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SANDIE SIDSWORTH - Canadian Mental Health Association
CORNERSTONE MENTOR 2019
We all know mentors are everywhere and many of us can find someone who either inspired or guided us, wittingly or not, through our journeys. But, when I asked Sandie where her path began – I did not expect her to say “urban planning”. There was a time when she thought her purpose in life was to build green cities.
But through a move to the States and not allowed to work, she turned to volunteering in compassionate care. Seeing the poverty in outlying Flint, Michigan would change the course of her career forever.
Upon returning to Canada, three daughters in tow and parents willing to help, she enrolled in the SSW program at Loyalist College and went on to Queen’s – in one of the first classes to graduate with the Honours in Social Management.
She has served front line with so many local agencies – CDC, After Hours, CAS and Prince Edward Lennox & Addington Social Services – that it is no surprise she was invited to join the Board of Three Oaks with Patti Parks – who she identifies as being her mentor.
Sandie took Patti’s words “bring people with you” to heart. She attributes Patti with how much she has helped her “sit in her own skin” and this is exactly why when Sandie’s name came up for the award, everyone wholeheartedly agreed, she was such a deserving recipient.
Sandie sees the potential of anyone and supports it – certainly, working with the Canadian Mental Health Association means she might have more opportunity than most, but it isn’t just the clients that benefit – it’s the over 100 students she has brought in to the organization – 6 students a semester – 15-20 a year – that become a part of a team as she has them advocating for clients and gives them the leadership to make decisions and to find their passion safely.
She loves how her job and the relationship between CMHA & Agilec launches people forward – Agilec is one organization (along with Meta & CHS) who are working on a pilot project for supported employment – and it is working.
I am inspired by every one of the people you’re hearing about tonight but when Sandie and I started talking about mentors, and how they’ve changed our own lives – the tears did start.
As with our other recipients, Sandie acknowledged that you don’t know you’re doing “good” – you are just getting things done.
There is so much to say, and those of you who know Sandie well – and there are many of you here in the room – you may say this little overview does not do her, her work or her impact justice. I would have to agree with you. But, when she shared this last little story with me of a Facebook post that said, "Sandie – you rock and because of you, so do I" – I can’t think of any better way to put in words how I’m sure every person that knows you feels.