About Us

Statements of Intent

Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. is a private not-for-profit corporation providing a comprehensive continuum of chemical dependency and mental health residential services for men and women in recovery. We are a vital partner in building successful lives in recovery and providing safe, affordable neighborhood housing that is sensitive to the needs of the community.

Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. will provide the highest quality residential services available, which will empower each person to build a better life.

Cazenovia Recovery Systems Inc. will continuously seek to enhance its commitment to welcome and serve individuals of all backgrounds. We will ensure a climate that embraces all, regardless of their differences, ideas, beliefs or cultural values. Our safe living environments will recognize and respect the beliefs, ideas, and values of the individuals and communities the agency serves.

Trauma-Informed Care
Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. recognizes trauma and adversity as nearly universal experiences for people in recovery. To properly address these challenges, the agency will seek to reduce their impact by providing care within an organizational environment that is trauma-informed. We will fully integrate knowledge about trauma into services and practices that foster choice, collaboration, empowerment, safety, and trust, all while resisting re-traumatization.


The Agency

Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that provides residential services to individuals who are at risk for homelessness and beginning their recovery from substance use, addiction, and mental health disorders. Our residential facilities are tiered to offer a continuum of care and structure of services. Individuals interested in our services seek help with drug use, alcoholism, and other forms of addiction.

We offer:

  • Sites licensed by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services or New York State Office of Mental Health
  • Barrier-free transition between levels of care
  • Qualified health or mental health professionals at all sites
  • Adult programming

We provide highly-structured treatment experiences as well as limited, low-intensity group housing. This allows for individuals with varying degrees of addiction and mental health challenges to be placed in the level of care that they require.

Such placement might include six months of intensive residential treatment, three to six months of community residential services, up to 12 months of support in a group apartment setting, and possible placement in subsidized housing.

We currently operate four levels of community residential care:

  • Intensive Residential Rehabilitation
  • Community Residential Services
  • Supportive Living
  • Subsidized apartments (Supported Housing)

Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. accepts payment from Departments of Social Services in various New York State counties, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security Disability. We also accept private payment from individuals who have the ability to pay, and from healthcare insurance providers.

Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. prides itself on the reputation of providing efficient treatment tailored to meet the requirements of a broad and diverse range of individuals.

We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and we are an Equal Housing Opportunity Provider. We do not discriminate based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Handicap
  • Familial Status or
  • National Origin

All of our programs offer:

  • Emphasis on self-responsibility, client empowerment, and daily living skills training
  • Community integration
  • Non-traditional and flexible individualized treatment
  • Sliding fee scale
  • 24-hour staff availability
  • Partnerships with local medical, mental health and psychiatric service providers enhancing the multidisciplinary approach to treatment
  • Positive relationships with the criminal justice system, health homes, managed care companies, and all levels of addiction service or mental health service providers


Cazenovia Recovery Systems, Inc. started as the dream of Bill O’Connor, a man with a vision and a heart of gold. He wanted to establish a movement in South Buffalo to help alcoholics get sober and return to work and their families. With the rigorous intent to obtain a shelter for adult men who suffer from alcoholism, he organized a rent agreement with the owner of a former nursing home at 486 North Legion Drive in Buffalo, New York. This agreement continued until the owner lost the building to the City of Buffalo for back taxes. The building was purchased through city auction by Edward Cottrell. Mr. O’Connor then found a need to put together a group of community members to assist him in the enhancement of his vision. That group today is the Board of Directors, who in 1980 established a not-for-profit agency called Friends of Cazenovia Manor, Inc. At this point, Bill O’Connor and the Board of Directors entered into a purchase agreement with Mr. Cottrell to purchase 486 North Legion Drive as the first halfway house for alcoholic men in the Buffalo area. This purchase contained certain conditions:

  • The building would only be used to help alcoholics recover from alcoholism.
  • Sisters of Mercy would help oversee the operation for the first five years.
  • The purchase price would be paid in full after the first year of operation.

Today, that site serves as Cazenovia Manor, one of our agency’s Community Residences.

When Bill O’Connor retired, the Board hired Ronald T. Rycroft as Executive Director in 1983. Mr. Rycroft’s commitment to assist recovering alcoholics led to steady expansion and growth of the agency.  In 1989, Cazenovia Recovery launched its Supportive Living Program, and the program’s first apartment was on Macamley Street in Buffalo. Soon after, ground was broken in Eden, New York for what would become the first recovery care home in New York State—Turning Point House, a 21-bed intensive residential rehabilitation facility for men with substance-related disorders. The Supportive Living Program grew to include homes and apartments throughout Erie County and by 2002, 62 men and women were being served.

Bill O’Connor’s dream coupled with Ron Rycroft’s dedication resulted in the creation of a second community residence, the 16-bed New Beginnings, founded in 1992 in northwest Buffalo for men in recovery who also are homeless. After Mr. Rycroft’s untimely death that year, longtime staff member Dennis C. Fink was appointed Executive Director. Mr. Fink’s tenure is notable for his emphasis on enhancing quality across all of the agency’s programs.

The agency’s current Executive Director, Suzanne Bissonette, J.D., joined the agency as Deputy Director in 1997. Under her leadership, the organization has continued to grow to accommodate the community’s recovery needs.

In 2004, the agency opened Visions Place, designed specifically for homeless individuals seeking treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

Our Housing program began operations in 2005. It has helped hundreds of individuals in recovery since its inception through multiple initiatives by providing supported apartments in Erie and Niagara Counties.

In 2010, Cazenovia Recovery developed a 24-unit apartment facility that is affordable for lower-income individuals and families. Located in north Buffalo, the Amherst Station Apartments are housed in a “green” building, designed to be ecologically sensitive, and each apartment features energy-efficient appliances.

The agency reached out to military veterans in need by creating an 18-bed facility, Liberty Hall, which opened in 2011 on the grounds of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Batavia, NY. The transitional housing facility serves veterans who have a substance use disorder and are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Cazenovia Recovery also assisted in the development of a second facility for veterans, Cadence Square, which includes a community residential facility, supportive living program, and independent apartments on the VA Medical Center’s campus in Canandaigua, New York.

In 2014, the agency acquired Ivy House, which serves men; Casa Di Vita, which serves women; and additional supportive living beds from an agency in Buffalo which ceased operations. The following year brought additional changes to the agency in that Visions Place, Ivy House, and New Beginnings closed. In their place, Unity House, an OASAS-licensed community residence that serves men in recovery who are homeless or at risk for homelessness, opened in the building that once housed Visions Place. The name “Unity House” was created by Ron Corpening, an agency employee, who wanted to capture the new program’s spirit in uniting people and programs together.

The agency grew by its largest amount on January 1, 2016 when it assumed the operations of programs formerly managed by Fellowship House, Inc., a residential services provider to individuals in recovery in Niagara County. Cazenovia Recovery began operating Madonna House, an Intensive Residential Rehabilitation program for women and women with children; Somerset House and Sundram Manor, Community Residences for men and women in Appleton and Niagara Falls, respectively; and a Supportive Living program in Niagara County. Now a major partner in recovery in Niagara County, Cazenovia Recovery Systems offers choice and critical services to individuals in need throughout Western New York.

 Board of Directors

 Name Occupation
David H. Nelson, Esq., President Dadd and Nelson Attorney and Counselors at Law, Attorney
Catherine M. Braniecki, Vice President Retired from KeyBank, former Senior Vice President, Regional Corporate Responsibility Officer
John Anderson, Treasurer Retired
Sharon M. Hayes, Secretary Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc., Compliance Officer
Rosemary Duran Transitional Services Inc., Executive Director
Alfred Halley Retired from Cazenovia Recovery Systems, former Chief Operations Officer
Neldria Staton Civil Engineer

Executive Team

Contact the Executive Team

Send To:

Sue Bissonette
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 307

Eileen Dietsch
Director of Operations
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 305

Andrea Ocasio
Director of Clinical Services
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 306

Jay Swarthout
Director of Managed Care Services
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 302

Ken Gholston
Director of Grants and Contracts
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 322

Claudia Rejman
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 311

Ed Cichon
Director of Marketing and Communications
Phone: (716) 852-4331, ext. 316

Awards, Accomplishments, & Certifications

Certified OASAS Provider
Certified OASAS Provider
Equal Housing Lender
Equal Housing Lender

Platinum Seal through GuideStar

Completed a Three-Year Project with the
Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care

In Partnership with ITTIC