The award winner started a conversation group to deal with mental health issues.
HOWLAND -- The Rev. Patricia Christ, former pastor of Richard Brown Memorial Church in Youngstown, was honored at Burdman Group's annual dinner meeting at Leo's Ristorante here.
She was the recipient Thursday night of the Doris Burdman Service Award, which acknowledges the efforts of individuals who demonstrate a commitment to mental health and human services on a voluntary basis.
Burdman Group provides a variety of services to individuals with special needs in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties. Employment and job retention services are offered in all three counties; behavioral health services are provided in Mahoning and Trumbull counties; and a comprehensive domestic violence program is operated in Mahoning County.
The Rev. Mrs. Christ is credited with starting the North Side Conversation Group, which consisted of members of her church, local mental health professionals, individuals with mental illness, Youngstown State University representatives and business owners in Youngstown's Wick Park area.
Her initial goal was to get everyone talking and then to incorporate the area's large mental health population into the everyday ebb and flow of the neighborhood. The mental health consumers were invited to monthly social gatherings at the church so that the church members and the mental health consumers could get to know each other.
She felt that if everyone got to know one another as neighbors, they would learn to care for one another as friends.
Mrs. Christ is now the pastor of Otterbien United Methodist Church in Champion. She and her husband, Roger, have four children and six grandchildren.
Fourteen program participants also were honored for their accomplishments at the dinner, and five local companies were lauded for their willingness to employ individuals with barriers to employment.
The employers were CVS Pharmacy, downtown Warren; Home Town Buffet, Niles; Essex Healthcare, Salem; Simco Management, Boardman; and Ruby Tuesdays, Austintown and Canfield.
Dennis Delon, a veteran Burdman board member, was installed as the board's new president. He has served on the board, holding various offices, for the past 12 years.
Other officers are Dianna Mason, president-elect; Paul Fridley, vice president; Terry Cloonan, treasurer; Judy Orr, assistant vice president; and Patricia Murphy, secretary. New board members are Carmelita Douglas, Lewis Macklin and Constance Pierce.