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Published: Wednesday, 10/12/2011

Short film wins Innovation Award

nonprofit groups' achievements draw recognition

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Judy Seibenick of Hospice of Northwest Ohio, left, Courtney Weiss of Unison Behavioral Health Group, and Jim Funk of Read for Literacy hold glass art their organizations received at the Northwest Ohio Innovation and Excellence Awards. The honors were presented yesterday. Judy Seibenick of Hospice of Northwest Ohio, left, Courtney Weiss of Unison Behavioral Health Group, and Jim Funk of Read for Literacy hold glass art their organizations received at the Northwest Ohio Innovation and Excellence Awards. The honors were presented yesterday.
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A 17-minute digitally animated film explaining how mentally ill people cope with hearing "voices" and resulting depression and other problems received the first Innovation Award during a ceremony Tuesday honoring the achievements of nonprofit organizations in Toledo.

The $5,000 prize given to Unison Behavioral Health Group was one of three bestowed during the Northwest Ohio Innovation and Excellence Awards, co-sponsored by the Toledo Community Foundation and The Blade, in partnership with the Center for Non-Profit Resources.

Excellence awards, recognizing agencies' achievements in fund-raising, financial management, governance, mission/program, evaluation, and community impact, were divided into large-agency and small- agency categories, with Hospice of Northwest Ohio winning the former and Read for Literacy Inc. winning the latter.

The awards were presented during a breakfast yesterday morning at the Toledo Club, during which Unison's film, Leon and Mia: Crisis and Recovery, was shown.

The film starts out by telling the stories of two fictional characters whose lives are nearly ruined by their illness, but who are saved -- one by being arrested, the other by contacting a crisis hot line -- by psychiatric care.

That story is followed by brief vig- nettes of actual Unison clients describing their own experiences.

The film was created by 15 Unison clients, guided by two agency staff members. It may be viewed on the Internet at http://www.unisonbhg.org/leonandmia.asp

More than 280 people from Toledo nonprofit groups and the city business community attended the breakfast.

Applications for the awards, which the foundation intends to be an annual event, were received from 128 agencies. "Toledo Community Foundation and The Blade recognize that the nonprofit sector plays a critical role in enriching and improving the lives of people throughout northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan," said Keith Burwell, the foundation's president.

Besides the $5,000 grants, which are unrestricted, each award winner received a piece of glass art by Shawn Messenger, a local artist.

"We are thrilled to be recognized by The Blade and the community foundation," said Judy Seibenick, Hospice of Northwest Ohio's executive director. "We are grateful for the support of the community and the ability to provide care."

The community foundation, which was created in 1973, has more than 525 funds with assets of about $160 million.

Calls to the other two award winners, Unison and Read for Literacy, were not returned.


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