Award Winners: 7th Annual Symposium

November 21, 2022
Spartanburg, SC—Mental Health America of Spartanburg County (MHA Spartanburg) announces the Inaugural Mental Health Awards during the 7th Annual Mental Health Symposium held on October 13, 2022, at The Piedmont Club in Spartanburg, SC. The awards were presented in recognition of leadership in the mental health community in the Upstate of South Carolina and are the first public award recognition for service in this area.

Youth Volunteer of the Year

MHA Spartanburg recognized Divya Srijay as Youth Volunteer of the Year. She is a senior at Dorman High School who is enrolled in the USC Upstate Scholars Program, with plans to attend college next year. She played a crucial role in the founding of the April 2022 Be Kind to your Mind event, which focuses on ending the stigma associated with mental health. She is MHA Spartanburg’s first Youth Volunteer, a position she sought out, and she recruited other youth volunteers who assisted with the Symposium. Cathy McCabe, Advisory Board Vice Chair, said:

“Even as a young adult, Divya truly understands the mental health issues facing our community, especially our youth. She saw the effect that COVID had on her friends and wanted to be a part of our work more than ever. She was the impetus for our first annual spring Be Kind to Your Mind event and secured music and volunteers for the event. She is really special and is a blessing to MHA Spartanburg.”

The Miles Award

Mary Miles was given the Miles Award, which recognizes Service to MHA Spartanburg. The award is named in honor of Mary and the lengths (‘miles’) she went to while guiding MHA Spartanburg. Miles has a lengthy history of leadership in MHA Spartanburg and is credited with reviving it in 2014 with support from The Spartanburg County Foundation, Mary Black Foundation, and United Way of the Piedmont. She was recognized as MHA SC Volunteer of the Year in 2018, and most recently served as Advisory Board Chair until 2022. Maggie Gainey, Advisory Board member and former Executive Director, said, “Mary has been an inspiration, both personally and professionally.” She added,

“Her consistent commitment to Mental Health America of Spartanburg County has helped provide many people vital mental health education with the goal of decreasing stigma around mental health issues and fostering greater dialogue about these needs in our community.”  

Advocate of the Year

Patty Nodine was named Advocate of the Year in recognition of her efforts to increase access to mental health care for students in public schools. As Director of Behavioral Health Services at ReGenesis Health Care, she implemented an initiative to place licensed mental health practitioners directly in schools and she added a Medication Assisted Treatment program within ReGenesis. The school program currently has partnerships with Spartanburg County School Districts 1, 2 and 6, and Cherokee County School Districts, with more than 20 behavioral health therapist positions in schools. The ReGenesis MAT program currently operates at most ReGenesis locations one day a week and is based at the Phoenix Center in Greenville, SC. Nodine is currently in private practice and continues to be an advocate for access to mental health. ”Patty is driven by her passion for lifting others up, whether it’s her clients or her colleagues,” remarked Ross Hill, Executive Director of MHA Spartanburg.

“Her impact on our community is hard to quantify and she’s an inspirational example of how we can effect change on both an individual and community level.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Dr. Jim Rentz, who pioneered the field of Marriage and Family Therapy within South Carolina. He advocated for the state to recognize and provide licenses for Marriage and Family Therapists and holds license number 1 for SC LMFT. He was integral to the founding of Converse University’s Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program, which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), as well as WestGate Family Therapy, now EMERGE Family Therapy Center and Teaching Clinic. “Dr. Rentz has had immeasurable impact on the community of mental health through his direct actions and the actions of the hundreds of therapists who were trained by him and by the programs he established,” said Susan Lea, MHA Spartanburg’s Advisory Board Chair. 

“Thanks to his efforts, many people have benefitted from well-educated and trained Marriage and Family Therapists.”