Chesterton Tribune

Mental Health Alliance honors Vicki Urbanik

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The Porter-Starke Award for Service to Community Mental Health was presented to Chesterton Tribune reporter Vicki Urbanik at the Mental Health Alliance annual meeting Thursday, September 22 at The Legacy in Valparaiso.

The Porter-Starke Award for Service to Community Mental Health was presented to Urbanik for her contribution towards 22 years of quality journalism that is accurate and assists with educating the community on mental illness issues, reducing the stigma.

Urbanik has been a local government reporter with the Chesterton Tribune since 1986, reporting primarily on Porter County government and the Duneland Schools. Her volunteer service has included work with a Portage Adult Education program tutoring and providing general support for adults and children at the Spring Valley Homeless Shelter and in the Hilltop neighborhood (prior to the establishment of the Hilltop Neighborhood House).

Urbanik has also been a volunteer in the Nurturing Program at the Family & Youth Service Bureau in Valparaiso and Portage. She is currently a board member of the not-for-profit Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehab Center. Vicki lives with her husband and two children in Morgan Township.

The Alliance, which consists of Porter-Starke Services, Inc., The Porter-Starke Services Foundation, Inc., and the Mental Health Association in Porter County also presented the Aled P. Davies Service in Public Policy Award to Barbara Collins-Layton for her willingness to take stands to meet the needs of the entire community.

Collins-Layton, Executive Director for NAMI of Porter County, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is an advocate for the mentally ill, a group facilitator and an educational trainer at the local and state levels.

The Gale C. Corley Presidentís Award was presented to Dale Clapp for his many years of service and support to the Porter-Starke Board of Directors. Clapp, Senior Vice-president and Regional Manager for Mercantile Bank, is the current board president for the Porter-Starke Foundation board of directors. Clapp lives in Valparaiso with his wife and two children.

The Robert Anderson Community Education & Service Award and the Mental Health Associationís Distinguished Service Award were presented to Mental Health Association board president and Porter-Starke Foundation board member Julie Graegin, for her continued commitment to the community to educate and influence issues of importance in the cause of mental health. Previously Graegin, who has a MA in Counseling from Valparaiso University, had worked in the Community Support Services department of Porter-Starke for over eight years. ďI was able to see how important the Mental Health Association and Porter-Starke Services was to the community. I believe everyone struggles with mental wellness at different times in their lives and these agencies are there to help. I feel honored to be involved with them,Ē Graegin stated. Graegin lives in Valparaiso with her husband and three daughters.

The Patient Care & Advocacy Award was presented to James Spanopoulos for his devotion, compassion and dedicated efforts to help the mentally ill of our community. Spanopoulos, a licensed pharmacist and Director of Fagen Pharmacy in Valparaiso has piloted many pharmaceutical programs for those with mental illness and various hospice and assisted living facilities within the county and state. He currently serves on the board of directors for Porter Hospital, the Whispering Pines in Valparaiso and is an advisory board member for the Mental Health Association in Porter County.

The Mental Health Association awarded the following awards: The ARCH Award went to Stanley Lelek, Ph.D. for his exceptional devotion and compassion to the MHAís Advisory Board and for his efforts in building the arch of services which promote mental wellness in the community.

Friends of the Mental Health Association awards went to Ian Lucas for his tireless volunteer efforts to the agency and to Von Tobelís Hardware & Lumber for their continued support of the MHA and with recent renovations to their facility. Accepting the award for Von Tobelís was Curt Malangoni.


Posted 9/26/2005