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Community Service Awards

2021 EVENT
Home Community Service Awards 2021 EVENT

Join the LiveStream Event at 9:00AM

A Word from President & CEO

Pete Kerns, President & CEO of Serenity LaneThroughout history, sustained crises have led to some of the world’s most notable innovations and the growth of its greatest leaders. Because of the tragically enduring impacts of COVID-19 and its corresponding mental health pandemic, we have seen, and will continue to see, advances in medicine, public health and in behavioral healthcare. Likewise, committed and resilient individuals of character and compassion have emerged as leaders in these fields.

On Wednesday, October 20, Serenity Lane is pleased to recognize a number of people who in their selfless service have sacrificed greatly over the past year, and who’s efforts have improved the lives of those they’ve cared for.

Substance Use Disorder is a diabolical disease – misleading even to those in its grip who may fail to appreciate that it is a chronic, life-threatening and life-long condition. Recovery requires an acknowledgement of the disease’s potential and a resolve and grit that few could muster alone. Which is why, during the worldwide crisis of our time, individuals like those we honor this year, who treat the disease and care for those afflict- ed, are by nature and profession compassionate and committed.

Serenity Lane is grateful to be among that community of treatment providers in Oregon, tested by the extremes of this difficult time. And we thank you for joining us to honor this year’s Community Service awardees.

Pete Kerns
Serenity Lane


Program

Emcee
Mary Reilly

Opening Remarks
Pete Kerns, President and CEO

Community Service Awards

Lifetime Achievement Award
Presented by Pete Kerns and Chris Babcock

Dwight Lee Spiritual Leader Award
Presented by Deleesa Meeshintubby

Community Liaison Award
Presented by Pete Kerns

Addiction Professional Award
Presented by Christine Harper

A Word from our Title Sponsor:

Dave Bakke, CEO/President

Healthcare Professional Award
Presented by Pete Kerns

Mental Healthcare Professional Award
Presented by Dr. Cheryl Gifford

Community Leadership Award
Presented by Fr. John Kerns

Unsung Hero Awards

Presented by Mary Reilly

Closing Remarks
Pete Kerns


2021 Community Service Awards

“For your exemplary work in the field of drug and alcohol treatment, education and prevention.”

Lifetime Achievement Award
Susie Dey

Dwight Lee Spiritual Leader Award
Pastor Gabe Piechowicz

Community Liaison Award
Ami Saries

Addiction Professional Award
Christopher J. Harrington, MA , CADC II, QMHP-R

Healthcare Professional Award
Shawna Boyd, RN

Mental Health Professional Award
Hannah Beeching, LCSW

Community Leadership Award
Pam Pearce

Lifetime Achievement Award

Susie Dey, MSW
Retired Executive Director
Willamette Family, Inc.

Susie Dey came to Oregon in 1980 after thirteen years of working in social services in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas of California. MSW in hand from Arizona State, she had already worked with some hard cases: child abuse, foster care, youth with substance use disorders, and gang activity.

To many, Susie is best known as the Executive Director of Willamette Family, a position she held from 2013 until just a few weeks ago when she retired. It was her second position with the agency where she had started as the Director of the Women’s Residential Program in 2005. But Susie actually spent most of her career in Lane County with child welfare as a branch manager with the Oregon Department of Human Services. In her 21 years in this position, she focused on building community partnerships and implementing integrated treatment to strengthen the support nets for families and kids.

Susie is known for this community partnership focus. She has been a dynamic leader and passionate advocate for the families she and her organizations have served. Willamette Family, Inc., under her leadership, was named one of Oregon’s top 100 Non Profit Employers, expanded services, and received COA Accreditation which validated the agency’s best practices in its work. Her depth of knowledge of the issues and systemic challenges facing the families she served made her a powerful voice in the community in front of partner organizations and funders. Susie is part of several community initiatives, including United Way of Lane County’s Success by Six Leadership Team and the University of Oregon’s F.E.A.T. project.

For 55 years of service to individuals and families facing extraordinary circumstances, Susie is so deserving of all the riches retirement may afford her, and the 2021 Serenity Lane Lifetime Achievement Award.


Spiritual Leader Award

Pastor Gabe Piechowicz
EveryOne Church

Nominated by Janina Rager, Eugene Police Department

Gabe Piechowicz came to Oregon from Buffalo, New York, following a passion for running. While he was never a track star on Hayward Field, he had clearly started a journey in the right direction. He met a girl, fell in love and found himself in search of honest work as he looked to start a family and a life. For sixteen years he worked in logging, a young man’s game, as he describes it, before realizing he needed to try something new and enrolled at Bushnell University. His only plan was to fully experience college life and build a network, but a major remained a mystery. A professor suggested the ministry, and Gabe, not having been raised in a church, said “why not?” He knew, though, if he was going to take that path, he would have to make it his own.

Not that long after, Gabe found himself with his first ministry job which included the difficult work of having to close a church. And as an aside, he had begun working with the homeless taking shelter in the church eaves each night. He was already conceptualizing a new kind of ministry. One that existed beyond the walls of the church and reached the most vulnerable in the community where they are. And the Lyft Together Program was born.
The program required an exchange for a safe place to sleep in the form of working to keep the church grounds and surrounding neighborhood clean. In addition, he asked that participants attend a weekly support group where they talked about their life challenges. Over time, many of them began to find footing in solid work and purpose. Eventually, efforts to sell the church were successful and he now needed to find shelter for those he had started working with. Enter Square One Villages where Pastor Gabe was able to secure housing for all of them. While not all of their substance use went away, it most certainly reduced for many participants.

Gabe is clear that his church does not have a Sunday service and that services are held where they are needed, when they are needed. Which for him, is on the street every day. He uses real and approachable language and practices spiritual consent, not discussing spirituality until the other person broaches it. And he is clear that his job is to walk with people on their journey, not to judge where they are.

As for the life changing work, his approach is simple: remind people of their inherent value enough to get them to contribute and then they will see the value come back to them. Even with those in the depths of their use, he is clear that they still deserve acceptance: “You can affirm humanity without condoning behavior.”


Community Liaison Award

Ami Saries
Supervisor
Department of Human Services, Addiction Recovery Team

Nominated by Thalassa Montemurro, Relief Nursery and Kathryn Awesome, Relief Nursery & DHS Addiction Recovery Team

It is clear that Ami Saries grew up surrounded by love and unwavering support. She beams when she talks about her amazing older brother and gushes about a mom who loved and supported her unconditionally and taught her how to make the world better by living a purpose and intention-driven life. At every turn describing her background, there is a mentor, role model and loved one who led her to where she is today. She is extremely grateful to have so many people along her journey that have served and continue to serve as her inspiration every day.

Ami is the first recipient of the Community Liaison Award. She was nominated by two people outside of her agency who both mentioned the numerous organizations she collaborates within the community. She is the supervisor for the Addiction Recovery Team at the Department of Human Services. As Ami says, in her position, when she is able to collaborate with the community in a way that allows for Child Welfare to intervene only when necessary to ensure safety and to provide the least restrictive and least intrusive intervention possible, that is the ideal outcome. Her continued service in this role is about ensuring that when her agency does become involved, she and her team can be as meaningful of a partner as possible.

Ami spent 10 years as a bilingual, Spanish speaking caseworker before deciding to apply to become a supervisor. In her work with families, she cites an intentional desire to want to share the power with families she serves by honoring their stories, experiences, and journeys and by validating their life challenges. Through partnering with other community agencies here in Lane County and other entities throughout the state, she wants to reduce the stigma of addiction, advocate for those experiencing substance use disorder and empower individuals to find recovery. She believes if clients are treated with respect, dignity, fairness, equity, and integrity that they can begin to feel worthy of positive change. If even their smallest efforts are validated, recognized, and acknowledged, they feel empowered to keep going and find hope. As a supervisor, she appreciates the opportunity to model that approach with caseworkers she supervises. She feels that mentoring ensures that the next generation will prioritize partnership with families and the community in the same way she does.

As for her next act, Ami is participating in conversations with agency leaders throughout the state to help roll out plans from the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act on a statewide level. The idea is to have family plans of care set up statewide so that interventions become the exception in a system with the focus on prevention and partnership. She is also participating in conversations with local Judges and Court officials across the state about the development and implementation of a Family Treatment Court system here in Lane County which has been another long-standing goal of hers.

Ami models balance with a healthy diet of college football and camping. Outdoors, she can completely unplug and practice being present and stay grounded in the values that guide her work, even on the hard days.


Addiction Professional Award

Christopher J. Harrington, MA, QMHP-R, CADC3
Clinical Supervisor
Willamette Family, Inc.

Nominated by Thalassa Montemurro, Relief Nursery

Chris Harrington, as he tells it, spent years looking for greener pastures, before falling in love with school. Currently completing his PhD in anthropology at the University of Oregon, even a young family and a full-time job can’t stop this passion.

When asked how such a devotion connects with his current work as a clinical supervisor at Willamette Family, Inc., Chris answers with clarity. He explains that when the women he works within treatment shake their heads at the decisions that impact their lives, he explains how trauma and crisis throughout all cultures actually show similar decision patterns. When looked at through the lens of anthropology and human development, he is able to normalize their experience and give them an opportunity to release themselves from the cycle of shame that can act as fuel for their addiction.

Chris has twelve years of sobriety. At first, he was not sure he wanted to mix his recovery with a career in working with those with substance use disorders. He took a side job with Willamette Family as his family grew and after that could feel his plans changing. After three and a half years, he was promoted to supervisor.

His favorite part of the work is seeing the before and after. Watching physical and emotional health return and helping people see their full potential and being reunited as families. He wants to build a rapport with them to help them feel understood. The past year and a half has been a constantly changing environment and the client needs are higher, as are those of staff. As a supervisor, he models a disciplined regimen of self-care that is the cornerstone of his own recovery. He commits to an hour off in the middle of the day for a walk along the river near the office and sometimes even fishing. Whatever it is, he dives completely into the other activity.

As for what is next, Chris is staying open to the next right thing. He would like to continue to incorporate new supports into his work, such as helping those with pets and finding more opportunities for collaboration with innovative partners.


Healthcare Professional Award

Shawna Boyd, RN
Serenity Lane

Nominated by the Clinical Team, Serenity Lane

Nursing found Shawna Boyd on a lunch break. Walking through downtown McMinnville, she noticed a man on the ground and was surprised that she, a lending agent, seemed to be the only one willing and able to help him. She commenced CPR and when the EMTs arrived, they asked what hospital she was with. Not at all happy with her employment at the time, Shawna was not about to let this sign pass her by. The next day she enrolled in nursing school and the former self-professed, not great student finished at the top of her class.

When talking with her, it is surprising the profession didn’t find her sooner. Shawna’s calm and compassionate demeanor is only matched by her approachable wisdom. This affect landed her in some of the tougher units in nursing as she was starting out: dementia and Alzheimer’s, critical care, and the ER. But in 2018, she found herself in desperate need of a change and the moment she set foot on the Serenity Lane campus, she knew it was where she needed to be.

Shawna is known for her ability to connect with patients at their most vulnerable points in detox. When it feels like too much and they are in danger of checking themselves out, Shawna likes to remind them that the experience they are having is just a moment. While she knows the power of the disease, having lost both her father and sister to it, she doesn’t focus on judgment and scare tactics. She knows they are already afraid and invites them to just stay the night and focuses on providing them the best comfort and care while they are with her.

Shawna finds strength from the patients and joins them on some of their journeys including gaining skills from attending their morning inspiration meetings. She also enjoys watching her young adult children come into their own lives. A native Oregonian, Shawna is an adventurous outdoorswoman, filling her free time with hiking, biking, and climbing in new spots.


Mental Health Professional Award

Hannah Beeching
Crisis Team
PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend

Nominated by Tim Danforth, PeaceHealth

Hannah was born and raised in Indiana. While a student at the University of Iowa, a friend suggested social work as profession after noticing how complete strangers would approach Hannah to talk or ask for her advice. The coursework clicked and she continued with graduate school in Portland. After graduation she worked for some respected community organizations: Sheltercare and the Center for Family Development, eventually making her way to a position with Sacred Heart in the psychiatric unit in the old University District site. In 2013 she transferred to the Crisis Team at Riverbend.

Not everyone would describe working on the Crisis Team as fun, but it’s that very twist of perspective that she uses in helping her patients. She splits her time between acute cases in the ER and doing consults with psychiatric patients. Hannah’s job has her working with a population that is often marginalized. The majority of them have a substance use disorder and difficulty getting a diagnosis and the help they need.

And that is where the fun comes in. Hannah enjoys solving the puzzle of what will help move them forward. She is particularly interested in the evaluation and diagnosis aspect of her work knowing that identifying the correct issue creates an opportunity to get people the treatment they need. But even if she doesn’t have the opportunity to find that missing piece with them, she tries to give them what she can in the moment. Sometimes just a sandwich and a nap reminds someone that they matter. Hannah’s pragmatic affect and positive focus is known for helping the hardest cases find peace and hope that there might be another way.

Looking ahead, Hannah is interested in passing on what she knows to the next generation, arming them with foundational knowledge and a trauma-informed approach. To stay grounded, she enjoys getting outside and out of town, running her dogs on a quiet beach, and spending time with friends and family.


Community Leadership Award

Pam Pearce, CRM
Executive Director
Community Living Above

Nominated by Fr. John Kerns, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church

Within five minutes of talking to Pam Pearce, you will find yourself with a new friend and new hope. She may start the conversation by reading you the full version of the Serenity Prayer, giving emphasis to the line, “Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.” Which, if you keep in mind as she tells her story, you will understand why.
Pam was, as she describes it, a regular kid growing up in suburban Portland – at least on the surface. But after her first drink at fourteen, she knew pretty quickly she did not drink like other people. As her disease progressed throughout high school and college, so did the consequences. But it wasn’t until she almost lost one of her most important relationships that she found sobriety.

She is clear that ever since that July day in 1995, she has lived a life of recovery with zero shame, stigma, or anonymity. And that she has followed the path illuminated for her along the way to help others in their disease. That path became dramatically clear in 2015 when she was approached for a job with Community Living Above, the peer support group for the prevention of high-risk behaviors in youth, of which she is now the executive director.
Watching 150 kids come together regularly to help each other was an inspiration and Pam was able to see how her struggles could have been avoided. She dove into the work and in her research learned about recovery high schools and in 2017 launched the effort to bring one to Oregon. In 2019, Harmony Academy welcomed its first class of students in Lake Oswego. And today, while Pam continues her work at Community Living Above, she uses her powerful networking skills to continue to move the needle on education and prevention of substance use disorders. She is a prevention subcommittee member for the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission and also on the steering committee for Oregon Recovers.

Pam finds strength and peace in helping others, spending her spare time spreading joy to friends and those new to recovery, often with the delivery of a thoughtful gift or book. She lives in Lake Oswego with her husband, three kids, four cats, and a dog.


2021 Unsung Hero Awards

“I’m an Unsung Hero in the fight against the disease of addiction.”

Chloe Meola
Serenity Lane

David Tift
Serenity Lane

Kari Evans
Serenity Lane

Kelsey Zimmerman
Serenity Lane

Kimberly Neely
AA Community

Laurie Nunnelee
Serenity Lane

Lino Obeso
Serenity Lane

Mark Brauer
Serenity Lane

Mason Marin
Relief Nursery

Megan Love
Willamette Family

Nicole Newall
Adult Protective Services/Senior and Disabled Services

Rolyn Arata
Community Volunteer

Chloe Meola, BS, CADCII
Regional Clinical Supervisor, Serenity Lane

Nominated by Patrice Crisp, Serenity Lane

What does this award mean to you?

Serenity Lane Community Service Awards recognize incredibly talented, selfless, and dedicated individuals seeking to support people struggling with addiction and mental illness in our communities. It is an honor to be named among them. I truly believe I am only as effective as those around me. Therefore, this award represents the efforts of many people who helped me become the recovery advocate I am today. Each and every individual that works in the field of behavioral health deserves an award for showing up for others every day! To be present with those who are experiencing some of the darkest days of their lives is a gift of grace. I look forward to helping increase access to mental health and addiction services in our communities and keeping hope alive!


David Tift
Dietary Services, Serenity Lane

Nominated by Cathy Layng, Serenity Lane

“David is a very loyal and dedicated employee for Serenity Lane. After recovery of his own addiction on the outside, he sought employment at Serenity Lane where he could help others implement our mission statement. He works daily with patients in Dietary while he is serving them on the food line, cleaning the cafeteria, kitchen, and anywhere is he is needed to make our patients live in a safe and clean environment. Always friendly and wel- coming to all patients and staff.”

-Cathy Layng, Dietary Supervisor, Serenity Lane


Kari Evans
Serenity Lane Manager of Outreach and Therapeutic Yoga Instructor

Nominated by the Serenity Lane Clincal Team

What do you wish people knew about your work?

I get to show up each day and offer my expertise as well as my authenticity! I get to be a part of the wow moments. Any impactful work I do is made possible not by my own efforts, but a team of awesome individuals who allow for diversity, progress, intention, and excellence. Also, this:

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” – Van Gogh


Kelsey Zimmerman, CADC I
Former Residential Counselor, currently Enrichment Coordinator, Serenity Lane

Nominated by Kara Lonberg, Serenity Lane

What does this award mean to you?

To me, this award shows the importance of being a servant with the right motive. As a woman who strives to have a close relationship with God, there are two scriptures that come to mind that help me stay focused doing this line of work, even though I fall short a lot of the time. The first is Mark 10:45 “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The second is Matthew 6:1-4 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So, when you give to those in need, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites (the religious people) do in the syna- gogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

This is oftentimes a thankless job. But when my mindset is right, I’m grateful for that. Me helping others should never be about making myself look better or for recognition. But to love and serve others, while teaching them to love themselves and others as well. Because at the end of the day, we are all on the same level of the playing field.


Kimberly Neely
Community Volunteer, AA Community

Nominated by Douglas J Moore

If you could do anything to make life better for those battling addiction/in recovery, what would it be?

I want those struggling with addiction to see the real possibility of recovery. To get a glimpse of hope in the midst of the storm. To really grasp that all it takes is surrender and acceptance that we all need help, and can’t attain sobriety, or keep it, alone. Life is amazing on the other side, and my addiction made me a better person. More loving, gracious, and strong.


Laurie Nunnelee
Manager, Residential Heath Services Serenity Lane

Nominated by the Clincal Team, Serenity Lane

What does this award mean to you?

What this award means to me. It means that I work with an amazing team all striving for the win. This team as allowed me to shine through them and for that I’m grateful. For a little background, I came to Serenity Lane from surgical sub specialty with no drug and alcohol experience, Dr. Geisler checked in with me every day. I recall one day I was very frustrated. I said to him “I’m so used to instant gratification in the surgery world you identify the problem, schedule surgery, see the patient back in two weeks, they feel like a million bucks, and you say GREAT! Hope to see you on the street corner not back here.” Dr. Geisler looked at me and said “For us it’s about the wins, you will get it,” and he walked away leaving me to wonder what he meant. A few weeks later I was at the grocery store and heard someone calling my name. I turned and she said “Do remember me?” She said her name, she was about 20 lbs. lighter and was glowing. She went on to tell me about her amazing career, how her kids were doing and life in general and how Serenity Lane saved her life and how much she appreciated all I did for her. It came to me then that is what Dr. Geisler meant for us, it’s the wins. I will take the win over instant gratification any day. I have learned sobriety truly is one hour at a time one day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time, a life time.


Lino Obeso
Chef, Serenity Lane

Nominated by Cathy Layng, Serenity Lane

“Lino started employment at Serenity Lane in 2016. He would watch daily as our campus was being built. His wife Sabrina would say “Someday you will work here Lino. You will be where people will appreciate you and you will help thousands of people heal.” That dream came true for Lino. Since day one when he stepped on campus his first day of employment, he has helped our patients heal. He gives them medicine of healing through his amazing meals he puts out daily. He treats all our patients and staff like his own family. Full of love and caring for all daily. He is extremely dedicated and helping us carrying on our mission statement, our values, philosophy, and commitment.”

-Cathy Layng, Dietary Supervisor, Serenity Lane


Mark Brauer, CADC-R
Counselor Associate, Serenity Lane

Nominated by the Clincal Team, Serenity Lane

What do you wish people knew about your work?

I wish people could experience the sensation of witnessing someone rec- ognize their true potential, harness it, and move into their unknown with strength and courage. It’s a powerful thing, and the closest to magic I’ve been.


Mason A Marin CRM
Peer Support, Relief Nursery

Nominated by Genene DeMoss, Relief Nursery

What do you wish people knew about your work?

One thing I try and remind the people I work with professionally and personally is that there is light on the other side. Getting sober is not easy but it is so worth it. I try and lead by example that you can still have fun and get so much enjoyment out of life without the use of substances. If I could do anything to make people’s lives easier suffering from addiction, it would be reaching out my hand, saying hello and trying to make them laugh.


Megan Love, AAS, CDAC-R
Women’s Residential Program Coordinator, Willamette Family, Inc.

Nominated by Genene DeMoss, Relief Nursery

What do you wish people knew about your work?

I wish people realized that working in this field is like having a front row seat to the greatest show on earth! I get to see women be presented with an opportunity to defy statistics, overcome barriers, break abuse cycles and rise to the occasion. I get to watch them become their own hero. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!


Nicole Newall, MSW
Unit Manager, Adult Protective Services

Nominated by Thalassa Montemurro

If you could do anything to make life better for those battling addiction/in recovery, what would it be?

One of the struggles I see most frequently in the work I do is access to af- fordable housing. We all know the stigma around addiction or past criminal history is such a barrier to individuals who deserve safe, affordable shelter. I would love to see additional supportive housing projects and opportunities for those who are facing housing-related discrimination.


Rolyn Arata
Community Volunteer and Transportation Specialist for special needs children.

Nominated by Douglas J Moore

What does this award mean to you?

I feel there are so many deserving of this award. I feel a lot of gratitude. It means I’m on the right track and that I surrounded myself with the right people and they taught me to freely give what was so freely given to me. It means that people have noticed the change in me and that I want to help others. I love the recovery world and really I thank the recovery world or I would not be here.


Thank you to our presenting sponsor

Thank You

Serenity Lane Board Members

Mary Chavin
Tim Danforth
Dana Fleming
Dean Hansen
Sr. Jane Hibbard
Fr. John Kerns
Dr. John Lipkin

Community Service Awards Committee

Mary Chavin
Tim Danforth
Angie Delaplain
John Dunphy
Mike Dyer
Stephanie Edwards
Suzanne Graf
Pete Kerns
Kelly Sutherland

Thank you for joining us for the 11th Annual Community Service Awards!

For information about CSA, Serenity Lane, or to join our mailing list, please fill out our online form.

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