By Alexandra Jennerjahn SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Many people view Christmas as a time for gift giving and relaxation, but to the residents of the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center, this holiday season is focused on bettering themselves and creating a future.
“Six months without a drink. I have gone a total of six months and two weeks without a drink,” Steven Wisniewski, a resident of the center said. “I was pretty depressed and all of that is gone now.”
Wisniewski joined the rehabilitation center five months ago when his addiction to alcohol became too much to bear. Now, thanks to counseling, self help programs and bible studies provided through the center, Wisniewski feels that there’s hope for him.
“The first sign I saw [when I walked into the center] was Jeremiah 29:11. ‘Jesus has a plan for you. He knows the plans and he holds the future too.’ I didn’t believe it at first, but now I do have a future and I also have hope,” Wisniewski said.
The rehabilitation is a 100 bed facility with 70 beds reserved for men and 30 reserved for women. It’s a faith-based program funded by donations given to the Salvation Army from community members.
Major Gayle Miga helps run the program alongside her husband and works hard to give the residents opportunities to help them better face their battles with addictions.
“We try to help the person change their behaviors so that they can get back to society and be a member and get back to work,” Miga said.
Residents attend anger management and substance abuse classes, bible studies, Alcoholic Anonymous Meetings and can even earn their GED.
While the center’s main goal is to help those who are struggling, the staff also tried to place a large emphasis on community. They have holiday dinners and make sure to take residents off site now and again to things like hockey games and theatre shows, so they can enjoy the Syracuse community as well.
“We keep them busy especially at this time of the year because a lot of them feel sad because they’re not around their family,” Miga said.
Miga’s hope is that the residents who come to her center seeking help, become well enough to leave. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t always have a home for the holidays at the rehabilitation center.
“Here we’re family. And that’s what we refer to everybody as,” Miga said. “Our center is a home.”