Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — Outgoing Orleans County Mental Health Director Jim Graziano was feted at the quarterly meeting of the Orleans United Drug Free Communities Coalition.
Graziano was introduced by ACT Coordinator Jan Albanese. She spoke glowingly of him and how well he inserted himself into the community over the past eight years.
“He actively collaborated with a number of organizations and committees in Orleans County,” Albanese said.
Graziano, she said, took an active role in the community, which assisted in him learning “the makeup of our residents and the services we need and the problems we face.”
The impressive part about Graziano’s affect on the people within Orleans County, Albanese said, was his residence. He still lives in the Grand Island area.
Graziano’s responsibilities included overseeing the services in the county dealing with alcohol and substance abuse, mental health needs, or disabilities.
He was honored in 2007 with the GCASA Directors Award for his work. Albanese also noted how Graziano served as a moderator for forums involving drug abuse and underage drinking.
In his time with the county, she said, “Jim truly ingratiated himself to the community…and now he’s starting a new phase of his life: retirement.
“On behalf of everyone here…I’d like to thank you, Jim, for all you’ve done for us.”
After the meeting, Graziano said he would miss his job, but looked forward to the new phase of his life. “I’m pretty confident I’ll find something to do to fill my days,” he smiled.
He said some of the things he planned on doing were traveling and volunteering in his daughter’s classroom in the Grand Island School District, where his grandchildren attend school.
For his career, Graziano put in 41 years.
Put simply, he said, “I wanted to help people, and I pursued my dream.”
Taking the reigns as the new Mental Health Director is Mark O’Brien. Also a Grand Island resident, O’Brien said he and Graziano have been colleagues for the past 15 years, the last two of which were shared in Orleans County.
“This is a very welcoming community, a very tight-knight community,” O’Brien said.
His goals for the department mirror those set forth by Graziano.
“I want to continue the good work that’s already been started,” he noted. He added he looked forward to building on the solid foundation of work by facing a number of challenges head on.
“There are a lot of good people here,” he continued, “and we’ll be tapping into community assets.”
Also at the meeting Wednesday, Nola Goodrich-Kresse of the Orleans County Health Department talked briefly about Saturday’s drug take-back. This year pet medication will also be accepted. She said last year Western New York has the highest amount of drugs taken back in the nation.
She added that disposing of drugs properly keeps them off the streets. Also, if they are flushed they could affect the water supply, so bringing them in helps in that regard, too.
It was also announced at the meeting that a candlelight vigil will be held this evening at 6:30 in front of the county courthouse. The vigil is in honor of crime victims and is part of Crime Victims Rights Week.