An entrepeneur with strong Saanich ties and two City of Victoria police officers won awards for their work supporting people with mental health and substance issues.
Jim Hayden, managing partner of the Noodle Box locations in the Greater Victoria area, and Detective Sergeant Paul Spencelayh and Detective Constable Brian Asmussen of the Victoria Police Department won Community Service Awards.
Hayden and the detectives received the award as part of Mental Health Awareness Week from Island Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use Advisory Committee.
Recipients received the award Wednesday at a ceremony at Uptown Centre.
For Hayden, Wednesday’s award ceremony was a kind of home game, because it could took place just steps away from the Noodle Box location at Uptown Centre, one of two Saanich locations and one of four in the Greater Victoria area.
The restaurant holds an annual fundraiser across its 12 locations during which customers can purchase its signature spicy peanut dish for $5 with proceeds going towards the Canadian Mental Health Association. This annual fundraiser — coupled with another fundraiser held earlier in 2018 — raised $10,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Hayden had started this fundraiser in honour of his late brother Will, who had committed suicide in 2010.
Hayden referenced his brother in his speech. “I do have lived experience and I know that the struggle is real,” he said. “Whatever we can do as a community and as a society to work together to help others in need, is always something we should be working hard to do,” he said.
Spencelayh and Asmussen received their award for delivering the news of a suicide with “compassion, empathy and heart,” according to Island Health. Touched by their way, a surviving family member wrote a letter to the editor, commending the officers for their kindness.
Spancelayh said the award humbles him and Asmussen. He also used the ocassion to acknowledge the harmful impact of mental health illness and help break down barriers between law enforcement and the public. “We see first hand out in the public and also in our own lives, the huge impact, the devastation that mental health and addiction issues have on families and people,” said Spencelayh.
“We come across as robotic at times, and a little bit hard to approach, but just always know that we are there to serve you and that we are there to make your lives easier, and that is what we always strive to do.”
As part of the award, each recipient received a painting from a local artist, who has been dealing with mental health and substance issues.