A Community Living In The Solution

By Lisa Smith 11/18/15

Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and actress Kristen Johnston helped usher in New York City's first recovery high school last week.

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Staten Island Borough President James Oddo and Kristen Johnston
James Oddo and Kristen Johnston. Photo via

On the crisp, fall night of November 12, teens and adults gathered at the historic St. George Theater just steps from the iconic Staten Island Ferry. The ornate interior of the theater, coupled with the crowd’s enthusiasm, set the tone for a monumental event.

An audience of 100 assembled to celebrate the first recovery high school in New York City, located in Staten Island. SLAM NYC, a recovery education and training program, was co-founded by actress Kristen Johnston and Thomas Krauss in 2010. The organization’s mission is to bring recovery to communities nationwide. And they are starting right here in our very own city with the leadership of Staten Island Borough President, James Oddo.

Oddo valiantly greeted the audience to jumpstart the festivities. A native of Staten Island, Oddo proudly announced the opening of the education program and recovery school. He is the first city official to take action on the recovery movement. His pioneering efforts were well-received, which was evident in the hopeful faces and supportive voices of the community member attendees.

"After years of trying, James Oddo was the first city official to listen and act. Addiction is a treatable disease and recovery works. We are thrilled that an elected official is helping in such a substantive way," said SLAM NYC board member, Joe Schrank.

In the audience, teens sat interspersed with parents proudly wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the insignia of Camelot, a community recovery center in Staten Island. They were there for the screening of Anonymous People, a one-hour feature documentary film about the 23 million Americans living in long-term recovery from addiction to alcohol and drugs.

The film was trailed by a Q&A session with Oddo and a panel of recovery experts, educators, Anonymous People director Greg Williams, and the SLAM NYC board members. "There isn't a punitive element of the program. It's an amnesty ideal where kids will be helped. We want a culture of safety; otherwise who would seek help?" Krauss said during the discussion.

Attendees and panel members alike seized the opportunity to promote the message of recovery. "This is just a start. We hope we can have similar programs all wherever they are needed," Johnston stated.

One thing is for certain, the Staten Island community, headed by Borough President and recovery advocate James Oddo, is committed to living in the solution.

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