Norwich Turning Point Center Officially Open To The Public
Published: May 25th, 2022
By: Sarah Genter

Norwich Turning Point center officially open to the public FORDO staff and board members, RC Smith Foundation members, and local elected officials at the Turning Point of Chenango County ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony on Monday, May 23. The center is located at 24 East Main Street in Norwich, and will be open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. (Photo by Sarah Genter)

NORWICH — The Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego Counties (FORDO) have branched out beyond their Oneonta and Delhi Turning Point centers to establish a center in the City of Norwich.

On Monday, the organization held a public open house and ribbon cutting ceremony at 24 East Main Street to mark the official opening of The Turning Point of Chenango County.

"I am honored to be in the company of so many wonderful people, people that are very supportive and understand our mission to be in this community, to help spread hope," said FORDO Executive Director Debra Berrios. "We hope we’re here for a very long time."

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FORDO aims to help individuals recover from addiction through advocacy, education, and peer support. Hours of operation will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Those interested in learning more about FORDO or utilizing their services are welcome to stop in or call to schedule an appointment.

"Every time I speak, I always talk about my own personal connection to FORDO. Almost ten years ago I walked into 22 Elm Street in Oneonta, and I was not sober. I wasn’t turned away, I was told to come back each and every day, and I’m proud to say I regained my sanity, and I’m sober, and I owe it all to FORDO," said Berrios. "FORDO is a lot more than an organization; It helps people restart their lives."

The Turning Point center will serve the Chenango County area, and was made possible by funding from the RC Smith Foundation.

"We started out looking for a project that would help the community, especially in the area of addiction. Thanks to Ruth Roberts of Chenango County, she referred us to what was then FORDO, Friends of Recovery," said RC Smith Foundation Chairman Bill Acee. "I’d like to say that hopefully this is the turning point — not to steal your name — but the turning point for Chenango County in trying to rid us of the scourge of addiction, and trying to improve our communities."

Several elected officials attended the ceremony, including City of Norwich Mayor Brian Doliver, who said he was looking to bring an organization like FORDO to Chenango County several years ago.

"A few years ago, we were having some major issues. I was an alderman at the time, I was frustrated, I didn’t know where to turn to. Drug addictions in my ward were becoming rampant, and we found FORDO," said Doliver. "Jim Everard and I went over and met with them, he’s on their board, and we were very excited. It was just like a breath of fresh air. They got it."

"I immediately knew that they needed to be in Chenango County," he said. "The county worked really hard to bring them in, too. So collaboration between the county and the city was really instrumental. But we're really happy to have them here. We have a huge problem and this is a big first step."

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Alderman Dave Zieno has also been a longtime supporter of bringing FORDO to the area. He said Jen Westervelt and Improve Norwich Now (INN) were instrumental in finding the organization and connecting with their staff.

"Back in 2019 when Improve Norwich Now first started, they were looking at ways they could improve the community," said Zieno. "I was one of the advisors on Improve Norwich Now, and we were going to meetings and we were talking about, you know, what does Norwich need? And this kind of service was one of the things that was mentioned most often."

"She was able to make the connection with FORDO, brought two of their staff people over. They talked to us about what FORDO’s mission was, how they operate in Oneonta, how they branched out into Delhi, and how they would like to start operating in Norwich," he continued. "We managed to get the support of the city council, the county, the [RC] Smith Foundation, and it’s just grown ... It's just going to be a wonderful thing for Norwich."