Summer 2022

Welcome to our Summer 2022 Newsletter!

R2RCNY is busy continuing our mission. We have several people in treatment. We have new applicants. We have talented and enthusiastic advocates. We have fundraisers planned so that we may be able to help even more people. As always, we need your active support and participation in order to keep moving forward. We’ve included a list of suggestions on how you can help in this newsletter. 


According to a recent article, opioid overdoses killed 186 Onondaga County residents in 2021, a record high, and a 19% increase over the county’s 2020 opioid death toll of 156. Fatal overdoses in the county have increased more than 100% over the last six years. 

The opioid crisis has hit rural communities such as Oswego County particularly hard. According to the NYS Department of Health, Oswego County had the second highest opioid death rate in 2017, 18. And the numbers continue to rise - in 2019, there were 31 overdose deaths report; and as we are all aware, the numbers continue to rise.  

Clearly, our mission to save lives, one at a time, is needed more than ever.


From Elaina:

Brad M. is a 38-year-old who has struggled with addiction since he was 18. He started experimenting with cocaine as a way to fit into the crowd and be accepted. He had no idea of the long-term consequences of regular use at the time and became addicted to cocaine. In 2015 his world was turned upside down when he went through a divorce and at that time began using heroin because he 'just did not care anymore'. A scary overdose led to him seeking treatment for heroin. Since then, he has struggled with cocaine and other drugs. He turned to R2R because he said, 'he is sick of this lifestyle'. He began his inpatient treatment in May at Nova Recovery Center in Texas. He is doing very well and is committed to staying sober so he can be a good father to his 2 children. Brad is sincerely thankful to R2R for providing the opportunity for him to make a positive change in his life.

From Kathy:

Arnel is a 27-year-old young man. He went to Spearhead Lodge in 2021 and did very well there. Arnel had some issues following rules but all in all was an active participant. Unfortunately, Arnel relapsed while in sober living. He started using CBD which, in turn, led to other illegal substances. He came home to Syracuse and is, once again, in recovery. He was able to achieve sobriety by using the knowledge he gained from Spearhead Lodge and by following the 12-step process. He is a very kind, caring and polite young man. He is currently working at Pep Boys and has paid back debts to the DMW; he is now driving. He goes to meetings and is willing to reach out to help others.

Eric is a 28-year-old young man with two beautiful boys. He was sent to Infinite Recovery in Texas. He struggled right from the beginning with being away from his sons. He followed rules and did the work he was supposed to do but constantly wanted to go home. After 2 months he left. He responds to my texts and has been keeping in touch. He has been working construction ever since he got back. He says he is doing well and staying away from people that use. He has gone to a couple meetings. He continues to use the 12 steps and knowledge that he gained while in Texas.

Dwight left Syracuse on May 27th for Spearhead Lodge. He is a 21-year-old who has many people pulling for him. He was in jail when his case manager contacted me about the application process for Road2RecoveryCNY. He has had a lot of traumas in the past, like many substance users. It took him a bit to feel comfortable after leaving jail and getting on a plane for Texas. He is doing extremely well there. He continues to open up and is working hard at all that is given to him. 

From Anne:

Kurt G. left Spearhead Lodge and entered sober living at the end of May. After an isolation period due to Covid, he settled in nicely to his sober house. In June, Kurt got a job as a barista at the coffee shop in the Children's Hospital in Austin. He enjoys his job and has great M-F daytime hours. In the evenings Kurt goes to meetings and he has a good relationship with his sponsor. Keep up the good work, Kurt!

Danielle L. continues to do well in Austin. She moved into her own apartment at the end of May and enjoys having her own space. Danielle loves her job at Dogtopia doggie daycare and boarding in Round Rock. She was recently promoted to Operations Manager. Congratulations, Danielle!


From Anne:

Jennifer G. recently reached out to R2RCNY for help. She had called 911 in a crisis and the operator knew one of our successful alumni and gave her the R2R contact information. Nice to know our organization's mission is getting out there in the community! Jennifer completed her application with her navigator, Anne. We connected her with a peer engagement specialist through Onondaga County. She is in the process of finding a safe temporary shelter and then a bed in a detox center. Jennifer has been in local inpatient and outpatient facilities every year since 2011. They were always short 14–28-day stints. She is desperate to change her life and would love the opportunity to learn the 12-step approach to recovery at a long-term out of state rehab.


Congratulations to Kathy Vandermark, the most recent recipient of our Kevin Donovan Outstanding Advocate Award!

In 2019, Kathy's son Matthew was granted a scholarship from R2R and has since achieved long-term recovery. Kathy and her husband, Dan, have been "Paying it Forward" ever since. Not only have they made significant donations, but Kathy has been tireless in her 3 years as an R2R Advocate. She has created and managed numerous fundraisers, works as a Navigator to help new applicants through the assessment process and beyond, and directs the Oswego Chapter of R2RCNY. Kathy never turns down a request to help out, which is why she is so deserving of this award. Thank you, Kathy, for your hard work and dedication to our mission.


Congratulations to Robyn Proud, our new Board Member! When not working as a tireless and proactive R2RCNY Advocate, Robyn is an adjunct professor at SUNY Oswego, and Principal of Students Programs at the Center of Instruction Technology and Innovation (CiTi BOCES), in Mexico, NY. She recently created and implemented a Recovery High School for at-risk students.


Road2RecoveryCNY would like to send a HUGE thank you out to our Oswego group for holding a Pork Barbecue fundraiser on Saturday, July 16, 2022. The barbecue, which included a 50/50 raffle, lottery board raffle, and prizes, raised $3,000.00.

We thank (left to right) Yudy Vandermark, Gigi McCarey, Danny Vandermark, Mary Comerford, Sherry Bame, Robyn Proud and Kathy Vandermark.

Behind the scenes and in the kitchen, we also want to thank Tom Drumm, Tom Murray, Dan Vandermark and Bob Guiles. Also, we would like to thank Jeff Bame, a R2RCNY alumni, who helped set up the day before the barbecue and was also present the day of the fundraiser. A very special thanks to Kathy for cooking 70 lbs. of pulled pork, delicious coleslaw and baked beans, and to Robyn, Gigi, Mary and Colette Astoria for the delicious cookies.


Thank you to all who were able to attend our May 23rd and July 7th meetings. That said, we wish more were able to attend. These are working meetings that are vital to our fundraising planning and progress as a lifeline for the people in need of our services.

We intend to meet regularly for the remainder of 2022. All upcoming meetings will be announced via Constant Contact emails and on our Facebook page. If you cannot attend a meeting in person, but still wish to help, please contact Colleen at 315-450-8720 or [email protected] to discuss how you can get involved. No pressure. Anything you can do to help is important and appreciated.


We are still in need of more "boots on the ground." All are welcome. We also need a few people experienced in social media usage and content creation, event planning, and fundraising. How many new recruits can you point in our direction? In addition to friends and work colleagues, are there young adults in your circle that you can ask to contact us? All who are interested can tell us about themselves at . We just want to start a conversation. No commitment, no obligation, no pressure!


Our Steering Committee and Advocates have brainstormed an ever-growing list of online and in-person fundraising ideas. But we want your ideas as well, including suggestions on how to execute those ideas! As a valued supporter of R2RCNY's mission, please consider devoting some of your time and talent by starting a fundraiser or by participating in an existing fundraising activity in the coming months. We promise a fulfilling and enjoyable experience; and you'll be helping to save a life.


To keep up to date on all scheduled R2RCNY activities, get a link to our Google Calendar! In addition, you can also request a link to our Google Drive, which has details on our in-progress fundraising activities, and more. For links, please contact Colleen, our Volunteer Coordinator.


* Support our fundraisers.

* Volunteer to help as your time allows.

* Post a fundraiser on our Facebook page for your birthday.

* Make all your Amazon purchases on Amazon Smile and choose R2RCNY as your charity.

* Share posts from our Facebook page on your social media accounts so more  people in the community know about us.

* Spread the word about R2RCNY wherever and whenever you can - your doctor's office, work colleagues, friends, neighbors, social media, etc.

For details or questions please contact Colleen, our Volunteer Coordinator.

Visit our website


Road2Recovery is so very proud of our alum, Gabriella Tooley. Read what Gabby has to say about how her life has changed over the past 3 years.

(And congratulations, Gabby and Tanner! We look forward to celebrating the birth of your daughter with you!)  


“At first, you could not in a million years get me to change my mind on going to a long term inpatient rehab. AND in Texas? ‘No thanks’ is what I said every time. The excuses I used- I don’t want to be far from my family and friends, especially not my son. But in reality, I was already far away from my loved ones. My life was miserable but a big part of me was afraid of changing, and I was definitely afraid of having to work on my past trauma, my mental health, myself and anything and everything in between. Once I realized how depressed I really was, and how nothing was changing in my life for the better, and how far I was from being with my son and family, although we were 15 minutes away from each other, I gave in. I needed my life back, I needed my son back, my family, and most importantly I needed myself back. The person I was at my core was screaming for help. Once I gave in and took that leap that my soul was desperately yearning for, my life has been better than it’s ever been. Road2RecoveryCNY gave me a chance at life. I will never regret taking that opportunity. I have been in Austin, Texas now for 3 years and although life hasn’t always been easy, it will always beat where I was for so long. Thank you Road2Recovery to my core. I sincerely thank everyone who has helped me and who has rooted for me and my success. Now I have my family back. My son can see who his mommy truly is. And we are welcoming a baby girl into the family who, with God's grace, will never see that person I used to be.  I always recommend people to take the same leap that I did and trust the process.”