PLATTSBURGH — Jay LePage became the voice of his son’s recovery after Michael’s struggle with alcohol addiction came to an untimely end in November 2005.
Through tears, he praised the Champlain Valley Family Center’s compassionate, caring staff for helping his son and other Clinton County residents find the help they need to get clean.
“Your agency has a record of successfully meeting the ever-growing imperative needs of the people of Clinton County and the North Country for 30 years,” LePage said. “I have direct knowledge of that with both my professional and personal experiences.”
LePage, who is Clinton County commissioner of Social Services, was one of many speakers who gathered to commemorate the Family Center’s 30th anniversary.
He shared the story of Michael’s brave battle with sobriety, moving many attendees to tears.
LePage credited Family Center Executive Director Connie Wille with helping Michael take the important, initial step down the rocky road to recovery.
He recalled delivering a stern ultimatum to his son, making it mandatory that he contact Wille immediately for help.
“I declared war … I told (Michael) that the consequences for not calling Connie would be that he would have to leave the house. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said.
With significant help from Wille, Michael sought treatment and stayed clean for nearly a year, LePage said, before a relapse near Thanksgiving that ultimately led his son to suicide.
LePage praised Wille and the Family Center for embracing everyone working through a chemical dependence and for doing so without judgment.
“For those of you facing the struggle, embrace your inner talent. Good things take time,” he said. “I think we owe people who are trying to recover truth and fairness without judgment.”
State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez also honored the center for reaching the milestone, commending its commitment to providing substance-abuse treatment, prevention and education services.