Congratulations to the 2021 Award winners announced at the Annual meeting!

Please check back in August/September of 2022 to make a nomination!

Patrick 'Bird' Kerr Award

The Health Initiative is accepting nominations from the community for the Patrick “Bird” Kerr Award, honoring an employee who exemplifies the admirable qualities Mr. Kerr demonstrated.

In order to be considered for the award, an employee must be nominated by fellow employees, administration, or Health Initiative representatives. The award will be presented each year at the Health Initiative Annual Meeting with a perpetual plaque to be placed at the Health Initiative office.

As determined by the Kerr Family and the Health Initiative, a nominee must be an employee who exhibits many of the qualities Kerr did, such as:

• continuously showing support for the Health Initiative
• striving for overall wellness in their personal and professional life
• creating opportunities for other colleagues to become more “well”
• continuously offering suggestions to help the wellness program grow
• providing encouragement to colleagues to participate in programs
• enjoying being outside and being active
• trying their best to improve, maybe having to work hard at accomplishing it but persevering
• always showing good nature and friendliness
• being open to new things, new places
• being someone everyone seems to know.

The ideal nominee will possess the majority of these qualities, and nominators should communicate this clearly in the nomination form.

Patrick “Bird” Kerr was an employee for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. With undeniable charm, he brought smiles and enthusiasm that were contagious to every room he entered. In addition, “Bird” was very supportive of the Wellness Program at his work as well as in his personal life. He strived to eat healthy, exercise and spread the word of healthy activities occurring throughout the county. Mr. Kerr passed away in 2008.

Walter Lacks Award

The Health Initiative is accepting nominations from the community for its Walter Lacks Award, given to a St. Lawrence County resident who has demonstrated enthusiasm and commitment to both personal wellness and to increasing wellness in others.

In 2011 the Health Initiative inaugurated the Walter Lacks Award, named for an amazing community resident, Walter Lacks, who well into his 90’s, worked tirelessly to improve his own health and the health of community members, whether here or across the nation and the globe. Mr. Lacks passed away in May 2018.

This award was created to both honor him and to recognize other individuals in the community who also express the qualities that Lacks embodies. A true champion for community health, Walter is a role model for all to admire and aspire to, demonstrating enthusiasm and commitment to both his personal wellness and his dedication to increasing the wellness in others.

Kelly Johnson-Eilola Award

The Health Initiative is accepting nominations for its Kelly Johnson-Eilola Award, given to a resident of St. Lawrence, Lewis, or Jefferson County who stands out as a champion of and advocate for North Country youth/teens.

As determined by the Johnson-Eilola family and Health Initiative staff, a nominee should:

  • Believe in the transformative power of youth/teens.
  • Work to support and improve the physical, emotional, mental, and sexual health of youth/teens.
  • Seek to expand the educational, social, vocational, and economic opportunities for youth/teens.
  • Apply a strengths-based, positive youth development approach, directly engaging with youth/teens and promoting positive outcomes.
  • Strive to enhance the social and emotional development of all youth/teens.
  • Promote environments that support young people’s health and safety.
  • Demonstrate a personal passion for giving back to the community and supporting local programs.

Kelly Johnson-Eilola, a long-term employee with the Health Initiative, was a compassionate woman dedicated to expanding the educational, social, vocational, and economic opportunities for teens in our community.

She served as the Health Educator Supervisor for the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program at the Health Initiative. A dedicated health educator, Kelly’s professional life with our agency focused on the fields of positive youth development, youth sexual health education, and access to care. She effectively, respectfully, and compassionately guided and supported youth, mentored college interns, and administered youth-centered programs.

Kelly’s volunteer activities included mental health counseling with Crisis Text Line and facilitation of Our Whole Lives, a sexuality education program of the Unitarian Universalist Church. Kelly had also been active with suicide prevention, sexual assault support services, hospice, women’s health care access, food security, and the Humane Society. She was devoted to her family as a partner and mother, as well as a caregiver of beloved rescue dogs.

Kelly’s presence while listening, attention to each person’s unique gifts, and willingness to engage in innovative activities demonstrated an openness to people, ideas, and meaningful connections. Her dedication to the belief that all people, including and especially youth, have a right to comprehensive, medically accurate, and developmentally appropriate sexual health and sexuality information and care is a testament to her expert understanding of positive youth development and whole person health.

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