It was good to see a strong turnout at last night’s Silver Ribbon Gala. The gala was the first ever fundraising event for the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Committee. The work of committee members in support of front line staff is important, and in turn it is important for the community to show support for the staff who are offering help and hope to people who need it most.
The gala was also a chance for attendees to wear a silver ribbon in an effort to combat the stigma unfortunately still associated with mental health and addictions, which is something that touches all of us. No matter our job, or social circle, or personal means, we have all dealt with, or we all deal with, mental health and addiction challenges; whether they are our own, or those of people that we love, or people that are in proximity to us on a day-to-day basis, these challenges are present in each of our lives and each of us contends with them to varying degrees.
In this respect, it is critical for our local leaders to send a message to people suffering from and fighting through mental health and addiction challenges. In this blog post, I want to reiterate the message I delivered last night: You are important. You are important to your community. You are important to its future. We acknowledge your challenge. We care about your challenges, and we are working to provide you the support that you deserve.
For my part, I recognize that we certainly have much more work to do. I commit to continue to work with our community partners at the Algoma Leadership Table, Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, Sault Area Hospital, Group Health Centre, Algoma Public Health and the Sault Ste. Marie and Area Drug Strategy Committee to develop the systems and supports our community needs to more effectively address our challenges.
In closing, I want to recognize and thank all of our front line workers, in particular those who received awards last night:
The Extra Mile Award (Kristy Jones from Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services)
Community Advocate (Desiree Beck and George Wright)
Trailblazer Award (Lisa Case)
Humanitarian Award (Erin Thomas – Ontario Works)
The Hidden Gem Award (Kathy Berdux – John Howard Society)