMC. Dr. Sarver could receive this award for many, many aspects of his work, but we especially wanted to recognize him for his work on Mississippi’s system of care for young children, since there is such a need for responsive supports and services for young children and their families. We appreciate the work that he has done through the CAY Center, Mississippi Thrive and his other efforts.

The Partnership Award recognizes an individual or organization that demonstrates a commitment to partnering with families and the people that are important to them, and to working in partnership with families and other organizations to make things better for our children. We are recognizing two legislators, Representative Steve Hopkins and Representative Chris Bell, for their commitment to families and the people that are important to them.

We recognize Representative Steve Hopkins for his efforts in helping Families as Allies share mental health information at the legislature, for being open to questions and ideas from families and from our organization, for welcoming all people to reach out to him, and for his commitment to helping his constituents with mental illness. We appreciate his kindness, transparency and warmth.

We recognize Representative Chris Bell for his commitment to children with disabilities and for his working with families on HB 490. By working in partnership with families to write legislation, he set an example for the entire legislature of what the disability mantra “never about us without us” really means, and he showed that people receiving services and their families should be at the table when decisions are made or proposed about them. Good legislation is important, but the example that Representative Bell set was perhaps more powerful and certainly just as important as any code section. We are grateful to him.

The Accountability Award recognizes an individual or organization that exemplifies holding accountable each of the systems that serve our children. This year, we think it is only fitting that this award be named after our founder, Tessie Brunini Schweitzer. Tessie had a tremendous impact on mental health policy and legislation in the state and worked tirelessly to ensure that those policies and laws were followed, and this award continues that legacy and honors those who hold systems accountable.

This year’s recipient of the Tessie Brunini Schweitzer Accountability Award is Scott Bryant Comstock, president and CEO of the Children’s Mental Health Network, a non-profit organization that seeks to provide current, relevant information and ideas about children’s mental health policies and programs. Scott will be the first recipient to receive this award after it being named after Tessie. We thank Scott for his national advocacy, and for how he has supported Families as Allies in our advocacy in Mississippi. When we read his tribute to Tessie and how she turned him into an advocate, we knew there was no other choice. Over the years, Scott stood with us through our joys, confusion and tears and never stopped believing in the work of Families as Allies.

We hope that we will see all of you online on Monday, Nov. 16th at 5:30 pm at the celebration. Remember, you must use this link to register for a free ticket.

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