The Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center, one of Harlem’s leading community-based organizations dedicated to providing supportive behavioral health services to clients throughout the five boroughs, hosted its Annual Recovery Celebration this past week in Harlem. This celebration has become one of the most emotional and inspirational days of the year for the Center, as men and women who have successfully overcome a major milestone in their recovery are honored by their peers, closest friends and family members.
The Recovery Celebration, hosted at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Upper Manhattan, honored over 68 graduates, past and present, and was filled with inspiring moments. Tom Haggerty, the Bowen Center’s Executive Director, kicked off the celebration with a warm welcome to all graduates and guests. Master of Ceremonies, Nereida “Smiley” Coronel, a former resident of the Bowen Center’s Able House and current Resident Counselor, has become a staple of the annual celebration, captivating the audience with her wit and charm. Smiley and Tom were joined by several Able House alumni who were honored as part of the celebration. Sonia Loaiza (2018), Julia Soto (2019), and Edwin Cruz-Pena (2019) each spoke movingly about their personal experiences and respective journeys through Able House and beyond.
New York State Senator Robert Jackson, a strong supporter of the Bowen Center, served as Keynote Speaker. Senator Jackson moved the crowd with several personal anecdotes detailing his family’s various struggles with chemical dependence. “It is a great privilege to have been invited back to speak at the Bowen Center’s Second Annual Recovery Celebration. This event is an incredible opportunity to celebrate a group of people who have worked so hard to overcome chemical dependency and addiction and improve their lives. Chemical addiction is an increasingly widespread problem, it has played a massive role in my life and the lives of my family members, and it is a factor in the lives of far too many New Yorkers. I am enormously proud to support the Bowen Center, Able House, the Chemical Dependence Program, and their staff. These employees, programs, and organizations are more important than ever as we attempt to provide all New Yorkers with the opportunity to better themselves and their futures.”
The Bowen Center’s Chemical Dependence Program has helped New Yorkers throughout the city return to healthy, productive and drug-free lives. The program provides a holistic approach to treatment, offering individual, group and family counseling and employs highly-trained and dedicated staff to work in a personalized capacity with clients. The Chemical Dependence Program works with each individual to develop positive coping methods, recognize relapse factors, and decrease at-risk behaviors, while also working to build self-esteem and improve family and community relationships. Ultimately, this program works to push men and women towards self-reliance by providing referrals for vocational and educational training, nutritional guidance and housing assistance.
Able Halfway House, located in East Harlem and operated by the Bowen Center, is a 20-bed residence for men and women that provides a home-like, drug-and-alcohol free environment where individuals strengthen the skills necessary for community integration. Able House’s approach focuses on guiding residents towards independence and self-sufficiency and helping residents connect with, and remain connected to, recovery-oriented systems of care throughout New York City. Individual service plans are developed and specialized in consultation with residents. These plans include services such as: therapeutic and medical support, community integration, housing assistance, parenting and life skills, various group support systems, access to medical and psychiatric facilities and educational and employment programs.
Patricia Jordan, Chair of the Bowen Center’s Board of Directors, was in attendance to congratulate graduates. “This celebration has become a day on our calendar that is filled with accomplishment, pride and joy,” said Jordan. “These young men and women are truly an inspiration and deserve to be celebrated for their incredible commitment, hard work and sacrifice. These events serve as a reminder as to why Emma Bowen worked so hard for the creation of the Center, and why we all work hard to ensure that her vision continues on.”
The Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center enables individuals and families, regardless of age, to effectively and productively meet the many challenges within today’s scope of “problems of living” by providing comprehensive community services in a caring environment. The Bowen Center serves over 30,000 clients annual, offering services that include a therapeutic preschool for children with behavioral and developmental issues; programs for adults and seniors with mental health and substance abuse issues; chemical abuse outpatient programs and mental health-based services for children and adolescents; a twenty-bed residential chemical abuse recovery facility and a food pantry program that serves over 21,000 packages of food annually.
The Emma L. Bowen Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community-based organization established in 1969 and licensed by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Office of Mental Health, New York State Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services, and New York State Department of Education.
Photo credit: 1-8) Bowen Center 2019 Dependency Graduation.