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Prevention specialist contributes to organization’s popular parenting advice column on Facebook


(BRADENTON, Fla.)  Jennifer Venuto, a prevention specialist with Hanley Foundation’s Manatee County office, is lending her voice to the Foundation’s “Mom Says” weekly advice column via social media. The goal of the column is to provide parents with tips and soundbites on a variety of topics, including substance use, communication, conflict resolution and more. In addition, Venuto will also offer creative ideas for family fun.


Hanley Foundation, established more than 30 years ago by Mary Jane and Jack Hanley, is a charitable 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to give hope to individuals, families and communities affected by substance use disorders. The Foundation provides programming and grant support throughout Florida for advocacy, prevention, education and access to quality addiction treatment. The organization’s prevention programming is available to schools, churches and community groups through grant funding provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families, office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.


“We launched ‘Mom Says’ in 2016 with West Palm Beach-based prevention specialist Martha Putnam, and the feedback has been wonderful,” said Ryan Wertepny, executive director of prevention services for the Foundation.  “As we continue to expand our reach through social media, we are excited to have Jennifer Venuto share her experiences and insight with the Manatee County community as our newest ‘Mom Says’ contributor. We have a team of 23 specialists and coordinators in 15 counties across the state working to educate communities about substance abuse prevention, and one of our key messages is a focus on family. Research shows that kids who eat meals with their parents are significantly less likely to use tobacco, alcohol and drugs. And since many parents don’t know where to turn when they have questions about parenting, and due to our extensive training, Hanley Foundation is able to supply evidence-based suggestions on a variety of topics.”


Venuto, who holds a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University, has been working in Manatee County on multiple prevention efforts for Hanley Foundation, including the Alcohol Literacy Challenge and Active Parenting Now & Teen. She has spent her entire career caring for the well-being of young people. Before joining the Foundation in 2011, she worked as a school-based counselor for eight years with the Broward County School District.


“Working in the schools provided me with some of the most exhausting and fulfilling moments of my professional career,” she said. “Having young people recognize their worth, capabilities and resilience is very powerful, and helping parents learn the best ways to support their children’s success is hugely rewarding.”

A Bradenton resident, Venuto enjoys spending time with her family, volunteering her “free” time at her church, attending her children’s activities and trying to squeeze in some book club meetings and quiet time by the family pool.


The weekly ‘Mom Says’ column appears on the Foundation’s Facebook page on Mondays. For more information about Hanley Foundation, please visit the Foundation’s Facebook page @hanleyfoundation. To book Jennifer Venuto or another Foundation prevention specialist for a program, please visit or call 561-268-2355.




Jennifer Venuto shares three of her favorite ideas for engaging with young people in ways that can open lines of communication and make kids feel they can talk to you about any issues. “Mom Says” Family Time is Time Well Spent!


  1. More than just words – Communication is so much more than simply talking. Our interactions, expressions and daily behavior lets our teenagers know where we stand with them. Frequent short conversations and text messages can go a long way in reminding your teen that they are being thought of and that they are loved.


  1. Adventure whenever possible – On St. Patrick’s Day, we found ourselves home in the evening after church, without anything on the agenda. Feeling a little bored and ever-so-aware that these nights with my 18-year-old daughter are becoming rare and fleeting, I declared that we were “going on a mission to score ourselves some special edition Shamrock Shakes!” (Why are foods so much yummier when they are available only for a limited amount of time?) Three McDonald’s’, a gallon of gas, multiple laughs and $5.76 later, we had two shakes in hand and a memory made. Family time doesn’t have to be expensive or over-planned.


  1. Share a song – I sing popular music with my kids all the time in the car. I know that it horrifies them at times but I’m the one driving so … I’d like to think there will be times when they are singing the song without me, or they hear it on the radio, and they’ll smile at the memory of us having fun together. Being silly with your kids is just another great way to connect.