FULTON, NY – Oswego County Opportunities Executive Director Diane Cooper-Currier announced that Services to Aid Families Advocate / Educator Sara Gozzi was honored with the agency’s prestigious Amelia Whelahan Leadership Award during OCO’s Annual Meeting held recently at Springside at Seneca Hill.
Presented annually, and selected by the Board of Directors, OCO’s Amelia Whelahan Leadership Award recognizes a staff member who has made outstanding contributions to OCO and the Human Services profession.
The award is given in the memory of Amelia Whelahan, a dedicated and committed member of Oswego County Opportunities family for many years.
Welahan served on the agency’s board of directors, its planning and evaluation committee and as its president.
For Welahan’s many contributions and accomplishments, the board of directors recognizes her memory by honoring a distinguished employee with this award each year.
Upon her completion of graduate school where she earned her master’s degree in counseling services, Gozzi joined OCO’s Services to Aid Families program as an advocate / educator, a position she still enjoys today.
“During my time in grad school I focused on school-based counseling and working with youth. When I learned of OCO’s Services to Aid Families program I knew it would be a good fit for me. I would be doing a lot of education and working with youth in a school-based setting as well as having the opportunity to put my counseling degree to good use by working as a victim advocate. This position offered me the best of both worlds – providing education and working with consumers,” explained Gozzi.
Gozzi is the driving force of SAF’s community involvement. Her focus is on educating the community on topics related to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence and stalking, be it prevention education to youth in the schools, professional trainings to community providers or general education to community members.
Gozzi also leads other SAF staff members in planning and coordinating events and activities during related awareness months and answers calls to OCO’s Crisis Hotline, making herself available to assist victims and survivors who need emotional support, crisis counseling and help connecting to services.
“Sara is an active and vocal leader for the SAF program, said SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France. “Sara makes it a priority to encourage all agencies to become more informed about victim sensitivity and trauma-informed care. She consistently volunteers for additional shifts at the SAF shelter and has been essential in the improvement of processes for victims and survivors. Sara has also proven to be a mentor and role model, ensuring that newly hired staff are comfortable and understand the high standards set at SAF and OCO and serving as our go-to ‘encyclopedia’ for current laws, political trends, movements and more on all things regarding domestic violence and sexual violence.”
“I’m happy to be surrounded by a great group of co-workers and supervisors,” said Gozzi. “I’m very interested in issues of social justice and the movement to end violence against women. Working with OCO and the SAF program allows me to be a part of this movement every day. I enjoy working with students and community providers and helping them understand the connection between the work that we do at SAF and the impact it has on our quality of life.”