CMHA Ottawa youth outreach worker is recognized for instrumental role in client success story
The Ottawa branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA Ottawa) would like to congratulate Andrew Baird, Transitional-age/Youth Case Manager, for receiving the Advocacy Award at partner agency Youturn–Youth Support Services’ annual general meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022.
Youturn provides intensive services and supports to youth aged 12 to 24 and their families who are in conflict with the law or at risk of becoming involved in the justice system. Every year, Youturn’s Advocacy Award is given to a community partner who has demonstrated dedication and commitment to its clients and exemplifies a spirit of advocacy and collaboration.
This year, Jessica Whelan, a Child and Youth Counsellor at Youturn, nominated Andrew for the award for his work with a shared client of theirs who has recently made great strides in life after beginning in very difficult circumstances.
With Andrew and Jessica’s support, the client—whose name and information are not being shared in this story for privacy reasons—has found secure housing and is making significant improvements in life.
“It’s a great honour,” says Andrew, who is quick to share the accolades with his client. “The reason our work is not given a great deal of accolades is because we’re not the ones doing the hard stuff. It’s our clients that are making the hard decisions—these hard life changes—and taking these big, giant steps.”
“We’re just kind of lucky to be along for the ride,” he continues. “To help, support and advocate where it’s needed. Now having said that, I’m super grateful, super honoured and super lucky to receive this award.”
In Jessica Whelan’s assessment, it’s a little more than luck.
“Andrew has been instrumental in our shared client’s success and the reason the client is housed and maintaining it for the first time ever,” she says, adding that Andrew has advocated for the client countless times with CAS, police, landlords, social registry and different shelters.
“To my knowledge, no worker has had such a positive impact or rapport with this client,” Jessica adds.
She says Andrew should be recognized for showing up consistently for their client and going above and beyond—even when the client presented challenging behaviours.
“Andrew recognizes where the client is coming from and responds empathetically,” she says. “Working with Andrew has been instrumental in my client’s success, and I can honestly say I’d be overwhelmed without his support.”
Andrew is also quick to point out that Jessica—while responsible for nominating him for the award—is herself worthy of the same respect and admiration for their successful collaboration. Additionally, Andrew recognizes his co-workers at CMHA Ottawa for their knowledge and experience, on which he has leaned many times.
“It’s not every day an honour like the Advocacy Award is bestowed on case managers like Andrew—the unsung heroes in our community—so all of us at CMHA Ottawa were elated when we heard that Andrew was the recipient of such wonderful recognition from a valued partner agency,” says CMHA Ottawa Executive Director, Dr. Tim Simboli. “Andrew is widely known for his skill, dedication and ability to make people laugh—even in stressful situations.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa Branch (CMHA Ottawa), is an independent, community-based non-profit organization that provides services for eligible individuals in the Ottawa area with severe and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorder, many of whom are experiencing chronic homelessness or are vulnerably housed. CMHA Ottawa is dedicated to promoting good mental health, developing and implementing sustainable support systems and services, and encouraging public action to strengthen community mental health services and related policies and legislation.