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OCO Tree Planting Recognizes Oswego County Crime Victims

PHOENIX, NY – Staff from Oswego County Opportunities Services to Aid Families program welcomed state and local officials and community members for a tree planting ceremony at William J. Farley Jr. Community Park in Phoenix. Held in recognition of National Crime Victims Week and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the tree planting honored victims of crime in Oswego County.

Representatives from Senator Patty Ritchie’s office and the office of Assemblyman Will Barclay join elected officials from Oswego County and the village of Phoenix, representatives of Oswego County Opportunities and staff from OCO’s SAF program for a tree planting ceremony in Phoenix. From left are: Phoenix Village Trustee Andrew Bittel, Phoenix Police Chief Martin Nerber, Phoenix Mayor Ryan Wood, SAF staff members Megan Bittel and Christy King, Lynette Greco, SAF education supervisor Meredith Needham, Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oaks, (county legislator) Terry Wilbur of Assemblyman Barclay’s office and James Hayes of Senator Patty Ritchie’s office.
Representatives from Senator Patty Ritchie’s office and the office of Assemblyman Will Barclay join elected officials from Oswego County and the village of Phoenix, representatives of Oswego County Opportunities and staff from OCO’s SAF program for a tree planting ceremony in Phoenix. From left are: Phoenix Village Trustee Andrew Bittel, Phoenix Police Chief Martin Nerber, Phoenix Mayor Ryan Wood, SAF staff members Megan Bittel and Christy King, Lynette Greco, SAF education supervisor Meredith Needham, Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oaks, (county legislator) Terry Wilbur of Assemblyman Barclay’s office and James Hayes of Senator Patty Ritchie’s office.

“This is the 14th year that SAF has planted a tree in honor of Victims of Crime, within Oswego County,” said SAF Education Program Manager Meredith Needham. “The tree is meant to be a living sign of hope for those affected by crime that their community has not forgotten about them and supports them in their struggles to rebuild their lives. It is the goal of SAF to plant a tree in every city, village and town of Oswego County, to demonstrate that victimization occurs in all areas of our community and can affect anyone and to establish a living sign of hope and support to the many Victims of Crime within our County.”

During the ceremony Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oaks, Phoenix Police Chief Martin Nerber, Oswego County Legislator, District 22, James Karasek and several community members shared stories of individuals they knew that were victims.

Karasek, speaking on behalf of ARISE and those with disabilities, addressed the issue of people with disabilities facing a higher risk of having crimes perpetrated against them.

Needham echoed those sentiments saying that issue was the reason she chose William J. Farley Jr. Community Park for the tree planting.

“One of the highlights of the park is its adaptive playground.  Thanks to the fundraising efforts of caring community members, children with disabilities have access to a wonderful playground experience.  I encourage communities throughout Oswego County to follow their lead and add adaptive playgrounds to their parks as well,” said Needham.

“It was a very moving ceremony,” added Needham. “On behalf of OCO and the staff of the SAF program, I extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s event, including the town and village of Phoenix for hosting the ceremony and for supporting victims of crime, and to Phoenix Flower and Tree Farm for donating the tree.  We would also like to recognize the support of the NYS Office of Victim Services, whom underwrote the cost of the plaque, which was placed by the tree. Additionally, we would like to thank the many businesses that supported our efforts during Sexual Assault Awareness Month to help end sexual violence in Oswego County.”

OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966.

A member agency of the United Way of Greater Oswego County, OCO provides more than 50 vital services throughout 80 separate locations.

For more information, visit www.oco.org