More than 1,000 prevention professionals from across the nation, as well as members of the Rich family, gathered at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on September 13, to pay tribute to Bob and Mindy’s long-time prevention efforts and leadership of Western New York United Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Inc. (WNY United). Three decades after founding WNY United, Bob and Mindy continue to passionately advocate on behalf of the cause and lend their support and resources to the organization. For this rare dedication to a critical community initiative, Bob and Mindy were honored with a special award presented by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NYS OASAS).
“Bob and Mindy Rich had the foresight to recognize the devastating effects that long-term drug and alcohol abuse would have on the WNY community, and they rallied behind the cause and dedicated themselves to forming a coalition to increase awareness and access to support services,” said New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez. “After thirty years of passionate advocacy their commitment to Western New York United is as strong as ever. That kind of commitment and dedication to our community is extraordinary and we’re proud to acknowledge the significant contributions the Rich Family has made to New York State’s prevention efforts.”
The special reception and award was a highlight of the National Prevention Network’s annual conference which is being hosted in Buffalo throughout the week. The conference brings industry professionals together to share ideas on how to prevent underage and illicit substance use and addiction through workshops, guest lecturers and valuable collaborative opportunities.
Members of the Rich Family were in attendance to receive the award on behalf of Bob and Mindy, who were travelling at the time of the event. In a video message, Bob and Mindy thanked the NYS OASAS for the honor and shared insight into their 30-year prevention journey.
“We didn’t come into the prevention field with expertise, we came into it with a desire to make a difference,” said Mindy Rich, Vice Chairman, Rich Products; Co-Founder and Chairperson Emeritus, WNY United. “We realized very quickly that the prevention experts, those people who were out there working every day, they were going to be the ones to make a difference, and we wanted to be there to help support them.”
Founded in 1986, WNY United is a primary substance abuse prevention and education agency designed to train and mobilize local schools and communities to implement proven strategies that prevent the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other dangerous drugs.
“Bob and Mindy Rich were the perfect people to lead our organization,” said Linda Flowers, Executive Director, Western New York United Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Inc. “They brought access and credibility, and they were there for Western New York United and the community at all the most critical points, and that’s really important. It’s so unusual to have people who bring their skills and their resources to an initiative and hang in there.”