Exceptional People Awards presented by Mental Health Recovery Board

The Mental Health Recovery Board (MHRB) of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties has plenty to celebrate this week, starting with overwhelming voter approval of the renewal levy for Clark County services on Tuesday. The levy will help support multiple agencies in Clark County addressing mental health issues.

In addition, the MHRB will be honoring those in the community whose efforts positively impact mental health services across all of the counties served with special recognition Thursday.

The Annual Exceptional People Awards will celebrate the contributions of individuals and groups delivering mental health services for exceptional work.

“These are people who go above and beyond in the mental health recovery field,” according to Jennipher Brown of the Clark County Mental Health Foundation. “They are nominated by their peers, by members of the public, providers, individuals and organizations. This year we received 40 nominations.”

This year those 40 nominations were narrowed to a list of 21 recipients who will be recognized.

They include Eric Mata, who is a recovered substance abuse client and former employee of McKinley Hall and Care Source.

Mata has been “clean” for more than 13 years and will receive the Delvin Harshaw Advocate of the Year Award for Outstanding Contributions Toward Advocacy in the Community.

Brown said while Mata no longer works directly with Mental Health Services, he continues to actively engage in the community to help others with substance abuse issues.

At 35, Mata offers a substance abuse driver’s intervention program and continues as an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step Community. He is owner of New Life Media Marketing & Productions, offers online education, is a partner in a t-shirt business with his wife. He also bought a farm a year ago, so he now includes farming among his many career endeavors. He and his wife are parents to three children.

“As a person in long-term recovery, he is a poster child for what recovery can be like,” Brown said.

Mata is quick to praise Clark County Mental Health and Recovery for covering the cost of treatment that enabled him to break his addiction in 2010.

“I didn’t pay a dime for treatment,” Mata recalled. “Mental Health and Recovery paid for it all and they paid for the first six weeks of transitional housing after I got out of treatment. I’ve been all-in ever since.”

“To go from a person who received treatment to a person who now encourages treatment for others and is a community employer, that’s phenomenal,” Brown said.

Mata admitted the biggest encouragement to overcome his addiction was delivered by Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Douglas Rastatter.

“He invited me to go to treatment or go to prison,” Mata said. “I decided to go to treatment.”

He said he went to rehab two times “because the first time I wasn’t ready.”

Mata said he was a heroin and meth addict.

“I had lived from 14 to 22 on drugs … once I got clean and found others who have overcome addiction it gave me hope I’d never had before,” he said.

The Clark County Mental Health Renewal Levy maintains funding at exactly the same as it was in 2010 when Mata received the support he needed to successfully recover. Officials have not asked for an increase in more than 20 years of tax levy approval. Each of the counties included in Mental Health Services has approved tax levies for their individual communities, and all dollars are designated for use solely for county residents the levy funding.

As a government non-profit, Clark County Mental Health Services cannot accept direct donations.

“We get funds from the levy and from state and local tax dollars,” Assistant Director of Community Integration Adam Kemp said.

“And our team does a great job of finding grants we qualify to receive,” Brown added.

Levy dollars support 16 local non-profit agencies delivering mental health support services in Clark County.

A complete list of those organizations can be found online at http://www.mhrb.org/.

The names of all recipients for this year’s Annual Exceptional People Awards will appear on the Mental Health Recovery Board Facebook page.

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