CFLR In Action

CFLR Announces Take Back Day Drop Off

CFLR Announces Take Back Day Drop Off

April 24th is National Take Back Day.

CFLR will be partnering with Oneida County Opioid Task Force, Oneida County Sheriff Dept. and ACR Health to host a drug take back event at the Oneida County Train Station from 10am – 2pm on April 24th.  This drive-through event is CDC compliant with all COVID regulations. Participants are asked to stay in their vehicles and follow signs to drop off their meds and to wear masks at all times.  All participants will be given a Hope bag.

With opioid overdose deaths increasing during the pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration announces its 20th Take Back Day is scheduled for April 24th. At its last Take Back Day in October, DEA collected a record-high amount of expired, unwanted, and unused prescription medications, with the public turning in close to 500 tons of unwanted drugs. Over the 10-year span of Take Back Day, DEA has brought in more than 6,800 tons of prescription drugs. With studies indicating a majority of abused prescription drugs come from family and friends, including from home medicine cabinets, clearing out unused medicine is essential.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. has seen an increase in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 83,544 Americans overdosing during the 12-month period ending July 1, 2020, the most ever recorded in a 12-month period. The increase in drug overdose deaths appeared to begin prior to the COVID-19 health emergency but accelerated significantly during the first months of the pandemic.

The public can drop off potentially dangerous prescription medications at collection sites which will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations in order to maintain the safety of all participants and local law enforcement.

DEA and its partners will collect tablets, capsules, patches, and other solid forms of prescription drugs. Liquids (including intravenous solutions), syringes and other sharps, and illegal drugs will not be accepted. DEA will continue to accept vaping devices and cartridges at its drop off locations provided lithium batteries are removed.

Helping people dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way DEA is working to reduce addiction and stem overdose deaths.

Learn more about the event at, or by calling 800-882-9539.

Posted by Cassandra Sheets in CFLR In Action, News, Prevention

Hello from our Prevention Department!

Cortney Kleek - Education MVCC Human Services and Chemical Dependency Dual Major.  Following college, I was offered the Prevention Specialist position at CFLR in March of 2019, in 11 months’ time I was promoted to Senior Prevention Specialist (my current position).  I have a passion for working with youth who have suffered traumatic experiences and addiction, which is why I love doing prevention programming for the schools and community.  In my free time, I enjoy hanging around family and friends.  I look forward to growing my career in the field and furthering my education.

Hello, my name is Kerina Herard and I am the Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator for Compeer Utica. I have a bachelor's in Chemistry from SUNY Oswego and am currently pursuing my Masters in Public Health. Since I was little, I always wanted a career in the healthcare field. I especially wanted to work with people affected by mental health disorders, and therefore I am quite excited to be joining the CFLR family!

I have two adorable toddlers at home who keep me on my toes, so when I am not at work, you can find me either doing homework or hanging out with my family.

Joe Passalacqua - Ed. MVCC and Utica college, work history, started at Neighborhood Center as a Case Manager – 2 years.  Went on to Oneida Co. Dept of Mental Health, - 5 years.  Mohawk Valley Psych. Center Intensive Case Manager – 30 years retired.  Started teaching the Impaired driving program for the Council on Alcoholism and Addiction in the mid 80s – present.  That agency rolled into our current agency CFLR.  After retirement I assumed the roll of coodinator for the IDP program.  I enjoy spending time with family and friends, and look forward to each season of Syracuse football.

My name is Caryn Schweinsberg and I am a Prevention Specialist at Center for Family Life Recovery. I am originally from Boonville, NY but graduated from Oriskany Jr. Sr. High School. I continued my education at SUNY Polytechnic Institute where I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Community and Behavioral Health. Before completing my education, I had the opportunity to gain experience in the areas of direct support, administration and grant writing. Soon after graduating, I was offered the Prevention Specialist position with CFLR. I have a great love for the field of psychology and for contributing in the community and for that reason, I am honored to begin my journey with the agency. I am grateful most for the wonderful team I have the privilege of collaborating with and for the opportunity to make a difference in an ever-changing world. In my free time, I enjoy being around close friends and family especially my husband our dog and two cats.

Lauren Platt - Education - I attended Mohawk Valley Community College, where I graduated in 2013 with my AAS in Human Services.  Work history - I worked for a number of years for Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield as a customer care advocate until deciding to stay home to care for my children for a few years.  Then in September of 2019 I accepted the position of part time Prevention Specialist at Center for Family Life and Recovery.  Just a few short months later I was offered the full time position, which I happily accepted.  I really enjoy working for this agency, and am thrilled to be making such a difference in our community.  I look forward to growing with this agency, and being able to reach even more people of our community with prevention services, as well as the parenting and family services that I provide through evidence based programming. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my two sons, ages 17 and 12, and my friends and family.

Hello!  My name is Fran Esposito and I joined the Center for Family Life and Recovery (CFLR) as a Prevention Service Coordinator in February 2021. From my previous service term with AmeriCorps, I am bringing experience in and passion for working within the community, especially with community members who face struggles with mental health, addiction, and housing insecurities. I graduated from the University of Albany in Summer of 2020 with a degree in Political Science.

I am very passionate about helping to inspire hope within our community and building lasting, meaningful connections. I am so excited for the opportunity to grow my passions here at CFLR and to create lasting bonds with everyone!

David Garrett
Bachelors - SUNY Geneseo
Masters - Bowling Green State University, Ohio

Worked in universities for forty years.  Bowling Green, University of Wisconsin, SUNY Cortland, Wesley College, Delaware, SUNYIT (SUNY Polytechnic Institute) for the last 34 years.  Worked in Student Affairs as Director of Residence Life, Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Orientation, Director of Student Life, Director of Counseling, and Director of International Student Services.
Outside activities: American Pheasant and Waterfowl Association, Western New York Pheasant and Waterfowl Society, Adirondack Avicultural Society, Barneveld Horsemen's Association, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's - Ride for Missing Children and Community Outreach Speaker.


Hello, my name is Sheila LaQuay I joined the CFLR family in 2020 as a Family Peer Advocate.  I have a two- year degree in Sociology and Human Services from Herkimer Community College. I also obtained my Family Development Credentials in 2003. I have been working in the Human Service field for twenty-one years and continue to grow and learn every day. Prevention and helping to support others through their journey has always been a passion of mine and I am thankful and honored to be a part of the Prevention team here at CFLR.

When I am not working I love to spend time with my spouse and grown children camping, fishing, swimming, antiquing and spending time playing with our two beautiful Saint Dane pups Leo and Daisy!

Hello my name is Kristina and I’m 22!  I graduated from SUNY Cortland with a bachelors in Psychology in 2019.  I worked for the Neighborhood Center in the PINS (Person in Need of Supervision) Unit for Oneida County shortly after graduating which focuses on youth with behavioral and mental health issues.  I eventually started working for CFLR in the PINS unit for Herkimer County until I was accepted to a masters program in New Jersey to continue my education in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in adolescent/childhood psychology.  I hope to get my PhD and own my own practice eventually.  Due to COVID-19 my classes were switched to online and CFLR worked with my schedule and allowed me to stay with the agency in the Prevention Dept. as a part time Prevention Specialist specifically for the Triple P-Positive Parenting Program while I start my grad program.  I’m so grateful they gave me this opportunity and have helped me grow so much!

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

National Counseling Awareness Month – Teal Day

National Counseling Awareness Month – Teal Day

CFLR Celebrates Teal Day and National Counseling Awareness Month

American Counseling Association (ACA) designates April of each year as Counseling Awareness Month, a time of advocacy for the profession and celebration of the outstanding efforts of counselors in myriad settings as they seek to facilitate the growth and development of all people. To help raise awareness, CFLR will be participating in Teal Day on April 9th. Friday, April 9th is Teal Day; we encourage everyone to wear teal to support the nationwide effort to raise awareness of counselors and promote mental health during Counseling Awareness Month.

70-90% of people who seek treatment for mental health witness a significant reduction in symptoms, according to the ACA.

Counseling in the United States and the world is delivered via many human service settings and can be found in a variety of institutions. These professionals work with people across the life span, from childhood through the senior years. This year’s theme—The Future is… Self-Care, Advocacy and Inclusion #BurnBrightNotOut—is focused on some of the avenues that will help ensure a brighter future for counselors, their clients and the counseling profession.

Center for Family Life and Recovery offers help through the Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”).  EAP services help covered individuals and their families cope with the changes during this uncertain time, including pandemic fatigue. The EAP provides short-term assessment and referral counseling services. Primarily, counseling is provided virtually, but some limited in-person services are available, too. Besides counseling, the EAP team can help employers with training and education for their workforces. To see if you qualify for EAP counseling, or to learn more, please visit or call the Utica office at 315-733-1709 for more information

Posted by Cassandra Sheets in Behavioral Health, CFLR In Action, News

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month

April Is Alcohol Awareness Month

April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This is a national public health awareness campaign to increase education and understanding of the causes and dangers drinking and risks, treatment, and stigma that is associated with addiction. Alcohol is the most used substance by youth and adults in the U.S. and is the third leading cause of preventable death. Roughly 95,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes each year. Some signs of alcohol abuse may be things like:

  • Experiencing temporary blackouts or short-term memory loss
  • Exhibiting signs of irritability and extreme mood swings
  • Using alcohol to “cope”
  • Choosing drinking over other responsibilities and obligations
  • Becoming isolated and distant from friends and family members
  • Change in hygiene

Alcohol abuse/addiction may impact an individual in many ways such as:

  • Difficulty in school or with an employer
  • legal problems/impaired driving
  • Increased risk of Physical and sexual violence, suicide and homicide.
  • Memory problems.
  • Misuse of other substances.
  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.

The following are some questions to think about if one might think their alcohol consumption is becoming or is a problem:

  • Have you continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious?
  • Are you drinking alcohol with prescribed or over the counter medications?
  • Have you lost interest in other activities and hobbies since you started drinking?
  • Have you experienced symptoms associated with an alcohol withdrawal?
  • Have you felt an urge or craving to consume alcohol?

Parents play a vital role in prevention of addiction by having the tools to understand the signs and symptoms of risky behaviors, knowing the trends that are out there, and knowing how to just have these kinds of conversations. Parents also are role modeling behaviors so ensure they are positive and healthy and that children are learning how to self-regulate and cope with life situations as well as encouraging them to know it is okay to ask for help.

If you need help, have questions, or need resources please call CFLR.  We want you to know you are NOT alone and we are here to support you and your family!

Posted by Cassandra Sheets in CFLR In Action, News

Our Clinical and EAP Team!

My name is Kaitlyn Rose. I am an EAP Counselor at Center for Family Life and Recovery. I started at CFLR as an MSW intern in 2019. I was grateful to become a part of the wonderful CFLR team following the completion of my Master’s in Social Work in 2020 from Keuka College. Prior to working in the counseling field, I worked in the Human Service field for over five years as a Care Manager working in the local community with individuals with severe Mental Health and Medical conditions. CFLR has helped me not only achieve my Master’s in Social Work but pursue my career dreams of assisting others within my community through counseling services. When I am not working, I am enjoying outdoor activities with my new fiancé! I also stay busy as a dog mom to two pit bulls as well as preparing for the arrival of my first child in December!

Bonnie Zweifel, LMSW

Over forty years of experience assisting individuals to deal with psychological, interpersonal, psychiatric, family and/or behavioral problems. Over thirty years of experience of providing individual, couple, family, and group counseling. Has provided specialized services to adults and teens – male and female- who have sexually offended and to children who have sexualized behavioral problems. Over fifteen years of providing supervision to MSW interns from a variety of graduate schools. Eleven years of working at the YWCA Rape Crisis Services in various roles such as a victim advocate, trainer, program coordinator and program director. 2004 Recipient of the Marilyn Etcheverry Award for Excellence. 2016 Recipient of the CFLR Advocacy Award. One of her greatest joys is thinking that she has helped people be more the people they want to be.

Hello! I’m Nadine Zesky, I was born and raised in the Syracuse area and I am thrilled to be the new Part Time EAP Coordinator for the Syracuse area.

I spent 25 years in law enforcement, during that time I completed my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Empire State College. My career was focused on how I best could serve my community. I spent the last half of my career as a family service officer, which allowed me to liaison with schools, service organizations and community advocates. I wanted to continue to serve my community after I retired so I decided to run for a position on my local school board. I was elected and served as a member for eight years. This solidified my knowledge that being involved in my community is my passion.

I have only been with CFLR for a short time and I have already learned so much. I love connecting people with services that will help them succeed and be the best they can be and this job is allowing me to do that!

I am married with two beautiful daughters and have the best dog ever! In my spare time I love to walk and spend time outdoors.

I am grateful for the opportunity CFLR has provided to me, allowing me to continue to serve my community. I look forward to growing with CFLR.

Crystal Faria joined the CFLR family in 2019 in the EAP department. She is the EAP coordinator for the Utica office. She has worked in the non-profit sector off and on for most of her career. Working for and within the community is very important to her. One of the things which drew her to working at CFLR is the agencies values of compassion, respect, learning and fun (at CFLR Crystal is known for her positive attitude, creativity and her vast array of obscure trivia so the fun part was significant). She appreciates CFLR’s the supportive atmosphere for personal and professional growth. This support was so welcomed, as Crystal recently earned her CASAC-T and certifications in Meditation, Mindfulness and Life Coaching.

When she is not at work Crystal is currently obsessed with learning the skills of needlepoint and cross stitch. During COVID she has discovered the joys of composting and spending ever day with her two youngest children, who she periodically forgets to feed.

Meet Kelly Wolfe, MSW - Virtual EAP Counselor!

Kelly’s graduate internship was with CFLR, so she is familiar with CFLR and the EAP! We warmly welcome her back. She has been in human services for over 17 years serving the community in a number of roles. She started her career working with victims of interpersonal violence as a community educator and running support groups. Kelly has also worked with at risk youth in several capacities and worked as a social worker in an adult home. She has a passion for helping people overcome their challenges and empowering them to better their lives. Her volunteer work includes working with run away and homeless youth, providing palliative care and fostering kittens and cats. She is currently working in animal welfare. Her other hobbies include gardening (mostly digging the in dirt), hiking and kayaking.

Hi, I'm Brittany Higgins. I strongly believe in the art of joining and meeting each individual that I work with where they are at. I also believe that everyone possesses the answers, qualities and skills to resolve their concern. I see my role in therapy as a guiding support to uncover the solution to each presenting concern. I come with a very diverse background in helping individuals with a wide variety of problems and believe that therapeutic trust and alliance is at the core of the therapy process.

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action