Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion to erase la­bels and honor in­di­vid­u­als at ‘EPIC Awards Lun­cheon’

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Society Scene - Broward - - Front Page -

The 19th an­nual “EPIC Awards Lun­cheon” will take place May 14 at the Sig­na­ture Grand in Davie. This is the pre­mier fundraiser for the Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Florida (MHA), event chair­per­sons are Yas­mine Hol­brook and Gary Dirda.

“EPIC is an acro­nym for ‘Ex­cep­tional People Im­pact­ing the Com­mu­nity’ and this year’s hon­orees per­son­ify the essence of the award,” said Paul Jaquith, pres­i­dent and CEO of MHA. “What these very di­verse and ded­i­cated in­di­vid­u­als have in com­mon is their com­mit­ment to the pub­lic well be­ing, their ef­forts to im­prove the lives of cit­i­zens of our com­mu­ni­ties, and their ad­vo­cacy for per­sons with men­tal ill­ness.”

Jen Klaassens, vice pres­i­dent of pro­grams for The Wasie Foun­da­tion, will be the first re­cip­i­ent of the Hal Booth Me­mo­rial Award for Phi­lan­thropy. San­dra and Hal Booth were long­time sup­port­ers of MHA, vol­un­teer­ing their time and ef­forts. Hal passed away last year af­ter a year­long ill­ness, and both Hal and San­dra re­quested that do­na­tions in Hal’s mem­ory be made to MHA.

Other hon­orees in­clude Dr. Ti­mothy Lud­wig from the Broward Sher­iff ’s Of­fice, Gwen Henry of GEO Care, Lauren Zuch­man of Hen­der­son Be­hav­ioral Health, Lysan­dra Rus­sell and Mar­cia Barry-Smith of Rus­sell Life Skills and Read­ing Foun­da­tion’s Drag­on­fly Dar­lings, San­dra McQueen-Baker from Fresh Start of Mi­ami-Dade Inc. and Yueh-Mei Kim Nut­ter of Brink­ley Mor­gan Law Firm.

“We are es­pe­cially for­tu­nate to have Michael Mayo, long­time colum­nist at the as the mas­ter of cer­e­monies,” said Dr. Adam Rosen­berg, chair­man of MHA’s board of di­rec­tors. “Through his col­umns and his blog, Michael Mayo has been a tire­less ad­vo­cate for men­tal health is­sues.” Mayo has worked for the Sun Sen­tinel for 25 years and has served as metro news colum­nist since 2002.

The theme of the event this year is “la­bels are for jars, not people.”

“The event will fea­ture in­di­vid­u­ally hand-painted ce­ramic jars with a chalk sur­face la­bel that people can write any la­bel they wish,” said Chris Yoc­u­lan, di­rec­tor of 9Muses - the arts pro­gram of­fered by MHA. The ce­ramic jars were painted by mem­bers of the 9Mus­esArtCen­ter and will be avail­able for sale at the end of the event. “The MHA works in the com­mu­nity to re­duce the stigma as­so­ci­ated with be­hav­ioral health is­sues and la­bel­ing is a con­stant con­cern for any­one who re­ceives a di­ag­no­sis.”

“Since its in­cep­tion in 1996, over 100 in­di­vid­u­als have re­ceived an EPIC Award for their ef­forts to ben­e­fit the health and well­be­ing of our com­mu­nity,” said Jaquith.

Funds raised from the event will sup­port the chil­dren’s men­tor­ing pro­gram Lis­ten to Chil­dren and I’m Thum­body. It will also help the 9Mus­esArtCen­ter pro­vide art sup­plies and equip­ment for mem­bers who uti­lize the arts pro­gram.

Tick­ets are $65. For more in­for­ma­tion, call 954-746-2055 or visit

Reid Chris­tensen, left, Alana Se­gall, Gary Dirda, El­iza Gomez and Quentin Mor­gan San­dra Booth, left, Doris Schwartz and Paul Jaquith

He­len Leitch, left, Larry Co­hen and Liz Mey­ers

Pam Galan, front left, and Paula Smith; Dar­line Bazile, back left, Al­fonso Ruiz, Laura Me­nen­dez and San­dra Lineberger

Yueh-Mei K. Nut­ter, front left, and Lysan­dra Rus­sell; San­dra McQueen-Baker, back left, Gwen­dolyn Henry, Dr. Ti­mothy Lud­wig, Mar­cia Barry-Smith and Lauren Zuch­man

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