Back to All Posts

Mental health advocates, partners recognized as ‘beacons of light’

December 4, 2023

Posted on: December 1st, 2023. By: NewmarketToday Staff,, Original Article.

More than 200 individuals and organizations are being recognized by Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe, including local advocate Judy Brunton and Blue Door’s INNclusion program

More than 200 individuals and organizations are being recognized for their contributions to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) York Region and South Simcoe, including local advocate Judy Brunton and Blue Door’s INNclusion program.

The agency’s annual Beacon of Light Awards recognize outstanding employees, volunteers and community partners who contribute to CMHA’s culture and strategic growth pillars of access to care, operational excellence and innovation.

Brunton, an Aurora resident, received the Community Beacon of Light Award, which recognizes the contributions of local businesses and donors who support and uplift CMHA and serve as champions for Mental Health for All.

“Since 2015, Judy has raised more than $150,000 in support of youth mental health through Mental Health in Motion. Judy has organized community-based events and reached out to her personal and professional circles to encourage them to pledge their financial support to her efforts,” the organization stated. “We are proud to work closely with Judy, whose dogged determination to reduce the stigma that still unfortunately surrounds mental health, has translated into being one of our top 3 Mental Health in Motion fundraisers for the past nine years.  

“Thanks to Judy’s efforts, thousands of young people have had access no-wait, no-cost, and no-judgement mental and physical health care through our Mobile Youth Walk-In Clinic (MOBYSS). Judy’s tireless fundraising, advocacy and education work she has done through her support of Mental Health in Motion and MOBYSS truly make her a Beacon of Light in our community.”

The Blue Door INNclusion Program is being recognized with a Partner in Care Beacon of Light Award, which honours the achievements of CMHA partner agencies building better service integration and excellent quality client care.

The Blue Door INNclusion Program is the first safe housing in York Region for 2SLGBTQ+ youth who are experiencing homelessness often because of identity-based abuse and discrimination.

“After coming out to their parents as non-binary, two suicide attempts, risky substance use behaviour, and trips in and out of the hospital, our client was welcomed into INNclusion and now, six months later, they are ready to begin working on housing independence and want to move out to be on their own. They feel ready to take care of themselves and are looking for ways to continuously look to a future they never thought possible a year ago. Without the continuous wrap-around support CMHA offers in conjunction with partnering programs like INNclusion, who specializes in unique and much needed housing supports for our 2SLGBTQIA+ community members, we might not get to witness life-saving recovery stories like this for our clients,” the agency stated.

“CMHA’s Beacon of Light Awards celebrate staff, volunteers and partners who exemplify CMHA’s team values and go above and beyond to support clients, families and our community,” said Rebecca Shields, CEO of CMHA York Region and South Simcoe, in a news release.

“I am grateful and inspired to work with every colleague on our 350-person team, our invaluable volunteers and community partner champions. Their passion and expertise guide CMHA’s exceptional mental health and addiction services and innovation in York Region and south Simcoe.”

This year, with a record-breaking 218 award nominations, the Beacon of Light Awards internally celebrated the nominees in the weeks leading up to the awards event, as well as special tributes to individual and team nominees at an event.

CMHA’s 2023 Beacon of Light Award honourees include:

  • Edna Bazante, Beacon of Belonging
  • Denise Miedzinski, Beacon of Mentorship
  • Karen Kugelmass, Beacon of Inclusion
  • Lindsey Russell, Beacon of Excellence in Care
  • Marina Machado, Beacon of Operational Excellence
  • Bev Milligan, Volunteer Beacon of Light
  • Camping Team, Service Team Beacon of Light
  • Ontario Structured Psychotherapy, Team Beacon of Light
  • Blue Door INNclusion Program, Partner in Care Beacon of Light
  • Judy Brunton, Community Beacon of Light

For more information about this year’s honourees, visit