Recovery Center of Niagara holds ribbon cutting

Nov. 6—NEWFANE — The ribbon cutting ceremony for the Recovery Center of Niagara was held at its Newfane site, the old ENH-Newfane complex, late Thursday morning. Attendants included Legislator Shawn Foti, as well as Newfane Supervisor John Syracuse, and other officials throughout the county.

However, it was the testimony of a mother who lost her child to an overdose that resonated with the crowd.

Anne Marie Perrotto spoke to a full house in the cafeteria of the new site.

"I need everybody to hear how important this," Perrotto said. "In 2011 I lost my son to an accidental overdose from some prescription pills. ... When my son died, my heart was shattered."

Perrotto said at that time there was no help, people looked at her like she was a bad mother. She documented the times she spent trying to put her son into a hospital, only to be told, "He's not high enough," and, "He doesn't have enough drugs in his system," or, "We're not a hotel."

Perrotto never gave up on her son, and while he died, she still decided to come out and support the center which will be open on Dec. 5. She said she was inspired by Donna May DePola, president of mergers and acquisitions, who supervised the renovations at the William Street facility, and who was an addict herself.

"Donna has this personality that takes you in. She's been in recovery for 37 years and when I met Donna I said to myself, 'I wish I knew you when my son was alive because he would still be here.' That's the kind of person she is. She doesn't give up on someone."

DePola said her own journey with drugs, started when she was nine-years-old.

"It started with heroin, then pills and then cocaine," DePola said. "No one knew! But if someone did know, I could've gotten help."

She said that's what fuels her life now. To treat those who need help.

There are 40 beds in the new facility, Joseph Chelales, compliance officer, said. Fifteen of those are dedicated to detox patients. The other 25 beds are for recovery patients.

Chelales said that the facility does accept many forms of health insurance, including Medicaid. If someone calls, he said, we're going to work with them.

Inside the facility are beds and photos along the walls. There's two rooms dedicated to movie nights where popcorn is made. There is a gym. It is also staffed with medical personnel and counselors to attack every part of the addiction. In short, its opening, Syracuse said, was the start of something new in Newfane.

"I wanted someone to take the time out to show him he was worth it," Perrotto said. "To show him he didn't need those substances and maybe got the attention to mitigate in the right way. But no one did.

"I feel like we still have struggle to this day with the stigma, with the embarrassment and no one understands it until they have a loved one who is affected by this disease."