Paramus Woman Receives Weisman Award for Contributions in Bergen County
On September 30th Mary Ann Uzzi, leader of the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone, received the 2014 Dr. Celia Weisman Memorial Award at the Bergen County Human Services Advisory Council annual meeting. Each year the award is given to an individual and/or organization that makes significant contributions to the residents of Bergen County in the field of human services.
Mary Ann Uzzi was recognized for her work with the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone, a group focused on removing the stigma that is often associated with mental illness.
Through her 10-year tenure as a Board Member and volunteer at Care Plus NJ, Inc., she noticed how stigma and fear prevent many from seeking help. She envisioned a strong community effort to address the growing mental health crisis in our country and as a result created the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone. The group was the first of its kind in Bergen County.
Since inception in mid-2013, the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone has integrated into the community holding events such as town hall meetings and dance presentations, sharing information at other area events, and by making information available through their website and social media – all aimed to educate the community and break down stigma.
As a result of the success seen in Paramus, Bergen County declared itself the first Stigma-Free county and is working with towns within in the county to Paramus’ lead. Fair Lawn, Teaneck, Park Ridge, Demarest, Tenafly, and others recently declared their towns Stigma-Free.
About the Award
Dr. Weisman was widely known for her work as an educator, community leader, advocate, and volunteer. She strove to enhance lives while advocating for opportunities for older adults to continue as productive members of society.
Although the award was originally bestowed upon people for their work in the field of geriatrics, the Human Services Advisory Council updated the criteria to recognize nominees who encourage self-sufficiency in others while promoting a life of dignity, independence, and choice.
As the leader of the Stigma-Free Zone, and through her work as a Board Member of CarePlus, Uzzi has shown to have the qualities that are up to Dr. Weisman’s standards of service and to the Dr. Celia Weisman Memorial Award.
Uzzi commented, “The Paramus Stigma-Free Zone initiative has been a labor of love, and a true community effort. To have our work honored with such a prestigious award is just wonderful. The fact that Bergen County has followed our lead and is working to make every town Stigma-Free is a dream come true.”
The award was presented at the annual meeting held by the Human Services Advisory Council on Tuesday, September 30th. The presentation was made by Jane C. Linter, Director Bergen County Department of Human Services; Mark Weisman, son of Dr. Celia Weisman; and Peter Incardone, Bergen County Deputy Chief of Staff.