MARY CELEBRATES 20 YEARS SERVICE
2007 is a special year for Mirikai because it is the twentieth anniversary of Mary Alcorn’s commencement with the Gold Coast Drug Council. As GCDC executive director Mary has contributed a huge amount to a myriad of people’s lives- young people, their families and the community. Since the twenty first of May 1987 she has worked tirelessly to develop the services provided by Mirikai today. In the last two decades thousands of young people with serious drug problems and mental health issues have come into contact with Mary. She has touched many people’s lives in a profoundly positive way. Through her vision and commitment to support young people in need of support, Mirikai and the Gold Coast Drug Council have been able to grow and continue the excellent work in that area. Young people are the future, but because of Mirikai, Mary Alcorn, the staff and volunteers, a lot of young people have a more positive future.
Mary began working as a nurse in 1968 before starting work in community services and moving to the Gold Coast. The original building at Mirikai in West Burleigh was built in 1981 but Mary’s involvement in 1987 saw the services rapidly expand to meet demand. The residential program’s capacity has grown from 12 to 40 residents, staffing has increased and the facilities have been extended and upgraded. Through her constant advocacy for young people and intense lobbying of government the GCDC has had an increase of funding from $30,000 to $3 million dollars. Her commitment to supporting improve the lives of young people with drug and mental health problems on the Gold Coast has been recognized and acknowledged widely across Australia. In 2000 she was awarded the centenary medal by Prime Minister John Howard for distinguished services to the drug and alcohol field. In 2001 the GCDC therapeutic community was accredited for three years. Two standout reasons for this, were the commitment to fostering participation of clients in their care and progress and secondly the involvement of clients in developing the program. These two wonderful commitments are hardwired in Mary’s character.
Running a rehab for young people is not everyone’s calling. But it must be said after twenty years it must be Mary’s. She has a blend of special qualities such as leadership, good judgement, compassion, faith, determination, shrewdness and amiability. The drug and alcohol field has changed a great deal in the past twenty years and under Mary’s leadership Mirikai and the GCDC have been able to adapt and innovate. A high level of involvement with the Mirikai residents, with the community and with health promotions activities has been essential for this. The drug awareness course is one such innovation that is slowly but surely fostering understanding in the community. Another example was Mary’s contribution to the drug court pilot that helps nonviolent drug offenders stay out of jail and breaks the cycle of addiction and crime. The pilot was successful and is now legislated and operating at Mirikai.
Congratulations and well done Mary.
Mary’s vision has been to improve the lives of the young people who have sought Mirikai’s services.