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Chamber award for community service: Pat Crowley of GCASA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Patricia Crowley, project director of Orleans United through GCASA, has worked with the agency since 2000 to reduce substance abuse locally. She is pictured outside GCASA’s office in Albion, the former Knights of Columbus hall.

ALBION – She has led a coalition of law enforcement agencies, faith-based groups, health-care providers, parents, youths and businesses, about 100 people working together to reduce tobacco and substance abuse in the community.

“We all help and do our part,” said Pat Crowley, project director for Orleans United, a program run through GCASA, the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Crowley said the group’s efforts over the past five years have resulted in reduced rates of teen smoking and drug use and experimentation.

Crowley is also a member of the Medina Village Board, and is active with the Medina Area Association of Churches and the First Presbyterian Church in Medina.

The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce honored her with a “Community Service Award” for 2013.

“I just love it,” Crowley said about her many roles. “Orleans is a great place to live. No matter where I live, I’ll always be involved in my community.”

Crowley grew up in Hornell. She began her career working with at-risk youth in Elmira. For 10 years she worked with kids in foster care and a group home. She then worked three years with at-risk youth in Orange County near Poughkeepsie.

In 1990, she her husband Tim moved to Medina when Mr. Crowley, a counselor with the state Department of Corrections, was hired to work at the Orleans Correctional Facility in Albion. Mr. Crowley is a Medina native. He now works at the Albion Correctional Facility, the women’s prison.

It didn’t take his wife long to get to know the community. She worked for the Arc of Orleans and the Head Start before taking a job with GCASA in 2000 as a prevention educator. She went into local schools, sharing an anti-drug and alcohol message, and meeting one-on-one with students who may have been fighting an addiction.

In 2004, she helped start the drug-free coalition. Four years later, the federal government approved a $125,000 annual drug-free communities grant for Orleans. The funding was for five years.

The coalition planned family-friendly activities, including roller skating at the YMCA, miniature golf and other events, including prescription drug take-back days, where the unused prescription medicine could be left at the Holley Police Department, Orleans County Public Safety Building and Medina Fire Department.

The grant also funded a survey of sixth through twelfth-graders in four local school districts about their drug, alcohol and tobacco use. The survey is done every two years.

“You need the data,” Crowley said. “The grant allows us to look at the data and assess where we are.”

The coalition just learned last week the federal government did not renew another five-year grant to fund the prevention effort in Orleans County. Crowley said the coalition will continue, and will find another way to promote its mission.

“We have people that will support us, we’ll just have to do it with less money,” she said.