35th Anniversary at the Villa
Winter 2009 Edition
35th Anniversary at the Villa
May 26, 2008 was a day for remembering, celebrating and honoring at The
Villa. The sun shone over a clear blue sky as Father Jack Hauser presided over an
out door ceremony. A mass was said to pay tribute to this country’s service men
and women, and Villa alum and guests were invited to give thanks for The Villa
and all the love and care it bestowed on them and their loved ones over the years.
George Galinski, The Villa’s first guest when it was at St. Joseph’s in 1973 was
present He is standing next to Kenny in the first photo below.
Fr. Jack stressed the importance of prayer, fellowship and the “power greater than ourselves” which brings light to
those who have “known too much darkness.” The atmosphere was one of respect, gratitude and hope for the future.
Ellenville Hospital 2008 Annual Dinner Dance
Distinguished guests from the medical field and other
community organizations gathered Saturday evening,
October 25, 2008 to honor Dr. Walter Sperling and the
Ellenville Medical Group at Ellenville Regional
Hospital’s 2008 Dinner Dance held at The Eagle’s Nest
in Bloomingburg, New York. On hand to help pay
tribute to the honorees were key Veritas Villa
management and staff. When asked for comment
following the event, Jim Cusack, co-founder of The
Villa stated, ”It was a successful night. The growth
and progress of the Hospital is impressive. The changes
it has been able to put in place are a direct result of the
power of the community working together to achieve
a common goal.”
35th Annual Dinner Dance
By Barbara Murray
It was a watershed event in Veritas Villa history: At the 35th Annual Veritas Villa Dinner Dance held at Terrace on
the Park in Flushing Queens, October 24, 2008, the curtain fell on Veritas Villa, Inc. and raised on The Villa Foundation,
marking the end of an era and the beginning of a legacy in the field of chemical dependency treatment.
The moments of clarity were as frequent and illuminating as the camera flashes popping
amid the crowded ballroom. Over 400 attendees were on hand to partake of a delightful menu
and enjoy the company of colleagues, friends and alum. Guests
dressed in sharp business attire filed onto the 21st Floor where they
were greeted by Villa Management and Dance Committee
Chairpersons before filing into the reception area where they were
treated to delicious assortment of hors d’oeuvres.
Guests were seated in the Banquet Room as the evening’s
program of speakers was introduced by Ken Lavery. The theme of the 35th Villa anniversary
was two-fold. The evening not only acknowledged the long-standing and mutually beneficial
relationship among Management, Labor and the Recovery Community, but it focused on
the future of The Villa Foundation, with a mission and a philosophy transcending
the confines of the physical bricks and mortar of any one building with a home in
Ken Lavery began the Program by taking time to honor the memory of Godfrey
Morris for his commitment to recovery and work with Friends of the Villa. Godfrey’s
wife, Chris was on hand to accept a plaque on
her husband’s behalf which also credited her with
playing a major role in Godfrey’s work.
Representing Labor Assistance Professionals
(LAP), Harry Farrell, President of Local 1-2 (Utility Workers) thanked The Villa
for its role in the developing a healthy and productive workforce, presenting Jim
and Sue Cusack with award plaques for their tireless efforts on behalf of management
Co-founder of The Villa, Jim Cusack elaborated on Mr. Farrell’s comments regarding the importance of the wellbeing of the workforce and management’s responsibility to labor. He offered a message of mutual aid and positive
reinforcement, to ensure a strong, healthy economy. Jim segued his remarks
regarding ideals and principles to an introduction of the evening’s keynote speaker,
Commissioner of the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
(OASAS), Karen Carpenter-Palumbo.
Ms. Palumbo’s address was compelling, forceful, persuasive and optimistic. She
welcomed the relationship The Villa had chosen to forge with New York State
and encouraged the association pointing up the
advantages in the field of chemical dependency
treatment. She began her address with a touching
message of hope and renewal by inviting her
Communications Director, Rachael Murphy to read a letter of tribute she had written
about her father’s journey in Recovery which took root at Veritas Villa. Ms. Palumbo’s
talk invited members of the Recovery Community to celebrate their achievements and
identify themselves as success stories.
Jim and Sue Cusack’s vision for the future of The Villa Foundation has gained clarity
thoughout 2008. As The Villa embarks on its 35th Holiday Season, there are many reasons to celebrate. The Philosophy
is sound; the Mission, clear; the direction, forward; the message, HOPE.
2008 Annual Summer Picnic
Neither the astronomical prices at the pump, nor the
threat of thunder showers prevented the over 400
attendees at the 35th
Annual Villa Picnic
from celebrating in
Villa Summer style on
July 12, 2008.
pouring onto the
picnic area on Villa
by 11 a.m. and the grill was fired up at noon,
the sounds of D.J. dance tunes filling the
hazy July sky. By mid-afternoon, it was
time to gather under the giant yellow and
white tent while speakers took turns behind
winners were announced.
Key addresses for the
afternoon included Dana
A.’s qualification after
celebrating her one year
sober anniversary. A Villa
alum, Dana’s words were heartfelt and poignant, filled
with gratitude for her time spent learning the basics of
recovery at The Villa.
Jim Cusack delivered a inspired and compelling
speech, a road map for the future direction of The Villa.
He dispelled a lot of myths and set the record straight
regarding The Villa’s
plan to enter the not-forprofit sector. He
stressed the importance
of taking action to carry
commitment to improve
the life of
all addicts with the desire to stop using and
prepare them to rejoin society as fulfilled,
productive individuals. Regarding specific
decisions he continues to make on behalf
of The Villa Foundation, Mr. Cusack
ambition is to put principles before
personalities and do what’s in the best
interest of The Villa and
to preserve its legacy.
It wasn’t just another
Annual Picnic; it was
another milestone in a
banner year for The
approaches, “more will
By Francis Lovell
In the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous, Dr.
Silkworth’s emphasesis of a need for a complete psychic
change, body, mind and spirit is need in order to recover
from alcohol and drug addiction. The 12 step program
talks about a spiritual awakening that occurs as the result
of the steps. People are certainly changing and
improving their lives through the recovering community.
Helping others who have faced the same trauma that
we individually have seems to be an initial stage that
people go through on the spiritual road to recovery.
I personally believe my spiritual journey started
as a child being handicap at seven years old due to brain
trauma, which manifested itself through paralysis of my
body. I remember praying to god to be able to function
like other people. It seems at this time
I had a belief that something outside
myself could help me recover. It is
amazing at that age I had a belief and
faith that would continue to help me
through out my life. I had an
instinctual faith that there was a power
greater than myself that could restore
me. When I came into recovery I
returned to the same childhood faith.
Which I believe has become the
foundation on which my recovery has
been established. Bill Wilson talks
about recovering people “returning to
their childhood faith in the Big Book
of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Jim Cusack states: “Looking back over the 12
steps, we see that six of them are of a spiritual nature.
In time, we realize that without a spiritual awakening
and a belief in a Power greater than ourselves, recovery
does not take place. We need to do more than just stop
drinking and drugging. We have to deal with the mental
and spiritual aspects of the disease. Once we
comprehend that, our own spiritual growth enables us
to pray for and to help others who need our help. That
does not mean we should be complacent or selfrighteous because we have made progress in our own
recovery. Rather, we become more honest about where
we have been and how far we have come. We realize
that it was our progressive living and understanding of
the 12 steps that defeated our self-will and led to true
spiritual awakening. Prompted by our desperate need,
we have taken steps to practice the development of our
spiritual growth. Taking the message of the 12 steps to
others is a basic premise upon which the fellowship was
founded. We realize that by helping others we also help
ourselves. There are a number of ways to do this: by
visiting those who need help, regular attendance at
meetings (even when away from home), telephoning
others, sharing our stories of recovery, educating people,
giving encouragement, but most of all through our own
example and life style. This is what it means to make
the 12-Step program a permanent way of life.”
Love, compassion, empathy and forgiveness are
qualities that I have acquired in my life as the results of
my spiritual journey. Far removed from the beliefs of
childhood of Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust,
and Don’t Feel. These beliefs kept me
in a revolving cycle of dysfunction
which eventually leads to a life style
of using alcohol and drugs.
Jim Cusack often refers to the
fact that he believes there is a Spiritual
Renaissance occurring through the
recovering community. I believe that
this can be seen through the power of
the fellowship of the 12 step programs.
Everyday recovering people are
sharing their spiritual experiences and
journeys with their families and
communities. I believe originally the
field of Alcohol and Drug Addiction
was established with the same principals.
I have learned through the philosophy of the 12
step programs the importance of the power of the
fellowship and the power of God which is necessary
for a recovery from substances dependency.
I really enjoy working in a treatment program that
strongly recognizes the power of the fellowship and
utilizes this principle in its treatment program. I truly
believe that the Spiritual Renaissance that is happening
in the recovery community is happening through the
power of the fellowship. One of the unique approaches
at the Villa is utilizing the power of the fellowship with
the treatment team. The staff ends up practicing the
same principles that we are teaching the guests of the
Villa which helps people to transition into 12 step
2008 Halloween Fun
Jim and Sue Cusack, dressed as a gun-toting mobster and his
moll (repectively) were on hand at this year’s annual Halloween
party to help kick-off The Villa’s 2008 Holiday Season and
remind clients of the value of fun in sobriety. This year’s winner
of the Staff Costume Contest, was Sheila Baker. Dressed as a
Tele-Tubby, the effervescent Sheila met with rousing applause from clients and peers as she
skipped on stage, a reception which earned her the winning spot, hands-down.
Poetry is a big part of The Villa’s Art Therapy Program. It allows clients to creatively express their feelings and emotions regarding a wide range
of Recovery related themes. In addition to words on paper, clients are encouraged to take paint brush in hand and communicate recovery messages
through color, texture and design on unique services. Rocks make wonderful “canvases” and are in large supply on the Villa’s ground.
I have a vision for the life ahead of me.
The change is made.
Gratitude, peace, serenity,
A clear mind, the ability to see
the world as it was meant to be.
My girls’ blue eyes, my pup’s wet nose,
squirting them all with the garden hose,
I have a vision, a vision of change.
Faith and hope, change awaits me.
The choice is mine, and mine alone.
God, grant me the strength and guide me home.
Ann Marie L.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We want to take this opportunity to thank you for
your love and support you have given us for the last 35
years. This is a very special year for us as we have made
the decision to turn Veritas Villa into a Foundation to
perpetuate the mission of the Villa. We have attempted
for many years to find a way in which to accomplish
We have tried on numerous occasions to work with
other facilities and each time we have been very
disappointed and realized that our philosophy would be
in jeopardy. Now we have begun the process of
formulating this Foundation ourselves. Since we have
embarked on this project, we are amazed at the number
of people who have been returning to us to visit and are
really concerned that we maintain our original
philosophy. People are expressing the idea that the Villa
must stay alive and well for future generations (we are
now into treatment of the third generation).
We believe that we have an obligation to continue
the traditions of the special gift that has been given us.
We will be transitioning from a for-profit corporation
to a not-for-profit corporation. We have a great deal of
modeling and rebuilding to do and our goal is to be able
to provide affordable treatment and continue to carry
the many scholarships as we have carried in the past.
We expect our current staff to remain on board and help
carry the message to the new people who will join us in
Our new name will be one that is quite familiar and
frequently used at present….”THE VILLA” …
Foundation. We are all excited about this project and
are mentoring younger people who have a passion for
the treatment mission here at the Villa We also are
making provisions for these younger people coming on
board to have a productive and promising future for
themselves and their families. We are committed to
the total wellness and prevention goals now given to us
by our licensing agencies and we are proud they have
taken a stand on our behalf.
We also extend our gratitude and appreciation to all our
families, staff both past and present, the Dominican
Sisters and everyone who has contributed to the success
of “The Villa”.
Jim C Celebrates
56 Years Sober
Jim Cusack celebrated his 56th Anniversary in sobriety at a
ceremony at The Villa, October 30, 2008. Long time supporter
and close friend of Jim, Fred Reihl was Jim’s Featured speaker.
Mr. Riehl, CEO of Freedom House in Glen Gardner, NJ gave a
light-hearted account of his journey in sobriety, reminding
everyone that importance laughter in the face of Hardship often
helps us get through life’s struggles to emerge whole and fulfilled.
At strategically planned pauses during his talk, Fred was wise
enough to seek validation from his wife, Pat seated with the
Cusacks. Lyn, the Clinical Director of the Women’s Unit, had
the honor presenting Jim with his anniversary medallion.
Love, Jim and Sue Cusack
The VILLA FOUNDATION, INC.
Kerhonkson, NY 12446
Advance Notice of all Villa Functions
E-mail updates from Jim & Sue
The opportunity to “give back”
Enclosed is my $10.00 Membership fee.
Enclosed is my contribution of:
(Please make all checks payable to: Veritas Villa Foundation, Inc.)
Are you a Villa alum?
If “YES,” I would like to volunteer to become a contact person or take someone to a meeting, or for a cup of coffee.
_____For Family Members
Zip Code: ___________
Apt. No.: __________
City: _______________________________________________ State:_______________ Zip:_______________
Telephone (Home): __________________________________ (Cell): ____________________________________
Tell us about you!
Or you can post your story on our Web Site: www.veritasvilla.com
at the Villa
Christmas is a very special time here at the Villa. Family is an essential part of the
recovery process and this unique time of year is spent bonding the ties with friends,
family and extended families. When people visit the Villa during this time of year
one is reminded of the importance of gratitude, fellowship, camaraderie.