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Atwater Community Residence

Philosophy based on ‘Housing with Dignity’ drives UConnectCare’s residential services

By Mike Pettinella
detox center
UConnectCare’s Detox Center, which is located behind the Atwater Community Residence on East Main Street in Batavia. Submitted photo.

In an ongoing effort to provide the most efficient and compassionate treatment methods for those struggling with substance use disorder, UConnectCare (formerly Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) has expanded its residential services program.

“Professional studies show the positive impact that recovery residences have in both outpatient and inpatient settings,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, director of Residential Services at UConnectCare. “With that being said, we offer a detox center and residential settings to meet a wide range of individuals at various stages of their recovery journey.”

According to a study by the Recovery Research Institute, utilization of recovery residences, also called sober homes or halfway houses, improves substance use outcome. At UConnectCare, these residences are alcohol and drug-free living environments that provide peer support and other services for those seeking recovery from SUD.

Parry-Gurak said the local nonprofit agency provides various level of care including the conversion of Atwater House to an “820 program.”

This allows UConnectCare to offer three “elements of care” when it comes to residential services – (1) a medically supervised program for those with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms or, stabilization; (2) a structure and supportive community living experience that builds a foundation for recovery, or rehabilitation; (3) case management and long-term assistance through a variety of programs or, reintegration.

Additionally, UConnectCare operates supportive living, transitional safety units and permanent supportive housing programs in both Genesee and Orleans counties.

They include the following:

-- Atwater Community Residence in Batavia, a short-term (usually three months) home that offers 21 beds for men and women, ages 18 and older, and features in-house recovery-focused groups, individual therapy and vocational training.

-- A detox/stabilization center, located behind the Atwater Home, a 16-bed facility that provides shorter term medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization services for adults who are struggling with SUD. UConnectCare has an “open access” policy, starting at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday as well as late admission under specific guidelines, Parry-Gurak said.

-- Supportive living beds, 19 of them in Genesee County and five in Orleans County.

-- Transitional safety units, housing for six to nine months on average, with the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative program an avenue for families dealing with substance use issues.

-- Permanent supportive housing.

“All of these programs are under our ‘Housing with Dignity’ umbrella, which really means that we strive to provide the best care to our clients in a welcoming and safe environment,” Parry-Gurak said. “Recovery housing is a valuable part of our continuum of care that can help people transition to an independent life and improve their substance use outcomes.”

UConnectCare offers other housing opportunities, including The Reentry Program that helps connect individuals returning to the community after incarceration services such as substance use disorder treatment, mental health treatment, housing, food, clothing, employment and/or job training, childcare, transportation and medical care.

Parry-Gurak, a UConnectCare employee for 5 ½ years, has been in her current position since November 2021. She reported that the agency is seeking full- and part-time professional counselors, medical staff (LPN, RN), residential aides and food service workers.

“UConnectCare has been a Best Company in New York every year since 2018 and truly is a great place to work,” she said. “The agency offers flexible scheduling that values a balance between work and family, paid time off, benefits for full-time employees and a cooperative, team atmosphere.”

For more information about UConnectCare’s residential services or employment, go to

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for UConnectCare.

GCASA's new women and children's residence in Albion to serve Genesee County needs

By Mike Pettinella
women and children's residence
Architect's rendering of GCASA's women and children's residence being constructed in Albion.

Providing a safe and secure place to live for women battling substance use disorder, including those with children, is yet another vital phase of the mission of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse to offer a wide spectrum of care.

“This project is only one of maybe three similar facilities west of Syracuse,” said GCASA Chief Executive Officer John Bennett, speaking of the agency’s 25-bed women and children’s residence that will be located on Butts Road in Albion. “We will serve Genesee and Orleans counties, primarily, and also the Western and Finger Lakes regions.”

Part of the wooded nine-acre lot just outside of the Albion village limits is being cleared to make way for the construction of the building frame and roof this fall, Bennett said. The home – which will take on a woodsy look of green siding and black window trim -- is expected to open around October of next year.

“Once open, it will include an early childhood learning center, walking paths in the woods, a large playground, a small workout area for residents, an area for arts and crafts, and more,” he offered. “We continue to find ways to break down barriers for individuals to enter and remain in treatment services. We currently offer extra services such as our drop-in daycare, transportation, case management, recovery services, and a 24/7 peer hotline, as well as our core services.”

GCASA has expanded its programs exponentially under Bennett’s guidance, with its workforce tripling in size over the past 15 years. The women’s and children’s residential facility in Albion fills a great need in substance use treatment, he noted.

“Since 2015, we have seen a significant increase in our female (client) population,” Bennett said. “It used to be 75 percent men and 25 percent women. Now, with opioids – pills – becoming more popular among women, the need in the community to serve women has multiplied.

“One of the barriers for women entering a residential program is, ‘Who will care for their children?’ In our program, women will be able to have their children (under school age) with them while in care.”

Bennett said the Albion location will provide services to women 18 and older during their recovery, with five of the 25 units set up to accommodate women with children younger than kindergarten age. Up to two children can live in those units.

GCASA will operate the facility, with staffing at all hours, seven days a week, Bennett said. A grant from the New York State Department of Health has covered $4.6 million of the $5.2-million cost of construction.

“We looked at buying the Cloverhill Adult Home building in the village but it really wasn’t set up appropriately for the project. It would have taken much to convert and to rehab it,” he said. “When we did purchase the property on Butts Road, the Town of Albion was incredibly welcoming. It’s near to the village but provides privacy for the residents.”

Responding to questions from citizens in the area, Bennett said that only a small part of the land is designated as wetlands and that area will be left untouched, and that GCASA will put in plantings along the driveway upon completion to provide privacy for those living along Butts Road.

“GCASA always strives to be a good neighbor,” he said. “All of our buildings are well-kept.”

The agency is working with the firm of Fontanese Folts Aubrecht Ernst Architects, P.C., of Orchard Park, the same company that has contributed design expertise for seven other GCASA projects. Whitney East, Inc., based in Le Roy and Rochester, is the general contractor.

Bennett said that once operational, the women and children’s residence will enable GCASA to make the Atwater Community Residence in Batavia a “male-only” facility.

“When this is done, we’ll have significantly expanded our bed capacity for all -- providing stabilization, rehabilitation and re-entry into the community,” he said.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

GCASA's Detox Center open house is set for Jan. 6

By Press Release


Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse announced today that its new 20-bed detoxification center is tentatively scheduled to open for business on Jan. 10, 2022.

An “open house” for the public to view the two-story, 20-bed facility, which is attached to the rear of the Atwater Community Residence at 424 East Main St., will take place on Jan. 6, said John Bennett, GCASA executive director.

“This is truly ‘A Place of Help’ in the GLOW Region – providing a continuum of care under one roof that enables local residents in need to stay close to home for their treatment,” Bennett said.

The 8,600-square foot detox center will be fully staffed by medical and substance use counseling professionals, specially trained and certified to assist those who require short-term services.

Javen Construction of Penfield was the general contractor for the project, which broke ground last January. The design of the center complements the look of the historic Atwater Community Residence.


Top photo: GCASA's new Detox Center that is attached to the Atwater Community Residence (background). Bottom photo: The front entrance of the facility. Submitted photos.

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