Letter: CMHA grateful for civic award

To the editor:

This week, the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna & District branch received the Central Okanagan Foundation Volunteer Organization of the Year award at the 36th annual Kelowna Civic and Community Awards ceremony.

This is indeed high praise given the incredible list of nominees in the category.

CMHA has been on a six-year journey of building and strengthening our organization and focusing our talents and efforts so that they have the greatest impact.

Dawn Wilkinson, from Kelowna Community Resources, noted that there are 400 voluntary groups and not-for profit agencies in the Central Okanagan. This represents an army of people who give so much to make our community one of the most desirable places on earth.

CMHA is proud to be a part of a community that cares, one that works together to ensure that there are sufficient and appropriate programs and services for our most vulnerable, and that we are proactive in our thinking about the health and welfare of our children, and their children.

There are so many people I didn’t thank in my acceptance speech on award night. I have the rare privilege to work with a fantastic group of volunteers and staff who are the heart and soul of CMHA Kelowna. We are all so fortunate to be doing this work because each of our contributions can actually make a tangible difference to those who need it most. We work with great funders, donors and outstanding service agencies and leaders in our community. CMHA’s success is only a reflection of our community.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Volunteering is more than altruism. Volunteering is a wonderfully selfish pursuit because one usually gets so much more by giving. We thank you all, whatever your motivation.

The 2010 recipient of the Man of the Year award is Tom Budd. He spoke so well of the joy he receives from giving and then proceeded to commit $5,000 to CMHA, Kelowna Gospel Mission and Cops for Kids. His generosity means we can provide better services in our community.

We believe that there is no health without mental health. Volunteering time and resources is one small way to achieve overall mental health and wellness.

We talk of wellness as a three legged stool where one leg represents physical health, another spiritual health, and the third emotional health. When one of these legs is shorter than the other it creates imbalance. Volunteering is a great way to keep that stool in balance.

Thanks to Amber Gilbert who worked so hard to make the Civic Awards  night such a first class event. I was blown away by the evening and by the amazing people in our community.

May 2 to 6 is National Mental Health Week and the theme is: Thank you for trusting me. We want to say thank you for this wonderful recognition of our work.

Thank you to all the individuals in this community who volunteer their time and resources to CMHA.

Thank you to everyone who is willing to talk about mental health and mental illness as two ends of the same continuum.

And thank you, again, to the Central Okanagan Foundation and Tom Budd for your financial gifts. We will be putting this money toward increasing our Community Navigation services and Public Education initiatives. There is still so much to be done.



Shelagh Turner,

executive director,


Canadian Mental Health Association,

Kelowna &

District Branch