Linda O'Toole Martino, Class of 1973, is being inducted into the Hall of Fame for her dedication to bettering the lives of the disenfranchised and fighting for legislative change.
Linda attended Van Rensselaer HS, leaving school at the completion of her junior year and earned her equivalency diploma in 1973.
She married her high school sweetheart and while raising their 6 children, earned her Medical Assistant Certification in 1988. She continued to work inside the home, also being a Cub Scout leader for a couple of years. During this time Linda and her husband became Fresh Air Fund parents to a little boy who has continued to be part of their family until this day. He still calls them mom and dad.
In 1998 Linda began volunteering with the Ombudsman Program after her father, who had been in a nursing home, was unsafely discharged. Her volunteering led to the position of Assistant Coordinator of the Rensselaer County Ombudsman Program. Later, she became the Coordinator of the program, overseeing 17 facilities ranging from family type homes, adult homes, assisted living facilities to skilled nursing facilities.
Over time, the state was trying to enforce the reduction of the number of mentally ill residents in adult homes for the elderly. Linda knew that this would mean that a large number of residents at a particular facility would have nowhere to go. Linda took it upon herself to physically go to the legislative offices to lobby for these residents, and it worked!
Linda is also passionate about the heroin addiction problem facing our society. She has personally known many cases of young teens and adults struggling with this problem and even some who have died. So she decided to do something about it by spearheading a heroin epidemic awareness program in Rensselaer County. She is the founder and board president of Nopiates. This organization, along with a legislative liaison lobbied to reduce the amount of opiates prescribed from 30 days to 7, and to enforce that those suffering from addiction could be held for 3 days in a hospital for observation, detoxification and development of a community care plan instead of being released after the emergency 911 call. Linda's group has marched and held rallies with the support of such community leaders as Father Peter Young and Assemblyman John McDonald to raise community awareness and provide outreach. Nopiates is currently working with the police on an "Angels" program where people suffering with the disease of addiction would be placed in treatment rather than be incarcerated.
Linda's friend from schooldays, Dr. Linda Rozell Shannon, class of '72 and 2013 Hall of Fame inductee nominated her. Linda and her husband Jim live in West Sand Lake where they are the proud parents of 6 adult children and grandparents to 8, and soon will be great grandparents.