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Eleven Addictions Professionals Honored for Saving Lives


Jannette Rondó, 518-457-8299

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20 is Addictions Professionals Day

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez today announced the recipients of New York's annual Addictions Professionals' Awards.

Governor Cuomo issued a proclamation declaring September 20 as Addictions Professionals Day throughout New York State. This designation is an integral part of celebrating September as National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. It also provides us an opportunity to acknowledge the dedicated professionals who are saving lives through Prevention, Treatment and Recovery.

In applauding the Governor’s leadership, Commissioner González-Sánchez stated; "Through the hard work of our addictions professionals, we are able to provide the best possible quality care for those we serve each and every day. Their compassion and commitment to the addiction field offers hope for long-term recovery to countless individuals and their families."

There are approximately 20,000 addictions professionals working tirelessly to improve lives and make New York State’s communities safer and drug-free. These individuals maintain the highest degree of proficiency and ethical practice; and engage in continuous learning and professional development.

The Commissioner is pleased to announce the 2012 honorees:

Valentin Bonilla, Jr., Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) of the Year.  Mr. Bonilla has been employed by the Beth Israel Medical Center Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program for 36 years. As Chief Physician Assistant, Mr. Bonilla has distinguished himself for his steadfast dedication to educating colleagues and clients on the importance of methadone maintenance treatment.

Rachel Lewis, CASAC-Trainee of the Year. Ms. Lewis is employed by Catholic Charities Services of Orange County. She treats clients of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances with humor, compassion and a straightforward presentation. Ms. Lewis is very involved in all aspects of a client’s treatment experience while establishing appropriate boundaries and maintaining realistic expectations.

Gary Metz, Credentialed Prevention Professional of the Year. Mr. Metz is employed by the State University of New York College at Brockport, where he was the principal architect for the development of the bachelor’s degree program in addictions counseling.  Mr. Metz has been actively involved in the substance abuse field for more than 40 years. He is the recipient of four U.S. Department of Education’s Drug Free Grants which focus on substance abuse prevention. Mr. Metz is currently working with Linkages of Rochester for the delivery of substance abuse prevention programming in schools, community, health care and criminal justice systems for Veliky, Novogorod and Russia.

Bradley E. Finn, Credentialed Prevention Program Gambling Professional. Mr. Finn is employed by the Prevention Network/OCAA. Mr. Finn is a strong advocate in the field of Problem Gambling Prevention. He is committed to raising awareness about the potential devastating consequences problem gambling can have on youth and our communities. Mr. Finn developed educational material for community groups such as faith-based organizations, businesses and human service providers.

Cheryl Hecht, Credentialed Problem Gambling Counselor of the Year. Ms. Hecht is employed by The Pederson-Krag Center. She has successfully connected with the Veteran’s Administration, Veteran’s Drug Court, Nassau and Suffolk County Probation to provide education about problem gambling and to increase referrals to treatment. Ms. Hecht is an extraordinary clinician with a deep understanding of the unique needs of the problem gambler and their families.

Sarah Burrows, LMHC, Licensed Mental Health Counselor of the Year. Ms. Burrows has worked in the addictions field since 1992. For the past 10 years, she has been employed at CAPE, the Council on Addiction, Prevention and Education of Dutchess County. Ms. Burrows runs three after school clubs; the SADD Chapter which facilitates prevention education, post prom parties; the Mentoring Club which matches “at risk” youth with faculty/school staff; and the Beautification Society which created a garden after the death of a student due to substance related accident.  Ms. Burrows is the first recipient of the Licensed Mental Health Counselor of the Year.

Patricia Rue, RN, MSN, Addiction Nursing Professional of the Year. Mrs. Rue is currently employed by Renaissance Project, Inc.  Mrs. Rue recently transitioned from Nurse Administrator to Residential Director at the facility. She is also a valued member of the OASAS Nurse Advisory Panel, Co-Chair of the NYSASAP nursing committee, a member of the Ellenville Regional Hospital Foundation and actively participates in the Ellenville School District.

Omar Peña MD, Addiction Physician of the Year. Dr. Peña is employed by the South Bronx Mental Health Council. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, American Board of Addiction Psychiatry and the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He is a strong advocate for ensuring excellence in service for South Bronx’s most vulnerable populations. As a former appointed clinical instructor at Cornell, he has devoted his time and effort to utilizing different tools to teach residents about interview/diagnostics techniques.

Paul Rinaldi PhD, Psychologist of the Year. Dr. Rinaldi works in direct clinical practice, as a clinical supervisor; and as a researcher in the Clinical Trials Network of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dr. Rinaldi has a diverse set of academic and clinical interests from smoking cessation to the impact of exercise on treatment outcomes. He is a well respected supervisor known for his innovative clinical and supervisory approaches, as well as for his ability to find “common ground” with difficult clients. 

Cailin McGreevy, Social Worker of the Year. Ms. McGreevy has more than 15 years experience in direct clinical work, mostly with homeless youth and single mother’s impacted by Substance Use Disorders. She is currently the clinical supervisor and a direct care worker in a project for pregnant and postpartum women with SUD disorders. She is committed to improving outcomes for these women and their children.

Carol Davis, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor of the Year. Ms. Davis has worked in the field as rehabilitation counselor since the 1980’s.  She is a consummate professional with compassion and concern for the diverse community she serves. She is the creator and editor of CATC’s Monthly literary newsletter written by and for program participates entitled, “From Rock Bottom to Rock Star”. She has presented on counseling approaches that promote tailored treatment plans to address the rehabilitation, educational and employment needs of the individual OASAS serves.

An awards ceremony will be held on September 24, 2012, in the OASAS 4th Floor Conference Room at 1450 Western Avenue, Albany, New York from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. to honor the awardees.

OASAS oversees one of the nation's largest addiction services systems dedicated to Prevention, Treatment and Recovery, with more than 1,550 programs serving over 110,000 New Yorkers on any given day. Through efforts such as the Your Story Matters campaign at www.iamrecovery.com, the agency hopes to foster a movement of recovery, one that sheds the stigma and promotes a life of health and wellness.

Addiction is a chronic disease, but New Yorkers need to know that help and hope is available. Individuals can get help by calling the state's toll-free, 24-hour, 7-day a week HOPEline, 1-877-8-HOPENY, staffed by trained clinicians who are ready to answer questions, help refer loved ones to treatment and provide other vital resources to facilitate that first step into recovery.

For more information, please visit www.oasas.ny.gov.

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