It’s the people that make the difference at CMHA Waterloo Wellington, and for two employees, that distinction has led to the Service Excellence Award and the We Are More Award.
Paul Bowser, a clinician with the 1st Step Program, and Keehan Koorn, formerly of the Skills for Safer Living team (and currently a mental health clinician), are this year’s recipients of the annual awards, intended to recognize CMHA WW staff making a meaningful difference with clients and in their work.
Koorn, this year’s recipient of the We Are More Award, was nominated for her “unique ability to remain human, while maintaining attached to her clinical training.”
“[Keehan] does a beautiful job of blending her clinical expertise with her lived experience and humanity,” said Colleen Pacey, Coordinator of Skills for Safer Living, a skills-based group and peer support group for individuals with recurring thoughts and behaviours about suicide.
“And mixed in with that is her amazing humour that always keeps things balanced — and when we are dealing with [suicide], it’s a real delicate balance between trying not to minimize the experience, and yet finding the lightness in life to counteract the heavy topic and some of the difficult experiences that people have been going through.”
“That team is incredibly supportive — just really lovely people. They’re open; they laugh at my jokes — that makes a big difference,” laughed Koorn.
“I highly recommend that team, because of the opportunities that I got to learn how to be myself — and that doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it happens with the respect, openness, and responsiveness of other people.”
Bowser, this year’s recipient of the Service Excellence Award, was nominated for being an “exceptional mentor” who “consistently goes above and beyond for his clients.”
“Paul’s been in that role for 11 years on the same team, working with the same type of people, so his loyalty is beyond any I’ve seen — the passion for the work and the dedication. Paul keeps his clients at the centre of his focus, and that’s the groundwork,” said Sherri Papademas, a nurse clinician with the 1st Step Program, which helps people who are experiencing a first episode of psychosis.
“It feels humbling, and it feels like there’s been some type of horrible mistake,” said Bowser. “Actually, I feel humbled by the people I work with everyday, and I feel like this award is reflective of the [whole] team’s effort — the type of work that we do, and the quality of care that we try to provide every day.”