At 17, Daniel has already seen a lifetime of sadness and hardship.
His father was murdered shortly before Daniel was born. About a year ago, his mother died very suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving Daniel – the youngest of four children – an orphan and pretty much on his own.
Daniel began experimenting with drugs – mostly marijuana – when he was a young teenager. His drug problem led to behavior problems and, after several jail stays, Daniel got involved with the Amherst Town Drug Court. He and his mom also began attending Horizon’s parent/adolescent program and, in fact, had just completed the program when Daniel’s mom died.
Daniel tried living with his oldest sister and her family after his mom died, but that meant leaving his Sweet Home School District and transferring to another suburban school district, which Daniel didn’t like as much. When that living arrangement didn’t work out, Daniel went to live with his brother, but that situation proved not to be ideal either. Soon, the courts intervened.
Daniel was placed at the Franciscan Center in South Buffalo. The Sweet Home School District agreed to allow Daniel to start back at his old high school, and even arranged for a bus to take Daniel back and forth between the Center and the school each day. The District also referred Daniel to Horizon Health Services. His grades began to improve and he settled back into a routine he was comfortable with. It was the kindness of so many people who believed in this young boy that has helped Daniel get his life back on track after so many setbacks.
Daniel credits his individual and group sessions at Horizon and his counselor, Marcia Valente, with being a very positive influence in his life. “She listens to me, and she gets me to talk about things I would never talk about to other people,” says Daniel. “She’s been a great help to me whenever I get depressed.” Daniel says he’s also seen firsthand how many of his friends have benefited from attending the Horizon program.
Marcia says she has been amazed at Daniel’s resiliency and how he has endeared himself to school personnel, court liaisons and the Horizon staff. She’s very happy about the way Daniel has persevered and continued to focus on the future and not the past.
“Daniel’s story is very much a testament to the strength of the human spirit,” says Marcia.
Completely drug free for six months now, Daniel is looking forward to graduating from the drug court program in a few weeks, and to his senior year in high school. An accomplished cook, he attends the culinary program at BOCES and hopes to go on to a nearby college to learn more about cooking and baking (his true passion). Daniel’s goal in five years is to have graduated from college and be running his own restaurant somewhere in Western New York. With his continued focus and desire to stay on track, there’s little doubt Daniel will accomplish whatever he sets out to do.
Path To Recovery
The Path To Recovery includes true stories of consumers who overcame many obstacles with the help of Horizon Health Services to turn their lives around. Last names have been omitted for privacy.