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MHALA Celebrates Achievements of Individuals with Mental Health Needs at 21st Annual Golden Bell Awards

21st Annual Golden Bell Awards

As part of its nearly 100-year-old efforts to destigmatize mental health and raise awareness about the ability to recover from mental health challenges, Mental Health America of Los Angeles (MHALA) recognized the accomplishments of those it serves at its annual Golden Bell Awards on Oct. 13-14, 2022.

For the past 21 years, MHALA’s North County team has celebrated the achievements of its area members — individuals served by the agency — as well as community partners who help MHALA support members to their full potential. Golden Bell Awards are presented to individuals who achieve significant goals in the categories of employment, independent living, education, family well-being, sobriety and community participation.

This year’s awards ceremony recognized the achievements of 200 members across all categories. The event’s highest honor is the Chimbole Champion Award, which went to Carlos Aguilar. This award goes to an individual who has, through their own recovery, demonstrated exceptional leadership and has become a role model for others.

Aguilar experienced homelessness for three years, and with the support of his MHALA team he was able to find employment and stability.

“MHALA has helped me so much. You have worked so hard to get me where I’m at now, where I’m not struggling anymore,” Aguilar said. “I really thank you for that and I appreciate it.”

MHALA also recognized 10 members as Members of the Year: Rachell Miller, Benjamin Martin, Carlos Aguilar, Lilia Willis, Catana Berthiaume, Verenice Cardenas, Diopaldo Palomarez, Janeen Stone, Shykesha Gulley and Justin Estep.

The theme of this year’s Golden Bell Awards was “Recovery Rocks!” The emcees for this year’s event were Dennis Anderson, from High Desert Medical Group, and Sylvia Duarte, executive director of the Antelope Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Both have served on the MHALA Antelope Valley Advisory Committee for several years.

“We’re grateful for everything MHALA does in this community,” said Duarte. “You could say you are the building block of those starting their lives all over again. You’ve made a big impact.”

Due to the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s awards ceremony was pre-recorded and is available on MHALA’s YouTube channel

This year’s sponsors of the event were High Desert Medical Group, Lockheed Martin, Kaiser Permanente and the Antelope Valley Mall.