I am a graduate of both Franklin High School and Framingham State University and began my career in the field of mental health in 2008. Starting in Massachusetts, I worked with adults in recovery from mental illness and later worked with adolescents in the foster care system in southern California. During my time in California my work primarily focused on implementing a groundbreaking three-year health and wellness state research contract dedicated to developing alternative holistic therapies to encourage behavioral and emotional self-regulation, increasing family relationships, and decreasing the use of psychotropic medication. In 2014, I began a doctoral program at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Depth Psychology with an emphasis on Community, Liberation, and Eco-psychology. Upon moving back to Massachusetts, I returned to working with adults in recovery and am dedicated to supporting those in the community who are affected by opioid addiction. As a Franklin Girls Ice Hockey alumni, I am an avid Bruins fan, an enthusiast of the mountains, and a lover of country music.
Jim is a parent who knows the devastating impact of Substance Use Disorder first hand. In 2015, his son nearly lost his life to this disease. Jim then began to speak publicly about his families’ experience with the hope that others may be encouraged to step forward and seek help. He became involved with the formation of SAFE and in October 2015 was elected as the first president of the organization. Jim also serves on the Franklin Public Schools Substance Abuse Task Force and is a volunteer meeting facilitator for Learn to Cope.
Wendy Cohen, M.D.
I am a family physician and have been providing primary care in Southeastern New England for the past 14 years. I currently practice at, and co-own, Infinity Family Care in Mansfield, MA and live in Foxboro with my husband and two children. Over the years, I have witnessed the effects of opioid addiction on our communities and the practice of medicine, as well as the terrible toll this disease takes on individuals and their families. I am thrilled to have connected with the SAFE Coalition to be able to help educate more of our community and provide better support and resources for my patients and their families. I have a particular interest in increasing awareness about Narcan and improving its availability to any potential bystander to an overdose.
I am a Franklin Town Council member and work at Massport Authority. I was a Vice President for Franklin Pop Warner League and Pop Warner and high school football coach, CYO basketball coach, Babe Ruth baseball coach, and am a member of the Franklin Recreational Committee. I want to be a part of the solution to this epidemic affecting our community. We have lost one too many young people to this growing problem of drug addiction. I am just one of the many members of this community that believe that together we can make a difference.
I have been a resident of the Franklin Community for over 30 years, married for 32 years, and the mother of two children ages 28 and 25, both graduates of Franklin High School. I am a graduate of Bryant University with a degree in Accounting. My husband and I have coached in the Franklin Youth Baseball and Softball programs during the years our children were growing up. I became involved with the S.A.F.E. program after learning many of the same young adults we coached and who went to school with our children were losing their lives to addiction which has no boundaries. I would like to be part of the solution for our community and work with such a group of compassionate group of individuals working towards the same goal.
I am a former Foxboro computer business owner who was always interested in medicine and helping those less fortunate. In my 50’s, I decided to leave my company and return to school to become a Registered Nurse. Currently, I work as a nurse at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program on Albany Street near the infamous Methadone Mile. Many of our patients are struggling with Substance Use Disorder and I had noticed an uptick in the number of individuals seeking our services. Knowing what was trending in the Boston, I was curious to explore what was happening in the suburbs and in my own back yard in Wrentham. I found a group of individuals, at the SAFE Coalition, working hard to help individuals and families navigate the road to treatment and recovery. The stigma and urgency of this deadly epidemic have grabbed my attention! As a result, I am bringing my expertise to the table with this group, to see how we can manifest change in our towns and state and help steer the direction for positive solutions to those suffering from addiction.
I grew up in the Town of Foxborough and currently reside in Mansfield. I have worked at the Wrentham District Court since 1996 where I am currently an Assistant Clerk-Magistrate. As the face of the Civil Department at the courthouse, one of my duties is to meet with family members when they come to court seeking a commitment of a loved one suffering from substance use disorder. In the past, the process of civilly committing a person was frustrating for all parties involved. I am encouraged by recent and evolving changes in the law that have made the courts more accessible and also make community assistance more attainable. A volunteer for SAFE since 2016, I hope that my knowledge and passion make me a valuable member of the Board of Directors which I recently joined.
I have worked in the Trial Court for 23 years and am currently the Clerk-Magistrate at the Wrentham District Court. I began my career at the Somerville District Court at a time when the majority of the substance abuse commitments were only alcohol related. I have observed the evolution of the opioid crisis from the frontline at the courthouse. In recent years, it has been extremely gratifying to watch the stigma of addiction slowly being erased. At the Wrentham District Court and through the SAFE Coalition, we strive to provide access to the entire community by working in collaboration with police, fire, schools and medical professionals. We take pride in helping private citizens affected by substance use disorder navigate the difficult process of getting help. I live in the Town of Norfolk with my husband and two children.
Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy
Rep. Jeff N. Roy was first elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for the 10th Norfolk District in 2012. He is the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Ethics. He also serves as a member of the Committees on Judiciary, Labor and Workforce Development, and Ways and Means. In 2011, he was elected to the Town Council in the Franklin, Massachusetts, where he served for two years. From 2001 through 2011, he served on the Franklin School Committee, and served as its Chairman for 9 of his 10 years of service with that board. He is married to Maureen and has three children, ages 25, 22, and 19.
I have worked within the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System for 26 years, the last 17 supervising adult offenders within the community. Over the last 5 years, I have seen far too many people succumb to substance use disorder. The majority of adults who have become court-involved have experienced substance misuse. Having experienced the frustration of not being able to secure appropriate resources for those who struggle with substance abuse disorders, I am extremely heartened that this wonderfully diverse group of dedicated stakeholders has come together to take these issues on.
I am a family business owner, parent of three great children, husband to my wife Robin and know first hand the overwhelming circumstances a family can go through with addiction. It all started with a simple shoulder surgery. Since 2004 we have experienced the brutal life that substance abuse can lead you to. I have been doing public speaking now over 5 years on the trial and tribulations of substance abuse and the toll it can take on a family and friends. More importantly I speak openly to help others understand that feeling of being the ONLY one this is happening to. I wanted to do more in our community for substance abuse and driving down Rte 1 one day I saw a billboard for SAFE Coalition. I didn’t hesitate.
I am a retired school adjustment counselor from the Medway Public School System. Having worked for over 35 years as a counselor and a licensed social worker on a variety of issues including depression, suicide, and drug use and abuse, I have witnessed first- hand the devastation that drugs can bring to an individual and family. As well as working with these issues through individual and group therapy, I established many programs such as Peer Counseling, TADA (Diversity group) and SOS (depression/suicide). Through my work and positions on the Board of Directors of Ben Speaks, the Samaritans, and In the Best Interests of the Children, as well as the Adolescent Advisory Committee for Milford Hospital, I have actively volunteered and stayed current on these issues. As a mother and grandmother living in Millis, I continue to see an ongoing, if not increasing, need for more support, education, and services in the community. I joined the SAFE Coalition in order to do whatever I can to help with this need.
Val Comerford is the Director of Recovery and Employment for the Department of Mental Health in Central Massachusetts.
BS, Certified Peer Specialist, Forensic Peer Specialist, Older Adult Peer Specialist. Val has worked in and been a part of the mental health system since 1993. She worked as the Program Director for Crossroads Clubhouse in Massachusetts for 23 years. She was an early pioneer in the peer movement as well as a strong leader and advocate for Dual Recovery Anonymous. Val has been open about her lived experience of mental health issues and addiction recovery before it was fashionable to do so. She has demonstrated a willingness to tell her story when it is helpful for others to hear.
In her current position, Val serves as the Director of Recovery and Employment for DMH in the Central Mass Area. She provides support, consultation and supervision to both the community and hospital-based peer workforce and dual recovery efforts. She also provides peer support at the Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital Dual Recovery Anonymous (DRA) groups.