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November 17, 2022 - 9:24am

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Press release:

Wednesday night’s “Veteran Connection” at The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road served a valuable purpose for former military members, their families and the community, in general.

Pamela Ware, president of the Anna Ingalsbe Lovell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said she learned a lot about local services for veterans as she chatted with representatives of the organizations that participated.

“I will be able to report back to the chapter members some important information about the numerous veterans’ programs,” said Ware, who serves as the DAR’s volunteer services representative for eight Western New York counties.

Ware said that after speaking with Abigail Savage and Eric Krupczyk, psychologist and peer support specialist, respectively, with the Batavia VA Medical Center’s PTSD unit, she plans to direct the DAR’s next fundraising effort to support that agency.

The Batavia PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) program is one of only three such VA programs in the United States.

Other agencies taking part in the event were WNYHeroes, Inc., Best Self Behavioral Health, Department of Veterans Affairs crisis line, Buffalo VA Regional Office, VA Healthcare and WNY Healthcare System.

Paul Schwartzmeyer, community outreach event coordinator for WNY Heroes, Inc., said his organization provides services to veterans and families in 14 counties. Programs include food distribution, mortgage/rent assistance, service dogs, holiday gifts and backpacks for children of veterans.

He said the Buffalo-based agency works with Bill Joyce, Veterans Services director in Batavia, to assist veterans in Genesee County.

Photo at top: Pamela Ware, left, meets with Abigail Savage and Eric Krupczyk, representatives of the Batavia VA Medical Center’s PTSD unit, at Wednesday night’s “Veteran Connection” event at The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road.

 

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Photo: Navy veteran Neil Gagne, left, receives information about WNYHeroes, Inc., from Chris Kankiewicz of Batavia, center, and Paul Schwartzmeyer, a former Batavian now residing in Buffalo. Submitted photos.

November 10, 2022 - 8:38pm

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Organized by Harry Rascoe, director of The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road, this group participated in the Mission 22 Walk on the Ellicott Trail from the DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street to Seven Springs Road and back to The Recovery Station today to bring awareness to a high rate of suicide among the veteran population. "The Recovery Station (a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse) is here to help everyone in need but on this day we chose to shine a special light on our veterans and their struggles after returning home from military service," Rascoe said. Submitted photo.

October 31, 2022 - 4:47pm

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Harry Rascoe (seated), director of The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road, welcomes a variety of characters during this afternoon's Trunk or Treat event. Six vehicles -- trunks decorated with Halloween themes -- were stationed around the parking lot and each offered treats for children of all ages.

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"Pirate" Jess Budzinack, right, provides treats for 3 1/2-year-old Nevaeh, and Ariel Goldstein.

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Jessica Powers and her children, Aleah and Cierra Greig, embrace the holiday spirit. The Recovery Station is a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

August 24, 2022 - 8:32pm

jarett_1.jpg“My name is Jarett LoCicero and you can find me at the GCASA recovery center, helping out with services for those looking to be themselves, feel better and maybe even live their dreams.”

That’s the way LoCicero, a Batavia resident in his fourth year of recovery, ended his six-minute talk this afternoon at the annual Overdose Awareness Day hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force at Austin Park. He was able to pack a powerful message into his speech -- reflecting the event’s theme of reducing the stigma attached to addiction and letting people know that help is right around the corner.

Now a case manager at The Recovery Station operated by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, LoCicero (photo above) shared that changing the perception of himself was key to his road to recovery.

“Today, we're speaking vaguely from a person's point of view that's been afflicted with the disease of addiction, and their capacity to change that perspective,” he said. “Ultimately, what stops the person from this change? And, maybe when someone is scratching at the fronts of their eyes to see themselves follow through with the decision, a change or a commitment, they fall short again, and again, ultimately not feeling as if they could succeed despite the best and most pure of intentions?”

He talked about the agony felt by the person caught up in substance use and for their families. As a result, he said, that person “can die for this or die for change, a desire to feel different -- the very nature of an overdose or instant gratification, and why many of us have gathered here today.”

Upon realization that someone has a problem, LoCicero said it then becomes a matter of perspective – and the change in that perspective can be accelerated by the encouragement from those who care.

“Once perspective may be supported by ‘I’ statements, such as I am, I can't, I won't, I come from this, I'm cut from that cloth, this is my culture, stay in your lane. This will never happen or workout for me,” he said. “But, despite all of that, a person will say to themselves if I just had X, Y and Z, I could do this. If the light could just shine down on me. I could do this and make a difference in my life.

LOVE AND SUPPORT ARE VITAL

“Because it's my life. What X, Y and Z boil down to being mostly in every case is our common and essential needs -- love and care support, personal needs that allow one the opportunity to self-actualize and become their dream.”

LoCicero said that once he saw his life through a different filter – “and put in some effort” – his perspective changed and his life changed “nearly instantly.”

He said his breakthrough to believing in himself has led to a desire to help others do the same thing.

“It’s what we can do for folks, (show that) we care about suffering with the disease of addiction, a disease of a lifestyle, and we can contribute to optimal conditions necessary for growth and opportunity by making folks aware of our want and commitment to help, most importantly, proving to them that it's possible,” he said.

LoCicero said those in attendance representing human services and health agencies want nothing more but to reach out to those struggling with addiction and “have you join the community – your community – or at least to reduce your potential for harm.”

In closing, he shared a three-step approach that pulled him out of bondage.

“If you can put yourself in front of God, you will find a miracle. If you work hard enough and grind hard enough, you may find your cure. If you be yourself, that's the only way you can find change and find happiness. If you do all three of these things, and if you ask for help, undoubtedly you will recover.”

PETTIT: PREVENTING DEATHS ARE A PRIORITY

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Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, (in photo above), applauded the work of the GOW Opioid Task Force, the three-county partnership of agencies that has been is place for the past five years.

“Preventing opioid overdose deaths … is one of the priority goals of the GOW Community Health Improvement Plan,” Pettit said, mentioning that drug overdose is the leading cause of injury mortality in the United States. “The opioid epidemic is an urgent and serious public health and public safety issue.”

Nationally, more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses last year, and worldwide, the number approached 600,000. And, after trending down in 2018 and 2019, the numbers are increasing once again, he said.

“In Genesee County, there were 15 fatal opioid overdoses in 2020 – 15 too many,” Pettit said, “with six in Orleans County and seven in Wyoming County.”

He cited the rise in fentanyl and synthetic opioids and in concurrent stimulant use, especially cocaine.

“The takeaway from this is that people are dying of fentanyl overdoses when they only mean to take cocaine or another stimulant, and might not know they are at risk of an overdose at all,” he said.

BENNETT: OPEN ACCESS TO TREATMENT

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett shared that the Overdose Awareness Day initiative, which was started in Australia in 2001, now is celebrated internationally, with 367 events in the U.S. and around 600 outside of America’s borders.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to present this to our community,” he said. “As I go to the different booths here today, I am hearing people having good conversations with community members. It’s all about reducing the stigma of people with addiction. It's about giving people who've lost loved ones a place to talk about-- without stigma, without shame and without guilt -- in a really kind, positive and friendly zone.”

Bennett pointed the agency’s recently-opened Detox Center on East Main Street as a place “that is already saving lives.”

“We offer open access; you can just walk in and we’ll see you. Just last Thursday, I think we have seven admissions,” he said. “Doing events like this in the community brings awareness. So, my advice is if you need help, there's open access centers all around Western New York. Go to one of them, and they'll get you where you need to be. Or call me. My number is 585-815-1850 and I'll find you a place.”

Other speakers were Christopher Budzinack, a residential counselor at GCASA’s Atwater Community Residence, who spoke about his recovery from addiction and jail time, and Niki Lang, who read a letter and poem written by her son, Jason, who died in 2017 due to substance use disorder.

More than a dozen agencies had booths at the event, including Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans counties, Genesee County Office for the Aging, Batavia Community Schools, Genesee County Mental Health, Genesee Justice, National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence, Job Corps, Rochester Regional Health, CORE, Restore, Genesee County Health Department, Oak Orchard Health, Suicide Prevention Coalition, Care-A-Van Ministries, Horizon, Fidelis Care, Molina Healthcare and WNY Heroes (for veterans).

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

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The Rev. Vern Saile, pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church, giving the invocation at Overdose Awareness Day.

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"The Groove" belts out covers of classic rock songs -- from left, Joe Gagne, Pete Gomez, Neil Gagne and Bob Smith.

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Messages of hope form the pieces of the puzzle at the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence. Erin Egloff, left, and Kaitlyn Mellina provide services in the Finger Lakes region.

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Melody McMaster brightens up the day for 8-year-old Avi at the face painting booth.

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The team from Rochester Regional Health (parent of United Memorial Medical Center) is ready to share with the public.

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Animal attraction in the form of Frega's Funny Farm of Stafford.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

October 14, 2021 - 5:33pm

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Genesee County legislators, substance use disorder and mental health professionals have a million reasons to celebrate today after meeting New York State Attorney General Letitia James at The Recovery Station on Clinton Street Road.

James is conducting a statewide tour to recognize communities for their efforts in fighting the opioid epidemic and to distribute funds awarded to New York through a settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors. This afternoon, she presented oversized ceremonial checks in Waterloo, Rochester and Batavia.

For Genesee County, that amount is $1,060,280.71.

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate and transcends all political boundaries and affiliations and artificial constructs,” James said. “This really is a demonstration of what government should do, and that is provide for the needs of New Yorkers and the constituents that we all serve. And to hold those individuals responsible for what they did; we hit them in the pocketbook.”

James said her office “closed down pharma … and five manufacturers and three distributors of this poison.”

Unfortunately, she said, overdosing continues to be a huge problem.

“We’re seeing more overdoses because we know that individuals who use opioids sort of walked into the use of heroin, which is now laced with poisonous fentanyl,” she advised. “So, whatever we can do in our capacity to provide you with additional services, with some medically assistance treatment to assist those who are dealing with not only with opioid use disorder but mental illness.”

Assemblyman Steven Hawley thanked James for her role in the settlement and her “attention to all folks who are having problems with addiction.”

“It doesn’t really identify geographic areas for folks who are having trouble with addiction – whether we live in an urban area or a rural area or a suburban area. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done for a living. It can get everybody …” he added.

Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, speaking for families “that have been torn apart,” touched upon the significance of James’ tour.

Stein pointed out that Genesee is one of the few counties that operates a mental health department with its own clinics.

“We are struggling, quite frankly, in getting the clinicians. That is a real need,” she said. “If we could get some help there in getting folks into our state or even support for those positions, so that we could have more people available to us to help provide those services.”

James brought up that she has been hearing that the state agencies of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports and the Office of Mental Health do not work together and operate under regulations that often conflict with one another.

Lynda Battaglia, the county’s director of Mental Health & Community Services, said the agencies on a local level have excellent working relationships.

“We collaborate … for the greater good. As we move forward, everybody has the same mission,” she said, later adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has rippled through the industry, causing waiting lists into the hundreds for services due to the adverse effects on delivery and the strain on mental health and substance use counselors.

John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (which operates The Recovery Station), explained that in Genesee County, several agencies meet on a regular basis, sharing information to increase efficiency across the various sectors.

“Criminal justice, judges, services, community-based organizations, medical care workers – we’re at the table and we talk to each other,” he said. “We try not to let anybody drop through the cracks. We don’t have a ton of services but what we have, they get utilized.”

James said it’s important to not engage in “victim blaming and to be compassionate.”

She said her office is looking at this as a health crisis, reiterating Genesee County’s belief that the funds can be used only for treatment, prevention, education, outreach, etc.

“Unlike the tobacco settlement of old (where) the funds were used for roads and bridges and lights,” she said. “I don’t have anything wrong with roads and bridges and lights – they serve their purpose and hopefully that infrastructure money (federal bill) will build more of them. But these funds have to be related to the litigation and also to assist you in expanding services, and maybe, giving people some raises because they do the work of the angels.”

Bennett mentioned that GCASA is hoping to open its new detoxification center by the first of the year and is advertising for 25 positions, mostly nurses.

“It’s challenging. Right now, we’re biting our nails, going through resumes,” he said.

In closing, James said her goal was to “shine a light on what all of you do here.”

“I come from New York City and half the time the attention is on the city, but we need to focus on rural communities, rural counties because there’s a demand here -- and they cannot be ignored; they cannot be invisible.”

County Manager Matt Landers said the county’s intent is to use the money as directed by the settlement.

“We’ll have interested stakeholders come together to build a consensus on how best to tackle this problem,” he advised.

James said the Finger Lakes Region (Monroe and surrounding counties) will be receiving $53,124,938 from the settlement.

Her plan is to travel to Buffalo, part of the Western New York Region, on Friday.

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Photo at top: State Attorney General Letitia James speaks with County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein, left; GCASA Executive Director John Bennett, and Assemblyman Steven Hawley. Photo at bottom: Presentation of a check to the county to combat the opioid epidemic.

June 21, 2021 - 3:49pm

Press release:

Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and the Batavia Community Schools initiative are joining forces to present a “School’s Out for Summer!” informational fair from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at The Recovery Station at 5256 Clinton Sreet Road.

Shannon Ford, GCASA’s director of Communications/Development/Prevention, said the event is set up to provide available resources, such as summer activities and educational opportunities, for both parents and youth.

“GCASA’s Prevention Team is very excited to partner with Batavia Community Schools to host this event at The Recovery Station,” Ford said. “After a long, challenging school year, we want to make sure parents and youth have the resources they need to stay healthy and safe. We’re hoping families will stop by, have some fun and get some important information that we plan to share.”

Batavia Community Schools is a new program developed by the Batavia City School District. Its mission is to unite the Batavia community and schools through shared resources, working partnerships, and open, collaborative communication.

Julia Rogers, coordinator of Community Schools, said the event with GCASA “aligns nicely with our vision of building a better Batavia by promoting equitable learning activities, cultivating healthier families and establishing a stronger community.”

Thursday’s activities include Hidden Mischief (a hidden-in-plain-sight experience) for adults from 6:15-7:15 p.m. and special games for children during that time. Attendees will be able to tour the facility.

Refreshments will be available from Pub Coffee Hub.

Other participants include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Hillside Children’s Center Young Life, The ACT Program.

It isn’t too late for other community agencies or organizations to participate, Rogers said, adding that she can be reached at (585) 343-2480, ext. 1004.

CLICK HERE for more information about Batavia Community Schools.

January 25, 2021 - 1:34pm
posted by Press Release in news, GCASA, The Recovery Station.

Press release:

Next month’s Stand Up For Recovery Day is a virtual event this year but the question it poses reflects the reality that everyone can contribute to helping those suffering with substance use disorders.

Staff at The Recovery Station, a program of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, are asking those who wish to support the effort to post a video or picture that answers the following:

“What do you stand up for when it comes to recovery?”

Sue Gagne, coordinator of The Recovery Station, is inviting all community members to voice their support or showcase their artistic talents for the cause.

“Whether you are an individual in recovery, family member, friend, or ally, you are an important part of our recovery community,” Gagne said. “We hope you join us in showing support for the recovery movement in Genesee and Orleans counties. You are not alone!”

Stand Up For Recovery Day is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, and features a full agenda of activities promoted by Friends of Recovery – New York (www.for-ny.org/surd-registration), including:

  • Networking and sponsor presentations;
  • Opening plenary session including entertainment by Katharine Pettit Creative (KPC) and George Feaster Band;
  • Inspirational message, remarks by For-NY Board President Chacku Mathai and Executive Director Angelia Smith-Wilson, Ed.D.;
  • Presentation of the group’s policy statement by statewide recovery advocates;
  • Remarks by partners from the New York state government and legislature;
  • Presentations on advocacy by Richard Buckman and Ashley Livingston;
  • Video Rally.

Optional events including a legislature chat session and virtual visits with area legislators.

Friends of Recovery – New York (FOR-NY) is a statewide Recovery Community Organization working on behalf of millions of individuals and families in New York to educate decision makers and the general public about recovery from addiction.

Leaders anticipate nearly 1,000 recovery warriors from various Recovery Community Organizations throughout the state to gather virtually in order to both celebrate recovery from addictions, but more so, to educate decision-makers and the general public about the recovery movement.

FOR-NY has identified its four priorities when it comes to help those in recovery as housing, personalized treatment and treatment on demand, recovery oriented systems of care, and transportation. It also supports racial justice as well as a public health response to COVID-19 which is inclusive of the recovery community.

For more information about the Stand Up For Recovery Day or The Recovery Station, contact Gagne at (585) 815-5248. To support recovery efforts in Orleans County, call (585) 210-8750.

October 3, 2020 - 9:51am

John (last name withheld) is a 50-year-old long distance truck driver who has been out of work for some time due to a 20-year addiction to alcohol.

He’s also someone who has found renewed hope and strength toward living the remainder of his days in sobriety through his participation in recovery programs offered by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Originally from Corning and most recently a resident of Saratoga Springs, John has found himself in the Batavia area and, as a result, things are looking up for him for the first time in decades.

“I have had a problem with alcohol for my whole life,” he said while taking part in a special game day and potluck dinner recently at The Recovery Station, GCASA’s social gathering place on Clinton Street Road.

John said he was taking too much time off work “because all I really wanted to do was sit around and drink all day.”

He was able to gather the wherewithal to get into a 28-day program and was referred to a local residential facility to continue the recovery process.

He Hasn't Had a Drink in Six Months

“They referred me for a little bit of aftercare, and I’m glad that I did it,” he said. “It was the best thing that I did in my life because I haven’t had a drink in six months. That’s the longest that I’ve been without a drink in probably for 20 years.”

John said that the counselors at the residence, which houses several people in recovery, helped him tremendously.

“I’m the type of person that likes to isolate a lot and everybody over there is really open and they make me feel very comfortable. I feel that I can talk to them about any mood that I am in or anything that I am feeling throughout the day,” he explained.

He then mentioned the importance of The Recovery Station in his efforts to remain sober.

“This place has been a godsend,” he said. “You can come here and work out as they’ve invested in exercise equipment and they have many different activities throughout the week if you look at the calendar.”

John said the certified peer recovery advocates at The Recovery Station are “good listeners who have helped me considerably.”

Social Gathering Place Fills a Gap

“From what I hear because I’m not from here, this area needed a place like this, and I think that everything that GCASA is doing for this city as far as recovery goes is wonderful,” he said. “Really, I can’t give this place enough accolades.”

The Recovery Station is meeting the need for him to treat “mind, body and spirit,” John said.

“I had the mental support and counseling support, but I always wanted to have a place to come and play games and work out. It has made a huge difference thus far,” he said.

John’s downward spiral with alcohol started when he was 13 years old and hanging out with some older boys.

“It was peer pressure from the bigger kids. They said that if I would carry their beer to the campsite – we used to go camping in the woods – then they would let me drink with them,” he recalled. “That’s what got me started but what kept me drinking was that I always had a self-esteem problem. I got picked on a lot when I was a kid as I had buckteeth and was kind of skinny.”

He said that when he “found alcohol, it took that all away.”

“It takes the inhibitions away. It makes you fit in. You don’t really care what other people say about you. It just makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. That’s what kept me drunk my whole life,” he shared.

Alcohol Catches Up to You over Time

In time, the effect of alcoholism reared its ugly head.

“As you get older, your body starts to wear down and it can’t process (the alcohol) anymore and it starts to affect your health,” he said. “For me, when I start to drink in excess, it makes me very unmotivated. I’ve never been really fired from a job, but I always have quit because I didn’t want to go to work or I didn’t show up to work.”

John said he realized that he was traveling down the wrong road.

“At my last job, I knew that drinking and driving don’t mix but also I didn’t have any desire or energy to go to work because the alcohol takes all of your energy away and makes you not care about anything,” he said.

Divorced with a son, John said alcoholism didn’t cause the marital split, but admits it didn’t make things easier. Still, he is grateful for having a relationship with his son and says his self-esteem and health are improving since he stopped drinking.

However, he is aware that the battle to overcome the disease is far from over.

Support is a Key to Sobriety

“It’s a struggle if I don’t have support around me,” he said. “My whole life, and I don’t know if it’s a man thing or an ego thing, but I’ve always had a hard time accepting help from other people. I’ve always wanted to do everything on my own.”

John said he’s made a conscious effort to accept help from others and to get involved in social activities.

“That’s what has kept me from wanting to drink again,” he said.

He also spoke about how alcohol triggered the depression that has buffeted him.

“Depression is a side effect of alcoholism, for sure. A lot of people use alcohol to stop their depression, which helps for a little while,” he offered. “But then, as you get into the disease and you start to rely on it, it compounds the depression and makes it worse than it was before. It absolutely turns on you. Then the depression doubles and triples.”

John said he’s working through some issues and seeking to develop a support system and a sponsor – with the goal of being in a position to help others.

“I’m making good progress at that. I just don’t have a complete plan in place to be able to help somebody else right now but I can see that coming in the near future,” he said. “I’ve been doing a really good job about taking advice. People say the only way you can keep your sobriety is by giving it back to others and helping others. I do see that as being my long term solution to keeping my sobriety.”

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

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