Ortiz presents Bay Ridge rehab center with van
Assemblymember Felix Ortiz found a way to help a Bay Ridge drug and alcohol rehabilitation center while at the same time pay tribute to the memory of a deceased friend.
Ortiz (D-Sunset Park-Bay Ridge) recently presented Donna Mae DePola, president and CEO of the Resource Training and Counseling Center in Sunset Park, with a new van to transport her clients to and from a second center she runs at 408 77th St. in Bay Ridge.
Ortiz, who secured funding for the van, said he was giving the vehicle to the center in memory of his late friend Larry Morrish, a well-known civic activist who was one of the founders of the Bay Ridge Ambulance Volunteer Organization (BRAVO), and who in recent years was a fundraiser for the Saint Nicholas Home, a senior citizens’ home. Morrish was also a founder of the Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Morrish died Feb. 8 after a long illness. He was 71 years old.
Ortiz said he wanted to give the van to the center as a way of remembering Morrish, who worked closely with DePola to get the Bay Ridge facility off the ground two years ago. “I did it for Larry,” Ortiz told the Brooklyn Eagle.
Morrish’s widow, Phillipa Morrish, was on hand for the presentation, which took place outside the center on 77th Street.
The Bay Ridge center is a satellite offshoot of a larger Resource Training and Counseling Center that DePola opened at 449 39th St. in Sunset Park more than 20 years ago to provide rehabilitation and counseling services to drug and alcohol abusers.
The Sunset Park center, headquartered in a five-story brick building, offers a wide variety of services, including substance abuse assessments, outpatient chemical dependency treatment, outpatient detox, counseling, medication management, programs to combat DWI, sessions with volunteer recovery coaches and help in becoming employment-ready.
In 2014, at the time the Bay Ridge center opened, sources told the Eagle that DePola came to Bay Ridge because she was asked by several civic and religious leaders in the neighborhood to set up shop there to help stem a rising tide of prescription drug addiction and heroin use among local young people.
Leaders were impressed by DePola’s track record in Sunset Park, sources said.
Habib Joudeh, owner of Pharmacy on 5th in Bay Ridge, donated $5,000 to help get the new center up and running. Joudeh, who is a founder of the Arab American Association of New York, is also a member of the Fifth Avenue Bay Ridge Business Improvement District.
Shortly after the center opened on 77th Street, DePola, a member of Community Board 10 in Bay Ridge, spoke at the board meeting and invited members to visit the site. But she cautioned them to call first. “We want to respect the privacy of our clients,” she told board members.
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