Huber Thanked For Time At Mental Health Association

A reception was held Friday for the retirement of Rick Huber from the Chautauqua County Mental Health Association. Huber is pictured with Kia Narraway-Briggs, Mental Health Association executive director; Carm Micciche, board president, and Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, advisory board chair. Submitted photo

It was a community-wide celebration recently when the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County honored Rick Huber on his recent retirement.

“The MHA Board of Directors, the Advisory Board, and the staff wanted to hold this retirement recognition to honor and thank Rick for his many years of commitment, dedication and selfless service to the Mental Health Association,” said Carm Micciche, board president.

It was under Huber’s leadership that the MHA became a peer-run organization in 2005.

Live music by Vince Micciche and Dalt Berringer and helium balloons in the MHA’s blue and yellow colors made for a festive party atmosphere. The array of edibles included a large fruit tray donated by Brigiotta’s, a decorated cake and cheese tray donated by A Fresh Start and cookies and other treats provided by members of the Board of Directors.

Kia Narraway-Briggs, Mental Health Association executive director, welcomed everyone and introduced Jenny Rowe, chief fiscal officer.

“There has not been a day here at the MHA that Rick had not put his full heart into,” Rowe said. “Each one of us cannot express how your simple and kind words gave us hope. You believed in this place, in us, when nobody else did, and for that we are more than grateful.”

On behalf of the board, Micciche dedicated the sensory room in Huber’s honor. The wood plaque she presented features the Mental Health logo bell and the inscription “Welcome to Rick’s place: dedicated 2018 in honor of Rick Huber.” It is now displayed over the doorway to the space created by Jamestown Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program students.

Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, Advisory Board chair, expressed “a great big thank you to Rick for his inspiration, courage and passionate and persistent advocacy on behalf of individuals and their families. He worked tirelessly through the years and nurtured the MHA though many difficult times. Rick has brought the MHA to where it is now, a successful and appreciated organization.”

Ney recognized and welcomed to the podium a number of community representatives: Lori Cornell on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, Jacqueline Chiarot-Phelps on behalf of U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, County Executive George Borrello, former County Executive Vince Horrigan, Mayor Sam Teresi, Judges John LaMancuso and Michael Bobseine, Chautauqua County legislator Elizabeth Rankin, and Kathy Swanson for Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene Director Patricia Brinkman.

After reading a proclamation from state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, and a message from Christine Schuyler, county director of Health and Human Services, Ney expressed appreciation for their support to Tory Irgang and Lisa Lynde of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Amy Rohler and Krista Camarata of the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, Linda Swanson of the Sheldon Foundation and to the Lenna Foundation.

Dale Robbins, MHA Advisory Board vice chair, spoke of Huber’s importance in the community’s coming to recognize the extent of the local opioid epidemic. He quoted Linda Swanson as pointing out that “Rick was the canary in the mine” and gave examples of Huber’s being aggressive in sending his message.

When it was the guest of honor’s turn to speak, Huber said he was truly humbled by the outpouring for him. He wants others to “love everyone who comes through the door, love God, and love yourself,” noting that the only difference between himself and the staff and participants is “time and recovery.”

Huber closed the event by giving a plaque to Ney inscribed “In Honor of Dr. Lillian Ney for her ongoing support and dedication to the MHA.”

Other MHA Advisory Board members are Leanna Luka-Conley, Dr. Betsy Kidder, Jim McElrath Jr., Christine Schuyler, Harry Snellings, Todd Tranum and Michelle Hammond Turner. Other board of directors members are Mary Keeney, vice president; Marie Anderson, secretary; Robert Tomb, treasurer; Ian Eastman, Peggy Hallberg, Lindsey Isaac-Lopus, Sharon Lawson, Kimberly Lombard, Heather Panczykowski and Patrick Slagle.

The Mental Health Association works in collaboration with local treatment providers, other non-profits, community-based partners, and treatment courts to empower individuals in attaining their goals. In an accepting environment, it provides recovery coaching by certified peer specialists as well as support groups and classes. There is no charge for any of the agency’s services or programs.

The Mental Health Association is located at 31 Water Street, Door 14, in the rear of the Gateway Center, in Jamestown. To learn more about the MHA and its programs, call 661-9044 or visit mhachautauqua.org or facebook.com/MHAChautauqua. A list of support groups and classes is at mhachautauqua.org/services. Anyone with questions or in need of services for themselves or a family member is welcome to call or stop in.

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