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Recovery WOW

January 1, 2020 - 8:28am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, Recovery WOW.


Amy Kabel, a Certified Peer Recovery Advocate at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, and boyfriend Thomas Claffey were among about 100 people who attended the Recovery WOW New Year's Eve party last night at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall in Batavia.

Participants brought in the new year with music, plenty of food, games and, of course, hats and noisemakers in an alcohol-free environment.


Brandon Fogg, seated left, and Quinn Pritchard provide the hats as a young family checks in at the Recovery WOW event.


Sue Gagne, center, Recovery WOW coordinator, had much to celebrate -- a new year, new decade and her birthday. Here she receives a birthday cupcake from Cheryl Netter, a member of the group's advisory committee, as DJ Scott Davis looks on.


Volunteers George Netter, left, and Gary Brown kept the food choices coming as they worked in the kitchen.

Photos by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

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.


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.


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


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


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


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

Disclosure: Photos by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

September 18, 2019 - 3:25pm

RECOVERY WOW (WithOut Walls) offers a variety of safe, sober opportunities and activities for individuals in recovery and their families to enjoy. All recovery allies are welcome!

Biking with Ricco & Ride to Recovery: Saturday, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Join us for a morning ride from GCASA’s Main Campus at 430 E. Main St. in Batavia to Elba for lunch (then ride back). Rich from Ride to Recovery will be supplying bikes/helmets if you need to borrow one -- just let us know.

For questions or more information, please contact Sue Gagne at: [email protected]rg or call (585) 815-5248.

September 2, 2019 - 11:05am

A workshop for individuals in recovery and their friends, family and allies -- based on the book "Get Your Loved One Sober: Alternatives to Nagging, Pleading, and Threatening" by Robert J. Meyers and Brenda L. Wolfe -- will be held Wednesday (Sept. 4) at Northgate Free Methodist Church.

Time is 6 to 8 p.m. Address is 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia (North Campus). Presenter is Pastor Vern Saile.

About the Book

Historically there have been few options available for individuals seeking help for treatment-resistant loved ones suffering from substance abuse. Coauthor Dr. Robert eyers spent 10 years developing a treatment program that helps concerned significant others improve the quality of their lives and learn how to make treatment an attractive option for their partners who are substance abusers.

"Get Your Loved One Sober" describes this multifaceted program that uses supportive, nonconfrontational methods to engage substance abusers into treatment.

Called Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT), the program uses scientifically validated behavioral principles to reduce the loved one's substance use and to encourage him or her to seek treatment. Equally important, CRAFT also helps loved ones reduce personal stress and introduce meaningful, new sources of satisfaction into their life. 

For more information or to register, please text/call Sue Gagne at 585-815-5248 or via email at [email protected]

Presented by RECOVERY WOW (WithOut Walls), providing safe, sober health and wellness activities geared toward individuals in recovery from a substance-use disorder and their families. ("You are not alone in this." Peer recovery advocates are here for you 24/7: (585) 815-1800.)

August 30, 2019 - 3:02pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Recovery WOW, GCASA. batavia.




The Recovery WOW program at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse opened the holiday weekend on a fun note this afternoon with a dart tournament behind the East Main Street campus.

About 40 people competed (and another 40 attended) and then were treated to hot dogs and soft drinks.

In top photo, Chris Budzinack, recovery center lead peer, gives instructions to the participants before drawing names for the matches; in the middle photo, Sterling Stroman, GCASA employee, lets a dart fly in hope of a bull's-eye; in the bottom photo, Budzinack holds the trophy before relinquishing it to champion Raymond Vickers, center, as runner-up Carrie Wilson and third-place finisher Kyle Winfield look on.

Submitted by Mike Pettinella/GCASA publicist.

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.





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.

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