On Friday, October 13, the new Youth Peer Recovery Program staff arrived at FOR-NY’s Albany office to begin working on this critically important and exciting initiative. (Read more about this initiative here.) The team includes:

Zachary Cohn, Youth Peer Recovery Program Director
Zachary is a person in long-term recovery from drugs and alcohol. An active member of Friends of Recovery in Dutchess County, he recently spoke at the RCO’s first-ever “Recovery Talks” in September with a focus on youth-driven, peer-based recovery support services. His experience includes working with adolescents in an acute psychiatric hospital and has recently become a Certified Recovery Peer Advocate (Provisional). Zachary will be covering the territories from the Mid-Hudson Valley to Canada.

Carlee, Hulsizer, Youth Peer Program Specialist
Carlee is a person in long-term recovery. Prior to accepting the position at FOR-NY, Carlee was the outreach director for Recovery Now NY in Rochester. Territory: Buffalo to Mohawk Valley

Joseph Davis, Youth Peer Program Specialist
Prior to joining FOR-NY, Joseph Davis served as the Substance Use Engagement Specialist for The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. Joseph’s work with The Center focused on helping to create more affirming spaces for LGBT youth, as well as motivating and supporting LGBT youth to live happy and healthy lives. Joseph also served as the chairman of the LGBT youth recovery board. Joseph built a care management support service for 398 NYC providers. Territory: New York City, Long Island, Westchester, Rockland

The team is supported by a Youth Advisory Committee consisting of approximately 20 young people from throughout the state who are in recovery and have dedicated their time to help support this initiative. The committee will offer insight on the pulse of their communities and hope to solidify a level of trust and commitment to the Youth movement in New York State.

“We have a lot to do between now and April 30th when the initial grant will be up for renewal,” says Zachary Cohn. “Our mission is to create local youth-driven, community- sustained organizations throughout the entire state. We will be publishing a toolkit written for young people to build these organizations. Our hope is these measures lead to building recovery capital within the local communities which help to sustain long-term recovery.”

The Toolkit will be designed to offer a wide range of methods, strategies and approaches for recruiting new members and engaging communities in discussions to affect change for additional resources and supports, among many other things. It is the goal of this initiative through utilizing these tools, it will begin empowering young people to receive additional community support, build recovery capital, and allow the lives of young people in recovery to flourish.

Another significant feature of this initiative is to organize non-recovery focused events throughout the state that will be inclusive of anyone, not just those living in recovery from addiction. The events will be designed to promote a sober social scene for anyone looking to attend alcohol and drug-free events. The events will be created to reflect a variety of activities and hobbies and posted on the youth recovery network website.

Zachary, Carly and Joseph are scheduled to meet with young people at youth clubhouses, community centers and other venues young people attend, as well as with youth advisory boards and committees in communities across the state to hear from young people about their thoughts on the types of supports, services and programs that would best promote their programs of recovery and begin to enhance their lives in meaningful ways. Compiling this information will be the basis to plan and implement these resources throughout the state.