Cape May Court House (Nov. 15, 2017) Robert Blevin, Steve Alfano and Melissa Trout-Baron were honored by the Board of Chosen Freeholders and the county’s Mental Health Alcohol and Drug Abuse (MHADA) board for their work in the community.
Freeholder Jeff Pierson presented each recipient with a plaque that acknowledged their efforts at the Nov. 14 meeting of the freeholder board.
“All of these fine individuals have each given to our county in substantial ways,” said Freeholder Pierson.
“They have a vision of drug free living and mental health wellness for all people of the county and each has shared that vision through their significant contributions to the Cape May County community,” he added.
Bob Blevin was recognized as the Cape May County Municipal Alliance Volunteer of the Year.
As committee chairperson of the Upper Township/Ocean City Municipal Alliance program, members look to him for leadership, advice, direction, and the institutional knowledge acquired through 28 years of service to the program.
He has tirelessly served at the helm of the Municipal Alliance since the program first started in 1989. His guidance has been a stable force for the members, especially through times of growth and change. His commitment to the program is resolute; and the members appreciate his constant support and assistance in promoting the importance of prevention services to build-up and strengthen a healthy and safe community.
Blevin is a former Ocean City Chief of Police with more than 37 years of service to the Ocean City Police Department. He is also a member of the Ocean City First Night Committee and treasurer for the New Jersey Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates.
He resides in Upper Township with his wife, Gail, of 40 years. They have two children and two grandchildren and enjoys time with family, friends, the gym and golf.
“I personally know Bob to be a person of integrity and principles,” said Pierson, “and it’s my great pleasure to recognize him today for his 28 years of service to the Municipal Alliance program.”
Steve Alfano was recognized for his service in the mental health system.
Alfano has been a counselor at Cape Counseling Service (CCS) since 1983 when there were few qualified counselors to assist with the child abuse issues in the county. He was a pioneer in this area by providing counseling to child abuse involved families and sexual abuse perpetrators. He was promoted to the position of Intake Coordinator in July 1993, one that best matched the clinical issue of the client with the skill set of the Cape Counseling roster of counselors.
In his career, Alfano was also involved with the Screening Unit at Cape Regional Medical Center as a credentialed Disaster Response Crisis Counselor. He served as an instructor at Stockton College (University) and Rutgers Graduate School and volunteered with the American Red Cross.
Alfano was trained at the Peter’s Institute in Philadelphia which focused on working with individuals convicted of a sexual crime. He graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree and Rutgers University with a master’s degree in Social Work. He received his Licensed Clinical Social Work (LCSW) credential in 2000.
“Steve has helped literally hundreds of Cape May County individuals and families throughout the years,” said Pierson, “we cannot thank him enough for his service.”
Melissa Trout Baron was recognized, posthumously, for her dedication to her patients, and to the field of addiction.
As an advanced nurse practitioner who opened a private practice in 2013, this Sea Isle City native quickly became known in the community for putting her client’s
needs, first and foremost—regardless of time and effort. She was passionate about helping people living with addiction and was a forerunner in using Vivitrol, a drug that helps to block the receptors in the brain. Her vision was that the “whole self” of the patient—physical and clinical—offered the greatest opportunity for recovery to people with a substance use disorder.
Recruited from college by head hunters to become a Wall Street broker, Trout-Baron moved to Australia and London to work in the stock exchanges. Once she returned to the U.S., she decided to pursue her calling as a nurse, graduating from Jefferson University as a registered nurse, and Stockton University with a master’s degree in Advanced Nurse Practice. Her passion for substance use disorder emerged as she saw relatives and friends dealing with the issue. In recognition of the need, she established her practice and helped many in their recovery.
Trout-Baron was involved with Beacon Animal Rescue in Upper Township, the Ocean City High School Drama Guild and crew. She was also an avid scuba diver and instructor.
Trout-Baron passed away from breast cancer in early April. Her husband, four children and countless friends and relatives will remember her devotion, intelligence and wit about life in general, as well as, her knowledge of substance abuse disorder treatment and recovery.
“Our county has lost a hero in our battle with the terrible disease of addiction. She was a pioneer in medically assisted treatment and a beautiful person as well. She will be missed,” said Pierson.
(Blevin) Pictured from Left: Leonard Desiderio, Freeholder Vice-Director; Bob Blevin, Cape May County Municipal Alliance Volunteer of the Year; Jeffrey Pierson, Freeholder; Gerald M. Thornton, Freeholder Director
(Alfano) Pictured from Left: Leonard Desiderio, Freeholder Vice-Director; Barry Keefe, former CEO of Cape Counseling; Steve Alfano, Lifetime Service honoree; Jeffrey Pierson, Freeholder; Gerald M. Thornton, Freeholder Director; Greg Speed, CEO of Cape Counseling.
(Trout-Baron) Pictured from Left: Leonard Desiderio, Freeholder Vice-Director; Lynda Frazier, honoree’s sister; Howard Trout Jr., honoree’s brother; Andrew Baron, honoree’s husband; Jeffrey Pierson, Freeholder; Howard Trout, honoree’s father; Gerald M. Thornton, Freeholder Director