By Mike Pettinella
Evidence-based prevention services at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse will be receiving a nearly $40,000 boost thanks to an award announced over the weekend by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
UConnectCare is one of 87 agencies throughout New York’s 10 economic development regions that had their services negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants will be administered by the state Office of Addiction Services and Supports.
The local nonprofit organization will use the funds to enhance its environmental strategy efforts, specifically to fund law enforcement compliance checks in Genesee and Orleans counites, and also to purchase programming for school prevention education and to upgrade its ability to use technology in the delivery of its services, Prevention Director Shannon Ford said.
“We are thankful to Gov. Hochul’s office for accepting our grant application,” Ford said, “and are looking forward to working with the City of Batavia Police Department, Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and Orleans County Sheriff’s Office to make sure establishments that serve alcohol are checking IDs.”
About two-thirds of the $39,417 in funding will be appropriated for environmental strategies, including social media posts and targeted advertising, Ford added.
In its grant application, UConnectCare indicated that individuals or businesses found to be out of compliance in the distribution of alcohol will be referred to the agency’s Responsible Server Training program for employees.
“For the media portion of the strategy, we will submit press releases to local media recognizing establishments who are in compliance with the Alcohol Beverage Control laws specific to underage drinking,” Ford said. “We will also use social media to boost prevention messages and create targeted ads for youth and adults regarding the dangers of underage drinking and consequences for serving underage youth. In addition, we will create and print materials targeting adults and youth with prevention messages regarding the dangers of underage drinking.”
In announcing the awards, Hochul spoke off alcohol’s impact on her family.
“Like many New Yorkers, my family has been affected by addiction,” she said. “Expanding support services for those dealing with addiction is as vital as ever as we battle the opioid crisis. We will continue to work with local partners to boost preventative measures and treatment to help set New Yorkers on the path to recovery.”
OASAS Commissioner Chinazo Cunningham said, “Prevention is an important pillar of the OASAS continuum of care, and during the COVID-19 pandemic our prevention providers have faced unprecedented challenges in delivering their services. Providers awarded funding through this initiative have the opportunity to greatly increase their prevention infrastructure, and make the changes that they need to continue to provide these lifesaving services in the communities they serve.”