MHA Participant Celebration Exceeds Expectations

Mental Health Association Peer Specialist Morgan Rowley (left), North County Recovery Center Manager Ken Kendall, and Strong Starts Navigator Roseann Crocker welcomed a large crowd to the recent Participant Celebration in Dunkirk's Point Gratiot Park.

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Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County

Peer Coach Specialist and North County Recovery Center Manager Ken Kendall could not have been happier when upwards of 100 people came to the first Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) Participant Celebration held recently at Point Gratiot Park in Dunkirk.

“It was an amazing event,” Kendall said, “and it more than exceeded our expectations!”

MHA Human Resources Director Billy Hernandez roasted 25 pounds of hot dogs that were served with Texas hot sauce and macaroni salad made by Jodi Scanlan. French Creek Recovery Center alumni donated sodas.

Four participants—Emma Kubica, Megann Panek, Joseph Wicks and Wing Wills—spoke, sharing stories of their pathways to recovery and the important role played by the MHA. Certificates were awarded to 10 participants for their varying months in recovery.

Steve Kilburn, grants project director for the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, recognized the accuracy of Kendall’s report that while northern Chautauqua County had three reported overdose deaths in 2022, there have already been 11 so far this year, not counting non-fatalities that were not recorded. Kendall says this increase is the result of xylazine being laced into fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Xylazine is a powerful flesh-eating horse tranquilizer that, when not fatal, can cause wounds so severe they require amputation. Narcan, a medicine that reverses opioid overdoses, does not work for xylazine or fentanyl. The MHA provides free testing strips for xylazine and fentanyl at both their Dunkirk and Jamestown recovery centers.

A number of community members not previously involved with the MHA came to the event and learned about resources available through other organizations and how they all work together. These organizations shared information about what they offer: Combat Addiction CHQ, Chautauqua Suicide Awareness, ROME (Recovery Options Made Easy), STRAWW (Southern Tier Recovery Activities Without Walls), Chautauqua Opportunities’ DADS Program, Dunkirk Treatment Court, GoodSkills Career Builder and Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene.

With four new participants from the event, Kendall thanked all who attended and looks forward to repeating the event next year.

The Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County commits to radical acceptance, empowerment, and advocacy for our community members who struggle with mental health and substance use.

The MHA is a peer recovery center offering support groups and individual coaching for people looking to improve their lives, deepen wellness, thrive in recovery, or support those on a recovery path. Peers use their personal stories to help people find recovery in their own lives in their own way.

Anyone with questions or in need of services for themselves or a family member suffering from a mental health or substance use disorder is welcome to call (716) 490-4356 or stop in at the north county recovery center at Grace Lutheran Church, 601 Eagle Street in Dunkirk. Hours are 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, and 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Jamestown recovery center is in the rear of the Gateway Building, Door 14, 31 Water Street. It is open Monday–Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–7 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.

To learn more about the Mental Health Association, call (716) 661-9044 or visit or A schedule with descriptions of MHA’s dozens of groups and classes is at