CFLR In Action

2020 World Kindness Day

This Friday, 11/13, is World Kindness Day.  As an effort to spread kindness our Prevention team has been working hard to implement kindness affirmations in the schools we work in, our CFLR office, and throughout social media.  We all know times are tough for many people and you never know who just needs a kind act or word.  I promise you that any effort put into being kind to someone else, you will not regret.  Regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, beliefs, etc, everyone deserves, and could use, an act of kindness these days.

~Kristina Lindberg, CFLR Prevention Specialist




Put on some ‘feel-good’ music, get out your craft supplies, and get creative! Painting is a really good way to relax and rocks are everywhere!! You can paint kind words or pictures and put them on neighbors porches, decorate your home, or pass them to friends to spread kindness. Remember, no act is too small.

-The Prevention Team















Happy World Kindness Day!
Thank you to everyone who is doing their part to spread kindness!

Here are some ways you can continue to show your kindness:
• Ask someone how they’re doing
• Tell someone something you like about them
• Buy the order of the car behind you in a drive thru (if your able)
• Let others know what they mean to you
• Hold the door for the person behind you
• Send a letter to a friend
• Buy a gift
• Bake for someone
• Smile at others you pass by (it’s hard with masks but even with your eyes or saying hello can make someone feel seen)
• And so much more!! Be creative!

Don’t forget, being kind to yourself is one of the most important things you can do to show your self-respect. It will also be easier to be kind to others when your kind to yourself. Have a Good Day!!

-The Prevention Team

Kindness is an act of love, and when we show kindness to ourselves by being gentle, compassionate, encouraging, supportive, and accepting of who we are at this exact moment, unapologetically… the ability to show kindness to others becomes a thoughtless action. Experiencing the serenity that is born from showing kindness to yourself, makes offering kindness to others an effortless gift.

How can you show yourself kindness today?

• Buy flowers for yourself
• Send yourself a Thank You card for all the ways you show up for you and others
• Take yourself out to dinner or a cup of coffee
• Draw yourself a hot bath and put on the comfiest jammies you own

After you show yourself kindness and recharge with some much needed self-care, pay an act of kindness forward…..a simple hello and smile to a stranger as you pass by is all it takes for the ripple of kindness to begin…..

“Kindness is the ability to know what the right thing to do is and having the courage to do it!"




"How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!"

-George Elliston

The Recovery & Family Support Navigation Staff (Ambi, Erin, Katie, Michelle, Tim, Sarah, Bonnie)……

Wish you a beautiful day wrapped in sunshine & kindness.

Our CFLR Herkimer PINS Unit shared kindness by treating each other to snacks/drinks from the office. Let’s keep spreading kindness everywhere!

(From left to right: PINS Counselor Heidi Gates, FSW Keshonna Griffith-Gabeaud, FSW Gracie Schrader, CFLR Senior Sandy Seaman, PA Jennifer Morey, FSW Alexis Dekanek.)

A special thanks to DSS Supervisor JoAnn Mower for taking this photo.

“Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”
Dennis Prager

“Goodness is about character - integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”
Dennis Prager


Let us be kind to ourselves. Let us remember we are doing what we can, the best we can at this moment. Let us remember we judge ourselves so much more harshly than others do. Let us remember we are all incredibly, wonderfully perfectly imperfect. Let us remember to love ourselves as those perfectly imperfect beings. We all have so much to offer this agency and our community and most importantly ourselves.

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

Meet our PINS Department!

Hi my name is Gracie Schrader and I am a Family Support Worker for the PINS unit. I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree from The College of Saint Rose in May and started working for CFLR in June. In the short time that I have worked here I have learned a lot about myself. I feel as this agency has helped me grow as a person in ways I was not even aware I could.
I enjoy working with families and the community. I have a strong passion for making a difference. I am so lucky to be part of the CFLR team who shares the same passion. Outside of work I love to go on adventures, travel, run, hike, spend time with family and friends, and drink lots of coffee.

Hello, my name is Alexis Dekanek and I am one of the Family Support Workers for the PINS unit in Herkimer, NY. I joined CFLR’s family in June of 2020 and I could not be happier. I graduated in 2019 with my Bachelors in Criminal Justice and with a Minor in Psychology focusing on adolescent development. Once I graduated, I worked for Empowered Pathways in Utica, NY where I got certified in basic mediation. In that role, I worked closely with Oneida County Family Court for a little over a year until I was offered this position as a FSW. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, playing with my dogs, and target practicing to prepare for the upcoming hunting season!

Hello Everyone! My name is Heidi Gates. I enjoy working with families and youth of all ages. Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my family and participating in activities such as four wheeling, snowmobiling, fishing, camping, classic car shows, scrapbooking, and more. I also work part time/as needed on a local dairy farm and maple syrup business.
In 2014, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology after changing my major several times to find something I was truly interested in. I then returned to school to complete my Master’s Degree in Education in School Counseling.
My career began when I was hired by Rehabilitation Support Services in Schoharie County, working as a Full Time Residence Counselor in a home for people experiencing mental illness and substance abuse, age 18 and over. Here I really learned my passion was to help others dealing with mental illness and who have had traumatic experiences throughout their lives. During my time here, I was attending school online Full Time working on my Masters’ in Education in School Counseling. When my classes were completed I spent the hours of the school day working on my internship and then working 3:00pm-11:00pm at Rehabilitation Support Services. My weekends were spent working or completing school work. This made for long days, but I enjoyed every minutes of my time, whether it was working with the children at the school level or adults within the residence home.
After receiving my Master’s Degree, I was able to land myself a job working Full Time as a Family Specialist for Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth, in Schoharie County. Here I was able to work with teenagers and their families who were in need of family support due to traumatic experiences resulting in mental illness, substance abuse, and behavioral problems. I learned a lot about how the school systems work as well as the county interactions and criminal justice system. Everything I learned here, prepared me to accept the position at CFLR where I became a PINS Counselor working for their PINS Unit in Herkimer County.

My name is Sandy Seaman, and I am the Sr. Family Support Worker with the PINS Diversion Program. I have worked for CFLR for 6 years now, and have had three positions within the agency: Impact Program Coordinator, Individual and Family Counselor, and my current position. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology, and still need to complete my Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I have 3 grown children. 2 of whom are currently in college. My free time is spent doing renovations on the house I bought 2 years ago, doing a variety of crafts, and hanging out with my kids. Our family has several pets. We have 3 dogs; a Standard Poodle named Ruby, a Morkie named Whomper, and a Newfoundland named Mazikeen Morningstar (Maze for short). We also have 2 cats; Rowena and Crowley. My daughter recently got 2 baby rats; Espresso and Latte. I’m planning on getting Axolotls again in the near future. The thing I am proudest of is my 20+ years in dog rescue; having served on the board of a rescue, and organized transports for dogs from kill shelters to rescues all over the US.

Jennifer Morey received her Associate in Applied Science degree, Human Services at Mohawk Valley Community College (MVCC). She is currently working towards her Bachelor of Social Work degree with Keuka College. Jennifer’s previous work experience includes a position as Student Assistant at MVCC in Utica, New York. In addition to serving as Program Assistant with the Center for Family Life and Recovery, Herkimer PINS Diversion unit, she also works as a Professional Tutor of Human Services with MVCC. When she is not working, she enjoys reading, walking track, and listening to music.


Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

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.

I am a Masters of Social Work student at Simmons University and I will be graduating in May 2021. I am passionate about working with people with Down syndrome and Autism. I have spent most of my life working and volunteering with people with disabilities. I recently volunteered at a school in Cambodia for people with disabilities and locally I love to volunteer at Gigi’s Playhouse Syracuse and Special Olympics for Central NY.

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

Red Ribbon Week!

This week is Red Ribbon Week, a national drug prevention and education event. The 2020 Theme is “Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free.” “This theme encourages children, families and communities to live healthy, happy and drug-free lives. It also serves as a reminder that we are all empowered with shaping the communities around us through positivity, bravery and strength.” The prevention department has been very busy in our local schools and in the community, preparing for Red Ribbon Week.  Here are some photos’ of bulletin board decorations in Adirondack and Camden schools; the students’ loved participating with this event and we look forward to doing other prevention campaigns in the future.

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action

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.

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.

My name is Brandi Lyons.  I was born in Rome New York on April 8, 1987.  I was raised in Rome, New York along with my three siblings.  I graduated from Rome Free Academy in June of 2005.  I have always had a passion for working with people and making a positive impact on my community.  I jumped into the workforce directly following graduation and I have worked in the human service field ever since!  I am the proud mother of two amazing children (Tiana and Justyce) who keep me motivated and determined to reach my goals.  In my free time I enjoy spending time with my fiancé, our children, and our two poodles (Ginger and Stormy).  We love a good game of Skip-bo!  Motherhood has taught me many things including the importance of education and following through with the goals that I set for myself.  With that I went on to further my education and graduated from Mohawk Valley Community College in 2018 with an Associate’s Degree in Human Services.  I joined the Center for Family Life and Recovery Inc. family in September of 2019 as The Compeer Specialist.  I am Currently enrolled in SUNY Empire State college and I look forward to graduating in December 2020 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and Community.

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.


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.

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.

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!

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.

Posted by Dominica Liscio in CFLR In Action