2013 Karen Liberman 'Lit From Within' Volunteer Award

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During national Volunteer Week in April 2013, MDAO celebrated all of its volunteers and recognized this year’s recipient of the Lit from Within Award. The award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, creativity and innovation in contributing to the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario’s programs or activities. The recipient of the 'Lit From Within' Volunteer Award receives a commemorative engraved plaque and a gift of $1,500.

The 2013 Lit from 'Lit from Within' Award Recipient – Fay – had this to say about receiving the award and the importance of peer support:

“I am grateful to have been recognized in this way.

MDAO has changed since I first started, but the groups I facilitate still run on the same energy they always have. People come to our groups for the first time usually because they are grasping for something. They come back for the next meeting, or eventually, whenever, because they recognize the value of sharing – telling, hearing, revealing, unburdening, laughing, maybe crying – and above all being validated and accepted.  

MDAO provides a safe place for people with mood disorders. Where else would you find a group of people congratulating someone for leaving the house and acknowledging the value of breaking your isolation or the burden of pulling together your hygiene and clothing to make it to the peer support group? Where else can you feel normalized and accepted for who you are at this moment, where you won’t be judged because your facilitator is vigilant about always speaking from a personal point of view.

I love being in the moment and I demonstrate empathy by using as much humour as the environment allows. I try to keep things safe. I value how difficult it may have been to show up. I insist we celebrate the obvious successes and the steps forward.  Hope, respect, empathy, and self-actualization are my core values, and I believe these values are reflected in the groups I lead.”

Ann Marie Mac Donald said, "It is such a great privilege to present this award to Fay and to recognize her for the extraordinary contributions she makes to our organization - and the incredible impact she has had on so many people's lives. Her dedication, commitment and compassion are woven into the fabric of her peer support groups. Fay epitomizes why volunteers are so important to this organization and what it means to be a longtime volunteer. She's one awesome lady."

Ann Marie thanked all 174 volunteers who give so generously of their time and talents and congratulated the other nominees, some of whom have shared the story of their journeys with MDAO along with Fay's comments in a new 'Inspiration' section on the website.