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Kellie Roe knows firsthand the challenges facing people in recovery. Roe is in long-term recovery herself—she hasn't had a drink or a drug since February 6, 1995—and now serves as executive director of Second Chance Opportunities, Inc., a nonprofit based in Albany that provides supportive housing, employment opportunities, life-skills trainings, and additional services to help others maintain a life in sobriety.
"This work gives me a chance to show other people that life in recovery is possible," Roe said.
Roe founded Second Chance Opportunities in 2001 with her husband, Brian, and a couple of his friends. She took over as executive director in 2011; since then the organization has grown considerably. Second Chance now employs 32 people in recovery through its janitorial business, which has service contracts throughout the region, and 30 others are working at Albany's Corning Tower thanks to a corporate partnership. The organization also offers supportive housing at its three properties in Albany.
"We are fully self-supporting," Roe said. "We don't have any state, federal, or county money. The taxpayers aren't paying a dime."
"[The Community Development Clinic] kept an eye
on the entire foreclosure process and did all of the work with Albany
County on getting us this to this point: submitting an application to
the Land Bank."
Today, Second Chance is focused on a major project: acquiring a 27,000-square-foot vacant building at 130 Ontario Street to open Albany's first recovery community center. The proposed Recovery Community and Outreach Center would be a safe space for people in recovery and their families to attend events and activities and receive services such as employment assistance and training, life-skills development, peer-to-peer support, and housing assistance.
The Community Development Clinic at Albany Law School—part of the larger Law Clinic and Justice Center—has been helping Second Chance through the process. The Clinic most recently filed an official letter of interest on behalf of Second Chance with Albany County.
"[Community Development Clinic Fellow] David Craft in particular is phenomenal," Roe said. "He's had students working on this all semester. The Clinic kept an eye on the entire foreclosure process and did all of the work with Albany County on getting us this to this point: submitting an application to the Land Bank."
Roe's vision for the Recovery Community and Outreach Center includes a recovery bookstore—a retail entity that would provide employment for people in recovery and income for the center—as well as rental space. "I'm trying to build a sustainability plan right into the project," she said.
There is growing community support for the project, Roe said.
A Change.org petition to bring the recovery community center to the property currently has over 1,100 signatures.
"A recovery community center will complete the circle in Albany County," she said. "Albany County has a lot of treatment and a lot of recovery meetings, but there's no centralized place for people to either start the process or look for support.
"We sometimes get calls from parents who are in crisis. Whether or not their child is willing to enter treatment, they are still in crisis and they literally have no place to go. Nobody is treating the family or supporting the family. That's something that we're hoping to do at a recovery community center. And of course we will continue to do what we do now."
"Groups like Second Chance Opportunities, and community leaders like Kellie and her team, demonstrate the tremendous human capacity present in the Capital Region for turning lives around," said Ted De Barbieri, director of the Community Development Clinic. "We are thrilled to support their work, and to provide an excellent learning project for our students, many of whom go on to work in real estate and other related practice areas."
The Community Development Clinic, founded in December 2016, provides free legal assistance to the Capital Region's small business and nonprofit sectors through students, who gain hands-on transactional experience under close attorney supervision. Read more about the Community Development Clinic's work in 2017-18.
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