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GCASA

November 4, 2019 - 4:13pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW.

Press release:

The executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse is aiming to have the agency’s new recovery recreation center on Clinton Street Road up and running by the end of the year.

“We’re hoping to be open sometime around Christmas or possibly New Year’s Eve,” John Bennett said earlier this week. “We have started minor renovations and we’re also looking for a name for the building.”

Bennett said he and his staff are excited about the potential of the Recovery WOW program’s new home – the former Bohn’s Restaurant at 5256 Clinton Street Road, just a stone’s throw from the intersection of Seven Springs Road.

GCASA closed on the purchase of the building last month and is gearing up for what Bennett called “a big kickoff” leading to consistent and effective programming to support those on their road to sobriety.

“The plan is to partner with other agencies and groups in the community to have events there and also to offer the large conference room for others to use,” said Bennett, adding that GCASA intends to hold an open house for nearby residents and business owners.

The floor plan, after conversion, will feature: offices for program staff and Peer Recovery Advocates along with a computer room; meeting room with a riser for live music; training/conference room to hold up to 40 people; exercise center; game room (pool, ping-pong, foosball, and video games); living room with large-screen TV; and a large commercial kitchen.

Bennett said the long-term plan is to move the Prevention Education Department and the Western New York Resource Center offices to the building.

“I think it would be a good fit to have Prevention there,” he said. “Plus, we have just run out of room at the main campus (430 E. Main St.).”

He said that renovations on the inside are ongoing and that volunteers will be enlisted to clean up the outside of the building. Springtime plans include putting in an outdoor basketball court in the parking area.

Currently, the Recovery WOW (With Out Walls) program, under the supervision of Sue Gagne, has a full schedule of events each month for those in recovery.

The recovery recreation center is being set up as a destination where those dealing with drug and alcohol use issues can interact through sober living activities.

For more information, like us on Facebook – Recovery WOW.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 25, 2019 - 7:03pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW.

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The Recovery WOW program at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse held a "Monster Mash" Halloween bash this evening at the Northgate Free Methodist Church south campus on Bank Street in Batavia. Posing in front of the "master of ceremonies" for the event are Trisha Allen, Maliyah Santos and Maliyah's mom, Madeline Rodriguez. Allen and Rodriguez are employed as Peer Recovery Advocates (Peers), assisting those in recovery.

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This couple added some mystery to the festivities, which included food, refreshments (non-alcoholic, of course), games, costumes and wholesome fun.

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No party is complete without the tunes. DJ Tymovez (Tyler Thomas) provided the sound.

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Peers Amy Kabel, left; Nicole Anderson and Charlene Grimm provided service with a smile.

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"Commando" Nick Volpe, another GCASA Peer, has the cauldron brewing in his bit of skulduggery.

Disclosure: Photos by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 19, 2019 - 2:10pm

The University at Buffalo’s Clinical Research Institute (CRIA) and the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) are sponsoring a free buprenorphine waiver training for clinical health care providers.

It will be held at GCASA in Batavia from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 16.

The buprenorphine waiver eight-hour training is offered in a half-and-half format (4.5 hrs. of in-person training followed by 3.5 hrs. of online training).

Light refreshments will be served.

Participants will receive CME credits.

Physicians (MDs, DOs) need to complete the half-and-half course to apply for the waiver. Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) are required to complete the standardized buprenorphine waiver 8-hour training as well as an additional 16 hours of online training as established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA).

Please contact us for further information.

Trainer:
Dr. Paul Updike 
Director of Addiction Medicine and Recovery Services, Catholic Health System

Location:
Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Inc. 430 E Main Street, Batavia, NY 14020

Online registration for the workshop:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZBQF7P9

Directions:   https://goo.gl/maps/8KZecbdEKYP2

Questions: Please contact Dr. Christopher Barrick (716-829-3280)

October 18, 2019 - 8:13am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, OTP clinic, GCASA, methadone therapy.

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For the past 13 months, the clinicians at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse have been treating area residents dealing with opioid use disorders at the Opioid Treatment Program facility at the agency’s main campus on East Main Street in Batavia.

The dispensation of liquid methadone at the OTP clinic has had a profound effect on hundreds of men and women in recovery since its Sept. 4, 2018 opening – a positive impact that even GCASA’s senior services director wouldn’t have been able to predict.

“The success of the program has exceeded my expectations,” said Kathy Hodgins, who oversees clinical services in Genesee and Orleans counties. “It has really served people in this area.”

Hodgins credited Assistant Director Jodi Calkins, who supervises a staff of nine (three clinicians, two RNs, three security and transportation personnel, and a secretary) at the office for leading a team that strives to help clients reclaim active and meaningful lives.

Calkins, who was hired by GCASA a year ago after 20 years in the field as a counselor and clinic director, said she and the staff are committed to those in recovery.

“I love my job and I love the patients,” she said. “We work with the whole spectrum – ones who are struggling, ones who are moving forward and those in between.”

She said methadone is given to the patients in liquid form, six days a week, with the dose taken in front of a GCASA professional. She said those who “are compliance in group and individual sessions, and test negative for opioids can earn the privilege” of being able to take home their dosage.

“Patients must submit urine screens to ensure accountability,” she added, noting that the clinic serves about 120 each week but can handle up to 150 or more. “Patients attend group three times a week, meet with counselors one-on-one once a week and also are assigned to a case manager.”

Methadone has been found to be useful at reducing opioid craving and withdrawal and blunting or blocking the effects of illicit opioids. It is offered in liquid, powder and wafer forms and is taken once a day.

Methadone is effective in higher doses, particularly for heroin users, helping them stay in treatment programs longer.

Hodgins said methadone is a “process that sometimes takes them months to get on a stable dose, with careful monitoring throughout.”

She said GCASA has administered suboxone for opioid treatment for quite some time, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

“Methadone is an alternative for people who don’t do well (with suboxone),” she said.

For Steve (name changed), a Genesee County resident in his early thirties, methadone therapy has enabled him to keep a full-time job as an assistant manager and given him renewed hope.

“If it wasn’t for Dr. (Matthew) Fernaays and (counselors) Sarah (Johnson) and Mandy (Moore), I don’t know where I’d be,” he said. “I’d probably be dead.”

Steve said he began methadone treatment about nine months ago, at first coming to the OTP clinic every day but now arriving four days a week.

“I’ve earned take-homes for being clean,” he said, mentioning that he has been sober since Jan. 21, 2019.

He said his downward spiral with opioids started when he was 16 when a doctor prescribed pain pills for a knee injury.

“I got hooked on them and this was before regulation,” he said. “I got up to 380 pills a month and that kept going and going for years. Eventually, the pills weren’t enough anymore and I turned to other drugs.”

Steve said he began suboxone treatment at GCASA about a year ago after he “lost his family.”

“My parents, my sister, my brother … no one would talk to me,” he said. “I had to find something to change my life.”

Unfortunately, he relapsed after being sober for six months, but chose to return to GCASA in a last-ditch effort to maintain his family ties.

He said he understands he may be on methadone for the rest of his life – although he hopes to wean off of it – but, either way, he’s proud of what he is accomplishing.

“I have my family back, I’m working, I have a new car and I’m feeling like a human again,” he exclaimed. “They saved my life – 100 percent.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said stories such as Steve’s make it all worthwhile, and validate the need for extended services in Genesee County.

“We are thankful to the governor and OASAS (NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services) for investing in our region to assist us in providing a continuum of care for persons living our rural communities,” Bennett said. “We have had great support from our community, from families and civic leaders in the region, which is the key to a program like this being successful.”

Bennett noted that the OTP clinic is nearly at its capacity.

“The persons being served no longer have to travel to Erie or Monroe County to receive services,” he said. “Our staff is comprised of highly trained individuals who focus on welcoming patients into a relaxed, compassionate atmosphere which supports recovery from addiction.”

Methadone is dispensed daily to patients Monday through Saturday from 7-10:30 a.m. GCASA accepts most insurance. For more information about services at GCASA, including the OTP clinic, go to the agency’s website – www.gcasa.net.

Photo at top: Kathy Hodgins, GCASA Senior Services director, left, and Jodi Calkins, assistant director.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 17, 2019 - 10:58am

From SUNY Buffalo:

Buprenorphine Waiver Eligibility Training for Clinical Providers

The University at Buffalo’s Clinical Research Institute and the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) are sponsoring a free buprenorphine treatment implementation workshop for clinical health care providers.

It will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, at GCASA in Batavia.

This implementation workshop is intended to assist physicians (MDs, DOs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and physician assistants (PAs) who are currently prescribing, or are interested in prescribing buprenorphine, in their practice.

The workshop will offer a brief didactic component, followed an opportunity to ask questions of a current buprenorphine provider. Topics will include:

  • Assessment and Diagnosis

  • Induction

  • Concurrent drug use

  • Risk assessment/Failing patients

  • Pain management

  • Taper vs. ongoing maintenance

    Presenter:
    Dr. Paul Updike 
    Director of Addiction Medicine and Recovery Services, Catholic Health System

    Location:
    Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Inc., 430 E. Main St., Batavia

    Online registration for the workshop:   https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZBQF7P9

    Directions:   https://goo.gl/maps/8KZecbdEKYP2

    Questions: Please contact Dr. Christopher Barrick (716-829-3280)

October 10, 2019 - 1:55pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.

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Submitted photo and press release:

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force has been selected as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year by the New York State Association for Rural Health.

The award was announced at the organization’s conference from Sept. 25-27 in Niagara Falls.

Nominated by Julie Gutowski, vice president of Clinical Operations and Services for Spectrum Health & Human Services, the task force was recognized for its efforts in developing an emergency department screening process used at local hospitals. It helps to identify people using opioids, then connects patients with a Peer Advocate or Recovery Coach in addition to a referral for treatment.

The NYSARH also mentioned the task force’s tri-county crisis line, which has resulted in a measurable decrease in drug overdose visits to local hospitals as well as opioid related deaths between 2017 and 2018.

“It is truly a great honor for the GOW Opioid Task Force to be recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health Program from the New York State Association for Rural Health,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, task force coordinator. “I am humbled every day by the amount of passion and dedication our tri-county region has shown to ending the opioid crisis for our communities.”

Parry-Gurak said the task force has “embraced a tri-county approach to our mission,” realizing that rural communities thrive when there is grassroots support.

“The task force is a wonderful example of the strength and impact rural communities can have when they collaborate to address public health concerns,” she added. “While we have had great success thus far, our work is not finished yet.

"We accept this award on behalf of our members and our community partners, but also on behalf of our community members that we have lost to the opioid crisis, those who are still fighting, and the family members and loved ones who have been impacted.”

The goal of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force is to address the growing opioid crisis in the tri-county area. Formed in 2017, it currently has more than 350 members from across the tri-county region.

Members represent various sectors of the community, including: public health; mental health; human services; local government; substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies; law enforcement; EMS; faith-based groups; health systems and medical practitioners; education; businesses; and concerned individuals, families and individuals in recovery.

There are six active work groups that meet regularly to address the needs of the community.

John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, expressed his gratitude to the task force, which includes several GCASA staff members.

“Congratulations to Allison Parry-Gurak for her great work coordinating the task force and for Shannon Ford’s guidance in assisting her,” Bennett said. “And also to the many staff who sit on or chair a subcommittee of the task force.”

The mission of the New York State Association of Rural Health is to improve the health and well-being of rural New Yorkers and their communities. Functioning as a “voice for rural health,” the NYSARH is a statewide organization that advocates at the national and state levels on behalf of its membership.

Photo at top: The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force was honored recently by the New York State Association for Rural Health as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year. From left are Matthew A. Kuhlenbeck, president & CEO of Greater Rochester Health Foundation; Paul Pettit, director Genesee & Orleans Health Departments; Charlotte Crawford, Lake Plains Community Care Network; Nicole Anderson, GCASA; John Bennett, GCASA; Allison Parry-Gurak, GCASA; Shannon Ford, GCASA; Holli Gass, Spectrum Health & Human Services; Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, GCASA.​

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is a GCASA publicist.

September 4, 2019 - 1:50pm

Press release:

Family Supported Recovery Half-Day Training: A Free Workshop for Family Members and Friends of those with a Substance Use Disorder

Join us for this free, informative, inspiring and educational workshop that has been specifically created for all of those that love someone who is struggling with a substance use disorder.

Taking a strength-based and compassionate approach, this workshop has been designed to support all friends and family in learning how to be a more effective and influential partner in their loved ones ongoing battle with addiction and early recovery. It also respectfully and empathically empowers you to give equal or greater focus to your sense of wellness, satisfaction and health.

Whether you use this information to improve your family relationships and/or choose to apply it to your own recovery, you will walk away with new thoughts, perspectives and skills!

If you are a parent, sibling, spouse, grandparent, aunt, uncle, adult child or friend and you are affected by a loved one's active substance use disorder or simply want to know how to best support your loved one's recovery, then this unique skills based workshop is for you.

Class is taught by Keith Greer or Lori Drescher of the Recovery Coach University. Limited space. Reserve your seat.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Lake Plains Community Care Network 575 E. Main St., Batavia (Eastown Place, near Aldi, next to Family Dollar.)

The class is free. Registration is required by calling 585-345-6110. Please request by class name and date.

The class will be cancelled if less than 10 register.

This event is sponsored by the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse -- GCASA.

September 3, 2019 - 4:44pm

Press release:

A six-hour workshop will be offered in Batavia on Sept. 11 for people working with those with substance use disorder.

It is titled "Taking a Coach Approach -- A Conversation for Change" and is intended for recovery peer professionals, counselors and clinicians.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage in and practice using evidence-based coaching strategies and tools relevant to their work.

The International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

Coming from a strength base and client-centered perspective, coaching honors the individual in recovery/family member as the expert in his/her own life and believes that every individual is creative, resourceful, whole and fundamentally brilliant about their own lives.

Coaching addresses the entire person, challenging them to expand their definition of recoverywhile focusing on the “gap” between the quality and scope of their recovery today and wherethey would like their recovery to be tomorrow.

This free class is taught by Keith Greer or Lori Drescher of the Recovery Coach University. Limited space. Reservation required.

It will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at Lake Plains Community Care Network, 575 E. Main St., Batavia. (In Eastown Plaza, near Aldi, next to Family Dollar.)

To register, call 585-345-6110 and request by class name and date.

Some of the topics to be included in this workshop include:

  • The use of both powerful questions and empathic reflections;
  • Using both a coaching plan and coaching contract;

  • Being "in the inquiry" vs. being "in the answer";

  • Moving away from a focus on “helper as the expert” to the role of coach who facilitates an inquiry based and action oriented process viewing their client as a resource (vs. object);

  • Practice with several established coaching tools.

This class is sponsored by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse -- GCASA.

August 29, 2019 - 10:29am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force, OASAS.

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The number of recovery centers in New York has grown significantly in recent years, and they are making a huge difference in the lives of those struggling with substance use disorders, according to a high-level official of the state’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day at Austin Park in Batavia, Robert Kent, chief counsel for OASAS, said the Batavia area will be well served by the opening of the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s recovery recreation center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant building on Clinton Street Road.

The Overdose Awareness Day event brought about 150 people together from Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe counties in an effort to raise awareness and share information about substance use and options for those in recovery. About 20 agencies, including law enforcement, took part in the three-and-a-half-hour program.

“We know there’s value (in recovery centers) … we’re starting to see things go in the right direction, but we realized we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” Kent said. “The recovery center here (in Batavia will flourish as) the community connects with the people who need support.”

Kent, who has worked for OASAS since 2007, said there were only three such centers in the state prior to 2015 – in Brooklyn, Rochester and Delaware County.

“When the epidemic took off, we went on our own and added another dozen – and they work,” he said. “We’ll have around 30 by the end of 2019. Ultimately, they become more like community centers instead of recovery centers.”

Carlee Hulsizer, youth recovery program specialist with Youth Voices Matter New York, echoed Kent’s sentiments.

“We definitely need more recovery support,” she said. “Prevention, treatment and recovery … we need more (resources) to sustain them.”

Overdose Awareness Day organizers said that collaboration is the key to lifting people out of the cycle of substance use, treatment and relapse.

“We have three communities coming together to support those in recovery,” said event promoter Allison Parry-Gurak, who is project coordinator of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force. “Because of this, we now have 400 members (of the task force) across the three counties.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said he was “so proud of all the recovery warriors out here and I know we’re making a difference in our community right now.”

Bennett reported that GCASA is set to take ownership of the former restaurant next week and hopes that it will be open by Dec. 1.

“Maybe even by Thanksgiving so we can have Thanksgiving dinner,” he said. “That would be a great way to kick it off.”

The event drew many volunteers – most of them dressed in purple T-shirts printed with the hashtag # End Overdose. Their work as peers (Certified Recovery Peer Advocates) did not go unnoticed by several speakers, who thanked them for their commitment to standing up alongside those in recovery.

“Peers are the bomb,” said Lori Drescher of the Rochester-based Recovery Coach University. “These recovery coaches are trained and have certification, and are helping people find their way and keeping others in their recovery.”

Drescher then acknowledged all of the peers in the crowd and asked them to come up front where she was speaking.

Among the agencies represented at the event were the YWCA of Genesee County, Wyoming County Mental Health Department, Rochester Regional Health, Genesee County Health Department, Villa of Hope, Missing Angels, (Town of) Gates to Recovery, Horizon, Orleans Recovery, GCASA, The Bridge, VA WNY Health Care, Spectrum Health & Human Services, New York State Police, Gates Police Department, City of Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Live music was provided by the band, Groove.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

Photos – from top: Scott Davis, left, and Larry Catoe Jr., both in recovery, let attendees of Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day know where to begin their quest for information about treatment and recovery; Robert Kent of OASAS spends a moment in the shade with Julie Gutowski, left, and Holli Gass of Spectrum; Gina Henry, GCASA prevention educator, treats the children at the kids’ booth; Lori Drescher of Recovery Coach University recognizes the recovery peers.

August 22, 2019 - 3:16pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA.

Press release:

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force invites the public to attend its Overdose Awareness Day activities from 4 to 7:30 p.m. next Wednesday (Aug. 28) at Austin Park on Jefferson Avenue in Batavia.

The event – “A Time to Remember, A Time to Act” – will feature keynote speakers Robert Kent, chief counsel for the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services, and Lori Drescher and Keith Greer, partners in the Rochester-based Recovery Coach University.

“Overdose Awareness Day is a time where we can come together to raise awareness, gather information and support families and loved ones as they struggle with substance use disorders and also to celebrate those in recovery,” said Sue Gagne, recovery center coordinator for Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Food vendors will be on hand, and the event also will include a kids’ zone, live music and free Narcan training.

For more information, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

The event is supported by a grant from Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

August 15, 2019 - 4:51pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, CARF International.

Press release:

CARF International announced that Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) has been accredited for a period of three years for its Opioid Treatment Program. This is the first accreditation that the international accrediting body, CARF, has given to GCASA.

This accreditation decision represents the highest level of accreditation that can be given to an organization and shows the organization’s substantial conformance to the CARF standards. An organization receiving a Three-Year Accreditation has put itself through a rigorous peer review process. It has demonstrated to a team of surveyors during an on-site visit its commitment to offering programs and services that are measurable, accountable, and of the highest quality. 

GCASA is a not-for-profit organization, providing substance use disorder treatment and prevention services in Genesee and Orleans counties for more than 40 years. The Opioid Treatment Program is licensed through NYS Office and Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and can serve up to 150 patients.

CARF is an independent, nonprofit accrediting body whose mission is to promote the quality, value, and optimal outcomes of services through a consultative accreditation process and continuous improvement services that center on enhancing the lives of the persons served.

Founded in 1966 as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and now known as CARF International, the accrediting body establishes consumer-focused standards to help organizations measure and improve the quality of their programs and services. For more information about the accreditation process, please visit the CARF website at www.carf.org.

For additional information, contact Senior Services Director Kathy Hodgins at 585-343-1124.

August 15, 2019 - 6:32am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW, ROCovery Fitness.

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse has made a commitment to offer a recovery recreation center in Batavia, and that is encouraging news to local residents who believe the much-needed support is a key to their sobriety.

“This needs to happen, and the sooner the better,” said Batavian Thomas Claffey, an adult digital art/photography student at Genesee Community College. “It’s always good to be around people and to have a good support system … people that can relate to what you’re going through and not judge you.”

Claffey, 33, has struggled with alcohol and drug use for many years. He has been sober for the past nine months – “I have found my ground recently and am doing well,” he said – but is acutely aware of the possibility of relapse.

“I’m really glad to be in Batavia, away from where I encounter triggers that lead to substance use,” he said. “Addiction is a sickness and a disease that affects you mentally. It changes the chemical makeup of the brain, and makes you constantly scared of that withdrawal, but yet you’ve got to feed that demon.”

He said it is essential for him to keep his schedule filled and that’s why he got involved with Recovery WOW, a program of GCASA, and is looking forward to taking part in the various activities to be offered by the recovery recreation center that will be housed at the former Bohn’s Restaurant on Clinton Street Road.

GCASA, under the guidance of Executive Director John Bennett, is in the process of purchasing the building and plans to convert it to a gathering place for those in recovery – a destination where those dealing with drug and alcohol addiction can interact through sober living activities.

Planned activities include community cleanup and community garden projects; fitness activities (yoga, hikes, runs, biking, basketball, martial arts); art classes; peer support; cooking and nutrition classes; mutual aid and self-help meetings; games and live music, and special events during holidays.

‘Peers’ Lend a Helping Hand

Bennett said that GCASA has trained 18 peers -- Certified Recovery Peer Advocates – through the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to assist those in recovery.

And statistics show the need for such a program as Genesee County has one of the highest opioid overdose rates in New York.

While there are no exact statistics regarding the number of people in recovery, it is estimated that 7 percent of the population suffers from some kind of substance use disorder and that only one in seven get treatment for it, Bennett said.

Amy Kabel, of Batavia, is one of the peers who will be working at the recovery center.

“I’ve visited other recovery centers and realize that this is something that Batavia really needs,” said Kabel, who has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and formerly was employed at Hope Haven, an in-patient program in Batavia.

“Our job isn’t to tell those in recovery that you can’t do this or that, or that you have to stop using (right away),” she said, “but to be there for them, no matter what their choices are.”

GCASA has set up an advisory committee, steered by Sue Gagne, the agency’s recovery center coordinator for Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

Kathy Miller, of Byron, a committee member, said that her goal is to help erase the stigma placed upon those who have been involved in substance use.

“A lot of people have been diagnosed with substance or alcohol disorder and there is no place for them to hang out and not feel the stigma of addiction,” she said. “I would like to see this program expand to offer a wide variety of places for people to go and events to attend. We need to stress that it is OK to not drink or do drugs – to make that more the norm.”

Ricco Oquendo, 58, another advisory committee member, is in recovery and has been sober for 10 months. He said he is prepared to educate the public about the disease of alcohol and substance use.

“This is the best I have felt in a long time,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired, and, with the help of my savior, Jesus Christ, am determined to make something out of my life.”

Gagne has put together a full activities calendar – events such as campfires, hiking, tie-dye, yoga, karaoke and cooking classes – and sees the recovery recreation center as the next logical piece of the puzzle. (For more information, like us on Facebook – Recovery WOW).

“The recovery center will only increase the awareness and opportunities,” said Gagne, who previously worked for Wyoming County Mental Health. “It’s a confusing world out there, and hopefully this will be a place where people and their families can come and get support without being judged.”

ROCovery Fitness: A Model for Success

The Batavia facility is being patterned after the ROCovery Outreach Center on Dewey Avenue in Rochester, a converted fire station that promotes physical fitness as a vital step on a road to recovery.

ROCovery Fitness was founded five years ago by Yana Khashper and Sean Smith, both of whom are in recovery.

They opened the outreach center two years ago after it was gifted to them by an anonymous donor. Since then, the program has been used by an estimated 3,000 people in the Rochester area.

“Greater Rochester has been very supportive,” Khashper said. “They believe in our mission, which is to meet the needs of the community.”

When asked to speak of the program’s success, she said the success is “this place.”

The outreach center features a large community room and a gymnasium (with exercise machines and free weights) on the first floor and another community room, yoga room, men’s and women’s locker rooms and offices on the second floor.

Structured activities include hula-hooping, kettlebells, weightlifting, boxing and group meetings. It is open every day except for Sunday.

Currently, the staff there is gearing up for its major fundraiser – a ROCovery 5K and X-Challenge on Sept. 15 at Mendon Ponds Park.

Jay Dockum and Adam Welch, both in recovery, said they have found a renewed sense of purpose while participating in ROCovery Outreach Center programs and are focused on living a healthy and sober existence.

“Isolation was the worst place for me,” Dockum said. “I go to meetings here, use the gym and am meeting like-minded people. I just got sick and tired of the way I was living and had to make a change.”

Welch said he has volunteered at ROCovery for about seven months after being in and out of rehab for several years.

A former software engineer, he said drugs took a toll on his career and marriage.

“Sobriety is my main job now,” he said. “I go to AA meetings and hopefully will be able to see my two boys (ages 5 and 8) soon.”

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

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Top two photos -- Guitar-playing trio and group shot from a Recovery WOW campfire outing at Northgate Free Methodist Church earlier this month. Photos courtesy of Thomas Claffey.

Bottom two photos -- The outside of ROCovery Fitness in Rochester, a former fire station, and the facility's cofounder Yana Khaspher, left, and Lindsay Chambers, director of development. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

August 7, 2019 - 6:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCASA, Bohn's, batavia, news, notify.

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John Bennett, executive director of GCASA, has gone in a short time from the shock and disappointment he felt when people in the City of Batavia reacted with anger to a proposed social center at the former St. Nick's on Swan Street, to gratitude for the acceptance the same proposal for another property in the Town of Batavia.

Tuesday night there was a public hearing on a request for a special use permit to convert the former Bohn's Restaurant location on Clinton Street Road into a recreation center for people in recovery. There was no opposition and several people spoke in support of it. The Town of Batavia Planning Board subsequently passed all the necessary resolutions unanimously to give the project a green light.

"I'll say when I came to the town to meet with the town board originally, that I got a little choked up," Bennett said. "I got a little emotional because my reception was so different than what happened on the Southside in the city.

"(Town officials) were welcoming and they really had seemed to have an understanding of addiction and they said that this is needed in the community. I just feel blessed, actually, to be connected with this project and the town and they've welcomed us with open arms and they see the benefit of it."

The center will be the first of its kind in Batavia, a place where people who don't want to be an environment where beer, wine and liquor are part of the fabric of the party, and some people might show up with drugs. That's because the context of such an atmosphere makes it harder to resist the temptation to partake. Instead, they'll have a place to go to relax, socialize, make friends, and have a good time.

Several speakers at the public said the new center will make it easier for people in recovery to stay in recovery.

"The recovery center itself is it really a meet and greet," said Kathy Miller. "After you go in and you get treatment, you start living your life and you start getting normal, doing normal everyday things like get a job, buy a house, buy a car, have a baby -- living your life.

"You're not meeting anyone in recovery because now you're doing things and there's no place to go unless you can go into a recovery center. Then, when you're meeting other people, you don't have to say, 'hey, I'm in recovery,' because you already are there meeting people in recovery."

If you don't change the people you hang out with, Miller said, it's harder to stay in recovery.

"You need to change the people, places, and things around you," Miller said. "And sometimes that means your old friends, sometimes that's the people that are still doing the same old things they used to do. You have to find a new place. You have to find a way to live in it."

Jason Adams said a social and recreation center for people in recovery will be a game-changer for people locally. It will give them a place to engage in a variety of activities, watch sports on TV, or just hang out and talk, all without thinking about easy access to booze.

"The sky's the limit of what the program is available to do," Adams said.

The closest thing to an objection to the proposed recreation center on Clinton Street Road came from a nearby neighbor who said she supports the concept -- she understands the struggle of people in recovery because she's a cigarette smoker herself -- but was concerned that people using the center might loiter in the area or along the street, which could diminish her privacy.

A board member asked if a privacy fence would help. She said it would.

As soon as the public hearing was completed, the woman left.

During the board discussion of the project, Code Enforcement Officer Dan Lang looked up her property on a parcel map and said it was really too far from the actual Bohn's property to warrant a privacy fence.  

There is a parcel in between the Bohn's Restaurant property and the woman's property, and that property, Bennett revealed is subject of a negotiation with the town -- GCASA may swap that property with the town to settle some tax issues.

The board agreed to approve the project without the privacy fence, but left the door open to revisit the issue should circumstances make it more apparent a fence is needed.

Bennett said he totally understands the concern about people loitering and smoking cigarettes outside. He's aware of complaints about similar activity outside the GCASA property along East Main Street.

The state agency that oversees drug rehabilitation facilities has always frowned on designated smoking areas on the property of such programs or facilities but that policy is changing. GCASA has been given the approval to have a designated smoking area on the Bohn's property. He said he's working on getting approval for smoking areas on all of GCASA's properties.

"I think smoking in general in front of restaurants and other buildings the community is an eyesore and we working to remedy that," Bennett said.

Bennett said the community opposition to GCASA opening a recovery center on Swan Street caught him by surprise but admitted it may have been his own fault. He wasn't prepared for the opposition and therefore did a poor job of setting the stage and explaining the project.

At a 400 Towers community meeting where residents expressed a great deal of anger about the proposal, he could barely say anything to try and explain the project, there were so many other voices dominating the conversation.

"I guess I didn't get out ahead of this in terms of really getting out and educating people because it was such a quick grant that we got," Bennett said. "And I really guess I didn't think people would have an issue with a recovery center because people in recovery really are just like you and I.

"If you stood in a room full of  -- I bet you couldn't tell tonight who was in recovery and who wasn't, right? And the methadone clinic kind of went off without a hitch, so I just kind of thought the recovery center would, too.

"I didn't really see people being upset and angry about this. I missed that and then I should have done a couple more things to educate the public, especially down on the Southside."

Photo: Sue Gagne and John Bennett.

July 16, 2019 - 9:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Batavia Town Planning Board, Borrego Solar Systems.

The Batavia Town Planning Board tonight set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Aug. 20 on an application by Borrego Solar Systems LLC, of Lowell, Mass., to install an 8.99 megawatt ground-mounted solar farm on Batavia Elba Townline Road, just west of Batavia Stafford Townline Road.

Emilie Flanagan, project developer for Borrego, and Marc Kenward, engineer for Erdman Anthony of Rochester, presented the plan for the 20.45-acre solar system to be built on land owned by Dan Underhill, a Batavia Town Board deputy supervisor.

Kenward said the project would consist of 43,355 solar panels placed in a fenced-in area of 19.94 acres with an additional half an acre to be used for an access driveway.

He said four utility poles will be needed – one more than usual since power will be supplied from across the road, which actually is in the Town of Stafford.

Flanagan emphasized that the panels will go on farm land that is in a valley and will be hidden by nearly 200 trees and landscaping to “have the least amount of impact as possible on neighboring homes.”

Kenward said engineers have made sure that the project meets or exceeds all Town of Batavia zoning codes and have received approval from the Genesee County Planning Board, which recommended that the 20-foot access driveway be eliminated or significantly reduced due to its impact upon the soil.

“We’re doing whatever the Town says we need to do,” Kenward noted. “It’s environmentally friendly; there needs to be little tree and stump removal and it will be enclosed by a 7-foot-high chain-link fence.”

He said glare studies showed that there will be no effect upon the (Genesee County) airport or on the ground.

The board also voted to seek lead agency status for a state environmental quality review.

Kenward said he hopes the permit process will be completed by September, setting the stage for construction over the winter.

In recent weeks, Borrego received approvals for two other solar farms, both on West Main Street Road.

Flanagan, responding to a question about whether the community benefits from projects such as these, said Borrego’s systems are part of the Community Solar program.

“Two weeks ago, the governor (Andrew Cuomo) came out and said that the state has to achieve 70 percent renewable energy by 2030,” she said. “What we build are mid-scale power plants that push electricity back to the local grid. Residents can subscribe to the grid (through their power company) to get discounts.”

She also said benefits come to the Town through building permits and to the county through property taxes.

Owners of the property receive payments from solar companies such as Borrego over a 25-year period, while solar leasing companies profit from selling electricity usually at a lower rate than charged by a utility company and from municipal tax credits.

In other action, the planning board:

-- Approved a site plan review for six to 10 temporary vendor areas on the property of Batavia Starter at 3282 W. Main Street Road, just west of Wortendyke Road.

Owner Phil Hinrich told planners that he hopes to attract vendors – sellers of fruit and vegetables, crafts, antiques, etc. – to set up shop in front of his business on the weekends in hope of increasing his bottom line.

“I have space to put four vendors on one side and six on the other, with lots of room behind the building for parking,” he said. “My goal is to generate some extra money to cover taxes.”

His plan has been approved by the Genesee County Planning Board, pending Hinrich’s acquisition of a driveway permit through the state Department of Transportation. Hinrich said he already has the permit and plans to put up temporary “enter” and “exit” signs to ensure proper traffic flow.

Hinrich said he would like to open the vendor area to the public in the summer months until around Labor Day, but may not be able to get the venture off the ground until next year. Planners asked him to report back to them in the spring for an update on the project.

-- Set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Aug. 6 in connection with a special use permit by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse to develop an indoor recreation facility for recovering addicts at the former Bohn’s Restaurant site at 5258 Clinton Street Road.

Town Building Inspector Daniel Lang reported that the agency’s planned use for the building does fit into the town code since it is in a commercial zone.

He brought up the possibility of a reverse PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to the Town as a result of the property coming off the tax rolls.

GCASA was unsuccessful in finding a place in the City of Batavia as it was hit with opposition from residents and council members.

“Maybe we, too, will have some opposition,” said Planning Board Chairperson Kathy Jasinski. “We’ll find out.”

Both the solar farm and GCASA public hearings will take place at the Batavia Town Hall on West Main Street Road.

-- Approved the placement of three signs at Fresenius Kidney Care at 4189 Veterans Memorial Drive (near Home Depot).

Edward “Jay” Hurzy of Sign and Lighting Services Co. of Ontario (N.Y.) said three signs will be erected – one on the pole, one on the building and one (with a brick base) by the road.

July 12, 2019 - 1:13pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bohn's Restaurant, batavia, GCASA, news, notify.

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After encountering community resistance for a planned recreation center for people in drug and alcohol recovery on South Swan Street in Batavia, GCASA has turned its attention to a former restaurant location on Clinton Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

And the Town officials have been more than encouraging and supportive, said John Bennett, executive director of GCASA, following a County Planning Board meeting Thursday evening where the board recommended approval of a special use permit for 5258 Clinton Street Road -- site of the former Bohn's Restaurant.

GCASA is in the process of acquiring the property.

Bennett said the community center will have a community garden, a basketball court, TVs for viewing sports, a pool table, space for other recreational activities. And, of course, since there's no place for a tavern in a building dedicated to recovery, the former bar area is likely to become a coffee and sandwich shop.

"We went into Rochester and went to this place called out Coffee Connections and it's a roasting business, a coffee-roasting business, run by recovering women," Bennett said. They run two coffeehouses and they serve lunches and breakfasts and we were kind of scoping that out, seeing how they did that. We're seeing if we can partner with somebody who might want to run a small little coffee shop."

People in recovery want to lead normal lives -- watch big sporting events together, play pool, eat some wings and pizza, socialize, but in an environment without drugs or alcohol, Bennett said.

"This is the new norm in urban areas," Bennett said. "It's what they call sober bars. And that's exactly what they are. They actually have mixology stuff but it's all alcohol-free and it's very much like going to any other bar that you would go to where they're having either karaoke or live music or dancing or whatever it is. I think just people in recovery are looking to be normal without having to worry about drugs and alcohol."

The most notable downside of opening up a social center for people in recovery on the outskirts of the City is that it won't be in walking distance for most people, like the originally proposed South Swan location. The upside is the square footage of the Clinton Street Road property is twice as much as the South Swan location. 

The asking price for the property, being sold by Mike Bohn after buying back the property in a foreclosure auction, is $250,000. Bennett said he can't disclose the actual sale price since the deal hasn't closed yet and the price is still being negotiated.

A presale building inspection was completed two days ago.

Much of the floor plan of the former restaurant will remain the same, Bennett said, but the interior, which probably hasn't been updated since the 1970s or early '80s, will be modernized.

There is also some equipment, furnishing, games and TVs to buy.

Bennett said GCASA has a modest $75,000 budget for the upgrades.

The property will be open to the community -- if there is a coffee shop, that will be open to everybody. If a community member isn't in recovery but wants to host an event -- say a birthday party -- for a friend or relative who is in recovery -- or isn't but perhaps should be -- the facility will be available for those reservations as well.

And there will be events for people in recovery, whether it be an open mic night or for big sporting events.

"Let's just say we're going to do a March Madness night or a week of March Madness basketball and we're gonna show games -- it's just a sober place to come down and watch basketball," Bennett said. "We'll have a little sports area and you can watch the Super Bowl or watch the World Series, things like that."

Bennett is a little exasperated by the community outcry over the proposed South Swan location but he said he understands it.

"It's really too bad that the South Side saw this as something that would threaten the community instead of benefit it because if you check out ROCovery in Rochester," Bennett said, " ... there's a whole thing around fitness and recovery. I went up and I met with them and they were amazing people and the community now has just enveloped them.

"Their community gardens are open to everybody in the community. Everybody gets to come down and pick some tomatoes or some peppers or lettuce or whatever they need. And everybody is also allowed to use the recovery center.

"So so I think that's where we want to head to. We want to say, 'hey this is open to you, too. You just have to be willing to be drug-free while you're here.'

"I think they were shortsighted but I understand that people have fears and the work we do is stigmatized."

May 13, 2019 - 10:00pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia City Council, GCASA.

While it doesn’t have any legal right to stop the sale of property, City Council is keeping its collective finger on the pulse of the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s proposed offer to purchase the former North Pole Restaurant at 241-243 South Swan St. and use it as a social outlet for recovering addicts.

And at least four Council members publicly stated their opposition to the potential sale tonight following comments from two neighborhood residents during its monthly meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

“I would not support it,” said Council Member Paul Viele, as colleague Kathy Briggs nodded in agreement, to applause.

Moments later, Council Member Rose Mary Christian and President Eugene Jankowski also stated that they were against it. Christian brought the issue to a public forum last month at a town hall meeting at 400 Towers.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this,” Christian said, despite word from City Attorney George Van Nest that, at this point, “there is not a role for Council to play” in this matter.

Van Nest said that Council is “not in the business to stop a project because it may be unpopular.” He advised that it needs to play out to see if any rezoning or variance issues would materialize, and those would be handled by the proper committees (Batavia Planning & Development or Zoning Board of Appeals).

City Manager Martin Moore said that GCASA Executive Director John Bennett told him that the building, which for many years served as the St. Nicholas Social Club, would be repurposed as a “retreat or private getaway” for those recovering from substance abuse.

“Still, we have to as a City take a look at it,” Moore said, noting that the area currently is zone as R-2 Residential. “The city attorney and Department of Public Works Superintendent (Matt Worth) are requesting information regarding the use.”

Moore said the specifics of the project weren’t spelled out, and that he is pursuing a written determination to be given to City Council and to be shared with the public.

Comments from council members and management came after David Fasano and Jack Chmielowiec, longtime Southside residents, voiced their strong opposition to the plan.

“These are court-ordered drug addicts and alcoholics (and they) force them onto our neighborhood,” Fasano said. “It’s not a good fit.”

Fasano said he was against it for two primary reasons – it puts addicts in a residential neighborhood and takes property off the tax rolls.

“GCASA is not a church; GCASA is a business,” he said. “With St. Anthony’s (Church on Liberty Street), it was already off the tax rolls when City Church bought it. They’ll be using our emergency services, DPW, city attorney … and we’re paying for that.”

Chmielowiec said he was “upset that it got this far without our neighborhood knowing about it” and was surprised that anyone would even consider the location with a school (Jackson School) two blocks away and a park (Farrall Park) “less than 200 paces away.”

He called negotiations a “sneaky kind of deal right from the get-go” and said he was “offended” that neighbors weren’t notified in advance.

Earlier reports indicate that GCASA received a state grant to fund the gathering place and had about a three-month window to complete the deal, and that the current owners of the property have accepted the agency’s offer.

April 18, 2019 - 3:04pm

Press release:

As the opioid epidemic continues to distress our community, local agencies are coming together to offer more services to those in need.

“Last fall, 24 counties in New York State, including Genesee, that are deemed ‘opioid burdened’ received funds from the CDC and New York State Department of Health to take local action to address the epidemic,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans counties.

“After looking at our current services and speaking with local partners we wanted to launch an innovative program we learned about a few months earlier during a GOW Opioid Task Force meeting where Police Chief Volkman from Chatham spoke about the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, more easily known as PAARI (pronounced PARR-REE).

"Using the funding to bring the successful approach of this program from Chatham into Genesee, will allow those who want to get into substance use treatment a 24/7 opportunity by going to one of the partnering first-responder agencies for help.”

The PAARI program will launch locally on Tuesday, April 23rd.

It will allow anyone who wants help with their addiction to walk into any police station or the city fire station and get the help they need. The program is supported by City of Batavia Police, City of Batavia Fire Department, Le Roy Police, and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

“The funds will help pay for overtime that will likely be incurred by staff of Public Safety agencies, as well as help pay for peer recovery coaches from Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) that will be contacted once a person seeking treatment walks through the door," Pettitt said.

"GCASA is an equally important partner in this, as they have hired the peer recovery coaches, who have been trained in providing services in the community early after receiving these funds.

"The peers will work with each individual and identify where they can go for the proper services,regardless of if it’s local or not, and make sure they get there. Ultimately, being a support in that moment and in the future, too. This program highlights the commitment and collaboration of our community partners to help address this crisis.”

GC Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. agrees with Pettit regarding the collaboration of our first responders and the commitment to help address the opioid epidemic.

“This is a good collaboration between police, fire and the public," Sheron said. "I fully support the program and hope it will help people get the treatment services they need.”

For more information or for immediate help, please call GCASA’s peer services hotline at 585-815-1800.

February 28, 2019 - 4:04pm
posted by Billie Owens in GCASA, news, business, Best Companies Group.

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA) is very pleased to announce that it has been named one of the "Best Companies to Work for in New York State" for 2019 for the second year in a row.

Best Companies Group analyzes employee survey data to determine what companies are selected and how they are ranked.  

“We decided to participate again this year because the feedback we received last year was really helpful," said John Bennett, executive director. "We continue to look for opportunities to enhance employees’ day to day job satisfaction in meaningful ways."

“This honor is because of our amazing employees and board of directors,” said Shannon Ford, director of Communications and Development.

GCASA will be honored at a public awards dinner to be held at the Albany Marriott on Wednesday, April 24. During the event, GCASA will learn its rank among the 26 companies in the category for small employers with 15-99 U.S. employees.

GCASA has been serving Genesee and Orleans Counties for more than 40 years. Services include prevention education and outpatient and residential treatment for individuals with substance use disorders; and an employee assistance program.

GCASA is located at 430 E. Main St. in the City of Batavia.

November 19, 2018 - 2:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, GCASA, Hillside Family of Agencies, narcan, parenting.

Hillside Family of Agencies welcomes you to join them for "Hidden Mischief & Narcan Training" from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday Dec. 6.

The location is 50 Batavia City Centre

Stop in for PIZZA and search our mock teen bedroom, link with resources in the community and gain valuable information.

Please register with Carrie St. Clair by calling 716-220-6850 or emailing her at:   [email protected]

"Hidden Mischief" is a program to create awareness of ways teens conceal drugs or use everyday items for drug use.

The interactive teen bedroom will give each participant an opportunity to search and find drug paraphernalia, drugs and drug references. There will be everyday items displayed that have been converted to hide or use drugs. Join us to see if you can find the hidden mischief. 

This parenting workshop, which also features Narcan training, is presented by GCASA.

Representatives from these organizations will be there: Horizon Health Services; Tobacco Free Coalition; Genesee County Sheriff's Office; and Hillside Family of Agencies.

November 19, 2018 - 12:43pm
posted by Billie Owens in byron, GCASA, charity, addiction, recovery, skivvies and spirits, news.

Submitted photos and press release:

Earlier this month, the fourth Annual Skivvies and Spirits event was held at the Byron Fire Hall. This unique event was started three years ago by Wendy and Tony Frongetta, in memory of their good friend, Mikel Anderson, who passed away in 2015 of an accidental drug overdose.

Although Anderson struggled with addiction, he was in recovery and dedicated his life to helping others and those who helped him. Wendy, who knew and loved Anderson, wanted to do something in his name to continue his helping spirit by helping those battling addiction, many who are homeless.

She learned that the first thing that happens when someone enters a shelter is that they are asked to shower and are given new clothes. In every instance their undergarments are tossed out. She learned that most shelters had donated clothes, but were always in need of new undergarments.

This year’s event collected baskets full of skivvies in all sizes, styles and colors. There was live entertainment by several musical groups, delicious food donated by the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford and a live auction that included many items and gift certificates donated by local individuals, businesses and organizations.

New this year, the public was invited to learn more about Genesee County’s outreach programs that assist those struggling with addiction. GCASA’s mobile recovery van was parked outside the Byron Fire Hall and two of GCASA’s peer advocates, Gina and Sheila, were on hand to give additional information about services in our area.

The recovery van is available 24/7. It will actually come to those battling addiction who are ready to seek help. The van has the equipment necessary to immediately help an individual begin their path to recovery. The mobile recovery van will actually bring an individual to a treatment facility that is in line with their needs.

In speaking with Gina, a peer advocate and Frongetta’s daughter, she explained her duties are as a peer advocate. Gina describes her job as a community resource expert, a motivator, an ally, a supporter and a role model. Her enthusiasm about her job certainly would give anyone she interacts with a big spark of hope to start their journey to sobriety.

Also, for the first time during this year’s event, GCASA employees were on-hand to give 10 individuals training in dispensing Narcan; now in nasal form. After a 10-minute class learning about how and when to use the medication those individuals can save someone from being another overdose victim. They potentially can become first responders as many, many overdoses are in home settings.

The clothing items collected this year will again be distributed to Genesee County’s many outreach programs and Agencies including WNY Veterans Outreach, Genesee & Orleans Community Action, Hope Haven and others.

For more information or if you would like to donate to this cause, contact Wendy at 585-455-4940.

Below, peer advocate Gina Frongetta in GCASA's new mobile recovery van.

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