PLATTSBURGH — MHAB Enterprises founder Mike Carpenter cradled a vision, and it came to pass at the grand opening of All Ways to Recovery, Champlain Valley Family Center’s Recovery Community Center on the MHAB Life Skills Campus Wednesday afternoon.

“The most common question I get is what does it stand for?” Carpenter, president and CEO of Northeast Group, said.

“I will tell you that MHAB is actually the acronym for the five people that own the company. That is myself, Mike, my stepmother Mary, my father Herb, my stepbrother AJ, and my business partner, Betsy, who many of you know. Without those other four people this would not have been possible.

“The goal behind it was to operate transitional housing and life skills campus for people in various stages of recovery from drug addiction, alcoholism and mental-health issues.”

SECOND CHANCES

Carpenter walked away from the shadow of death when he was addicted to alcohol, cocaine and other substances in the 1980s. In the interim, he’s buried too many friends.

The campus features the Champlain Valley Recovery Community Center and former Clinton Community College dormitories, once Plattsburgh Air Force Base barracks.

“I had two types of partner agencies that we put together to do this venture,” Carpenter said.

“One you’re going to hear later on are the agencies that we work with to help the people that are living or using these facilities. The other are the people who helped us get this off the ground through their political connections, power or ability to support us, those type of things and it is important to recognize them.”

The roll call included CCC President Ray DiPasquale, North Country Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Garry Douglas and Clinton County Department of Social Services Commissioner John Redden.

The Foundation of MHAB’s collaborative spirit extended to three local banks — MBT, Glens Falls National, Champlain National Bank — who partnered for the project’s finances.

Carpenter and Connie Wille, executive director of Champlain Valley Family Center for Drug Treatment and Youth Services Inc., shared emcee duties introducing the roster of speakers, which included New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez, M.S., L.M.S.W., State Sen. Betty Little, State Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay), Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Michael Cashman and City of Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read.

ALL WAYS TO RECOVERY

González-Sánchez extended congratulations to Carpenter, MHAB staff, Wille and anyone involved in the project.

“I know how hard people work and days like this shows that at the end of the tunnel, even though sometimes we think we’re never going to get there, we do get there and there is a big light,” she said.

“So congratulations, and thank you for that.”

She also thanked the elected officials and community leaders for their support and ongoing help to making services like this available in this community.

“This could not happen without your support,” González-Sánchez said.

“And yes, government is important, but the collaboration that you have here is very unique. That is why you’ve got so much accomplished, and I’m so proud of all the work that you are doing on the ground. So thank-you so much for that.”

González-Sánchez also gave a shout-out for her own staff that traveled up from New York City.

“Under the leadership of Gov. Cuomo, New York continues to make great strides in the battle against the opioid epidemic,” she said.

“And this Recovery Center and Skills Campus is another example of the state’s commitment to this effort. I know these services will be a great addition to the community, and I cannot think of a more appropriate name than All Ways to Recovery for this Recovery Center because it is true. There are multiple paths to recovery, and everyone can have a different path.”

REBIRTH & RENEWAL

González-Sánchez noted the symbolism of locating the campus at 14 Dormitory Dr.

“New life has been given to these former college campus’ dorms, which will in turn help people rebuild their lives from addiction and will truly make a difference in this area,” she said.

Community-based facilities like this illustrate the importance of recovery within the continuum of addiction care that is offered in New York state.

“While most people recognize the significance of treatment, and I do too, it is imperative to realize that treatment alone is not enough,” she said.

“We need to have recovery supports in place for people no matter where they are in their journey to recovery. Recovery centers help to fill this need.”

In 2018, nearly 32,000 individuals visited a recovery center throughout the state.

“And may I remind you that the recovery centers were just starting to take off,” González-Sánchez said.

“So that tells you that these centers are not only needed but making a big difference in people’s lives. We are excited to continue to a make positive impact on those in recovery here in the Plattsburgh area.”

Clients who come to the MHAB encounter a welcoming, substance-free environment, where they will be able to participate in skills building, recovery-enhancement activities, learn information about healthcare, insurance coverage and recreational activities designed to enhance recovery.

“But at the core of these recovery centers is the peer support that’s available,” González-Sánchez said.

“It’s so important, especially in recovery. It gives people in recovery someone to talk to that has faced the same challenges. For many individuals that can be the most important part of their recovery process.”

HOW TO LIVE

Clients will also receive training sessions in the proper use of naloxone, also known as Narcan, a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose.

“Having it readily available can be extremely valuable in preventing overdose deaths among people in recovery,” González-Sánchez said.

“Additionally, the supportive supervised, transitional housing offered by MHAB at this campus will further support individuals in recovery.”

Safe, stable housing is a critical component to a successful recovery as well as linkages to educational services and job-training opportunities.

“With all of these services, I can confidently say that this facility will make a huge, positive difference in the Plattsburgh area,” she said.

TAX CREDIT

González-Sánchez announced a development in the Recovery Tax Credit Program, which was part of the state budget that was passed a few months ago.

It was Carpenter’s idea championed by Little and Jones.

“It allows for employers who hire individuals in recovery to receive up to $2,000 for each person in recovery that they hire as a tax credit,” González-Sánchez said.

“So starting today, interested employers can go to our website and ask us requests for applications to fill out, which enables them to receive this credit in their 2020 taxes.”

Once an employer becomes eligible, they can get credit for employees they hire in 2019 so long as they’re still employed after Jan. 1, 2020.

“Steady employment can be a big part of a successful recovery, and we’re happy to have this first in the nation tax credit here in New York state to assist people in their recovery,” González-Sánchez said.

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

Twitter:@RobinCaudell

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