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ADM Board Recognizes Four Trailblazers


2012 ADM Trailblazer Award Recipients, from left to right, Rev. Dr. Robert Denton; David M. Weis, Ph.D., ABPP;  Jerry Craig,  ADM Board Executive Director;             Rachel E. Gordon; and Steven W. Jewell, M.D.


The Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADM) Services Board paid tribute to four local trailblazers at their appreciation luncheon on Tuesday, October 30, 2012. Those who received awards include: Rev. Dr. Robert Denton, Dr. Steve Jewell, Rachel Gordon and Dr. David Weis. 

In 2007, the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADM) Services Board established awards in honor of five individuals who are recognized as being trailblazers and advocates in the mental health and addiction services field. This award process is intended not only to honor the original trailblazers which included Drs. Fred and Penny Frese, Maggie Carroll Smith, Sr. Mary Ignatia and Dr. Bob Smith, but also to provide a forum to recognize individuals who emulate their example and service.

Maggie Carroll Smith Award

Forty years ago Rev. Dr. Bob Denton was ministering to prisoners when he saw a need for providing help to the victims of violence and crime.  In the early 70’s he heard the voice of the victim during the time when there were many rights for the defendants but not a voice for the victim. He pioneered victim rights in the United States and has remained a key player in the movement.
He set in motion the development of an organization focused on the rights of victims and their families to ensure that they were heard and that their needs were met. He founded and developed Victim Assistance Program to offer free, confidential and comprehensive services to victims of violent crime.  Last week, over 300 people gathered at a luncheon to help him celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Victim Assistance Program.

He is truly a trailblazer in accomplishing his life’s work of ministering to people in pain. He has accomplished a number of “firsts,” including establishing the first organization in United States designed to help and support victims of crime and having served as the first president of the national organization for Victim Advocates. He has received national accolades for his work including being recognized by President Clinton for his advocacy efforts and receiving the honor of Ohio’s Outstanding Victim Advocate award which bears his name.

Not only has Bob had a major local impact, his presence at most major catastrophes over the past 40 years has helped to restore some level of normalcy to those in need. A few of these include counseling First responders at Hurricane Katrina, World Trade Center, Columbine and the Oklahoma Bombing of the Federal building.

Rev. Denton is an ordained minister, police academy graduate and police chaplain, and adjunct professor in the sociology department at the University of Akron. While he will be leaving the role of Executive Director of the Victim Assistance program, he’ll not be leaving community service. He will be taking over as the first full-time executive director of the Safety Forces Chaplaincy Center.

Drs. Fred and Penny Frese Award

Dr. Steve Jewell is the Medical Director at Child Guidance & Family Solutions who not only believes in the recovery and resiliency framework, but truly practices the model. He is described as a strong proponent of shared decision making who works to empower clients and family members to take an active role in their treatment.  He also encourages involvement of family and clients in NAMI programs and worked with NAMI Summit County to bring the Hand to Hand courses to Child Guidance & Family Solutions where he teaches the class on Medication.  Dr. Jewell is involved in Crisis Intervention Team Training for police officers in Summit County and often teaches the section on children’s psychiatric illnesses.

He is an active Board member of NAMI Ohio where he has provided expert testimony on legislative issues related to children’s mental health and is a regular contributor to the NAMI newsletter through his “Ask the Child Psychiatrist” column. Earlier this year Dr. Jewell received national recognition in receiving the NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist Award for having made substantial contributions.

His innovative efforts are many and include being part of the development of the first Statewide Psychiatry Network (PPN) to offer consultation to the medical community on psychotropic prescription use in children.  He also advocated for Child Guidance and Family Solutions to participate as a pilot site in the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) research project in conjunction with National Institute of Mental Health, the ADM Board, and the BeST Center at NEOMED.  Not only did he encourage his agency to start as a pilot site, he has supported the continued viability of the program to ensure that individuals in Summit and adjoining counties who are experiencing their first episode of psychosis are able to have access to state of the art treatment.  He has participated in training the psychiatrists and FIRST team members in other communities to aid in the dissemination of early psychosis programs.

Dr. Jewell treats every person as an individual and focuses on where the client is and where the client wants to go.  He works to ensure all individuals receive the best treatment available.  He has gone to great lengths to understand individual cultures and to engage clients in treatment and bridge both the language and cultural barriers to help the client become successful in treatment and in life. 

Sister Mary Ignatia Award

Rachel Gordon celebrates over 20 years of sobriety by service to others. She is described as a tireless and selfless advocate focused on helping families, women and children especially, turn their lives away from addictions while seeking and choosing a better way of living.

She exemplifies the work of Sr. Ignatia as working behind the scenes to care for and support others.

While living in Kent, she developed a youth choir for ages 4-16 who caroled at nursing homes and coffee shops, involving at-risk kids in positive social activities. She also established an Adopt-a-family network for children of single parents at the university.

While serving as a sponsor for several women or through various support groups, she has helped women, men and children combat addictions and homelessness. Her nomination indicated that “she can often be found on the street corners helping others to obtain food, housing, listening to their stories and helping to find solutions to get off drugs.”

In 2009, she founded a support group called Caring and Miracles…We Care Foundation which focuses on the needs of women and children. She also is an active member of her church’s auxiliary support team prison ministry.

Another way she gives back was in founding the Community Outreach Parade and Festival which gives scholarships to students, recognition to community leaders and opens the door to social service agencies to connect residents with life changing information. This event will celebrate their 10 tear anniversary next year.

Her nomination included perhaps one of the most telling examples of Rachel’s selflessness which was how she fostered a young child through kinship through Summit County Children Services while he mother was working on recovery. After re-unification, both the mother and child are doing fine and Mom is nearing completion of college degree. This is one of many examples of how she has inspired others to go for and obtain opportunities for recovery and a better life.

Dr. Bob Smith Award

Dr. Bob Smith designed a program that facilitates hope and recovery.
Like Dr. Bob Smith, Dr. David Weis has made a career of inspiring hope and change in others. His contributions to the ADM system over the past 44 years are many and fall into two primary yet very different interlocking roles, each informing the other.

For 31 tears, he served as a teacher of Counselors and Psychologists at the University of Akron. He also served as Adjunct Professor of Behavioral Sciences at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Senior Fellow status at the Institute for
Lifespan Development and Gerontology at the University of Akron.

Dr. We S's second role, beginning in 1971 and continuing today, was as a Consultant/Clinical Supervisor and Program Psychologist within the Summit County alcohol, drug and mental health community. Beginning in 1971, he served as a consultant to Denton House for 5 years.
Since 1977,  he has been a consultant with Shelter Care - Juvenile Shelter and Runaway Home's where he still serves today. He also has served as the Program Psychologist for Interval Brotherhood Home for the past 34 years.

Through these combined roles, Dr. Weis has had considerable impact, both clinically and administratively on the ADM system, particularly at Shelter Care and IBH.  Those who have worked with him have appreciated his focus on the dignity of the human spirit, his compassion, his belief that treating individuals with respect is fundamental to treatment and to how we are to relate to others. He has in provided guidance and supervision to countless counseling professionals and done so with humility and a sharp focus on the worth of the individual.

Those nominating Dr. Weis describe him as having integrity and genuine passion for humanity. They noted that his positive impact and consistent call to “Celebrate Life!” has left a lasting impression on all that have known him. At least one of the people nominating Dr. Weis has described him as the yardstick by which they measure their own professional and personal growth. He is said to be the truest and purest form of helping professional who quietly listens and has faith in all. He instills hope, fosters perseverance and brings peace.

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