Founder Biographies

Founder Biographies

What happened to the people in the film?  This is a popular question from audiences, so we have provided a snapshot post-MPA biographical profile of each of the people in our documentary. Those who helped create the documentary are indicated with an asterisk*.

Ian Anderson* is still a MPA member and volunteered there and at The Kettle for many years. He trained as a mental health worker at Douglas College in the mid-1990s, and has also attended the University of British Columbia. Ian worked on the mental advisory committee of the Vancouver Richmond Health Board between 1993 and 1999. He was an active member of the West Coast Mental Health Network, serving as member of the board and vice president.

Dave Beamish* developed a host of public speaking and organizational skills at MPA which he took into the larger mental health community after he left the organization in the early 1980s. He worked first on the Pioneer Housing project in New Westminster, and then to extensive advocacy work and consumer engagement with the West Coast Mental Health Society and the national and provincial branches of the Canadian Mental Health Association.  Dave was a pioneer in Canadian patient advocacy. He participated in the early stages of the documentary, but died in December 2011.

Lanny Beckman* left MPA in 1975, beginning a 15-year career as editor and publisher of Vancouver’s New Star Press. During the late 1980s he published critical reflections on mental health in This Magazine, Canadian Dimension, and Outlook. In addition to his role as co-creator of The Inmates, Lanny has recently worked on several projects relating to the History of Madness in Canada website, including serving as a community expert and contributor for the post-secondary teaching site History in Practice/ Histoire en tête and lead editor of the After the Asylum/ Après l’asile research pages. In 2000 Lanny was awarded a Pioneers Award by the BC Coalition for People with Disabilities for his role in founding MPA.

Avi Dolgin* served as housing coordinator at MPA and left the organization in 1974. He then worked in community radio as a manager of a training program at Vancouver Co-op Radio and a producer of documentaries of social concern.  Avi later moved into teaching and worked in the special education and alternative schools and then as a science teacher.

Patty Gazzola* (nee Servant) continued to work at MPA until 1987, serving as Drop-In Coordinator, Residence Coordinator and Housing Coordinator. She then took a break from social services and became a courier for several years. From the early 1990s until her retirement in 2014 Patty worked at a safe house for street-involved youth funded by Family Services of Greater Vancouver.

Arthur Giovinazzo* was also a founding member of Vancouver’s Gay Liberation movement. He left MPA in 1979 and relocated to Whitehorse in the mid-1980s, running the renowned No Pop Sandwich Shop and serving as president of the Yukon Arts Council.  He is currently based in the greater Vancouver area.

John Hatfull* continued to be part of MPA until the mid-1990s, serving as drop-in coordinator in the late 1980s and then working there on a part-time basis. Involved with the Westcoast Mental Health Network (WMHN): he was also on the board of that organization.  In the early 1990s John and Alex Verkade received funding to start the Unity Housing Society (modelled on the early MPA and part of WMHN), which established its first house in 1992.

Ruth Hess-Dolgin trained in social work at UBC in the early 1970s, the same as she was helping out with therapy groups at MPA. She continued her involvement in women’s and health issues in the community.  As a social worker her emphasis was on creating co-ordination in the many agencies affecting the lives of families where mental illness was present and in empowering the family members to be active agents in the decisions and treatment.  Ruth died in September 2012.

Jackie Hooper* left MPA in 1977, graduating from UBC in 1984 with a Masters in Social Work.  She worked until retirement in 1992 as part of the Grandview Woodlands community mental health team.  Jackie has had a parallel career as an artist and writer, creating pastel landscapes of the mountains and coast of BC, contributing articles to the Vancouver Courier newspaper, and self publishing her own writing including Hiking in Colour (2006) and Big Ken (2007).  In 2014 Jackie received Coast Mental Health’s prestigious Courage to Come Back Award for her pioneering work in supportive housing for people living with mental health difficulties.

Geoff McMurchy was involved with MPA until 1981, as both a Drop-in Coordinator and Residence Coordinator. Geoff became active in BC Coalition of People with Disabilities in the late 1970s, developing an appreciation for community arts through his work with the Public Dreams Society. From 1998-2012 he served as Executive/ Artistic Director of Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture, presenting original dance, visual art exhibits, music, theatre as well as the acclaimed Kickstart Festival (2001,04,07,10). Geoff was one of the five artists featured in Bonnie Sherr Klein’s 2006 film Shameless: The Art of Disability. He died in July 2015.

Tom Sandborn has had an eclectic series of careers since his involvement with MPA.  Trained as a Gestalt therapist, he was one of the instigators of the Vancouver Emotional Emergency Centre (VEEC), a short-lived radical residential therapy. He then worked variously as cab driver, mill worker and handy-dart driver and wrote for the Vancouver Sun, the Globe and Mail, the Georgia Straight and many other publications. Having actively supported a multitude of progressive causes, Tom has more recently put his energies into BC’s on-line newspaper, The Tyee, and the BC Civil Liberties Association. He was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012.

Alex Verkade* was a MPA member from 1975 to the early 1990s, holding positions as drop-in coordinator and residence coordinator and assisting with MPA projects at Riverview and in the MPA office and woodwork shop.  Subsequently, Alex worked for the original West Coast Mental Health Network and at Vancouver’s Unity Housing.  A dedicated and supportive colleague, Alex made substantial contributions both to the creation of The Inmates and to the History in Practice/ Histoire en tête post-secondary teaching resources.  Alex died in July 2013 at age 60.