Making mental health care accessible – Gary Thandi’s commitment leaves no one behind 

Photo: Gary Thandi, 2023 Community Award recipient

Everyone who receives a BC Achievement Community Award is recognized for making a unique contribution to their community either as a volunteer or through their daily work, or both. They go above and beyond in their dedication and service to others and devote their time and energy to make their communities more caring, dynamic and unique. The models of practice each of the awardees has built and instilled in their immediate community are being expanded, replicated and grown because of their leadership. 

One such awardee who inspires by example is Gary Thandi, 2023 recipient, whose compassionate leadership, dedication and flexibility led to his role as founder and Executive Director of Moving Forward Family Services.  

Gary’s strong spirit of community building has transcended into the agency he founded – as well as into the lives of each of the individuals it supports. Moving Forward provides low-barrier counselling to the most vulnerable using a unique model which engages Gary’s innovative model of using graduates and intern counsellors to provide free and low-cost counselling services to those in need who may not be able to afford private therapy or qualify for public counselling. A mutually beneficial service which counsels over 2,000 people monthly at little or no charge and serves people via in-person, telephone, and online platforms, creates accessibility for the underserved. 

This initiative reflects Gary’s strong sense of public service and his focus to meet people where they are ‘at’ in life. He seeks out partners from traditionally marginalized communities and offers services in over 26 different languages. Gary lifts others up in such a way that their knowledge and perspectives can be shared. A pioneer in the local social service space, Gary fosters multiculturalism and accessibility while supporting counselling clients and interning students. His ethos of “no one will be turned away” is the foundation of his work and embodies his commitment to service, inclusion, mentorship, philanthropy, and safe connections. 

As we honour those who make their communities better, BC Achievement calls for nominations for the 21st Community Award. Nominations for the award program help recognize, celebrate and steward outstanding British Columbians while elevating their stories of excellence. Individuals like Gary are celebrated for their efforts in raising the quality and character of their communities while serving as the ultimate example of dedication and excellence. 

You can nominate deserving individuals for the 2024 Community Award at Join us and help tell the stories of outstanding British Columbians so others may follow their lead. 

Deadline to nominate is January 31, 2024. 

BC Achievement: Elevate Excellence. Share Success. Inspire Change.

Join the Conversation, Share the News.