OSWEGO, NY – Recognizing Oswego County congratulates Jeanne Unger, Executive Director of Farnham Family Services, on being selected as April’s community champion.
Each month Recognizing Oswego County uses this recognition effort as a platform for emphasizing the wonderful work that is happening in Oswego County to promote the health and wellness of children, families and adults.
The theme for April is alcohol/substance abuse and mental health.
Unger has had a long career in counseling and psychological services and has served as Executive Director of Farnham Family Services since 1994.
Farnham is a non-profit organization that provides outpatient drug and alcohol treatment as well as intervention and prevention services to residents of Oswego County and surrounding counties.
Currently, Farnham has an average client census of more than 200 people.
Unger says this is up from 170 in 2012 and 84 in 2000.
While this may represent an increase in drug and alcohol abuse, it also represents an increase in awareness and improved access to treatment services.
Unger sees the positive in these numbers.
“People are more willing these days to reach out and seek treatment. The stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction is beginning to decline,” she said.
Unger has also noticed changes in the types of drugs people are using.
“People are now more likely to experiment with different type of drugs,” Unger said.
She has also seen increased use of prescription drugs and heroin.
Interestingly, the use of bath salts has declined, which is likely due to Unger’s work with Oswego County to ban sales and to provide increased awareness of the dangers of these types of drugs.
Under Unger’s direction, Farnham has expanded services to meet the needs of the community, particularly in the Fulton area where client numbers have started exceeding those in Oswego.
The agency also operates school-based intervention program in four school districts in Oswego County where they provide individual and small group counseling to students at risk for alcohol abuse/dependency.
Working every day in the field of substance abuse can be difficult, but Unger is optimistic.
She is excited about changes coming with health care reform that will integrate substance abuse and behavioral health treatment into primary care.
She is also positive about Oswego County.
“This is such an awesome place because of how committed the community is to its citizens,” she said.
In nominating Jeanne as a Community Champion, Jeff Grimshaw, Director of SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations, described her as a “caring, professional and energetic leader who adds value to our community on a daily basis, and makes this a better place to live.”
Recognizing Oswego County would also like to thank guest speakers at the April meeting, including Olivia VanSanford from Oswego Health, a representative from Alcoholics Anonymous, and Mary Jo Proietta-Halpern from Farnham Family Services.
For the month of May, Recognizing Oswego County is soliciting nominations of exceptional individuals or organizations working to improve the community in the area of summer food services and nutrition.
Nominations can range from a neighbor who provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the community to an organization that serves meals to children during the summer.
Nominations are due by May 8.
To learn more about positive things that are happening in Oswego County, visit Recognizing Oswego County’s Facebook page.
The vision of Recognizing Oswego County is “Working together, sharing our expertise, experience and resources, to focus on community awareness for healthier and more positive communities in Oswego County.”