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Working with Save the Michaels

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Working with Save the Michaels

About Save the Michaels

Every day, Caz Recovery works with organizations across Western New York to ensure that people with substance use disorders can access the care they need. One of our most valued partnerships is with Save the Michaels of the World.

Save the Michaels was founded after Avi and Julie Israel tragically lost their son Michael to suicide amidst the opioid epidemic. Since losing their son, Avi and Julie have become unshakable advocates for people with substance use disorders. In fact, they’ve been critical in helping to pass some of the most important opioid-related legislation in New York including the I-STOP law that monitors opioid over-prescribing. This legislative session, their support led to the passing of a bill that gives direction to the state on spending opioid settlement funds.

Our Collaborative Partnership

Advocacy is a major part of Save the Michael’s mission, but they’ve also incorporated recovery services and other initiatives in recent years. Joe Lapi is their Director of Recovery Programs, and he said this change was motivated so that they “can help as many people as we can.” He’s in recovery himself, which guides him in his work. “I’m as passionate about other people’s recovery as I am about my own,” he said.

Joe Lapi, Director of Recovery Programs at Save the Michaels
Joe Lapi, Director of Recovery Programs at Save the Michaels

In many ways, access to treatment and care is a major motivating factor for the services Save the Michaels provides. Transportation is huge, and they provide transportation to and from life-saving services. Another large focus of their work is peer advocacy and recovery coaching. Save the Michaels also offers sober music jams, sober tailgating, music journaling, craft nights, recovery groups, and much more. “We’re a small organization, and we tend to do big things,” said Joe.

Residents at multiple Caz Recovery programs take part in these services. Our women’s programs in particular benefit from connections to Save the Michaels’ resources. Casa Di Vita residents often attend a women’s group, and a recovery coach visits the program weekly. Somerset House residents, meanwhile, volunteer with maintaining a clothing closet run by Save the Michaels.

Benefiting Residents

Tyler’s a current resident at Casa Di Vita, and the partnership between Caz Recovery and Save the Michaels has been transformative for her. She attends the women’s group regularly, and she also benefits from the peer-based recovery coaching from Lori, one of the recovery coaches from Save the Michaels. “She’s always there for me to help me with my recovery,” Tyler said. “She’s awesome.”

These kinds of collaborations are clearly helpful, but the most important thing is that they lead to better outcomes for the people in need of care. Thanks to all the support she’s received from Caz Recovery and Save the Michaels, Tyler is starting school in the fall. Her plan is to attend Niagara County Community College, and she’s pursing a degree in Animal Maintenance. “I’m super excited for it,” she said.

Tyler, a Casa Di Vita resident
Tyler, a Casa Di Vita resident

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