The Board of JACK Mental Health Advocacy (JACK MHA) is thrilled to announce that Founder and President, Kim Vincenty, was recognized by the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) with the 2023 Hero Award. The Hero Award, presented at the 28th Annual OCD Conference in San Francisco this month, recognizes “individuals who go above and beyond in their efforts to advocate and raise awareness for OCD and related disorders.”
Kim Vincenty has gone “above and beyond” as a mother, wife, OCD advocate, speaker, and support group facilitator. Kim has spent the past 20 years fostering community and helping families find the best mental health education, intervention, and recovery resources. Her advocacy and passion have directly impacted the lives of those with OCD, their loved ones, and the professionals who treat them. She participates at the highest level in IOCDF Advocate initiatives. In addition, Kim sponsors the Spanish language Behavior Therapy Training Institute (BTTI), multiple training and conference scholarship funds, and the Access to Care Program, providing evidence-based care with trained clinicians nationwide. She supports LGBTQIA+ mental health programming and art therapy programming in her home state of Florida. Kim is also the former president of IOCDF Affiliate OCD Jacksonville.
Kim Vincenty Honored with IOCDF Hero Award
Following is Kim’s speech as she was recognized at the 28th Annual OCD Conference in San Francisco, CA. Family members, board members, friends, and colleagues were in the audience. A few tears of gratitude were shed. We are so proud of Kim, who teaches us that sticktoitiveness and a mother’s love can move mountains. We cannot wait to see what she does next!
Accepting an award for something entirely born out of love is very emotional and disconcerting. I became an advocate for my beloved son, but then I fell in love with many other remarkable individuals navigating the same difficult path OCD had set before them. And, of course, they are the real heroes. Having to fight for your wellness is the most heroic thing anyone will ever do.
We began our journey twenty years ago, in the horse and buggy era, to find care and resources. But we were lucky that we landed almost immediately with a gifted therapist, well versed in ERP. Dr. Cyndee Stevens has been our family’s guiding light all these years, and she was also instrumental in encouraging me to do my advocacy work and then move forward with starting my nonprofit. I also have to give Dr. Eric Storch my deepest thanks. He was the first to show me what I did and how I behaved would impact my son’s recovery. He also promised me it would not always be as scary as it seemed for so long, that change would come. I didn’t believe it then, but he was correct. Stay in the trenches long enough, and you will see improvement.
You never accomplish anything on your own; I owe a deep debt of gratitude to so many who have helped me implement ideas and execute projects that serve the OCD community. I ran support groups for a few years but then joined OCD Jacksonville, an IOCDF affiliate. I was with them for nearly eight years, and it was my honor to have served as both vice president and president of the board. I worked with a dynamic team and created programs we were all proud of. Starting my non-profit gave me my first significant experience with facing my fears. I was riddled with self-doubt and the irony that I would have to practice what I preached! But God is good, and our nonprofit has exceeded every dream I have had this past year and a half. Most notably, this overwhelming moment!
I have to thank my team at JACK Mental Health for their unwavering support and help: My children Jack Vincenty and Ashton Wikstrom, my brilliant friends Marilyn Spiller, Rana Sass, Dr. Julie Mc Kay, therapists Victoria Schweiger and Mallory Hepp and Michael Kress, who keeps all our Financials in order. I must also thank board member Patti Hughes CEO and President of the national brand Natural Life. Over eight years ago, I pitched an idea called the Fearless Collection. She and her team enthusiastically embraced it, creating a line of merchandise with messaging that educates, empowers, and reduces the stigma of anxiety disorders. Natural Life gives us a portion of the proceeds of Fearless to support our initiatives; we are incredibly grateful to them and so many others, like Sallyn Pajcic and the Zimmerman family Foundation who understand and share our vision.
I’d also like to thank my family, particularly my dear husband, Claudio, who has supported me and our advocacy in countless ways. Love of family and love of our OCD community makes the magic happen. I am humbled to tears by the recognition of the IOCDF and my fellow advocates. What a complete joy to serve with a truly remarkable group of individuals! And speaking of tears – to all the families and moms like me that have shed countless tears over what OCD has taken from our children. Your tears are not in vain. I use them as powerful motivators, perhaps even the energy with which I grow my advocacy for the OCD community. I promise to strive to bring what the entire OCD community needs, including caregivers. My advocacy will always be fairly “Mom like.” That is who I am. For example, I’m not likely to become a TikTok influencer! But the “Mom thing” is ok because I genuinely believe there is great power in a mother’s love.