The University at Buffalo School of Social Work's Institute on Trauma and Trauma Informed Care has received the 2014 Ronald Gonzalez Red Ribbon Community Award presented by the AIDS Network of Western New York.
The award, which recognizes individuals and organizations who give their time, talent and energy to impact the lives of those affected by HIV and AIDS, was presented Dec. 12 at the Greater Buffalo Chapter of the American Red Cross. The distinction is named in honor of the late Gonzalez, a physician who fought tirelessly against HIV and AIDS, but was the victim of a plane crash in 2009.
"Over the last few years, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by individuals that have tirelessly worked with those who were impacted by trauma," said Susan Green, ITTIC co-director and clinical associate professor in the UB School of Social Work. "Being recognized by individuals that 'do the work' in the Western New York community is truly an honor for the trauma institute."
The ITTIC was founded in 2012 by Green and co-director Thomas Nochajski, a research professor in the School of Social Work, to address the need for additional trauma-related services, training and support within the university and local community.
The institute has since provided research, training and consultation within the child welfare, adult mental health, developmental disabilities, education and criminal justice systems.
Through ITTIC, Green and Nochajski have partnered with the American Red Cross of Erie County to provide "Seeking Safety" groups across Buffalo, an intervention that helps people find safety from trauma and addiction.
The institute created an evaluation tool to measure the effectiveness of "Seeking Safety" based on variables such as the intervention's impact on improving health decisions, lessening the effects of trauma, reducing high-risk sexual or drug-using behaviors, and increasing the use of positive coping mechanisms.
The "Seeking Safety" project is part of the HIV/AIDS services department and the women's HIV/AIDS prevention and care initiative program at the American Red Cross.