Mar. 7—PLATTSBURGH — Connie Wille of the Champlain Valley Family Center was named the United Way of the Adirondacks Dorothy and Alan Booth Distinguished Citizen at the organization’s annual dinner last Saturday night.
Wille, along with her talented staff, works every day to provide help for those dealing with substance abuse and mental health needs.
“I have been blessed to work in a field where expressing real feelings in a safe environment is critically important,” Wille said before a crowd of about 180 people.
“So here are a few of the feelings I’m experiencing in this moment. I’m uncomfortable, I’m very nervous, overwhelmed and absolutely grateful.”
Wille has served as chief executive officer of Champlain Valley Family Center since 2000.
She has climbed through the ranks in the field of prevention and treatment services, holding the positions of counselor, inpatient program director and chief operating officer.
She is a member of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Providers of New York (ASAP) and the Northern Tier Providers Coalition.
Wille earned a bachelors degree in Child-Family Services from SUNY Plattsburgh and also holds a masters degree in Health Services Administration from Sage Graduate School.
She also serves on the Clinton County Housing Coalition and the Clinton County Alcohol and Substance Abuse Subcommittee.
ASKED FOR HELP
Wille said she came into the field of substance use disorder, prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction through her own recovery that started on June 30, 1985.
“That’s when my life restarted and all I had to do was ask for help. and I got it,” she said.
“Working with my colleagues, we have witnessed miracles. We’ve seen tremendous successes and together we have experienced heartbreak. and we share that together. The support and community partnerships that Champlain Valley Family Center Services has received over the decades has resulted in a much healthier community in the area of support.”
Wille said a big key to providing meaningful help is the partnerships among agencies that have been formed over the years.
“Community partnerships have been the mainstay of CVFC success. and I, like so many of you in the room tonight, just need to say thank you,” she said.
“I see so many of our partners here tonight. and with working together, great things happen. I mean, I’m an absolute testament to that.”
CONFRONTING THE STIGMA
Wille said a big step in dealing with substance use and mental health disorders is confronting the stigma that surrounds them.
“Please help us to address and confront the stigma that is attached to substance use disorder and the mental health disorders that are in our community. I want you to know that I know firsthand what that stigma feels like, and I also know firsthand what it feels like on the other side,” she said.
Wille said the community is so very fortunate to have the local United Way organization looking out for people’s needs. She likened President and CEO John Bernardi to the 1969 New York Mets who surprisingly won the baseball World Series that year as, “Simply Amazing.”
“You have my utmost respect and admiration,” she said.
“The work, support and the help that United Way offers is simply unbelievable.”
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