Friendship House named program of the year

Brian Quinn

The administrators and partner agencies of the Friendship House Community Resource Center had plenty to celebrate Wednesday night.

The organization, which provides information and services for health, wellness, education, employment, counseling, support, family life and parenting, won the New York State Association for Rural Health (NYSARH) Rural Health Program of the Year Award this year. The Friendship House hosted a recognition and celebration event this week for its partner agencies, volunteers, personnel and community/business supporters.

“This award is in honor of all those who have made personal and professional contributions to support the efforts, vision and mission of the Friendship House,” house administrators said.

The criteria for consideration for this award include:

• Coordination of system services with other health care agencies, to avoid duplication of services — maximizing the return on time and finances invested.

• Networking and collaboration with other health care entities to achieve common goals.

• Innovation in the development and implementation of the program.

• Lasting impact in the community, state or region.

Reita Sobeck-Lynch, Allegany/Western Steuben Rural Health Network (AWSRHN) board president, said, “Given all this criteria, we were absolutely thrilled with the recognition the house received. It’s quite an honor. At a state level, this is our most prestigious award.”

The Friendship House has been a member of AWSRHN for the last three years. The Friendship House hosts programs such as adult education and employment fairs, adult literary services, computer training, GED assessment/classes, parent education classes, adolescent educational support groups, community library, Child Health Plus/Family Health Plus insurance, nutritional cooking workshops, budgeting workshops, family and individual counseling, senior employment information, resume assistance, American Red Cross programs, and tobacco cessation support services.

“I have added on Univera Community Health,” said Project Coordinator Lori Little.“They were participating, but now they come in on a regular basis to do the applications for Child Health Plus/Family Plus.

“There’s always discussion about adding services. Food stamp enrollment was just discussed tonight.”

Carrie Whitwood of AWSRHN and NYSARH board member, said the Friendship House started in October 2003. It was originally down the street from its current location before moving there in 2005.

The Friendship House was nominated and then had to apply to NYSARH to be considered for the Program of the Year Award, said Penny Cavanaugh, who was Friendship House project coordinator at the time. She left at the end of September to start her own home-based marketing and public relations business.

“The application was just a matter of writing down what the achievements in the past year were,” Cavanaugh said. “True recognition goes to the collaborative efforts of all the partners, businesses and community members.

“I feel honored to have been a part of Friendship House,” continued Cavanaugh. “It’s an important part of the Friendship community and it serves all of Allegany County, as well as parts of Steuben and Cattaraugus counties. This little building makes a lot of contributions to the local area. It is a two-story building, so multiple classes can be going on at the same time.”

Wednesday’s event was attended by local and county officials and partner agency representatives. Also attending were Susan Myers, representing state Sen. Catharine M. Young, R-Olean, and Bill Heaney, representing Assemblyman Joseph Giglio, R-Gowanda. Heaney presented a proclamation from the state assembly.

“The New York State Assembly recognizes the vital importance of the Allegany/Western Steuben Rural Health Network’s Friendship House Community Resource Center in providing education and service to the citizens they serve,” Heaney read. “The Friendship House Community Resource Center serves its constituency through coordination of services, agency collaboration and comprehensive, confidential assistance to residents through information, resources, referrals and on-site programming.”

Daily Reporter