A message from our CEO

Sue Bissonette, CEO

Sue Bissonette, our CEO

Year after year, Cazenovia Recovery keeps getting better and better. We’ve seen some transformational changes recently, and 2018 was our most remarkable year yet.

On January 1, 2018, we began offering Rehabilitation treatment at Cazenovia Manor and Madonna House. Later on October 1, Turning Point House in Eden followed. This new model of care has already made a significant positive impact on our agency. You can read more about it in the "Rehabilitation" section below.

Launching Rehabilitation was just the latest in a long line of major evolutions for us. Actually, they’ve been occurring pretty steadily over the last few years. We’ve been able to navigate these tumultuous changes in the healthcare and substance use fields thanks to the support of some wonderful partners.

Capacity building provided by local foundations and other funders has been critical to our success. Thanks to the assistance provided by GetSET, we developed a strong value proposition in 2018. Its creation allowed us to view our financial data and outcomes in a new way that showcased the value we provide to our community.

We also wrapped up our participation in StoryGrowing WNY last year. As one of the first nonprofits in the area selected for this wonderful initiative, we made the most out of every opportunity. Most importantly, we finalized our new logo and brand at the end of last year. It just launched last month, along with our new website that was designed from the ground up.

As always, our main focus is to provide the best possible care for our residents. Our programs achieved some impressive outcomes this year, especially considering the waves of change coursing throughout our field. We’re also very excited to be paving the way in changing the conversation about substance use disorders in the area. Our new video below shows just what we mean and showcases exactly why hope lives here. 


people supported across the agency
of residents remained drug and alcohol free during their stay
of residents had no hospital or ER visits during their stay


Rehabilitation is a new element of residential care designed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Use Services. This new and inventive model takes an integrative and comprehensive approach to treatment.

Previously, residents were required to visit multiple different healthcare providers depending on the needs of the resident and the level of care. They could have to visit an outpatient treatment provider, a mental health provider, and a medical provider all in the same week. This would often take them out of important groups and individual counseling at our programs.

Now, residents receive substance use treatment, mental health counseling, basic primary medical care, and family counseling all within the same program. Residents no longer need to hurry from appointment to appointment. Instead, they’re able to truly focus on their treatment. 

We're proud to say that our programs were some of the first to convert throughout upstate New York. Understandably, getting to this point was a monumental lift for our agency. We had to create billing and compliance systems from scratch. 

Thankfully, all the effort of our staff was worth it. Rehabilitation is a fantastic new element of care that brings many needed services to our residents. It's also made a huge difference for how our agency operates. Thanks to Rehabilitation, we're ready for the changes yet to come in healthcare.

Stories of Recovery

Each of our residents has a compelling story to tell. That's why we're committed to sharing the stories of the people in our programs. In fact, the vast majority of the people we support have experienced significant trauma. This has major implications for our work and it’s why we strive to provide Trauma-Informed Care.

By being honest about what the people in our programs have experienced, we can explain what having a substance use disorder is like in Western New York. Hopefully these stories can also break down the stigma associated with the disease.

But our residents aren’t defined by their pasts, especially when they have such bright futures ahead. While their stories often feature tragedy, heartache, and adversity, they’re also filled with inspiration, hope, and courage. And every single one of them wants others with the disorder to know that they’re not alone. 

April spent time as a resident at Somerset House. While there, she focused on reconnecting with her family. "My relationship with my family is better than it’s ever been,” she explained. 

Of course, their relationship wasn’t always so positive. One of the hardest things for April is coming to terms with the past. “I don’t know if they’ll ever know how sorry I truly am,” she expressed. However, April knows she’s making progress every day.

The time Tyron spent in treatment allowed him to come to terms with a tragic part of his past. When he was younger, he lost his mother, father, and brother in a very short period of time. In many ways, this unimaginable stretch of loss led to his troubles with alcohol. “That type of pain took a lot from me,” said Tyron.

Trauma can have major repercussions on a person’s life. In fact, severe histories of trauma often lead to substance use. This is why we offer Trauma-Informed Care in each of our programs. 

While Tom has been successful in his recovery, the last decade hasn’t been without its challenges. He was laid off during the recession, had a car accident that impacted his ability to work, and was faced with a few medical issues. Thanks to encouragement from self-help meetings, Tom maintains a positive outlook and has  remained drug and alcohol-free for 12 years.

Currently, he’s receiving Housing services from us. Tom sincerely appreciates our staff's positive attitudes.

Caz Cares

In the spring of last year, we launched Caz Cares. It's our new fundraising initiative, and we're using funds raised to benefit our programs in exciting and innovative ways.

Over the last year, we've used funds from Caz Cares to:

  • Start a clothing closet at Cazenovia Manor
  • Purchase exercise equipment for programs throughout the agency
  • Provide a security deposit for a resident moving into a new apartment
  • Create a memorial bench at TPH for a sober support who sadly passed away

Funding also went to help create this new meditation room at Casa Di Vita. This new room gives residents a quiet place to relax, breathe, and center themselves when they’re experiencing some anxiety. Staff and residents are also using the room for one-on-one counseling sessions, and residents can use it for a place to meet with each other.

Over the next month, Caz Cares funds will also be used to start a new vegetable garden at Casa Di Vita in partnership with Urban Fruits & Veggies and Garden Fresh Foodie. This will also come with nutrition classes and a local crop share. 

WHat's Next

Former Benedict House

As you’ve seen, the last few months have been monumental for Cazenovia Recovery. But don't think for a minute that we're taking a break! We're working on some fantastic new developments happening across both Erie and Niagara Counties.

Later this fall, we're launching Reintegration at Unity House. Reintegration is a second element of redesigned residential services created by OASAS. While not as dramatic a change as the conversion to Rehabilitation, Reintegration will bring a renewed focus to important aspects of later recovery. Residents in these programs will focus on accessing community resources, along with volunteering, education, and employment. This element will eventually roll out to Casa Di Vita, Sundram Manor, and Somerset House.

At the start of 2020, we’re hoping to open our new housing program located in the city of Buffalo. It’s at site of the former Benedict House. We’re converting the building into studio apartments for homeless individuals with substance use disorders. Once it opens, the newly-renovated building will also serve as the new location of our Housing program and its staff.

Finally, we're also working on some exciting plans in Niagara County. More information will be available about those plans soon.

thank you

Cazenovia Recovery would not be able to save lives without the support of individuals and organizations throughout Western New York and beyond. 

Thank you to  the following organizations for providing operational funding to the agency:

  • New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)
  • New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)
  • Erie County Department of Mental Health
  • Niagara County Department of Mental Health
  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • KeyBank
  • The Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation
  • Departments of Social Services throughout New York State
  • Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc.

And thank you to the following organizations for providing us with capital funding:

  • New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS)
  • New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH)
  • Erie County Department of Mental Health
  • Niagara County Department of Mental Health
  • United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • KeyBank
  • The Peter & Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation
  • The Corporation for Supportive Housing
  • Departments of Social Services throughout New York State
  • Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc.

Finally, thank you to our Board of Directors: 

  • President: David H. Nelson, Esq., Attorney at Dadd and Nelson Attorney and Counselors at Law
  • Vice President: Catherine M. Braniecki, Retired
  • Treasurer: John Anderson, Retired
  • Secretary: Sharon M. Hayes, Compliance Officer at Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.
  • Member: Rosemary Duran, Executive Director of Transitional Services, Inc.
  • Member: Alfred Halley, Retired 
  • Member: Neldria Staton, Civil Engineer