MHA Village Recognizes Those Recovering from Mental Illness • Long Beach Post


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MHA Village, a program of Mental Health America of Los Angeles, will be rolling out the red carpet for over 100 MHA Village members –- individuals who are recovering from mental illness — at its 14th annual Golden Ducky Awards this Friday, June 8 at 6:00pm. This year’s theme, “A Night of 1000 Stars,” recognizes and celebrates those who have made significant achievements in areas of mental health recovery.

“The Golden Duckys is a celebration to publicly honor the incredible achievements of Village members,” explained Paul Barry, executive director of Mental Health America’s Village program. “For many individuals with mental illness, the focus has often been their illness or their challenges. The award ceremony recognizes their strengths and achievements. These remarkable individuals prove that it is possible to have both a mental illness and a productive life as a worker, a student, a neighbor, or a friend – in short, as participating, contributing members of our community.”

Award highlights include: 34 members who are reaching their milestone of graduating from MHA Village will receive the Highest Achievement award and recognition of over 100 members who have made great strides in employment, independent living, financial independence, education, health, family connections, and sobriety.

MHA also honors leaders whose support and advocacy have helped raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness. This year, Mitch Newman, first violinist with Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, will be honored as the Mental Health Hero for his ardent support of MHA through his Harmony: Music for Mental Health benefit concerts. The Community Partnership and the Community Spirit awards will be presented to Albertsons on 450 Long Beach Boulevard and Creative Reuse, respectively. They join past honorees such as former California First Lady Sharon Davis, Sheriff Lee Baca, Assembly Member Darrell Steinberg, Long Beach First Lady Nancy Foster, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez, Long Beach Library Foundation, and the Alpert Jewish Community Center.

The Golden Ducky Awards was inspired by the Sesame Street song, “Put Down the Duckie,” in which Ernie wants to learn to play the saxophone but must put down his rubber duckie in order to learn something new. The song illustrates the importance of putting down safe and comfortable old ways of doing things in order to take risks and learn to do something new.

“It is an inspirational and heartwarming experience for all of us who attend the ceremony because we – the MHA staff, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors – are witnesses to the growth and success of the journeys our members have made in their recovery,” continued Barry. “Our philosophy since the beginning has been to empower those with mental illness to recover and have a vibrant and meaningful life. Our annual Golden Duckys celebrate just that and more.”

The free event is open to the public and will be held at First Christian Church, located at 440 Elm Avenue in Long Beach.

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