The HOPE Awards honor people and organizations who are making strides and influencing change to advance behavioral health right here in Stark County.

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Awards honor people who are advancing best practice in encounters involving people who may be struggling with substance use and/or a mental illness.

Thank you all for your outstanding work and the positive impact you’ve made in our community!
Professional of the Year: Abigail Harding
Abigail is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor with a passion for providing the utmost quality of services to young adults struggling with mental health disorders. She received her Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from The University of Akron. Abigail has worked in the school based mental health field for 13 years. The population Abigail has served include children, adolescent, and families. ​ Abigail’s compassion for adolescents is rooted from experience and understanding. Abigail is employed by CommQuest Services Inc. where staff believe “Hope Happens Here.” The last two years she has served the Jackson Local School District providing school based mental health services.

Abigail is married to her loving and supportive husband, Adam. They have three wonderful children. She enjoys spending quality family time and spending time with friends.
"I am very humbled and grateful to be receiving the HOPE award, Professional of the Year, from StarkMHAR. Thank you to my remarkable parents for supporting me and teaching me to be generous. My father always said, 'You can always give back, anytime of year.' Thank you to my husband, friends, and colleagues, for encouraging me and shaping me into the person I am today."

“Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.”-Martin Luther King Jr.
Advocate of the Year: David Thomas
My name is David Thomas. I graduated from Alliance High School in 1995 and I attended Malone University where I majored in Social Work and wrote for the College Newspaper, The Aviso. I have a 20 year career in the helping fields from Acting Social Service Director at a nursing home, to Homeless Shelter Director, Drug Abstinence Coordinator for youth, Director of MRDD school, and now as Case Manager at Comprehensive Behavioral Health Associates Inc. I love serving my clients and I love advocating for them in many forms from connecting them to resources for assistance, being a sounding board for them to make healthy decisions as well as working with Counselors and Med Practitioners as a team to help the client on their journey to a healthier life.

Since COVID-19 and social distancing, our practice has changed and sneakers have become a very important part of my Case Manager Tool Box. I see my clients on foot, and I get them out of their houses to walk and get fresh air and exercise as well as delivering prescriptions or networking with other resources to help them. I love my clients and this challenge of COVID-19 is just that - a challenge - but as any nurse will confirm you go with the challenge because serving your clients is the most important thing.

I am an advocate journalist, I host two shows on Facebook, "Your World in Focus" and "The Flashlight." I use journalism to bring to light issues that affect people locally and the world at large. Many of the issues have to deal with mental health and combating the stigma someone may face by seeking treatment or assistance. I hope to create a foundation to further fund and expand my journalism called Thomas Global. I would like to use the power of journalism to address mental health and social issues around the world.
Young Advocate of the Year: Hannah Tapyrik
Hello! My name is Hannah Tapyrik and I am 18 years old. I recently graduated from GlenOak High School as an International Baccalaureate Programme candidate. In the fall, I will be attending The University of Vermont with a major in Sociology and a minor in Global Studies. Afterwards, I plan to work at the American Civil Liberties Union in Montpelier, Vermont. Aside from being an advocate, I like to spend time outdoors, play the violin, and figure skate.

I am so grateful to have received the Young Advocate of the Year award. My passion has always been to help other people and I am beyond thankful to know that I have played a role in improving the health and well-being of the Stark County community. My work does not end here, as I will dedicate my life to being an aide to those in need. This HOPE award has been an honor and I will continue to represent the standards that it presents throughout my life. Thank you for the recognition of being a Stark County advocate.
Young Advocate of the Year: Katie Doll
The work surrounding substance abuse prevention and mental health awareness has been a passion of mine since I was 12 years old. With the support of my brothers and friends, I started in Perry’s Junior Teen Institute, and later in the high school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions club. I furthered my involvement in Stark County Youth Led Prevention and Ohio Youth Led Prevention Network. Some of the work I’ve had the honor to be involved in is the We Are The Majority Rally, CADCA, and focus groups. Since graduating, I have entered college with a major in political science with aims to continue affecting the prevention field directly through the government.

It’s an honor to have been given the award of Youth Advocate of the Year for my work in substance abuse prevention and mental health awareness. The voice of the youth is an extremely powerful tool to affect current issues. Youth often have the drive and passion to change the country for the better and work on a wide range of issues from substance abuse prevention, mental health awareness, LGBTQ+ rights, environmental issues, the Black Lives Matter movement, and Indigenous, Black, and People of Colors rights. Unfortunately, the voice of youth is often written off as uneducated children, which is not the case. This award not only honors the work done by youth ages 13 to 25 but also gives a platform and encourages youth to continue striving for change when it seems the world only sees passionate youth as angry teenagers.
Community Champion: NAMI Stark County
NAMI Stark County works to “ Provide Hope for Recovery for Persons and Families Impacted by Mental Illness." We are dedicated to improving the lives of persons and families in Stark County who have been touched by mental illness through NAMI public education and information; family and peer education, support and advocacy on behalf of people living with mental illness and for the health of our community; and visible public events that raise funds and awareness.

We are honored to receive the StarkMHAR Hope Award. We would like to thank StarkMHAR for recognizing the work we do in Stark County and Bart Fredrick NAMI Stark County Board President for the nomination. NAMI Stark County staff, volunteers and board members have lived experience as a person living with mental illness, a family member or both. NAMI Stark County’s dedicated and passionate staff, volunteers, board members and community partners help make a difference in so many lives.
Innovation Award:
Interdenominational Ministerial Association of Stark County and Vicinity
Two Canton City Public Health staff members shared these thoughts about the forward-thinking approach of this dedicated group: "As we all know, the opioid epidemic is very real. People are dying, families are being torn apart. The time is NOW to do more and these six faith leaders are replying to the call to
action! While church is not typically a place one can expect to see harm reduction, these pastors have, without hesitation, committed to partnering with CCPH to help saturate our community with Narcan..."

Part of the IMA's purpose statement reads: "The members of the Interdenominational Ministerial Association, seek spiritual wholeness for our churches, the community and ourselves at large." This December 2019 article in the Canton Repository further discusses one way they are doing just that: Read the story

“We would like to thank StarkMHAR for acknowledging the work done by the IMA as we demonstrate what positive impact we can have on our communities and Stark County when we work together as a faith community.” - Raymont Johnson, Pastor Spirit of Faith Ohio
CIT Advocate of the Year: Judge Taryn Heath
Judge Taryn Heath has served on the Stark County Court of Common Pleas since 2007. An advocate for the compassionate treatment of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system, she chairs the Stark County HOPE Program, a collaboration of community partners assisting offenders with mental illness and is the Presiding Judge of the Honor Court Program (Veterans Treatment Court) since 2011. She has received several local awards for her service to local veterans and has presented on justice-involved veteran issues at state and national conferences. Judge Heath also serves as the Stark County Judicial Delegate for Stepping Up Ohio (a national initiative targeted at reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in jails by bringing together criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, clients, and families to find creative solutions to prevent these individuals from continuing to cycle through the criminal justice system). Judge Heath participates in both the Supportive Housing Committee for Stepping Up Stark and a Sequential Intercept Mapping Project with Northeast Ohio Medical University for Stepping Up Ohio. 

Judge Heath obtained her Juris Doctor from The University of Akron School of Law and Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Miami University after graduating from St. Thomas Aquinas High School. A private practitioner for 25 years, she has also served as a prosecutor for the City of Alliance, an Assistant Ohio Attorney General, and for 13 years as a Magistrate for the Canton Municipal Court. Judge Heath is married to Joseph Cholley and they have three children and six grandchildren.

Judge Heath is a frequent lecturer on ethics, professionalism, and veteran issues for the Ohio Judicial College, the Ohio Common Pleas Judges’ Association, and the Ohio State Bar Association Conferences. She also serves on the Ohio Judicial Conference Planning Committee, Co-Chair of the Specialized Dockets Committee for the Ohio Judicial College, Fourth Vice President of the Ohio Common Pleas Judges’ Association Board of Trustees, a member of the Common Pleas Curriculum Committee and she regularly participates on judicial panels on civil litigation issues for the National Business Institute.
CIT Officer of the Year: Kelly Crowl
Kelly has been a police officer for 14 years with her last 11 years dedicated to the school resource officer program in the Louisville City School District. She has her bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Kent State University and holds a Master School Resource Officer Certification from the Ohio School Resource Officer Association. She was the 2012 recipient of the Louisville officer-of-the-year award for her dedication to student well-being. She is a Crisis Intervention Team trained officer who routinely utilizes her training in the schools when dealing with juveniles in crisis . In 2019, she presented “Empowering school safety in a small community” on the Louisville SRO program at the National School Safety Conference in Las Vegas.
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