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'This is a big deal'

April 8, 2009
by Douglas J. Edwards, Editor-in-Chief
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The National Council presents its annual Awards of Excellence

TheNational Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare's annual Awards of Excellence dinner on Tuesday celebrated the accomplishments of young and old, consumers and executives, volunteers and politicians. Vanessa Sweeney received the National Council's first rookie-of-the-year/emerging leader award. Sweeney, who manages the peer specialist program at
Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority in Metairie, Louisiana, noted, "We're really doing something, and we need to keep doing it." In accepting the award, she commented, "At 26 years old, this is a big deal." (For more on Sweeney, click
here.) Genevieve Hearon, recognized for her lifetime of volunteer service, added to thunderous applause, "At 77 this is a big deal." Hearon is a member of the
Austin Travis County (Texas) Mental Health Mental Retardation Center’s Board of Trustees. Broadway performer Jennifer Holliday (of Dreamgirls fame) received a standing ovation after dedicating "The Wind Beneath My Wings" to the National Council’s members. She also sang "There's a Dream Out There With Your Name on It." Holliday helped National Council President/CEO Linda Rosenberg present the excellence in consumer and family advocacy award to Jason West, a peer partner at
Pacific Clinics in Arcadia, California. Winning the first excellence in use of technology award (sponsored by
Qualifacts, Inc.) was
Community Counseling Centers of Chicago. For a complete list of the winners, click