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Great Changes and Graduations

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Graduation Day represents achievement and hope for a bright future.

That’s exactly what residents now experience after a successful stay at Cazenovia Recovery Systems’ Casa Di Vita, a community residence for women in recovery.

The celebratory event, held at the facility on Buffalo’s West Side, is the idea of Site Supervisor Lisa Johnston. Since she assumed this position in June, Lisa has implemented several endeavors in collaboration with the staff and residents.

The most recent informal graduation ceremony, honoring resident Kelly’s accomplishments, was shared with fellow residents, who offered congratulations and encouragement. Highlights were a shared meal and “Ave Maria” sung by a talented resident who is a trained opera singer.

Kelly (pictured above middle) credits the five-month program she completed for “helping on a daily basis, helping me learn about myself, and helping with mindfulness.” She expressed special thanks to Counselor Associate Mary Reid. “I couldn’t have done this without the staff here,” Kelly said. ”I’ve done a complete 180.”

Casa Di Vita in the autumn

Casa Di Vita in the autumn

Kelly’s immediate plan is to spend time with her children. She is interested in pursuing a nursing career. “My disease tried to steal my soul, but I won’t let it,” she said. “I’m a fighter.”

Lisa, who has been with Cazenovia Recovery since 2014, has a master’s degree in education counseling from St. Bonaventure University. She is dedicated to working with her staff to provide quality individualized care. Foremost is ensuring the safety of the women who live there. Overall, she has inspired residents to become much more involved in daily activities and in offering enhancements to the program.

Among the initiatives she has implemented are strengthening the residents’ governing council to underscore a team focus, and starting a weekly session that runs for one month for new residents adjusting to life at Casa Di Vita.

There is a place designated for arts and crafts and a redesigned fitness area that will have space for yoga and Pilates. A new suggestion box is a reminder of Lisa’s philosophy of collaboration. Based on resident and staff requests, a salad bar soon will be added to the dining room.

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