National Awards



Awarded at the 34rd National Fairweather Lodge Conference 

The Barbara Breen* Lodge Member of the Year

* The Late Barbara Breen was an outstanding 25 year Lodge Member

Winner Ken Ralston


Ken has been a Lodge Member since 2006. He is a rock of stability and a role model for other members. Prior to joining the lodge, he experienced very a serious mental illness. But now, most people wouldn’t believe he ever had one.

He has been employed competitively in the community the entire time. He uses his personal car to do the Lodge shopping. Among his many community activities, Ken attends church regularly and motivates other to do so. He doesn’t just “fit” in the lodge, he thrives in it. The Lodge is his home and the other members are his family.

Ken will be surprised to know that he has been nominated for this award, and probably tell us that there are others more deserving. This is a reflection of his character; he is a quiet, gentle man who gets along with everyone.  When he does speak, he does so with common sense, wisdom and compassion.  He is a guy who doesn’t seek attention - just one of those persons who is responsible, takes care of business and does little things for others without expecting thanks.

Ken also receives a Dr. George W. (Bill) Fairweather Scholarship to the next full National Conference (Conference Registration and accommodations, travel not included).


Nominations included: 

Larry Fraser

Larry has been the quintessential Lodge Member for over a decade. In a four-man Lodge, Larry carries more than his share of the weight, full of ideas in pursuit of better ways of doing things. He is reliable with his duties and he does the extras, such as watching their neighbor's house and taking care of their dog when they’re away.  Larry shines at work, a highly valuable team-member. Here also, Larry is a problem-solver, asking, "Why?" Many times leading to improved efficiency. He also takes initiative; when the boss is away, Larry steps up to ensure the job gets done right. Recently, he was recognized as the ACOE Employee of the Month.   

Matt Menge

Matt has been a member of various lodges for 14 years, almost always serving as the Lodge Treasurer, making sure all bills get paid and the bank account balances. This is often a challenge - keeping Lodge finances straight can be harder than it looks. Matt helps out in a variety of other ways. If someone needs to be at the Lodge to let the repairman in, it would be Matt – even when he is on vacation. He uses his personal car to drive Lodge Members to appointments, groceries, etc., and he is usually the one to take the dog to the vet.  Matt has a healthy relationship with his family, serves on the Board of the local NAMI, and volunteers regularly at an organization providing food for the poor. 

David Larson

David joined the lodge less than a year ago and immediately demonstrated qualities of the ideal lodge member.  David goes above and beyond in his lodge duties, including household chores, keeping up with rent, regularly performing Med Chair duties, and engaging his peers to participate in social activities outside of groups.  David has worked hard to build his own mental and overall well-being, while caring and attending to his peers.  David has the amazing ability of providing constructive feedback in a straightforward yet helpful manner. He regularly asks his peers “What do you need to do for your step level this week?” And then he helps them follow through with that task while holding his peers accountable for their responsibilities.  

Anthony Lewison

Anthony consistently takes the initiative to complete various projects around the lodge, such as hosing off the A/C units, lawn care, fixing small things (replacing light bulbs), cleaning, loading items to the transfer station, etc. Anthony has maintained perfect medication compliance for himself, and provides exemplary support for his peers in this area.  Anthony initiates a lot of activities with his peers. Recently, he convinced the lodge to go bowling and they had a lot of fun! Anthony attends AA and has persuaded several of his lodge mates to attend with him. He also helps his lodge mates navigate the bus system. 

Brenda Sims

Brenda always is supporting her roommates, calling them her “brothers.” She relies as much on them as they do on her. She cooks for the lodge on occasion and is always helpful with her peers (and even with staff when they're present). She is accommodating of others needs - but no nonsense when someone isn't on the right path.   

Adonis Phifer

Adonis speaks up in the weekly meeting when no one else wants to, ensuring others doing their lodge duties, and holding others accountable for following lodge rules. Yet Adonis has a strong sense of “fairness,” and is also quick to advocate for the rights of all members, including those that don’t speak up for themselves.


The 2018 George W. (Bill) Fairweather Innovation Award


Corey Trench

Over the years, since the original “Dissemination Project,” it has been common for Fairweather Lodges to entertain visitors curious about our success. How is it that:

  • Groups of consumers can flourish “interdependently,” with minimal staff support?

  • Scores of folks with serious mental illnesses, including diagnoses like schizophrenia, can maintain stable full-time employment?

  • A model developed before anyone ever heard the term “recovery,” seems to produce more recovery than more recent models supposedly designed to produce recovery?

Visitors come from a broad range of backgrounds and interests and most are impressed, “Fairweather Lodges are really great!” Years ago, Ed Dawson and Debbie Johnson visited and returned home to create Lodges in Pennsylvania and North Dakota.

But, mostly, nothing comes of the visitor’s curiosity and amazement. Mostly, their excitement wears off when folks back home tell them, “You can’t do that. It won’t work. Even though you saw it with your own eyes, it isn’t real!”

When Corey Trench visited Lodges sponsored by New Visions and Paxton Ministries about 4 years ago, he seemed like other visitors before him. Maybe less equipped, because Corey had no “agency” behind him - just the intense curiosity of a father seeking a solution for his son.

But lack of an agency, a government entity, dedicated resources, or even a supportive group behind him, was no barrier for Corey.  He believed what he had seen, and even without assurance that it would work for his son, Corey knew that a Fairweather Lodge was an option that would make his community better.

Corey became the proverbial “irresistible force,” speaking to anyone and everyone who would listen: mental health professionals,  government representatives, the local NAMI, even the press. And step-by-step, Corey created a Lodge.

Most new Lodges start with a tangible, brick and board house. Corey doesn’t have a house – YET! What he has is better – actual Lodge Members. Weekly, serving as a volunteer Lodge Coordinator, Corey meets with the 3 or 4 Lodge Members who have formed the core of the Williamsburg Lodge. They support each other through-out the week, are learning and following the Lodge Fidelity Standards, and are exploring ways to get a house, sooner rather than later.  Corey is a visionary and change-maker, very much in the spirit of Dr. Fairweather.



The 2018 Dorothy Berger* Lodge of the Year

* Dorothy Berger was the founder of Tasks Unlimited, in 1969.

Sunspots Lodge

Sunspots Lodge has overcome adversity & toxicity. But the toxic lodge member moved out, a new lodge member moved in, and things have really started to click for this group. They're supportive:

  • Being each others' wake-up calls at times,

  • Listening to each other and giving each other good feedback,

  • Allowing each other to contribute to the lodge's functioning in different ways; e.g., Matt purchasing ice melt from Menards at discount and then taking it off of his lodge fee,

  • They're Fairweather all the way in how they maintain the lodge, grocery shop, exercise, plan meals and outings.

Nowadays, their lodge meetings are full of laughter rather than bitterness. Not only has the Lodge group made substantial progress in the past two years, every single Lodge Member has grown individually.



David Sanders* Lodge Coordinator of the Year

* David Sanders was the Coordinator of the very first Fairweather Lodge, in 1963.


Lisa Mason 

Everyone loves Lisa! And not only the members of her Lodges. Everyone who has had the opportunity to work with Lisa speaks of how dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring she is. Despite 11 + years as a Lodge Coordinator, Lisa consistently brings positive energy and a caring attitude to work every day. Her focus is always on the Lodge Member and their individual recovery vision, never on their illness.

When one of her Lodge Members has a special need, Lisa is always there with compassion and sensitivity, even in tough situations. She has been up at the crack of dawn to bring one Lodge Member to ECT therapy many times over the past 6+ months, and has also been a great support to another Lodge Member experiencing suicidal ideation.

Lisa’s positivity carries over to the work-site, where her response to challenges is always, “Yes, we can do that.” And  in addition to her lodge responsibilities, Lisa helps out at JTP and two other worksites, helping new Coordinators. Lisa often initiates training designed to teach other staff how to better teach janitorial skills.

Lisa is excellent at building group cohesiveness within her lodge. She works with an array of personalities and consistently facilitates their growth both individually and together as a group. Every Lodge Member she works with grows in some way, whether that’s improving their ability to manage their physical and mental health, learning new vocational skills, or developing better relationships with their peers.

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