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Mental Health Association

October 15, 2021 - 11:43am


Press release:

The Regional Transit Service (RTS), longtime employee Alan Moore, and scholarship winner Ava Flores were honored at the annual meeting of the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties (MHAGO). The event took place on Oct. 7 at Terry Hills Golf Course with 24 people attending.

MHAGO Executive Director Tom Christensen credited the dedication of the staff for keeping the agency open through the pandemic, noting that as an essential business, MHAGO has remained open to in-person services, with no staff layoffs or reduction of hours.

“The COVID-19 crisis highlighted for us how important everyday mental health and wellness practices are to managing social isolation, anxiety, and stress,” Christensen said. “We believe MHAGO services contributed to the emotional resilience of both our participants and our community during these uncertain times.”

RTS also contributed to the community’s well-being, according to MHAGO, by providing free rides to and from medical appointments – including visits essential for mental health – for the two counties’ residents. John Arneth, RTS’ Regional Manager for Genesee & Orleans, accepted the Constance E. Miller Award of Excellence on behalf of the organization. Constance E. Miller, along with a small group of dedicated volunteers, founded the Mental Health Association in 1993. This award honors her commitment to excellence by recognizing individuals and organizations who work to promote mental wellness, instill hope, and improve the quality of life for people living in Genesee and Orleans counties.

“We had some rigorous protocols to follow in order to keep everyone safe, but we were really happy to be able to continue to provide medical transport services during a time that created a lot of anxiety and fear for people,” Arneth said.

MHAGO recognized Alan Moore as a 25-year staff member. Colleagues described Moore as a mild-mannered, versatile, reliable team member who “quietly supports and encourages (MHAGO) participants.” It was also noted that he models self-care by walking regularly and “getting his steps in” each day.

MHAGO awarded the Board of Directors’ Educational Scholarship to Ava Flores, 2021 graduate of both Oakfield-Alabama High School and Genesee Community College. Flores is now studying psychology at Roberts Wesleyan College. The MHAGO scholarship program provides financial support to individuals pursuing higher education in the fields of human or social services. Flores received $500 toward her studies.

Kylee Criscione, a mental health program specialist from the state Office of Mental Health – WNY Field Office, gave a presentation via Zoom. She noted, aptly, that telehealth visits represent one of several ways MHAGO has stepped up to address

the challenges of meeting community needs.

In the annual report distributed at the meeting, Christensen noted that MHAGO Medicaid Managed Care HCBS services increased in 2020 to become the largest local provider of Mental Health HCBS, with 267 combined in-person and telehealth visits across 271 hours of service. “We look forward to further expansion of managed care services through the State’s newly proposed CORE (Community Oriented Empowerment Services) model,” he wrote.

Other noteworthy 2020 stats:

  • A total of 256 persons were served by MHAGO programs, including 186 in the Recovery Center, 147 in the Social Club, and 50 in the Drop-In Center.
  • MHAGO’s Recovery Center provided 5,009 combined in-person and telehealth visits across 3,028 hours of service.
  • Social Club: 3,397 combined in-person and telehealth visits
  • Drop-In Center: 1,726 combined in-person and telehealth visits
  • Warmline: 2,852 outreach messages and 5,879 completed calls
  • The agency also provided 1,014 one-way trips. All transportation staff also provided outreach telehealth calls and wellness checks during office hours.

MHAGO reported $576,030 total support and revenue, with $618,689 in total expenses. The agency ended 2020 with $129,358 cash on hand. The 2020 Financial Statement and Auditors’ Report were prepared by EFPR Group, CPAs, PLLC. Copies of the Audit and Form 990 may be obtained by request from the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties, 25 Liberty Street, Batavia, NY 14020.

“Even in good times,” Christensen said, “a lack of social engagement has been a leading predictor of poor health outcomes, poor quality of life, and shortened lifespans. With Covid bringing out the worst of these troubles, our staff really stepped up and made a big difference. I’m very pleased with our team.”



March 27, 2020 - 10:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mental Health Association, news, video, live stream, COVID-19.
Video Sponsor

This morning we're talking with Tom Christensen, executive director Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans.

Our apologies to anybody who tried to watch this live. The live feed didn't go through to YouTube for some reason. But we did record the call so here is the full video of the interview.

Tom Christensen mentioned some helpful phone numbers during the conversation. Here are the numbers:

  • MHA in Niagara County Peer Information Line: 716-433-5432 (8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday)
  • MHA of Genesee & Orleans Counties WarmLine: 585-813-0072 (5 – 8:30 p.m. daily, including weekends)
  • Crisis TextLine: text MHA to 741-741 (24/7)
  • GCASA Peer Recovery Advocates: 585-815-1800 (24/7)
  • Genesee/Orleans Care and Crisis HelpLine: 585-283-5200 (24/7)
May 23, 2017 - 2:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BOCES, schools, education, Mental Health Association, news.


A pet therapy dog, flying doves, a butterfly, a tree with a swing, a meditation bench, a lilac bush and a drum, these are just some of the metal sculptures that were handcrafted by area career and technical education students. More than 100 students from four career and technical education centers located across Western New York have created more than 70 metal sculptures that will be auctioned to benefit The Mental Health Association.

Welding for Wellness is a collaborative project that includes students from 65 school districts, which span 10 counties in Upstate New York. Students in the Metal Trades Programs at Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES, Monroe 2- Orleans BOCES, Monroe #1 BOCES, the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership (GV BOCES) have worked since December to craft this artwork.

In June, these sculptures will be auctioned to benefit The Mental Health Association. The auction will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 2, from at Village Gate on the 2nd floor Atrium, 274 N. Goodman St., Rochester.

Auction tickets may be purchased online at Weldingforwellness.com or by contacting the Mental Health Association at (585) 325-3145.

The American Welding Society – Rochester section is a sponsor of this project.




September 22, 2016 - 3:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in Mental Health Association, batavia, news.

Press release:

After 16 plus years, Sue Gagne is leaving the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Genesee and Orleans Counties. The search process for the new executive director has begun. Michele Sformo, assistant executive director, will serve as interim executive director.

Gagne began her career at the MHA in a part-time support position. After several promotions over the years, she was named executive director in 2013. Gagne is only the third executive director to serve the organization since its founding in 1993.

“We’ve had three extraordinary executive directors over the course of our history,” said Russell Cornman, board president. “All have had a deep, shared commitment to our mission and, at the same time, each has brought their own unique skill set and passion to the position.”

Incorporated 23 years ago, the MHA was started by a dedicated group of volunteers, led by Constance E. Miller. Their vision was to provide support services for those suffering from mental illness in Genesee County and, after years of planning, the Social Club opened in a small space on Main Street in Batavia. Dorothy Wentland was the agency’s first executive director, and those who walked through the door in those early years were welcomed by both their peers and a small but caring staff.

In the intervening years, the MHA expanded both its space and its services to include transportation, outreach and community education, advocacy and services to individuals diagnosed as mentally ill and chemically addicted. And in 1995, under the leadership of its second executive director, Millie Tomidy-Pepper (herself a 20-year employee of the MHA), the MHA received funding to start a peer-to-peer Warm Line. The Warm Line is a model in New York State, and the MHA of Genesee and Orleans Counties remains one of only a few MHA’s statewide to provide this service.

Ever responsive to the growing and changing needs of its consumers and the community, in 2015 the MHA launched the Visions of Hope Recovery Center, a peer-directed program designed to help individuals with mental health challenges reach their full potential through support and encouragement. And, in the Fall of 2015, the Mental Health Association of Genesee County joined forces with Orleans County to become the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties. Office and program sites are now in both Batavia and Albion.

Go to www.mhago.org for information.

May 18, 2016 - 6:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crisis hotline, Mental Health Association, batavia, Milestones.


Holly Baxter was honored Tuesday during the Mental Health Association's annual luncheon at Terry Hills with the Constance E. Miller Award of Excellence for her work with the crisis hotline at the YWCA.

June 9, 2015 - 1:52pm
Event Date and Time: 
July 14, 2015 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm
Care-A-Van Ministries is partnering with FoodLink of Rochester to host a mobile food pantry. The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. The Mobile Food Pantry is available to Genesee County residents only. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home.
November 4, 2013 - 8:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Mental Health Association.

Press release:

Two individuals from Genesee County were presented with awards at the MHANYS Awards Dinner in Albany on Thursday, October 24th. The evening is a highlight of the year in MHANYS. Those being honored are symbolic of the kind of people who work tirelessly every day, with little recognition, to help make lives better for people with psychiatric disabilities.   

MHANYS Volunteer of the Year Award: Sueann Schramm has devoted her time and care to the MHA in Genesee County for many years. She has volunteered numerous hours to the programs, workshops and activities that are provided by the MHA. As a volunteer, Sueann is a co-facilitator for two important MHA support groups, Survivors of Suicide Support Group and Life Bridges Trauma Support Group. Each time the group meets, Sueann ensures that the participants feel that they are in a comfortable and safe place.  Her care for others also extends to the agency’s Warm Line program. Sueann is a long-time, dedicated, volunteer listener. The support she provides to callers is unmatchable and she is often asked for by callers because of the comfort she is able to instill. 

Through her work, Sueann is dedicated to removing the stigma of mental illness. She is always willing to share her story to inspire change in others. “Sueann is one of those rare individuals that does what is right, not for recognition, but because it is right,” says Betty Raponi, Relief Worker at the MHA in Genesee County.

MHANYS Friend of the MHA Award: Detective Sergeant Patrick J. Corona has served the Batavia City Police Department in Genesee County for 28 years. Throughout the years, Detective Corona has worked directly with the MHA in Genesee County to promote wellness in the community. He has had a direct impact on MHA events such as the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Genesee County, Criminal Justice Day and the MICA/Trauma Task Force. In recent years, Detective Corona has taken on the responsibility of planning trainings that address the challenges returning veterans face and the implications of human trafficking. Detective Corona has continuously dedicated his time to learning about mental health needs and to improving the lives of people in Genesee County.

June 24, 2010 - 9:09am
posted by Joseph Langen in GO ART!, Mental Health Association, GVSN.

Jackson Square Audience

Jackson Square Audience

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. What’s happening on the arts front.
JOE: I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I have been busy here at GO ART!
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: Among other projects, I just finished a window display at the Chamber of Commerce for our upcoming Picnic in the Park on July 4.
CALLIOPE: Anything else.
JOE:  We are in phase two of the Genesee Veterans Support Network (GVSN) Logo Contest. As you may recall GO ART!, The Mental Health Association in Genesee County and the GVSN are conducting a contest to develop a logo for GVSN promotional materials.
CALLIOPE: How is it going.
JOE: The submission deadline was June 11. We got a number of submissions which will be on display at the visit of the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall at the Batavia VA Medical Center this weekend. We are asking viewers to vote for their favorite.
CALLIOPE: Sounds ambitious.
JOE: We also have two musical events coming up.  One is Jamble, an event this Saturday at TF Brown in Batavia, a fundraiser for the Mental Health Association. The other is an all day Ramble, a free day of local musicians in downtown Batavia on July 3. Hope to see you at some of these.

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