It was a project three years in the making, but the ribbon has been cut to open at a new state-of-the-art residential facility for young people dealing with behavioral health issues. Those attending the Tuesday ceremony to dedicate the new Baker Victory Services building in Lackawanna say it creates an atmosphere of hope which, in turn, increases the chances for positive outcomes.
The center may house up to 40 young people, between the ages of 12 and 21, who need more intensive help with behavioral health issues. The amenities, Baker Victory Services chief executive officer Therese Scofidio explained, create a comfortable atmosphere.
"If you walk through the building, you'll see that it feels like a home," Scofidio said. "People have their own rooms. They have a dining room, a TV area. It is welcoming. It is supportive."
And it creates a sense of hope that, New York State Office of Mental Health deputy commissioner Donna Bradbury suggested, increases the chances for successful treatment and reunions with the residents' families.
"There can be no change, no positive change, without hope for the future and a commitment to do better," Bradbury said. "Research about change tells us that if one is hopeful, the outcome is much more likely to be positive."
The facility also provides centralized treatment services including access to professionals including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and therapists.
The new residential treatment center will replace a series of cottages located closer to Martin Road. Those cottages, when torn down, will be replaced by green space.
Erie County Legislator Lynne Dixon, who along with State Senator Tim Kennedy, Lackawanna Mayor Geoff Szymanski and Monsignor Paul Burkard also delivered remarks during the ceremony, expressed her gratitude to the partners who worked to get the facility built. She says mental health issues are at last getting the respect they deserve.
"We run races and wear t-shirts for all kinds of illnesses and causes, and sometimes mental health is kind of shoved in the shadows and is something you don't talk about," Dixon said. "It impacts so many families and it impacts so many people."