Merna Leisure-Eppick Receives 2023 Missouri Mental Health Champions’ Award

Each year three remarkable Missourians, who have overcome many challenges to make life better for themselves, others, and their communities, are selected to receive the Missouri Mental Health Champions’ award at the capital Jefferson City.  The presentation was made on May 9, 2023 at an awards banquet at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.  

One of the 2023 awards was given to Merna Leisure-Eppick of Branson, MO.

Here is the description of Merna from the Missouri Mental Health Foundation Website 

Merna Leisure-Eppick

Merna Leisure-Eppick is in long term recovery from alcohol use disorder. Deep, personal loss in her life contributed to her dependence on alcohol. Over the last 30+ years, she has dedicated her life to serving others by working and volunteering in the treatment and recovery support sector.

Merna started out driving a van in her early recovery, eventually becoming an executive director and then owner of sober living homes. Merna’s received numerous awards for her service to the field of recovery, and has spearheaded several organizational projects allowing hundreds of Missourians to have safe, accountable, affordable, accredited housing and recovery support services.

Merna donates countless hours, mentors others in recovery, and leads the charge of implementing evidence-based approaches to her work with the community. Merna’s collaborative efforts are to be commended as she has brought service providers and community partners into the center increasing services and support and improving the knowledge and skills of the residents.

Along with her husband, Merna has given time, money, knowledge and effort to ensure the success of the center as a community-based resource  and to increase the chances of residents finding and maintaining recovery. Merna has been a strong advocate for the recovery community, speaking to the local chamber, meeting with law enforcement and other community members to promote recovery and address the stigma associated with substance use.

Merna’s goal is to see others find the peace and success she has found in her own recovery. Her efforts have significantly impacted the lives of those in the recovery community, and her impact on the reduction of stigma and the promotion of recovery in the Branson community is unmatched. Merna shows up every day sharing her knowledge and experience and encouraging individuals to play an active role in their own recovery while providing the tools and support necessary to help them walk that journey. Her dedication not only to the Simmering Center, but to the entire treatment and recovery community has helped to ensure access to model recovery housing and supports and impacted the lives of hundreds of people in the county and thousands across the state.

LeeAnn Luker with sister Merna Leisure-Eppick

Merna Leisure-Eppick with husband John and LeeAnn Luker

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