By Mike Pettinella:
For far too long, substance use disorder services have focused on treatment, with prevention and intervention providing complementary support. At Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, programs and practices for aftercare – or recovery – have become a vital fourth component in a continuum of care designed to break down the barriers to long-term recovery.
“What UConnectCare is doing now, and The Recovery Station is a prime example of that, is to help those in recovery look at the other pieces of their lives, and give them the support they need to be successful long term,” said Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, director of Project Innovation and Expansion who also supervises the agency’s recovery programs. “We all know that treatment is super important and extremely valuable, but it is, generally, a relatively limited term and people still have to go out and deal with their lives.”
The Recovery Station at 5256 Clinton St. Rd. (formerly Bohn’s Restaurant) is the location of UConnectCare’s innovative program designed to help those who have gone through treatment or are successfully going through treatment to remain sober. Started a little over a year ago as Recovery WOW (Without Walls), it is serving as an effective social and recreational space for those in recovery.
Sue Gagne, recovery center coordinator, said a full calendar of activities is scheduled for September, which happens to be “Recovery Month.”
“We’ve reopened (following the COVID-19 shutdown) and we’re ready to accept up to 25 people from the community at a time,” Gagne said, adding that she hopes that number will double in the coming weeks.
She said activities include karaoke, bingo, fitness, art classes, cooking and nutrition, self-help meetings, job coaching, musical events and community projects, A “Fall Game Day” featuring darts, ping-pong and a potluck dinner is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 26.
Debbie Dutton assists Gagne with the day-to-day responsibilities and both are backed by a team of Peer Recovery Advocates that provides encouragement and support to those in recovery.
“I feel like we have been welcomed into the community, so that’s a positive,” she said, noting that services also are being provided in Orleans County. “People can drop in any time during our open hours for support and information.”
A Batavian man in his thirties said he has been sober for nearly two years and credits his successful recovery, in part, to having access to activities provided by Recovery WOW and, now, The Recovery Station.
“Having a place to be able to socialize with others in recovery and also to engage in physical fitness activities is just what the Batavia area needed,” he said. “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.”
Mangino-Crandall said the recovery center can support people who have been out of treatment for years and want to be part of the recovery community, as well as people who are still in treatment.
“It covers the entire spectrum of people,” she said. “For those who are in treatment now, the recovery center and the recovery support programs that we have are helping them to reduce those barriers to success.”
She said the recovery center is “uplifting to the recovery community.”
“There are lots of people in recovery in our area but maybe you don’t know who they are. If 12-step works for you and you go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) or NA (Narcotics Anonymous) that is a fabulous opportunity to connect with people in recovery,” she said. “If for whatever reason that particular path is not for you, though, then it might be harder to find people in recovery.
“And either way, even if you’re going to AA or NA, you may still want another place with a particular setting where you’re talking about your recovery, processing it and supporting other people.”
Mangino-Crandall said The Recovery Station “fills in the gaps” of the existing recovery programs in the community. She noted that there are only a few such facilities in Western New York, and maybe about 40 throughout New York State.
“It provides a place where people in all stages of recovery can come together and learn from each other so a person who is really maybe a bit earlier in their recovery might have an opportunity to meet people that have now been in recovery for a few years or even 10 or 20 years and find a mentor or a friend – somebody who they can really connect with and draw some strength from,” she explained.
The Recovery Station, 5256 Clinton St. Rd., Batavia, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and on Sunday for special events. For more information, go to its Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/recoverywow.