Mental health group honors county executive

April 30, 1995|By Sandra Ormsbee | Sandra Ormsbee,Contributing Writer

Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann will receive the 1995 Public Official of the Year award Wednesday from the Mental Health Association of Maryland.

Mrs. Rehrmann, 50, of Bel Air won for her leadership in responding to needs of the disabled and especially for her work with the mental health community, said Diane Cabot, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Maryland.

The executive is the first Harford County resident to receive the award, which has been presented for more than 20 years.

The honor goes to someone "who has done something really special in the mental health community," Ms. Cabot said.

She said the Rehrmann administration has hired a part-time disabilities coordinator this year to advise the executive on how to help the county's 16,000 disabled citizens.

"I perceive this award as honoring Harford County, not just one individual," Mrs. Rehrmann said. "We have many dedicated people, and their efforts are recognized by this award."

Mary R. Craig, past president of the association, will present the award during a luncheon at the Engineering Society of Baltimore.

Ms. Cabot and George Harrison, a spokesman for the county executive, detailed some of the actions taken by Mrs. Rehrmann for the benefit of disabled people.

"Eileen has always had a concern for the disabled and helping them survive in our society," said Mr. Harrison.

Last year, Mrs. Rehrmann established a consortium on disabilities to coordinate the efforts of county agencies and citizens working with the mentally disabled.

The consortium is the first step toward an official county commission on disabilities that could be established through legislation in the next year, Mr. Harrison said. He said the commission would encourage organizations to coordinate resources.

In August 1993, the executive established the Harford County Core Services Task Force, a state-ordered group that will become the county's mental health authority, Ms. Cabot said.

Mrs. Rehrmann also has "thrown her full support behind" the Active Citizens Coalition For the Employment of Persons with Mental Illness, her spokesman said. The nonprofit group of service providers, consumers and family members offers support for the mentally disabled and helps them find jobs.

"She's moving forward on several fronts," Mr. Harrison said. "She's bringing together organizations that haven't been working together."

"It isn't just the administrative and legislative acts that she has done," Ms. Cabot said. "It has been her leadership and her spirit as well. She doesn't just give you a job to do, she comes to meetings, too, to offer encouragement."

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