Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne presents Seaway Valley Prevention Council Board of Directors President Dawn Mertz and Director Larry Calkins with a citation from the New York State Assembly marking the agency's 30th anniversary. They are surrounded by agency staff.
OGDENSBURG -- Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne (D-Theresa) recently presented the Seaway Valley Prevention Council with a citation from the New York State Assembly marking the agency's 30 years of service to the North Country.
Assemblywoman Jenne visited the agency's headquarters in Ogdensburg on Friday and had an opportunity to meet with coordinators from eight different programs being operated under the auspices of the Seaway Valley Prevention Council.
She pledged to return to Ogdensburg in the coming weeks to continue some of those discussions as she works with her colleagues in Albany to draft legislation to address issues tied to the opioid epidemic in New York State.
The citation noted the agency has been promoting healthy lifestyles to a diverse population since its founding in October 1987.
Assemblywoman Jenne praised agency staff members for demonstrating compassion to those served by the agency and for playing a major leadership role in addressing social issues impacting the North Country.
She said Friday's event marked three decades of the agency offering community education and prevention services in the areas of alcohol and substance abuse.
But Assemblywoman Jenne pointed out the agency has expanded its role over the past 30 years to address other significant social issues in the community ranging from tobacco issues and gambling addiction to youth programming and family and peer services.
The role of the agency, however, has not changed from the initial vision of its founder, the late Dennis Doyle of Helena, and the founding committee.
Assemblywoman Jenne said the Seaway Valley Prevention Council remains committed to improving the future of the community through quality prevention services.
"It is really amazing to see all of the work you are doing. This is not my first time here, and it won't be my last," she said.
"The challenges we face with addiction in our communities are very important to me. Our statistics are staggering in the areas of alcohol and tobacco use and abuse as well as addiction," she said.
Assemblywoman Jenne praised Seaway Valley Prevention Council staff members for their work.
"It is wonderful to see the work you are doing day in and day out. You only need to look at the successes you have had to know what you do every day is making a difference," the assemblywoman noted.
"And know that 20 years from now a child you have worked with that is coming from the most difficult of situations will be making a positive contribution in their community in part due to the role you played in their lives," she added.
She also praised Seaway Valley Prevention Council Director Larry Calkins for the leadership role he has played since joining the agency in 1988.
"It is clear you have established a work culture that values every member of your team. Kudos to you, Larry, for that," Assemblywoman Jenne said.
The agency started with four educators, three support staff and a $295,000 budget in the late 1980s. Today, the agency has 18 employees, eight distinct programs and a $1.2 million budget.
Mr. Calkins pointed out the Seaway Valley Prevention Council offers four of the five initiatives the state's Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services unveiled last year in response to findings by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Heroin Task Force.
He said his agency has a peer engagement specialist, a family support navigator, a youth clubhouse in Massena and a regional addiction resource center available to offer locally-based services to support people affected by addiction.
Mr. Calkins noted the fifth initiative, a recovery center, recently opened in Watertown, and the Seaway Valley Prevention Council has a partnership with their peers in Jefferson County.
Other speakers at the anniversary event included board President Dawn Merz and Becky Bateman, a member of the Seaway Valley Prevention Council's founding board of directors.
The council's current programs include:
• Community Services: Pivot Employee Assistance Services, Massena Drug Free Coalition, You(th) Decide Underage Gambling Program and Regional Addiction Resource Center.
• Prevention Services: Teen Intervene, Incredible Years Program and Drug Free Schools and Extended School Day.
• Recovery Services: Youth Clubhouse, Family Support Navigator and Peer Support Services.
• Tobacco Services: Advancing Tobacco Free Communities and Reality Check.