Dec. 29, 1923 – Sept. 17, 2015
NIAGARA FALLS – Husnara T. Sundram, a native of India who founded halfway houses for Niagara County residents suffering from substance abuse, died Thursday in Eddy Village Green, a nursing home in Cohoes, where she had been a patient for 15 months. She was 91.
Mrs. Sundram was born Husnara Abbasi in Agra, India, and emigrated to the United States with her husband and six children in 1966. She and her husband, Joseph, had met at St. Xavier’s College in India, where Mrs. Sundram earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and Joseph was a professor.
After they settled in Niagara Falls, Joseph became a professor of economics and Eastern theology at Niagara University, and after the couple’s children were grown, Mrs. Sundram earned a master’s degree in social work from Niagara in 1978, along with New York State credentials as an alcoholism counselor.
In 1980, Mrs. Sundram founded the first Fellowship House in Niagara Falls, providing a halfway facility for recovering alcoholics. The operation grew to four residential facilities, two in Niagara Falls and one each in Lockport and Somerset, with 40 employees. The facilities served about 5,000 clients.
In 1999, Mrs. Sundram founded Madonna House in the Town of Lockport, a halfway house targeted to women recovering from substance abuse or domestic violence, which set a local precedent by accommodating their children as well.
Both organizations are still in business, although Fellowship House merged this year with Cazenovia Recovery Services of Buffalo.
Mrs. Sundram served on many committees on substance abuse treatment, including the Governor’s Subcommittee on Concerns of Recovering Alcoholics, the Legislative Subcommittee on Alcoholism Services in Niagara County, the Niagara County Alcoholism Service Coordinating Committee, the Residential Subcommittee of Niagara County Mental Health and the board of directors of Cazenovia Manor.
She won numerous awards for her work, and in 2002 a Buffalo News feature called her “Niagara County’s own Mother Teresa.”
Her husband of 53 years died in 1998, and Mrs. Sundram retired from Fellowship House in 2004.
Survivors include four sons, Lawrence, Clarence, Frank and Joseph; two daughters, Indira Morrow and Meera; and three grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Raphael’s Catholic Church, 3840 Macklem Ave., Niagara Falls.