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Motivation from the Vocational Program

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605 Fillmore Avenue

Ask Deborah Watkins what advice she shares when visiting men and women in Cazenovia Recovery’s Housing Program and those living at our Community Residences and she’s likely to say: “Start planning right now for the healthy, happy life you want.”

Deb Watkins, senior vocational specialist

Deb Watkins, senior vocational specialist

As senior vocational specialist, Deb introduces numerous opportunities and provides a lot of individual attention to help residents make choices. “Don’t wait – start exploring and mapping out a plan,” she advises. “There’s always something to do, even volunteering.”

Cazenovia Recovery’s programs have always had a vocational aspect, but the agency decided to create a dedicated vocational program in 2010. Newly based at 605 Fillmore Avenue in Buffalo, the vocational program assists residents in finding employment or exploring vocational and educational interests. A computer lab, meeting room, and resident lounge are available to residents working on resumes and searching for jobs.

“Our role is to inspire and motivate,” Deb said. “We want our residents to recover, get healthy, and become contributing members of society. I would like to see residents of all our programs take advantage of these services.”

Joe utilizes the Vocational Program

Joe utilizes the Vocational Program

Deb integrates group activities into the program, such as attending job fairs together. Nine residents are volunteering to help build homes with Habitat for Humanity this year.

Cierra Smalls, job developer, and Chuck Cavaretta, vocational specialist, both share Deb’s enthusiasm. “We re-open doors,” Cierra said. “We point to opportunities to start something great.” Bob Davis is the agency’s vocational specialist for the Supportive Living Program. “Many people are graduating from all levels of school,” Deb reported.

Joe is a wonderful example of such a success story. During his four years with Cazenovia Recovery, he resumed his education and this spring will receive an associate’s degree in mental health and substance use services. He plans to pursue CASAC-T certification and perhaps attain a bachelor’s degree.

Chuck Cavaretta, Cierra Smalls, and Bob Davis

Chuck Cavaretta, Cierra Smalls, and Bob Davis

Joe’s first step toward employment in his chosen field is an internship with Cazenovia Recovery’s New Beginnings Program, starting soon.He recalls that while talking with his Cazenovia Recovery counselor a few years ago, Joe commented: “I’ll be sitting next to you one day.” As a credit to Joe’s vision and perseverance, that truly is happening.

This article is featured in the March 2015 issue of the Cazenovia Compass, Cazenovia Recovery’s monthly newsletter.

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